Meet the Yelp for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
After California legalized the sale of medical marijuana, hundreds of thousands of people were left hunting down doctors willing to give them prescription cards and searching for local dispensaries--which have the habit of closing abruptly or being buried with invisible signage. One entrepreneur wondered why there wasn't a better way.
"I realized that these dispensaries could use internet marketing," says Justin Hartfield, CEO of Weedmaps.com. "I was like, wait a minute. Yelp doesn't have any dispensaries. Why don't I make a portal for dispensaries? I could optimize it myself, get the No. 1 on Google. When people click through and see my awesome website, they'll come back next week when they want more weed."
From that half-baked idea, Irvine, Calif.-based Hartfield and partner Doug Francis, a former mortgage-industry executive who brought sales savvy to the venture, have built a company that's on course to do $25 million in sales this year--and has become one of the biggest brands in an industry that is virtually brand-nameless. All without touching marijuana, which still is classed as a Schedule 1 narcotic. It's mere pocket change, though, compared to where Hartfield sees things going.
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