|iToke.® launches delivery service in Amsterdam.
For immediate release: 6 March, 2000.
If post dot-com iToke.® has its way, there's one more thing that e-commerce will enable consumers to buy in the next year. Grass, pot, weed, ganja - call it what you will, but to the "budding" entrepreneurs at iToke.® it's a product by any name.
" iToke.® was a no-brainer," says Tim Freccia one of iToke.®'s two founding partners. "For years, Europe has been striving for a rational, balanced policy towards marijuana. With the advent of comprehensive e-commerce solutions, we have been able to demonstrate a distribution system to communities that not only allays fears about criminality, but also guarantees that users can enjoy our products safely and responsibly. Better yet, much like the state-sanctioned lottery in the UK, we have provided governments with a way to funnel tax revenue back into the community. "
Freccia and partner, Mike Tucker, both Seattle natives, relocated to Germany in the late '90s and started advertising and post-production businesses respectively in then boomtown Berlin. While both were quite successful, they both felt that the opportunities normally associated with the New Economy were somehow passing Europe by.
" A few years ago there were so many barriers to launching a start-up in Europe. We felt that we had to go a different route by developing something uniquely European, with strong European support and investment, and the high potential for universal brand appeal. iToke.® simply couldn't be launched anywhere else, " states Tucker.
On September 1, 2000 the streets of Amsterdam will be dotted with green and white iToke.® courier bicycles. The bicycle fleet will respond with a 30-minute guarantee to orders placed for iToke.® product by phone, fax, and most significantly, WAP enabled mobile phones.
Customers will pay for products with prepaid iTokenŽ - SIMs (smart cards) that can be obtained and refilled online via credit card, or in POP displays throughout Amsterdam. Through the convenience of prepaid, and the elimination of cash currency, customers are guaranteed confidentiality and the iToke.® couriers will be a welcome sight to both users and city officials who are glad to be ridden of the seedier aspects of the trade.
"iToke.® is a vertical corporation; " explains Freccia. "Think Seattle. Think Starbucks."
With that said, iToke.® has had no problems courting investors and is already developing services for other cities. "Our investors have offered a lot more than just finance, they've given us tremendous credibility and have been our best lobbyists. Our business isn't different than any other business and had its share of obstacles to overcome. At the end of the day, who do you want to buy from? Some guy in an alley in Barcelona or from a company that not only delivers premium products, but also shows an interest in the community and its employees?" asks Tucker.
For those of you feeling a little left out, iToke.® is also launching a chain of "toke style" clubs suggestively called iTokeo.® According to schedule, the first iTokeoŽ's will open simultaneously with iToke.® Service in Amsterdam, followed by three flagship iTokeoŽ's in London, New York and Tokyo in 2001 with a dozen more locations in pre-production.
"iToke.® is an investor driven venture. It all goes back to one of the fundamental rules of investment: invest in what you use, invest in what you believe in. And that's exactly what our investors are doing, both with iTokeŽ and the iTokeoŽ clubs," explains Freccia.
Tucker echoes his partner's feelings: "iTokeo® is our inroad to the American mainstream. Having grown up as teenagers in the Northwest, "toking" is part of our shared experience, our collective mythology. iTokeoŽ provides an outlet to both reminisce and celebrate a pastime that is as American as Silicon Valley."
If Tucker and Freccia have their way, iToke.® will have an IPO by the end of the year. ITOK, dude.