Exclusive Interview with Pistil Data Co-Founder and CEO Jeffrey Graham
The cannabis market is full of technology companies, offering complementary and competing services. Pistil Data aims to stand out from the crowd of cannabis data technology companies with the breadth of its data and a focus on sales teams and brands. Co-Founder and CEO Jeffrey Graham spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about the company’s platform, its plans to roll out into more markets and funding. The audio of the entire conversation is available at the end of this written summary.
From the Internet Space to Cannabis
Graham comes to the cannabis industry with deep experience in the internet space, dating back to the 1990s. He developed data science and capabilities at companies like Twitter, Google and The New York Times. Like cannabis, the internet business shaped its rules as it grew rapidly. Graham also had plenty of exposure to the kinds of technology that enable companies to use data and make faster decisions.
Graham worked in the internet business up until about three years ago. He co-founded Pistil with Taylor Jones, who now serves as the company’s Vice President of Revenue. Jones has spent years in the cannabis technology space.
The Pistil Data Platform
Pistil gathers a vast amount of cannabis data across the cannabis industry with the goal of enabling cannabis businesses to make better business decisions. The company has built technology to make sense of the data, which is complicated and messy in the cannabis industry, according to Graham.
Pistil has developed applications for brands to provide information that can be leveraged by sales teams. Salespeople can use mobile applications to identify business opportunities, such as stores that don’t carry their products, stores that are ready for reorders and new stores opening. Pistil helps salespeople use data to make it easier to sell cannabis into retail stores.
The company is rolling out a V2 of its application to a select group of clients. This version has new features that make it easier to navigate a local area and home in on the characteristics of different stores and brands.
Pistil is also working on a retail application, which will help cannabis retailers to better understand their local area. With access to data, retailers can find their most profitable niche in their local market, according to Graham.
Clients and Market Reach
Pistil works with brands, big and small. Curaleaf, Loudpack and STIIIZY are among its clients. It also works with distributors like HERBL and High Grade Distribution. The company aims to make its analytics available to any sales team in cannabis, large or small.
Currently, Pistil operates in California and Colorado. It is planning to roll out in six additional states this quarter. It is focused on Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, Washington, Oregon and Massachusetts. Eventually, the company wants to be in every state where cannabis is legal, according to Graham.
Thus far, Pistil is unique in its data set and approach to data. The company does not yet have any direct competition, according to Graham. As a relatively young company, it is a bit early to be thinking about M&A, but Pistil is considering partnerships in the cannabis industry. The company is looking to build relationships with companies that have use cases and workflows that can complement its own offerings.
Pistil is expanding with the goal of becoming a national service. It is rolling out additional products, such as its offering for retailers. As it grows, investment in people is critical. Pistil is adding to its technology, product development, sales and marketing teams as it scales.
Building Investor Relationships
In November 2021, Pistil closed a $6.5 million seed round. Casa Verde Capital led the round, and JW Asset Management participated. JW Partners also participated in the company’s pre-seed round, according to Graham. The company also has relationships with angel investors in Silicon Valley and the cannabis space.
Building relationships with its investors has made Pistil stronger, according to Graham. The company will continue to focus on strategic investor relationships going forward. Investors who bring more than just capital to the table will continue to be important.
Right now, Pistil has more than 100 customers using its app every day in California and Colorado. Usage will continue to be a vital metric as it works toward the goal of becoming a national player. The Pistil team will also be looking at revenue, customer renewals and customer ROI. From a qualitative perspective, positive word of mouth is an important metric of success. The company wants to know that it is making its customers’ jobs easier.
As Pistil enters new markets, it will be faced with understanding the unique landscapes of each new state. It is learning about working in open markets with many retailers, like Oklahoma, and in limited license markets, like Nevada. The team wants to understand the brand landscape and business challenges of each market to help those customers get the most value out of Pistil.
To learn more, visit the Pistil Data website. Listen to the entire interview: