Extracted Episode 10: Latest & Greatest with Leafly
On this week’s episode, we’re joined by Jo Vos, Managing Director of Leafly Canada. Jo was kind enough to share her unique insights into the industry. She also shed some light into Leafly’s backstory and hinted at what they have in store for 2019.
Not only is Leafy the go-to resource for cannabis information worldwide, they’re also our podcast partner. Started in 2010 and headquartered in Seattle, Leafly has experienced consistent accelerated growth year after year, with more than 13 million visits each month across its various websites and mobile app. At the helm of this highly regarded and renowned brand, Jo has a major role in bringing Leafly’s legacy to Canada.
Working in cannabis.
With background in both the music industry and tech sector, Jo certainly has experience in high profile, fast-paced environments. Still, she says there’s nothing like working in the cannabis space. The pace is beyond compare and often decisions need to be made without perfect information. She uses the analogy that we’re all “building the plane as it’s taking off”. Thankfully, she brings core beliefs that help keep things on track, including taking risks, not being afraid to fail, clear communication, and being open to feedback.
“The velocity at which we work is really unprecedented. It’s very high speed, high stakes.”
Building the legacy in Canada.
While Leafly is recognized everywhere, it’s still relatively new in Canada. Jo says it’s like a “start-up within a start-up” in Canada and in a way, they’re starting from scratch to curate the brand for this newly legal market. She adds that Leafly’s focus is about helping all different types of companies and communities, “We want to be part of your success, whether you’re a retailer, or a brand, or a licensed producer, or a First Nations community.”
“We’re brand agnostic, we really do work with everybody.”
Compared to more mature (and less conservative) markets like the US, Jo says that we don’t have as much to offer consumers yet. She mentions that the strict rules and regulations means “we just have to be careful and slowly adapt.” However, she notes that the camaraderie and thought leadership in Canada are what make our market truly unique.
We were excited to break news on the episode as Jo announced the launch of Leafly’s new POS integration. Retailers can now display real-time inventory on their menu through Leafly. This allows consumers who are looking for products online to see what’s in stock. As we know, this is a huge benefit given the supply shortages.
The future is personalized.
The team at Leafly has their finger on the pulse when it comes to the evolving needs of consumers. Jo says that consumers are “really pushing to learn more about the plant” and searching for solutions to common issues like anxiety and sleep. She adds that this area of “wellness” is where the medical and rec markets intersect. “People really want to curate a personal experience,” Jo says and hints that visitors to Leafly will start to see a lot more content in this realm.
“Everybody is different. Your endocannabinoid system is a unique fingerprint…That’s why the curation piece is going to be so critical as people try to find consistency in these experiences.”
Speaking of consistency, we understand the challenges the industry is facing when it comes to consistent quality of strains and supply. At Valens, we’re working with Thermo Fisher Scientific to set the global standard for cannabis testing – we know how critical this is to the future of the industry. Jo reinforces this point stresses the importance of lab testing and saying that consumers need to do their due diligence.
“Lab testing moving forward is going to be critical.”
Cannabis is all about connection.
As someone who lives and breathes cannabis, Jo relates the plant to connection. She says it’s about “being connected to the world and the people around me.” From a consumption standpoint, it’s a hangover-free alternative to alcohol which is especially important for someone like Jo who has a high achieving lifestyle. On the medical side, she has seen firsthand how “potent and powerful and amazing the plant can be” as a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. Now Jo spends her time connecting the dots between Leafly and the millions of people who rely on them for education and innovation in the world of cannabis.
“I really do think that the plant produces empathy. It’s this ability to switch on something that might be lacking in everyday life, the ability to see the world in a different way.”