“Dispensaries can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you’re prone to any type of anxiety.”
Rebecca Slotkin (CMO) and Madlene Olander (COO) are the founders of GrassPass. They’re “passionate about women, technology and cannabis,” and “built a company that combines all of those for the benefit of consumers and the cannabis industry.” I asked them a few questions about their business.
When and how did you come together and create GrassPass? How has your relationship developed personally and on a professional level?
Friends for more than 10 years, we founded GrassPass 2018 as an independent, women-owned technology company on a mission to break down barriers in the cannabis industry and make women feel more welcome.
Throughout the course of our careers, we’ve worked to support each other’s growth and leadership as well as many other women in our personal and professional networks. Since we started GrassPass, we extended that dedication to making sure women are represented in the growing cannabis business as professionals and consumers.
So starting a company that is “by women, for women” has been the drive and passion behind GrassPass and has brought us even closer as friends and business partners. We saw a need in the industry to provide women with a comfortable and enjoyable experience when shopping for cannabis.
What is GrassPass?
We offer members an unparalleled cannabis shopping experience with perks like preferred product tracking, order ahead, member concierge service, and the ability to skip the line at select dispensaries. Ideal for adults who are just starting their cannabis journey or experienced users, GrassPass offers an all-encompassing VIP experience with every trip to a dispensary. … Members know exactly what to expect making every visit safe, easy, and enjoyable.
How does Grapass plan on achieving its mission “To break down barriers in the cannabis industry and make women feel more welcome” What was your own individual reasoning or motivation to address this issue?
We saw, what we believed, to be an obvious pain point that we could solve in the dispensary shopping experience. We had heard it from friends and experienced it ourselves, dispensaries can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you’re prone to any type of anxiety. Cannabis is an industry with a big stigma and a history for being male dominated—before 2020, women were rarely seen consuming cannabis in pop culture or Hollywood—further making women uncomfortable with cannabis.
We want to be a technology cannabis company owned by women, but also a company that is focused on making sure women get the best shopping experience in the cannabis industry. GrassPass will be the way women shop for cannabis. Through building a community, promoting our beautiful and easy technology, and putting ourselves out there as the face of a cannabis tech brand, we will achieve our mission.
What ways is GrassPass connecting with different dispensaries and communities?
We’re currently in late-stage negotiations with multiple existing Massachusetts-based dispensaries, early discussions with others which are opening soon, and we’re constantly looking for more dispensaries that meet our standards for partnership. Our goal is to build relationships with our dispensary partners and invest our energy in helping them succeed. We pride ourselves on being easy-going partners who take on the heavier lifting of the integration to ensure we’re not adding any stress to our already busy friends. Opening a dispensary is hard work, but if you’re in it for the right reasons and want to make it welcoming to women, those are the dispensaries we want to drive traffic to through GrassPass.
We’re also proud to partner with women-owned and led ancillary cannabis brands. The industry is growing quickly and we believe in supporting big and small companies with women in the forefront of their business. We currently partner with the Healing Rose in Boston, a CBD brand we personally use daily, and 420 Science, a modern online headshop with incredible products. GrassPass partners are featured in the app and website and our premium members get access to specials and discount codes.
You recently just partnered with Silver Therapeutics, a dispensary in Orange, MA. What ultimately led to the decision to work with Silver Therapeutics?
We have a lot in common, both being privately owned and not funded by major investors. They’re focused on customer service and recognize the importance of customizing the shopping experience for different types of consumers. With our focus on women, we found a great partnership with Silver since they agree that this valuable audience deserves attention. After following them as a brand for a while and having visited their dispensary after they launched, we reached out to Silver Therapeutics through our social channels. We really wanted to work with them and we were excited when they jumped on board with our integration proposal.
As a cannabis consumer, what are some of their products you use, like or would recommend?
We both have varied consumption preferences—Rebecca loves pre-rolled joints and Madlene is a fan of tinctures and we both like edibles for the right occasion. We’ve been keeping track of our favorites and consulting with the staff at Silver to pull together an exclusive GrassPass Dream Bag that enables our members to purchase multiple products with a single click. The Dream Bag will always include our recommended products and we plan to offer more varieties in the future for customized experiences. We don’t want to give too much away—check out the Dream Bag in the app to see what’s included.
What does the future hold for GrassPass?
We’re actively working on expanding to more dispensaries. Our first goal is to grow in Massachusetts, expand to our fantastic neighboring states, and quickly become a national brand. Our members will be able to enjoy a universal shopping experience at trusted dispensaries anywhere within the US.
You mentioned that you worked together for the past 10 years. How did your relationship start and how has it developed through building grasspass?
Mad: When we met the first time, we connected right away. Then I moved over to a new agency and we kept in touch every month just talking about life, career, then at one of those coffee meetups, Reb was talking about how she was looking at the cannabis industry and all the exciting opportunities, and with me having the business background I was like, Let’s do it. We both were super excited about it and together we formed GrassPass together with our experiences.
Were there any others who took part in the development?
Mad: It was just the two of us first, then of course we needed someone to build an app and I had worked with Alex, our CTO, at another agency.
Rebecca: Alex is a world-class app developer. He has built four total natives apps. Originally for the build, it was only going to be native mobile apps, so we made a customer-facing app and dispensary app, which will come later on as Apple and Android evolve their markets as federal legalization comes into play.
Tell us about your non-dispensary partnerships?
Rebecca: We currently have two partnerships live the Healing Rose, which is a CBD company in Boston and the other one is 420 Science, [an] online retailer that specializes in glassware and other cannabis accessories
How do you cater to the specific target market of women?
Mad: Our goal is not not to work with every dispensary out there. We are really going through and finding out what the dispensary stands for, what is their mission, what is their customer service, so when we send our members their way, we feel they are going to get that customer service experience we are promising them.
Rebecca: Being women-focused is what sets us apart. … Although we talked in the past about the future being more segmented and more demographically focused, the industry is just not there yet. We are ahead of the curve in terms of focusing on this really important demographic. Women are 50% of the population and have huge purchasing power. They are big cannabis consumers; if not yet, plan on it. We know talking directly to this audience will be beneficial for dispensaries who might be practicing a mass targeting tactic right now. So there are plenty of ways to talk to anyone who is interested in cannabis. We are trying very hard to talk to a specific audience.