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🎙️ BLAZE, Chief Product Offer, Kai Kirk
BLAZE® software powers cultivation, distribution, and retail point of sale (POS) for operators. BLAZE is available in 26 markets across North America and 8 provinces in Canada.
BLAZE’s POS was chosen by the first adult-use retailer to open in New York on Thursday (December 29th), Housing Works. Kai mentioned that transactions went off without a hitch. The Company is focused on newly launched adult use markets to expand its customer base.
Background. Kai Kirk serves as BLAZE’s Chief Product Officer, responsible for synthesizing different user perspectives and prioritizing the Company’s product roadmap. Kirk’s experience in Cannabis includes serving as founder and advisor for cultivation, distribution and manufacturing companies, which helps him better understand customer feedback, workflows and compliance parameters in an operational capacity.
Company Overview. BLAZE is available in 26 markets across North America, including 8 provinces in Canada (27% market share in Canada). The company has more than 1,500 retailers on the platform, 600 of which are in the U.S. (26% of retailers in California; 33% of delivery licenses in California). The Company has a big focus on integrations, with more than 60 currently. BLAZE has processed over $2B of sales through their systems this year. Based in Newport Beach, CA, the Company has ~100 FTEs, including a remote team spread across the US and Canada. One of BLAZE’s differentiator includes building a POS system based on personal experience—CEO Chris Violas started a delivery service called Cannabest in 2010 when he was a junior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Funding. BLAZE has raised ~$10M to date, with its $8M Series A completed in March 2021. The round was led by Delta Emerald Ventures and included participation from Act One Ventures and Soje Capital.
Competitive Landscape. Point of Sale (POS) is certainly the most competitive technology offering within Cannabis—BLAZE competes with Dutchie (Greenbits, Leaflogix), Biotrack, Flowhub, Akerna (MJ Freeway), IndicaOnline, Cova, and Treez, among others. The number of providers have flattened out recently amid competition and consolidation (BLAZE acquired Greenline in May 2022, which has 26% market share, according to Cannabiz Media). Greenline has the added benefit of helping BLAZE better understand payments transactions (and building relationships) in Canada since they can work with Visa and Mastercard today.
Delivery. BLAZE has 33% market share of delivery customers in California, which is increasing its allowed value of cannabis goods carried during delivery to be increased from $5,000 to $10,000. This should help delivery operators improve unit economics on each delivery. Thanks to Hirsh Jain for confirming the amount.
Cashless ATMs. Kai points out that BLAZE customers did not see any outage with some cashless ATM processors going down—as they have a diversity of processors that can be plugged into without deploying new hardware should any go down. Kai believes cashless ATMs have a limited shelf life and is a proponent of PIN Debit transactions.
👋 The Highly Objective Podcast is hosted by Dai Truong, who leads Cannabis Investment Banking at Arlington Capital Advisors.. Third-party information presented here and links to third-party content are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument, security or investment. The information provided is not warranted as to completeness or accuracy and is subject to change without notice. Linking to third-party sites in no way implies an endorsement or affiliation of any kind between Arlington Capital Advisors, LLC, or its affiliates and any third party. The information in this blog constitutes my own opinions (and any opinions posted by guest bloggers from time to time) and it should not be regarded as a description of services provided by Arlington Capital Advisors, LLC or any affiliate.