As CannaGo co-founder Matthew Gaffney thinks about scaling his CBD delivery service startup, he’s also thinking about his mother.
When he was younger, his mom got into a bad car accident that still causes her chronic pain.
After getting expensive pain injections, she turned to cannabis products as an alternate treatment. But going to the nearest CBD store could mean a 30-minute drive through traffic.
“This is a way to be able to give people access who need it,” Gaffney said.
CannaGo, which launched this summer, partners with CBD stores to deliver products directly to customers, like an Uber Eats model. The startup currently works with Atlanta CBD stores SMAI Farmacy Herb Shop & Apothecary and Inno Medicinals and will soon launch a mobile app for the platform.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is derived from the hemp plant and used to treat health issues such as seizures, anxiety or chronic pain. The compound does not create a high, which is caused by the THC compound in marijuana. CBD is legal in Georgia with some restrictions.
The U.S. CBD market was valued at $2.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow more than 20% in the next eight years, according to a Grand View Research report.
Gaffney, Victor Nwadike and Kevin Tolliver founded CannaGo after meeting after a Morehouse College panel, which they attended because of the promise of free pizza. They caught each other’s attention because of their complementary skill sets and entrepreneurial attitudes.
Tolliver, a Morehouse computer science graduate, built out the software. The startup charges a delivery fee and 15% of the product sale.
The CannaGo founders also see an opportunity beyond CBD as more states begin to legalize other marijuana products.
“There’s not a lot of people of color in the cannabis startup space,” Nwadike said. “Cannabis regulation is something that historically has destroyed urban communities. We have the ability as young Black people to have a stronghold on the market.”
But the most difficult part of building the company has been the regulations and stereotypes that come with working in the cannabis space, despite the growing use of CBD products.
“There’s a heavy stigma that’s still there, but even with all these limitations, there’s so many different CBD stores in the metro Atlanta area with no online footprint,” Gaffney said.
The founders combat that stigma through transparency on the platform, which is cashless and uses certified drivers to deliver the products. CannaGo also promotes CBD uses on TikTok and quickly gained more than 18,000 followers, which Gaffney says shows the interest level of consumers.
The startup plans to continue expanding in metro Atlanta then tackle other markets in the Southeast as the founders continue refining the platform and delivery services.