I sat down with Lauren Mundell, founder of Hi-Curious, a social media app for cannabis users. We talk about micro-dosing with cannabis, navigating the boy’s club as a woman, and creating a platform for people to feel seen.
Who could you be with cannabis in your life?
For Lauren Mundell, the answer is a happier, healthier mom who is more willing to take risks. Risks like starting your own social media platform to counter to rampant censorship of in the industry and create a new channel for people to make connections and monetize their small cannabusinesses.
Mundell is the founder of Hi-Curious, a cannabis-based networking app that allows people to freely talk about and share their experiences with cannabis. From showing products to sharing smoking tips and educating the masses, there is no cannabis topic that’s off limits on Hi-Curious.
Mundell didn’t start using cannabis until her 40s, after a bad experience in college turned her off from it. But after watching her husband become happier and more relaxed after smoking, she was convinced to give it another try.
That experience changed everything. Today, Mundell is a daily consumer who loves micro-dosing with her bong. Her cannabis use empowered her to leave behind the corporate rat race, start her own company, and become an advocate for women in the boy’s club that is cannabis. She credits medicating with cannabis for helping her deal with her anxiety, change her parenting style, and show up as her most authentic self.
Hi-Curious operates off a subscription model of content, which is not unique to social media, but it is within the cannabis industry. Mundell admits it can be challenging sometimes selling her vision to people who don’t even fully understand social media, but her unwavering belief in the community she’s creating keeps her moving forward.
Hi-Curious is available for download in the app store and on PCs.
What’s something in the industry you’re excited to see?
LM: I’m really excited to see more people coming out of the cannabis closet. I think it’s been really interesting. I’ve been spending a lot of time on clubhouse lately. I attend this session every Sunday morning led by high society mama on clubhouse. I have been blown away, just hearing how many women are using cannabis, have been using cannabis, have always used cannabis as a part of their lifestyle, but they just were never confident talking about it because they were afraid of all the ramifications that could happen to them, whether it be before they were parent and getting arrested now, getting, losing their kids, all these things.
I see so many cannabis moms who are really changing how they parent and breaking generational trauma. And I know that if I had had cannabis when my kids were young- it was so overwhelming for me as a working parent. And I think if I would’ve had cannabis, I would’ve been able to be a much calmer mom. I am a much calmer mom. Now there’s no yelling or screaming in my house. There’s a lot more communication. And I know that many can moms are working so hard on breaking that general generational trauma and helping they, our families be happier and cannabis is a catalyst to that.
So now you’re hearing moms from Texas, Michigan from more what would be considered more conservative markets talking about how they’re using cannabis. And I’m really excited because I believe that women are the changemakers. We’re the purchase drivers for the household, we help the family make wellness purchase decisions. And so as more and more women are coming out of the green closet, we’re gonna really be able to help be the change that we’re are looking for in the world.
What’s something you’re not a fan of?
LM: I think a lot of us have been talking lately about the fact that cannabis is a boys club.
In general, business is a boys club. So let’s just not demonize necessarily the cannabis industry, however cannabis industry has come up through illegal means. And there was a lot of time when probably men needed to protect the plant with guns thank goodness for those people, but we don’t need that anymore.
We need now more of a shepherding of the message and the plant, and we need everyone in to tell their story. And I find on social media and in person at conferences and things like that, that women are being silenced. They’re afraid in the workplace, they’re afraid to speak out against things that make them uncomfortable for fear of losing their jobs.
And ever since I started talking about this topic, like so many women have come to me in the DMS saying, thank you so much for talking about this, I’m not confident enough to comment on your post but this is just such an important topic. And everybody’s like so afraid to talk about. And if people are afraid to talk about something, it means it needs to be talked about.
How does Hi-Curious push for social equity?
LM: The whole reason why I built Hi-Curious was because I found that there was a huge problem in the industry with being able to start a small business. Being able to get a payment provider, this is one of the hardest things to do in cannabis and extremely expensive, not something that the average person who’s just starting a business can do. They’re gonna get kicked off Stripe, they’re gonna kick get kicked off PayPal, they’re gonna get kicked off Square.
I wanted to build a place where it would be easy for people to open a business and start making money. I actually built Hi-Curious so that I could empower others to build their own businesses. And then I take a cut of what they build instead of it being and like helping them build it.
I want Hi-Curious, as a platform, an extremely rich, diverse place thought, diverse in experience, in age, across across the board with the core element being that we all know that cannabis is medicine and we’re advancing that mission. So we may have different political views on certain things but at Hi-Curious, our mission is about cannabis being seen as a wellness supplement in the future.
What do you see as the future of the cannabis industry?
LM: Ever since the state of the union address I’m definitely feeling ever more confident that legalization is many years off and not something that as an industry, we should even be kind of focusing.
I’m most excited about watching, in this next seven years, a mind shift.
It’s already changed so much in the four years that I’ve been in the industry. So to see how it’s gonna shift, in the next seven years between now and 2030 as this next generation comes in and is starting to be more leadership-oriented in this space- we could never have predicted where we’d be today. COVID accelerated cannabis so much. So we can’t predict where we’re gonna be in seven years, but it’s so fun to be on this ride.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
LM: The biggest challenge is capital. We haven’t overcome raising capital yet. The only way we’ve raised capital is through my friends and family.
We’re at the stage right now where we’re doing a raise. I’m very excited to get a seat at some tables and have some good conversations about funding this vision which I truly believe will support the cannabis industry’s growth as a whole.
Sometimes we’ve gotten up to bat with investors and a lot of investors are somewhere between like Gen X and Boomers. They might not understand the subscription model of an app platform. And it’s very challenging to explain. That’s been a big challenge for us- do they understand the concept of what we’re building?
I’ve been working on this for two years, the subscription model, and people didn’t understand why people would pay other people. It was very challenging to have that conversation, but Instagram just announced that they’re piloting subscription model for creators. And LinkedIn is gonna start doing it; I think they’re gonna monetize the newsletters. Twitter’s also doing it. And then obviously there’s Patreon and Only Fans in circle and a million other places where you can monetize your community, but there is no place in cannabis for it, except for Hi-Curious.
What’s something that you’re proud of?
LM: This isn’t like necessarily related to the business, like it’s more personal, but it’s business related and it’s that like, sometimes I don’t give myself a lot of credit for. The fact that I raise my kids as a single mom
I put a lot of pressure on myself. I was living in New York, on Long Island. I was commuting to New York City. And I just had this goal that I would be in a position where I didn’t need anyone else to care for my kids and pay for my kids.
I had a nanny, my mom was also very involved and all this, but if I was a single dad and I was doing what I did, people would be like, oh my God, he’s the best dad. He’s so involved, , he’s there, he goes to all the games, whatever. But a mom is supposed to, you know? I guess that’s just something that I’m really proud of, that I don’t sometimes give myself enough credit for.
And now with cannabis, I’ve actually changed how I parent so much. I mean, my kids, my 16-year-old, he’s just playing and joking with me and we would never have been able to joke about that before, you know?
What do you want people to take away from Hi-Curious?
LM: The most important thing to me is that people feel seen. That’s what I believe differentiates Hi-Curious from other social media platforms.
When you come to Hi-Curious, especially when you join a live stream, you’re going to immediately feel like you’re a part of something. People are gonna introduce themselves to you in the comment stream, they’re gonna tell you good morning or good evening. They’re gonna welcome you. They’re gonna ask you where you’re from, the streamer is gonna ask you where you’re from.
I want people to feel seen and feel like they wanna be a part of it. And I think that’s the thing that we’re missing so much on social media. It’s like my whole gripe with men – it all comes down to feeling like you’re not being seen.. You’re out here on regular social media and it used to be a connection tool, but what it’s really become now is like, look at me, look at me. And especially in cannabis, since we don’t really have any other look at me tools.
That’s why I call it the antidote for social media for cannabis people, because it’s not a competition for likes and follows. It’s not a popularity contest.
What’s next for you?
LM: We have our 420 event coming up! We’re for people who wanna participate right now. We’re looking for both sponsors as well as participants.
If you are somebody who’s looking to build a business in the cannabis industry, and you’d like to share your business or your yourself with us and the community on 420, we’re doing a 16 hour live stream.
We already have, we got like some great initial interest in participating, so we’re really excited, but we’re definitely looking for more people who wanna then build businesses on the platform.
We are also doing a capital raise right now. We’re looking for investors to help us get to that next level. Our goal is to get to 100,000 downloads within the next 18 months to two years, as well as have like 50 creators that are making amazing content.
What’s your favorite way to consume cannabis?
LM: Oh I love at least a six inch water pipe, or a bong, whatever you want to call it. I also have been really loving the chill steel pipes.
When I first started using cannabis everybody was like smoking joints, but it feels like cigarettes to me. There’s just something about it that just feels unhealthy. I know that like doing a bong rip probably doesn’t feel healthy to some people, but like for me, it’s like going through the water and I can manage my dose. I don’t know why, it’s just a mental thing.
I still am a micro-doser, but I micro-dose a lot more often than I used to. So I consume a lot of cannabis, but just in small doses, throughout the course of the day. So I love the bong because you could just put your bowl in there, corner it, and have four or five little hits in there.
What’s your favorite fun fact about cannabis?
LM: My favorite fun fact is that we only learned about the endocannabinoid system in the 1990s.
I love to drop this on people. The endocannabinoid system, which is an actual system in our body was not discovered until the 1990s and is still not taught in most medical schools. And this is an actual receptor system within our body that can be balanced or imbalance just like other receptors in our body. And people are always blown away by that. Like, wait, so there’s an endocannabinoid system, which means there really is a key in lock situation here in cannabis.