Following legalization in Canada, reports indicate a spike in the number of emergency room visits by children accidentally consuming cannabis. It's also a concern in other markets, like California and Colorado. With cannabis more accessible and socially acceptable, it's moved into homes and, in some cases, found its way into small hands. It's this dilemma that led co-founders Ben Gliksman and Philip Wilkins to develop KEEP, a modern and, most importantly, safer take on the stereotypical stash box.
Marrying technology and sleek design elements, the KEEP storage device has recently earned the attention of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) — a world first. Following up on the announcement, Cannabis Tech spoke with Wilkins about the state of the industry, and the potential of KEEP to become the absolute best way to store marijuana.
A Design Created from Necessity
Wilkins is a father of three small children and a medical cannabis patient. Following a diagnosis of epilepsy, he turned to medical cannabis for use following the onset of seizures. With three toddlers running around his house, his stash became a growing concern.
During a discussion with friends, and hearing of their similar worries about the intersection of parenthood and legal cannabis use, the idea behind KEEP was born.
Gliksman and Wilkins, already accomplished entrepreneurs with a history of growing companies to $50M in annual revenue, realized modern cannabis consumers were still relying on beaten up cigar boxes and pencil cases to hold their stash. This was a problematic hold-over from cannabis' stoner-culture past. They designed KEEP to elevate the storage for the modern cannabis consumer. It is the first take on contemporary (and responsible) cannabis storage.
KEEP, the Best Way to Store Marijuana
KEEP is a biometrically locked storage device with a built-in scale feature to help patients monitor dose, and consumers to track consumption. A series of small interior storage cases keep cannabis products separate and aesthetically organized. Additionally, the secure storage device monitors temperature and humidity inside. Everything connects via Wifi and Bluetooth to a mobile app to keep the owner aware of the contents at all times.
While the stigma around cannabis is changing, Wilkins and Gliksman created a sleek, modern design, which importantly doesn't scream “stash box.” Available in a monochromatic black or white, the small box displays a digital clock and weather details, which means it naturally blends into the surrounding interior design.
Wilkins explained that the design aesthetic was intentional. In his opinion, “Cannabis is here,” and although there is no longer a need to hide it, the product doesn't need to announce its purpose to the world at large. Cannabis has moved far beyond Rastafarian references by this point.
The True North has Many Benefits for Cannabis Businesses
Wilkins, Gliksman, and the rest of the team at KEEP are headquartered just outside of Toronto, in Waterloo, Ontario. As Wilkins explains, a Canadian base has come with some unexpected benefits. For one, the market is much more friendly towards cannabis and ancillary cannabis business than they have found south of the border. In his opinion, the country offers a massive opportunity to network with investors, licensed producers, and more. The ecosystem in Canada is much more diverse and open than what is available through the U.S.
Even when they set to launch a crowdfunding campaign for KEEP, they discovered that both Kickstarter and Indiegogo refuse to support cannabis or cannabis adjacent companies. Instead, KEEP has had to launch its own crowdfunding campaign leading up to the release of the first storage device.
With the crowdfunding campaign kicking off, KEEP recently earned a massive win with the announcement from CES this November. Their prototype has won the 2020 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Home Appliance category. Technically, this is the first time CES has ever awarded a cannabis consumer technology at the annual awards.
According to a recent piece by Mashable, it's taken a long time for any cannabis-related companies to even show at the awards. In 2018, CES banned both PAX and Puffco from showing at the expo because they were working with cannabis technologies (even if they were not handling the plant themselves). Famously, PuffCo was forced to work with an off-site hotel in 2018 to showcase their wares. With KEEP winning in the Home Appliance Category, this does suggest a shift in opinion in consumer tech.
Breaking Down Stereotypes and Evolving Cannabis Consumer Tech
KEEP is launching at a time of remarkable transition. Cannabis consumers no longer fit into the stoner stereotypes of the past. They are successful, responsible, and professional. This is the target market for KEEP. As the sleek marketing campaign makes clear, even parents need somewhere to store their products when not in use.
Based on KEEP's market research, only 11 percent of consumers keep their products locked away in a storage container. The vast majority, 89 percent, have no such storage containers for their at-home stash. With more people dabbling in cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes, there is a real risk that children and pets will stumble upon it.
Wilkins recounted how they “made a thoughtful decision to keep cannabis responsibly — not hidden.” It was crucial to the company to develop a consumer product that took advantage of technology and modern design aesthetic, because as Wilkins says, “You don't have to sacrifice any of this as a cannabis consumer.” KEEP is a cannabis-focused consumer technology focused on design, responsibility, and quality.