PingHD has had some impressive accomplishments since we first featured chief technology officer Kevin Goldsmith on our February 2013 cover, but they’ve been quietly working in a market that’s growing around the U.S. but isn’t often talked about: cannabis dispensaries.
Goldsmith says PingHD’s move into installing menu boards at cannabis dispensaries in Colorado and Washington was “purely accidental,” mostly driven by the fact the company is located near downtown Denver.
In fact, PingHD might never have gotten into the weed shop AV integration business had its first customer not found the office and brought in a $4,000 cash deposit in a large brown envelope about three years ago when marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington.
The cash-based nature of the dispensary customers (which also tend to enlist security and surveillance integrators) is because “the industry still wrestles” with the fact businesses that sell marijuana are legal under state law but still against federal law so they’re unable to get bank accounts and other things that are standard pieces of most businesses, says Goldsmith.
Still, he remembers being surprised with being presented a stack of cash at the time.
Today, PingHD has about a half-dozen marijuana dispensary customers that rely on them for menu board services, although Goldsmith says that segment of the business “hasn’t rocketed like we thought it might.”
He’s planning to reach out to possible customers in other states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, including Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, D.C.
Violent crime has gone down in Colorado since marijuana was legalized there, says Goldsmith, and the move has meant more money back to the state in taxes every year, so there certainly are benefits to expanding the map beyond a handful of states.
Goldsmith says he has gotten quite an education when it comes to what dispensaries, customers with names such as Good Chemistry, put on their menu boards.
“You don’t realize the turnover in products or the number of products that are out there,” he says.
The shops get a built-in product database that they can adjust to display whatever products they choose at a particular time and have the ability to make adjustments on the fly to prices and product availability.
Goldsmith says marketing for this part of the business hasn’t been particularly aggressive.
“We haven’t gone out and said we’re in weed shops, but if someone asks us, we say, ‘Yes,’” he says. “We do enough business elsewhere that this is just something else we’re into.”