Speaker Spotlight: Roie Edery, Founder & CEO of Ginger Commerce
Roie Edery, Founder & CEO of Ginger Commerce
Interviewed by Erin Roche
Q: What is Ginger?
Ginger is a direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce tech platform geared towards servicing cannabis brands and regulatory complex markets. Our mission is to help brands open up a new channel to be able to sell their products directly to the consumer. Today, most cannabis brands’ revenue come from retail sales or delivery services, which are essentially the same thing. There are a lot of issues with these channels; it’s inefficient and there are a ton of costs associated with penetrating and then maintaining a retail presence. Ginger is offering brands a new and exciting channel that allows them better margins and ownership of their customer data.
Q: What is your background and why did you start Ginger?
I had a 15 year tech career before I got into the cannabis space in 2014, when with two friends, I co-founded Eaze, a marketplace delivery service out in California. I got more involved in the space and founded a brand, CLICK Spray back in 2020.
In the process of running my own cannabis brand, I experienced just how difficult it was to penetrate and maintain a retail presence, especially in a state like California. It was lightbulb for me just how expensive sales teams are; you have to put in to work with a distributor to get into all the retail outlets and then to succeed once you’re in there is very tough. Unfortunately, that's the way the industry is laid out, the brand is often the one left holding the bag. In the end, the brand is often the one that bears the brunt in terms of lack of payment, having to sacrifice margins, subsidize it, get wholesale sales, etc. After that experience, I knew we had to find another way for brands to sell to consumers.
Q: Tell me a little more about the team at Ginger. First, how long have you been around, what has the evolution of the team looked like and where are you today?
We founded Ginger about a year and a half ago but we fully launched in April of last year. The team from a founder’s perspective is myself and Aleksey Klempner, who was also my co-founder at Eaze and is our CTO. We’ve got over a 10-year track record of working together on start-ups in the cannabis space. He and I are pretty well-seasoned and bring a wealth of experience to Ginger, with both of our backgrounds in the technology space. We really rely on partners who do our delivery and we have a very small desk team with a couple of account managers.
Q: Are you planning to expand outside of California?
At the moment we’re only in California, but we do have our sights set on multi-state expansion this year. We are in active conversations in New York and New Jersey, and I would say Michigan and Illinois are also possible.
Q: What would you want investors to know about Ginger?
Ginger is a technology platform. The advantage there, from an investor standpoint, is that we do have really good scale. Essentially, we have a software as a service (SaaS) company but a transactional business model. One of the things investors don’t like about the cannabis space is it’s very cost heavy, especially as you get into touching the plant, logistics, retail; most of the supply chain is costly. But Ginger is a tech platform, and our burn is a typical tech startup style burn. So even though I rent software which most companies' revenue would come from selling seats or a flat fee a month, my revenue is derived from taking a percentage of the sale. That’s the magic for investors – your burn is like a software company but you’re not going to need 1,000 paying clients that each pay you $1,000 to make money. You could just have five or six really good brands and the sky’s the limit.
However successful those brands are, you will make money. You’re like a dispensary from a revenue model, but you don’t have the burn rate of a dispensary. That’s another takeaway. I would also say, where we are in our evolution, we have proven out the market, we have signed some of the top brands in California and are now ripe to scale across the country. Since our launch, we have made thousands of deliveries. Where investors are investing in the evolution of the company is at that inflection point where they’ll feel growth.
Q: Can you share the number of brands you currently have and what your goal is for next year?
We have five live brands and 30 under contract coming online. Some of the live ones are Buddies Brand, Lime Cannabis, Pamos and THC Design.
Q: What are the benefits for a cannabis brand to sign on with Ginger?