MENDOCINO CO., 2/27/17 — “At MyWeedhopper.com, our goal is getting you the right cannabis for the right occasion at the right time,” explained Tom Girdauskas, Mendocino-based co-founder of a new cannabis mobile web-based app, launching today. California’s cannabis industry is poised to transition into both commercial medical and recreational markets, but many in the Emerald Triangle are wondering just how a newly regulated cannabis economy will impact their businesses, lives, and their communities. With these ideas in mind, Girdauskas and his partners created MyWeedhopper.com, which they envision as “as a mix between Facebook and Ebay to create a social community that supports local Mendocino businesses.”
It’s clear that there are big changes ahead for everyone living on the north coast, who have long enjoyed a unique culture in what’s known across the world as the premier cannabis growing region of the country. But the Emerald Triangle is now entering a climate of commercial sales and legal recreational use, that is fundamentally reshaping what a cannabis based business is, while simultaneously creating spaces and venues for new ancillary businesses such as compliance consultants and cannabis accountants. Now there are not only farmers and dispensaries, but transporters, testing labs, and distributors, and Girdauskas and his partners are stepping into this emerging market. They see their mission as facilitating cooperation between Mendocino businesses and farmers, and providing both with a new avenue to market themselves and take advantage of new opportunities in the legal industry.
Girdauskas and his partners hope that MyWeedhopper.com will be a digital platform to help local businesses share what they see is the “Mendonesia state of mind” with the rest of California. You can access the mobile web-based app starting today by going to MyWeedhopper.com. Whether you are a local farmer, chef, artist, musician, or any kind of small business, the MyWeedhopper team seeks to help you collaborate and reach a broader range of customers. (Full disclosure, Girdauskas’ dog Stella Blue and the author’s dog Woodrow are good friends and frequently visit together at the Willits Dog Park).
Girdauskas, a former Mendocino restaurateur, musician and massage therapist, teamed up with two old friends from Chicago on the project, Dan Anderson and Steve Marek, who have been developing the site over the last year and a half. Anderson and Marek had developed a type of marketing software in a business model competition that Girdauskas quickly realized would be ideal for small business marketing. “The initial idea was incredible for cannabis businesses,” he said, since the industry is one of the main drivers of the county’s economy. “But we realized it could be good for everyone — promoting what you do for love or money, we will help you get the word out. And it gives customers the ability to see what amounts to the best of our community.”
The first phase, which starts today, includes a social platform, where the team will share cannabis farming advice, gardening tips, guest blogs from herbalists to musicians to cannabis-inspired serialized fiction, local news (including The Mendocino Voice), and otherwise feature other aspects of Mendonesian culture. “How do you capture the magic of our community in an app? The Mendonesian Cafe will showcase our lifestyle, including local personalities and businesses” explained Girdauskas.
The platform also provides a space for local businesses to advertise, and it is free to run an ad until March 25. The partners designed MyWeedhopper.com to function as a social platform where people can barter skills from carpentry to farm help to catering. Local artists can upload paintings or music videos, businesses can promote their services, and those in the cannabis industry can show off their wares. The app will help guide customers to find products, services, and local culture that fits with their interests and shopping habits, and help Mendocino businesses collaborate and promote the region as a whole using a targeted approach.
Phase two, which is planned for late March, will provide cannabis businesses with access to the proprietary direct marketing software “which is what makes us so unique,” explained Girdauskas, as well as provide a more enhanced customer service experience to recommend products to patients and consumers. The software allows businesses to reach a more targeted segment of customers, or advertise a particular promotion, sale, or event according to their needs.
As a former local business owner himself, Girdauskas believes Mendonesian businesses will be able to benefit from a shared platform and a mechanism to collaborate while reaching out to a customer base around the state. Referencing his experience running a restaurant, he described a unique kind of Mendocino “magic” that occurred when all the right elements come together. “I never agreed with the idea of competition when I was a local businessman,” he said, “it was all about cooperation. And I really appreciated that our community felt the same way.” Now, he’s hoping MyWeedhopper will be able to create his sense of community to share with other Californians.
Feb. 25, 2017 Kate B. Maxwell