CANNABIS entrepreneurs Sascha Wiebelt and Florian Bein have plans for their hemp and CBD market-place Cannaable, as BusinessCann writer Jane Hall discovers.
Cannaable launched in 2020 with its two founders describing it as the first and biggest online CBD and hemp marketplace in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Offering a plethora of products for both human and animal use, from classic CBD oils, capsules and resins, to hemp foods with pesto and noodles, cosmetics, textiles and accessories, the duo behind the platform which allows retailers to sell direct to consumers, have just secured their first investment.
The rapidly-growing Cannaable platform isn’t just an online CBD shop, however. The site also seeks to educate and inform the public through both a blog and podcast (billed wryly as a potcast), where guests talk about everything from CBD to hemp, cannabis, marijuana, legalisation and medicine as well as social and political issues and future prospects.on
Cannaable’s founders Sascha Wiebelt and Florian Bein elaborate on their business and plans to roll the format out to other countries.
Can you explain what Cannaable is all about?
SW: Put simply, Cannaable is the central interface between merchants and consumers within what is a high-growth cannabis/hemp market. In spite of the current marketing and merchandising issues for CBD-products, we provide an appropriate ecommerce solution, including marketing, on a central platform and with a self-developed merchants’ backend.
On the consumer side, Cannaable provides a safe, one-stop shop with a wide product range and diversity.
Where does the name Cannaable come from?
FB: It is a play on ‘cannabis’ and ‘available’, meaning we want to provide a platform where everyone can access legal cannabis products easily.
Tell me about yourselves? Who is behind Cannaable? What are your backgrounds?
SW: Florian and I are the co-founders and in order to cover all tasks internally, we started the company in August 2019 with four more people. All of us have different backgrounds, such as IT, coding, sales or marketing, as well as in complementary medicine, and our business model benefits from this diversity.
Talking about ourselves, Florian is self-employed with an online marketing agency, and I am a sales expert and product manager for international sales systems and processes, both of which are a big benefit with Cannaable.
Where did the idea for Cannaable come from?
SW: At the beginning we were actually thinking about creating a THC marketplace for when a European country legalises it. But the problem was, how long will this take? And until a positive change comes about, the marketplace wouldn’t be of use to anyone.
But we noticed that CBD and hemp products were becoming more popular and that many consumers were reporting good results. Additionally, we saw that many merchants were struggling with their marketing, especially online, as social media platforms and Google and Amazon block advertisements containing words like ‘CBD’ and ‘cannabis.’
Out of that the idea for a CBD and hemp marketplace was born that supports both sides – consumers with high quality products and the opportunity to find everything in one place, our one-stop shop, and merchants with online marketing solutions and the opportunity to sell their products easily electronically.
What we have created is a niche marketplace. We are not just a multi-brand-shop; we are a marketplace with a self-developed backend where merchants can upload and coordinate their products.
How long did the idea take to develop?
FB: Because of the talent we have on our team we were able to go live at the end of February 2020 – just six months after founding the company.
Is Cannaable self-funded?
FB: For the first 12 months, yes. But to establish a marketplace we were aware that venture capital would be needed. After going live we bootstrapped (where a company is built from the ground up using personal savings), but at the same time started looking for an investor.
We have now just finalised our first six figure investment. With that we have got not just liquidity but logistical know-how as well.
We will now be focusing on new marketing channels to increase site traffic and attract more customers.
We will then think about providing an end-to-end solution for our retailers (from warehouse shelf to packing, shipping and sending an automated email response to the customer) and expanding to new countries.
Ultimately, we want to be known across Europe as “the cannabis marketplace”; a one-stop shop for consumers and the sales channel for merchants and retailers.
How many staff do you have? Are there plans to take on more staff?
SW: Currently we are working with nine people on Cannaable, fully remote.
Of course, we plan to take on more staff, depending on the new tasks and how fast we continue our growth process.
How many products and retailers did you start with in February 2020?
SW: We had 30 pilot merchants and around 1,000 products. The site has grown very quickly since then – much faster than we expected. Now around 160 hemp merchants/retailers sell through Cannaable and we list in the region of 2,700 hemp-related products.
The best-selling are CBD products: oils, capsules and multipurpose items. Animal and pet CBD products are also very successful, followed by cosmetics, especially creams, and food, particularly pesto.
Are all your sellers/customers German?
SW: No. We list sellers from Austria and Switzerland as well as some from the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. Right now, we are the biggest cannabis marketplace within the German, Swiss and Austrian market. We now want to reach other markets and expand our business model.
You say you are Germany’s first and biggest CBD/hemp marketplace? What evidence do you have to back this claim?
SW: We did cannabis marketplace research and we could not find another player acting exactly like we do. We have to differentiate between reseller multi-brand shops and real marketplaces like we are. We created a merchants backend – the self-developed heart of Cannaable – where dealers can upload, manage, analyse and coordinate everything. We don’t know of another marketplace providing a backend like this within the European region.
Some other players call themselves marketplaces, but they provide more of a marketing agency service instead of a real marketplace solution.
To cut a long story short, we provide and generate traffic on Cannaable for our merchants who in turn can control everything through our fully digitalised backend. Additionally, we run several other niche pages – our blog and podcast – in order to increase traffic and build our brand.
How big is the CBD market in Germany?
FB: Really big. Statistics show that Germany and the UK lead the European CBD market, followed by Switzerland and Austria.
Is this interest in CBD something fairly new?
FB: It is not fairly new, but yes, it has been growing very fast recently. Society has recognised the benefits of CBD and its possible influence on health.
What are the laws in Germany as regards CBD products and use? Is there anything you can’t sell?
FB: It is still kind of unrestricted in Germany. While most European countries have legalised it in some way, the caveat for many is that it must be extracted from industrial hemp, thus containing less than 0.2 % THC. The same applies for Germany. However, all European markets are growing and investors are increasingly looking to put money into cannabis companies.
Looking in from Germany, how do you see the CBD market here in the UK?
SW: We can see that the CBD market in the UK is also growing rapidly. Due to this, the UK is on our rollout-roadmap as one of the most attractive markets.
From our point of view, the situation is similar in all European countries and the number of consumers as well as the numbers of merchants and new products being launched, is increasing enormously.