Pot & Tech Meet In Startup Targeting Medical Marijuana Market

Two local entrepreneurs are pitching a new product they hope will fundamentally change the medical marijuana industry, even if they can’t tag their product for medical use just yet.

Ananas is a tech startup that has spent the last three months in Boulder, Colorado, under the tutelage of the cannabis accelerator Canopy Boulder.

Ananas’ founders, Andrew Kristof and Roberto Lombino, are both graduates of Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., where they first started developing their first product, The Newton.

The Newton is an induction vaporizer focused on getting its user the exact amount of marijuana dosage he or she desires. It does this via a controlled release of particular cannabinoid chemicals.

“We recognize that within the market, there’s a lack of precise methods of patients to consume cannabis,” Lombino said. “We are creating a product designed purely for medical patients and not just recreational users.”

However, Lombino clarified that The Newton is not a medical device, at least not until its approved for the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, it cannot be covered by patients’ health insurance, and would cost $600-$800.

Ananas will roll out The Newton at a discount by selecting 100 applicants from its early adopter program. Again, Ananas will target patients in states where medical marijuana is legal, as the company can still work with doctors to home in on the exact dosage that maximizes pain alleviation.

As The Newton clears FDA hurdles, Lombino believes he can convince patients that his product is ultra-effective and worth the lofty price tag.

“The standard medical sense is modern medicine requires patients to take a precise dose of their medicine,” Lombino said. “This has been lost in the medical marijuana field, which is ‘smoke until you feel better.’ We are changing this status quo.”

Ananas plans to ultimately develop even more personalized marijuana accessories via 3-D printing technology. Patrick Rea, the CEO and co-founder of Canopy Boulder, said the cannabis accessory market may be peaking right now at $10 billion. For comparison, the legal marijuana market is only $2.7 billion (the black market for marijuana is much larger).

Ananas is part of Canopy Boulder’s second-ever class.

“The ancillary part of the industry has more revenue than just selling the plant,” Rea said. “We’ve encouraged [Ananas] to remain focused on the best opportunity they have. Everyone’s chasing the recreational market. So you can choose to solve a whole basket of problems, or you can choose to solve a very key critical problem.”

Canopy Boulder invested $20,000 in Ananas in exchange for 9.5 percent equity — their standard deal for connecting member companies with more established cannabis-industry mentors, entrepreneurs and investors. Lombino also said Ananas is on the verge of closing a $150,000 seed round, and hopes to hire three more team members by the end of the year.

After Canopy Boulder’s demo day on Nov. 18, Lombino will travel back east to search for preliminary business opportunities. Kristof will remain out west, focusing more intensely on California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington. Ananas will not be able to do business in Pennsylvania, where medical marijuana is illegal.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, Dan Norton