Ask an Expert: Meet the 28-year-old CEO behind one of Canada’s largest cannabis brands

Image courtesy of Lift & Co.

Lifting off with Matei Olaru, CEO of leading Canadian cannabis media and technology company,  Lift & Co.

In a space where regulations change every six-to-12 months, navigating the maze that is the cannabis industry can prove a difficult feat for business owners entering blindly. But for Matei Olaru, it’s a trip down a familiar lane. Lift & Co. is Canada’s leading cannabis media and technology company — it helps train cannabis retailers, offers cannabis reviews and rewards to help consumers select strains, and positions licensed cannabis producers (LPs) to operate within the regulations in ways they couldn’t otherwise. As a former corporate lawyer and consultant to the World Bank (IFC), his legal knowledge has been instrumental in the company’s success, and sets Lift & Co. apart from competitors as a trusted industry leader.

Here Olaru talks cannabis rewards, the importance of trust, and the future of Lift & Co.

How is Lift & Co. helping educate retailers?
The industry is brand new and there’s an information gap for retailers, producers, and consumers. We partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada and industry experts like scientists and policy experts to create an online curriculum that helps train retailers on the cannabis industry, best practices and effects of cannabis.

What tools has Lift & Co. created to help consumers?
We created the online cannabis concierge, a cannabis recommendation tool. It uses customer reviews of cannabis products and strains to say things like, “Consumers have reported that this product, when consumed with a vaporizer lasts two-to-three hours.” Product specific data is crowd-sourced from real-world customers. The regulations in Canada prohibit LPs from talking about the product effects. Being bundled into the tobacco category also limits where LPs can communicate information. Our platform enables LPs to advertise product effects without actually doing so. Through customer reviews, consumers speak to product effects, qualities, and duration.

What has guided Lift & Co. through its creation?

We treat trust like gold. Trust is our core value. It’s validated our early assumptions that if we are trusted in the cannabis space, it enables us to expand quicker than our competitors. With every decision we make, we ask ourselves, “Is this building trust in the market and in the consumer’s mind?” If not, should we be doing it? It’s become a guiding principle for how we operate.

What does the future hold for Lift & Co. ?

We’re starting to explore data. Our platform has the largest data set of cannabis consumers and product trends. We can tell LP’s which products have the highest reviews from consumers in a specific demographic. For example, we would say, “Here’s 1,000 males that are 35-years-old, from the GTA, and they prefer sativa products used with a vaporizer, consumed in the day time.” We have that type of data for every product, geography, and almost every demographic in Canada. We are starting to use that as market intelligence as a source for empirical data behind legalization. We are getting ready for when there’s an appetite for data to understand the market. When the time comes, we will be there first.