Delivery services and tech platforms are one of the fastest growing sectors of the legal cannabis industry, and few entrepreneurs in the space have a resume that combines technology with delivery quite like that of Lantern co-founder Justin Robinson.
In 2013, Robinson co-founded Drizly, a digital marketplace to connect consumers to alcohol retailers for beer, wine and spirits delivery. Fast-forward eight years and Drizly is the leading company in the space, partnering with retailers in more than 1,400 cities and seeing 300% growth over the past year. The company is in the process of being acquired by Uber for a cool $1.1 billion.
Robinson says Drizly originally planned on sticking to alcohol, but things changed when the Massachusetts-based company saw recreational cannabis legalized in its own backyard. Ultimately, Drizly created the cannabis-focused subsidiary Lantern, “which is, more or less, a copy-and-paste of the Drizly business model,” Robinson says. The company launched in 2020 and now has 18 employees. With Uber’s acquisition of Drizly, Lantern will spin off into its own independent entity.
Lantern, like Drizly, will never do the actual deliveries.
“We’re a software company that will connect the ecosystem,” Robinson says, adding that Massachusetts’ commitment to social equity, particularly within the delivery sector, was part of what appealed to him about the expansion into cannabis.
“A lot of the folks that I had worked with were affected by the War on Drugs, so I woke up to this world of what social equity meant and wanted to try to make an impact greater than just delivering products to customers’ doors,” Robinson says. “There was an opportunity in cannabis to not only take everything I learned from eight years in delivery and operating in a regulated industry,” Robinson says, “but also to do something more mission-driven and be able to help a community that I was pretty involved with for my whole career and working with nonprofits.”