Morehouse College graduates Matthew Gaffney, Victor Nwadike and Kevin Tolliver co-founded an app called CannaGo that delivers cannabidiol (CBD) products to metro Atlanta. The three met on Morehouse campus while attending school.
Gaffney acts as the head of marketing, Nwadike is the head of product and Tolliver is head of engineering.
Founder Nwadike became a self-taught app developer at the age of 15, and by the time he was 17, two of his apps were ranked in the top 300 of Apple’s app store. Gaffney launched his own marketing business when he was 18. Tolliver created his first computer game when he was nine, and later developed a web page for his high school district that is still up today.
Together, they combined their skills to create CannaGo after realizing how much CBD has impacted their personal lives.
“I use [CBD] for certain things, especially when it comes to sleeping and things like that,” Gaffney said. “My mother, she got in a really bad car accident when I was younger … And she’s been able to turn to some CBD products as alternatives for pain tolerance.”
To Gaffney it’s also important to him to try to destigmatize CBD, which for some has a negative connotation.
CBD is federally legal through the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The bill removed hemp and its derivatives with no more than a 0.3% concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. It also legalized the industrial farming of hemp, so long as it contains a low amount of THC as regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
CBD can be found in both marijuana and hemp, however, only CBD derived from hemp is legal to purchase, sell and consume. CBD is not psychoactive like THC and does not deliver the characteristic “high” of marijauna.
Since launching CannaGo, one thing that Gaffney has learned is that although CBD is legal, it is not always easily accessible for everyone. According to WABE, 14,511 people in Georgia have permission to possess low THC oil for medicinal purposes.
“There are a lot of people that use CBD products that may have physical limitations,” Gaffney said.
Gaffney and his fellow co-founders consider these people to be an “underserved market”.
“So with this kind of limit of access for people, if you can’t get into the sort of physical buys, you would have to order it online,” Gaffney said. “More times than not if you need it immediately, or in a certain amount of time. If you can’t wait multiple days, for example, with standard shipping, which you are going to pay about $10 for, you have to pay about $25 and get it overnight, so it’s incredibly too costly.”
CannaGo was designed to be the solution with a $5 same-day delivery fee. CannaGo works with local brick and mortar CBD stores around metro Atlanta to be able to make deliveries within a 30-mile radius from each shop. CannaGo has to “eat a lot of costs” in order to offer a flat-rate delivery fee, but to them, it’s worth it because it makes the products more accessible to those in need.
“In a world where you can get everything delivered to you whether it’s your food that you want to eat that night, groceries, even mine wine with apps like Drizzly, furniture, you can get practically anything off of Amazon … you’re starting to see that even with physical medicine delivery, that’s even become more accessible, but as legalization is still kind of rolling around for cannabis, we’re seeing how we can change people’s lives,” Gaffney said.
The beta version of CannaGo was launched in 2019 as a web app, allowing people to use it on their phones and computers to place orders for next-day deliveries. The ultimate goal was to create a mobile app, however the CannaGo team wasn’t able to launch as soon as they had hoped due to unforeseen obstacles.
“Until the end of last summer, Apple didn’t even allow cannabis apps on their platform,” Gaffney said. “So, we had already had an app developed or in the development process, we released the web app as a way to still give our buds a way to experience the platform, and give valuable feedback for how we can improve it to then add it into our mobile app, which we’re releasing now.”
The pandemic also set back the release date for the mobile app. The co-founders went from frequently meeting at each other’s homes to having to work remotely. Despite the hardships, the business continues to grow, and so do the amount of CannaGo users around metro Atlanta, nicknamed “buds” by the founders.
In the future, CannaGo will be looking to hire additional drivers to meet the demand and allow the founders, who make deliveries as well, more free time to focus on other aspects of the company.
“One thing that we really prioritize is paying people a livable wage,” Gaffney said. “So, compared to a lot of ride sharing apps for people [and] other food delivery platforms, [the drivers are] getting like five dollars an hour and mainly rely on tips. One thing that we really prioritize is paying an hourly rate that’s above minimum wage, that’s almost twice the minimum wage .”