Marijuana Business Magazine February 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | February 2019 52 Means to a Vend COMPANY Frost, doing business as Anna WHERE Boston | FOUNDED 2017 PRODUCT Anna is a vending machine designed to overcome the restrictions some states have on the automated technology. It also includes customer analytics. TARGET MARKET Product manufacturers and retailers PRICE TBD Vending machines have had a tough time making it in the cannabis industry. Only a few machines have been deployed since the first ones hit stores a few years ago, and many of those were sent back because they had problems and weren’t often used by customers. Matthew Frost hopes to change that. In 2015, Frost was a semester from getting his MBA from Boston University when he dropped out to build a solution to the lines and slow throughputs he had encountered at Massachusetts medical cannabis dispensaries. Weighing in at 700 pounds, Anna can hold 1,008 products covering 56 SKUs—anything from vape cartridges, concentrates and packages of flower to edibles, drinks and balms. Customers register via the downloadable Anna app. When customers visit a store with an Anna machine, a store employee swipes their IDs, unlocking the machine for use. Customers then scroll a menu of products, make their selections and place their orders. The orders are sent to store employees, who use tablets to verify the transactions are within purchase limits and then release the order, prompting Anna to dispense the product. Doing it that way, Frost said, makes Anna compliant in states with regulations that say customers can’t serve themselves. Anna also incorporates machine learning and customer-purchase analytics. For example, when a patron registers with the app, purchases made on Anna machines will be tracked so that when the customer returns, an Anna machine will make recommendations based on past transactions. “It creates efficiencies that improve customer retention,” said Frost, who has a patent pending for Anna. Anna spent 2018 in the Canopy Boulder cannabis business incubator, and in early 2019, Frost plans pilot programs with LivWell Enlightened Health in Colorado and Reef Dispensaries in Nevada, before going to market later this year. Anna hopes to succeed where other vending machine companies have failed. Courtesy Photo