BudSense a Regina-Calgary startup that helps cannabis stores create better print, digital and web menus
David Thomas knows how hard selling marijuana can be, and he has come up with a solution that’s attracting clients across Canada and in the United States.
Thomas is the co-founder and president of BudSense, a Regina-Calgary startup that helps cannabis stores create better print, digital and web menus. The company is growing rapidly. It was operating in just a handful of stores at the start of the year, but that number is now closing in on 150.
“We’re looking to grow 100 per cent in the next six months here, and I think that’s pretty realistic,” said Thomas, 34, during a phone interview from Calgary on Thursday.
BudSense just signed its largest cannabis retailer two weeks ago, a company that runs 22 stores. Last week, the startup secured its first U.S. client out of California.
BudSense is used by stores in Saskatchewan, but the city with the highest concentration of BudSense-powered stores is actually in Hamilton, Ont., with 10 locations.
Thomas is no outsider to the cannabis industry. He operated a chain of stores with his brother, John, in Saskatchewan during the dawn on legalization in Canada. BudSense grew out of the software they initially designed for their own stores.
It turns out running a pot shop is actually quite complicated. Just before legalization came into effect in 2018, David took a trip to Oregon to visit some of their legal shops. His main takeaway was that it was hard to tell what was for sale. Doing so meant navigating messy chalkboard menus, or speaking with staff.
Several industry-specific challenges make selling marijuana come with a steep learning curve. One is a constantly changing inventory, which means a menu that’s always in flux.
“If I go to a liquor store, I know they’re always going to have six packs of Coors Light there. Cannabis, with different growing cycles and it being a plant that can potentially have issues, the supply is not consistent,” said John Thomas, BudSense’s other co-founder.
John described BudSense as a visually appealing solution that can handle the ever-changing nature of a pot shop’s lineup of products.
David didn’t start out in the tech industry. He studied engineering at the University of Regina. Although he dreamed of the tech field back then, he felt those options weren’t available in Regina at the time. David took part in the Conexus Cultivator’s START program this spring, and continues to be part of its GROW program. He praised the incubator for the mentorship he’s received.
“Any young university student interested in tech really needs to be paying attention to what’s happening at Cultivator, because the opportunities are endless,” said David.
BudSense currently employs eight people on its team, and just recently finished its seed round of investment.
BudSense has a six-month roadmap right now, but where the company could go in the future is difficult for David to say. He does feel good about BudSense’s ability to continue solving problems for the cannabis industry.
“There’s just not many people with the experience that we have,” David said, “and that gives me confidence for entering international markets and growing the customer base.”
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