Zip Run, a Boston-based startup aiming to become the first adult-use cannabis delivery service in Massachusetts, is almost ready to launch.
Founded in January 2020 by a group of young entrepreneurs, the company is taking a multi-pronged approach to cannabis delivery that it believes will also enable others to cash in on the so-called “green rush.”
In a conversation with THCnet, co-founder and CEO Gabriel Vieira discussed Zip Run’s approach to cannabis delivery in the Bay State and explained why his company is also planning to license its e-commerce platform to other entrepreneurs across the country.
Here’s how it will work:
In Massachusetts, the company plans to hold both “marijuana courier” and “marijuana delivery operator” licenses, which are exclusively available to social equity applicants for a minimum of three years under updated state rules.
By obtaining both permits, Zip Run will be allowed to pick up and deliver cannabis orders from retail dispensaries (marijuana courier) and buy wholesale products from cultivators (delivery operator) that can be shipped from its own warehouse.
According to Vieira, Zip Run is looking to reach consumers across Massachusetts, but it will focus on delivering cannabis from its warehouse in the Dorchester neighborhood to those living in the Greater Boston and Western Massachusetts areas.
“You can get to downtown Boston in 15 minutes, Framingham in about 35 minutes and Worcester in 45 minutes,” he said, noting that most of its deliveries will be scheduled versus on-demand.
“This will allow us to be more efficient, and deliver more products at once,” Vieira added.
Zip Run will also offer a limited number of “fast and flexible” time slots every hour for those customers who can shop from a smaller selection of items and have it delivered in an “on-demand” fashion.
According to Vieira, when consumers visit the Zip Run website, they’ll eventually be able to shop from an array of dispensaries that will pay to have digital storefronts. At launch, however, Zip Run will offer products from just one dispensary partner — Berkshire Roots — and function as a marijuana courier.
The company’s Dorchester warehouse won’t be licensed and operational until this summer, Vieira added, and customer delivery fees will range between $1.99 and $3.99 depending upon location.
Those fees will help offset operating costs, Vieira said.
Under Massachusetts’ regulations, there must be two individuals in each vehicle, which makes the cannabis delivery business more costly.
For its part, Zip Run will pay its drivers — who will be employees not independent contractors — $16 per hour, Vieira said.
In addition to conducting its own deliveries, Zip Run also plans to partner with other marijuana courier license holders in areas of the state that are more difficult to reach — such as Martha’s Vineyard or towns along the Cape.
“In cases like that, we would license our technology platform to other social equity members within the state,” Vieira said, noting that Zip Run will charge a small fee from while the courier collects the delivery fee.
Outside of Massachusetts, Zip Run hopes to offer its technology to other social equity entrepreneurs who want to participate in the cannabis industry but lack access to funding or the resources to build their own e-commerce platforms.
“Our bread and butter will be the delivery operations here in Massachusetts,” Vieira said, noting that the wholesale delivery model is the most profitable part of the business. “But I feel like if we didn’t use our tech for the greater good, and license it out to other social equity members, we would essentially be giving up on them.”
In adult-use markets like Colorado or California, Vieira said Zip Run’s technology can be adapted so delivery operators remain compliant with varying state regulations.
Ultimately, Zip Run hopes to become the go-to platform for ordering cannabis products in Massachusetts, offering customers an experience that mimics social media.
“Other tech platforms within the cannabis industry feel more like a directory, and I wanted to change that,” Vieira said. “We’re taking a more consumer-friendly approach. We allow customers to shop by moods and give users that don’t have much experience in cannabis the ability to understand the value and the meaning of what cannabis can bring.”
In the meantime, the company has raised $365,000 from friends and family to get the business off the ground, and Vieira is in the process of raising additional capital to help support the launch.
“If we market ourselves the right way, get ourselves in with the right crowd, and build a strong presence in Massachusetts, that will propel us to the next level and allow us to secure partnerships in other states,” he said.