Social Media Network Duby Integrates Ganja Gamification
By Gooey Rabinsk
In the expanding world of cannabis-centric social media networks, one of the more distinctive to have gained traction in 2016 is photo-based Duby. Situated in pot-loving Denver, the up-and-coming app-based social network integrates gamification and private messaging to carve out a unique niche in the shadow of larger competitors like MassRoots and Instagram.
Apple and Android users who install the Duby app on their smartphones or tablets engage in a “thumbs up, thumbs down” popularity contest with the photos that are “passed” to them by those they are following.
The algorithm-driven cannabis social network also includes an “influence score” for each user, which tracks activity, trending, raw number of followers and total reach.
CannaBiz Journal recently sat down with Alec Rochford, the founding CEO of Duby, to discuss his rapidly growing social network aimed at cannabis consumers.
Cannabiz Journal: “What inspired you to start a cannabis-centric social media network?”
Alec Rochford: “My partner Russell Thomas came up with the idea of Duby and wanted to do something related to cannabis. It was because his son was diagnosed with Fragile X, [and has] a form of autism.
“His son was having a rough time walking and wasn’t eating enough. He was falling way behind the other kids. He had some serious issues. They were trying a lot of different pharmaceutical drugs. Eventually Russ, having been a medical cannabis patient for a while, decided to try CBD.
“The difference after the CBD was unbelievable. His son was walking and talking more. He was eating more. It was such a big difference, I couldn’t believe it, to be completely honest.”
CJ: “From CBD only?”
AR: “Yes, from just CBD. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. When I witnessed that, I knew that it was really here in terms of this industry. I was more of a recreational user. I wasn’t a big medical user like Russ. But when I saw this, I realized how important the plant is and we started interacting with people in the community.”
CJ: “That’s an extremely inspiring origin. Let’s talk about the early days of Duby.”
AR: “Russ and I always wanted to do a startup of our own, and we wanted to do something in technology. That’s what we have a passion for. So we wanted to create a product that people really love.
“We came into the cannabis space and began developing different ideas. Duby was our third or fourth idea. It took off right after we launched it, but it was difficult in the beginning because we were funding it ourselves.”
CJ: “Can you discuss some of your metrics?”
AR: “A year and a half later and we’re at 100,000 users and still growing, month over month, at a great percentage. Users are spending about 20 minutes a day, on average, on the network.”
CJ: “Let’s talk about the design of Duby and what makes it unique among social media networks.”
AR: “It all came down to an idea for an algorithm that Russ had. It was really complex in the beginning. Russ is one of the most brilliant people I’ve met. He thought it would be really cool to combine a social site with gamified features.
“It took us about two-and-a-half years to really work out the math behind this complex algorithm and how it would actually work in terms of scaling after we added more users to the network.”
CJ: “How are you maintaining your momentum and working to improve the user experience?”
AR: “We talk to our users every day and examine a lot of qualitative data. We look at our numbers all of the time. We really just spend a lot of time working on the product.”
CJ: “Would you say one of your biggest challenges is having a network that works not just today, but also when you have 10 times as many users 12 or 16 months from now?”
AR: “I think one of our biggest challenges over the past six months was figuring that out. But it’s not one of our major concerns anymore. The app is running faster than ever; we just updated it and it’s running 300 percent faster now.
“We’ve come a long way [laughs]. When you’ve been working on something for two-and-a-half or three years, it can get very challenging. But we’ve begun to really figure it out.”
CJ: “Let me ask the hard question: How do you plan to monetize Duby?”
AR: “Functionality and scaling is Russ’ side of things, but monetizing it is on my end of the business. It’s not something about which we’re very secretive. We currently have more than 200 businesses that are using the app daily to gain exposure for their products and strains.
“I went out and talked to 50 or so dispensaries in the past six months, trying to figure out how we can help them. The biggest thing I noticed is that they are throwing a lot of money into a lot of marketing channels, but they’re not really able to track the results. So they don’t know what’s working.
“Businesses that use Duby are able to post images and quickly gather accurate, quantitative results. The algorithm works really well for brick-and-mortar stores because it integrates localization features.
“The advantage that we have here with the app is that the majority of our users say they wouldn’t mind taking in an ad once in a while, especially if it’s a dispensary down the street.”
CJ: “That sounds powerful based solely on the local aspect. If you show me an ad for a dispensary in Denver and I live in California, I don’t care. But a dispensary a few miles from my location is truly appealing.”
AR: “It’s really hard being a brick-and-mortar store and using a network like Facebook to advertise. I think we have something that’s really different and that can help businesses like dispensaries in terms of attracting eyeballs and people who are relevant.
“Now, when you examine your options as a dispensary, you can throw a map pin on Weedmaps or you can go on Leafly or other sites, but there’s not a lot of analytics there. So it makes it really hard for these businesses to really determine what works and how they can grow their customer base.
“I think that’s a problem Duby can solve.”