Matt Gray is the future of a budding industry
Matt Gray is the personification of the new class of cannabis professional. Spirited, articulate and educated, he graduated from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. The 26-year-old entrepreneur has since launched Bitmaker Labs, Canada’s first technology bootcamp, which has graduated more than a thousand students to careers at companies like Shopify and IBM. Most recently, he’s grown the following at The Stoner’s Cookbook – one of the most active and engaging cannabis communities on the internet – from 100,000 to roughly 4 million unique visitors every month. We caught up with him to discuss the site’s success, the recent popularity of edibles and the future of cannabis as an industry.
The Stoner’s Cookbook started modestly and is now a hugely-popular cannabis platform. To what do you credit the site’s stratospheric success?
It started about 10 years ago now and in that time we’ve built up the community that we have. The community is always sharing the content and engaging with the brand. We’ve seen a rise over the last three years, going from about 100,000 unique visitors to 4 million, as more and more people are trying to learn about various aspects of cannabis. Whether it’s smoking, vaping, edibles, cooking or medical development, there’s a lot of questions out there, and I think we’ve done a good job of connecting with our community.
It seems not only the reach but mandate of the site has evolved. How do you see things growing as you go forward?
We started off in a niche area – cannabis cooking – and we had a great community of people, chefs and educators, that were putting out different recipes that we had tested and that really hit a note. We kept on getting more questions from people, ‘can you make content around strains? Can you make content around smoking vs. vaping? Indica vs. sativa?’ So we figured we might as well harness that community, that feedback, and we started generating more and more content.
You have a relatively small staff for such a large output. What you’re saying is that consistent content generation at The Stoner’s Cookbook is very much a call to answer some of the many questions you’re daily asked?
Yeah, for sure. We have people wandering the Facebook page looking for questions that the community keeps on bringing up. We can see in the data as well what content is resonating with the community and what articles are performing best. Then we keep on creating content of new forms that we think will also resonate with the personas that exist among our avid readers.
Edibles account for nearly half the recreational market in Colorado, where The Stoner’s Cookbook is based. Do you see a similar trend playing out in Canada now that the rules around medical cannabis change to include oils?
There’s a large subset of people who don’t want to be smoking or vaping their cannabis, or they simply prefer to ingest it and receive the therapeutic and medical benefits. It’s a longer medication period, which helps many people with pain management reach an ideal level. Colorado’s a good sample size. Obviously there’s different tastes based on culture, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes up that much.
You’ve been called a “serial entrepreneur.” How do you see cannabis playing into your larger entrepreneurial ambitions in the future?
It’s the fastest growing industry out there today. The prospects for where this will be, and how much it will be a part of many lives in the coming five to 10 years, are exciting. I’m hoping to constantly be innovating in the industry and finding new ways to help people.
More academics, intellectuals and professionals are joining the cannabis industry. What is it that attracts an entrepreneur like yourself to this new space?
Times are changing and we’re really reaching that tipping point. There’s a lot of people doing a lot of impressive things. With more and more research going into cannabis and the benefits of it to many of our friends and relatives, a lot of these things hit home. More and more people are going to be looking to innovate in the space and help more people.
We couldn’t agree more. Here’s to Future Growth!
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