Potbot uses AI to "read" through peer-reviewed medical journals to find studies on cannabinoids, the active compounds in marijuana. Using the research, it pairs 37 symptoms like insomnia, asthma and cancer with branded marijuana strains to find which type of weed is best suited to treat each one.
The company has raised $5 million to date, according to Potbotics CEO David Goldstein. Part of the reason for its success is the technology doesn't actually involve marijuana directly, making it completely legal he said. The app is available in Apple's App Store and the Google Play store. In addition, the bigger pharmaceutical companies haven't entered the space, giving the marijuana industry a "start-up mentality."
"We definitely see there's interest in the industry, for sure," Goldstein said. "It's one that has real potential in the United States and internationally. A lot of investors like non-cannabis touching entities, because they feel like they are hedging their bets a little bit."
There are some challenges, including having to look at state-by-state regulations instead of being able to scale quickly like other tech companies, he pointed out. Potbotics is focusing in the New England area for now.
Goldstein, who called the legalization of medical marijuana a "lifelong passion" of his, got the idea for Potbot after a family member got sick. There are two different cultures of marijuana users – those who seek it out for medicinal purposes versus those who use it recreationally, he said.
"She refused to get this medicine because she felt it wasn't a professional experience," Goldstein said. "There are great applications like Leafly and Weedmaps. We didn't feel like there was something that helps hit that medical patient."
Goldstein previously started a crowdfunding and marketing company called Crowdpunch, so he had experience in running a company. However, he had to convince father and co-founder Baruch Goldstein to get on board. Baruch, who holds a PhD in Mathematics, completed previous work pairing artificial intelligence with medical research. One of his projects involved using AI to finding botanical strains that would help treat pre-Alzheimer's patients.
"It was a little bit of an uphill battle convincing him, but he met some of the medical marijuana patients I introduced him too," said Goldstein. "He realized if you take a real medical approach it was the same."