By Jordan Crook
Surfside, a data and marketing platform aimed directly at the cannabis industry, has today announced the close of a $4 million seed round led by Casa Verde. The firm’s managing partner, Karan Wadhera, will join the Surfside board.
The startup is relatively new, but helmed by two founders experienced in the marketing and data space. Jon Lowen and Michael Blanche both hail from SITO Mobile, where they worked on location-based advertising and marketing via mobile devices.
The duo has built a platform that uses many of the same principles to bring better marketing acumen and strategies to businesses in the cannabis space.
One of the major marketing challenges for dispensaries and cannabis brands is that the usual channels through which small brands advertise — Facebook and Google — are not available to them. Not only are those powerful marketing channels, but they also provide valuable analytics about potential and existing customers.
Surfside looks to fill that gap in the cannabis space, offering businesses data around their customers using a combination of existing data, publicly available data, loyalty program data, etc. to help these brands better understand their customers.
The startup creates profiles of customers, looking to understand their location, their other interests and other important details that can help brands and businesses market and advertise to both existing and new customers.
But Surfside actually goes a step further and develops campaigns for these businesses, allowing them to work one-on-one with a marketing expert to develop and activate these campaigns.
Originally, Surfside generated revenue via the campaign itself, taking a cut of the spend.
“We’re almost an extension of the marketing departments at a dispensary,” said Lowen. “Small dispensaries don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to run these campaigns or log into extra software. Our team can help plan, execute and get the most value out of the data for them. Now, we want to start empowering brands, retailers, dispensaries as they progress to be able to have ownership of the data, with these consumer insights and research at their fingertips, and give them the ability to decide if they want to activate on their own or continue using the experts we have here.”
With this new financing, the company is adding another revenue stream through its data platform, allowing cannabis businesses to purchase a SaaS license. This way, businesses who’d like to use the data but develop their own campaigns and marketing strategies have the option to do so.
Surfside believes that their technology can expand well beyond cannabis and into other verticals, but see an opportunity in the cannabis space to grow and build alongside the burgeoning industry.
Moreover, the complicated regulatory landscape in the cannabis space allows Surfside to become a compliance monitor, as well, which may end up being yet another revenue stream for the company.