Many would argue that cannabis and good business sense do not necessarily marry up too well whilst generations of creatives have always asserted a link between pot and productivity but now business bods are seizing upon the idea that marijuana means money and are finding new and innovative ways of moving into this growing industry.
Since the legalisation of cannabis in the states of Washington and Colorado, budding entrepreneurs have been looking into making the most of this new business sector that has just opened up and with many more states re-considering their approach to marijuana, now could be a good time to get ahead of the game.
Of course there are the obvious routes to go down, such as agriculture or retail, but one such event has tried to encourage more technological innovation within the burgeoning field as more and more retailers move from underground to mainstream and are looking at marketing their products to the iPhone generation.
The first-ever Marijuana Technology Startup Weekend was hosted in Denver, Colorado and saw an array of tecchies, marijuana based businesses and potential investors congregate for talks, events and exhibitions all designed to see legitimate investment within the cannabis growing industry and to make the most of the ‘green rush’ happening in the two states that have legalised it.
Organised by a group of marijuana entrepreneurs (including Isaac Dietrich who is the founder of Mass Roots, a social network designed to connect cannabis users together in order to share information and experiences) the event was a sell-out and had many areas of discussion on the agenda.
One such area was, of course, investment as many traditional venture capitalists are barred from investing in this industry (as the marijuana trade is still considered illegal at a federal level) and so the industry is in need of smaller investors to step into the fray and provide them with the backing they need. This not only provides a great opportunity to first time investors but also allows for greater innovation, creativity and communication between the companies and investors that is rarely forthcoming with larger investments because of the level of control dictated by the investors. The potential for greater freedom is considerable within this exciting new industry.
Other areas saw a push for creativity as there was a competition to get businesses to submit a ‘minimum viable product’ (basically a beta version of an app or website) before then having 48 hours to develop the idea and pitch in order to sell the business to investors and potential customers alike. The eventual winner was Amanda Ostrovitz for her website CannaRegs which “keeps dispensaries, investors and ancillary businesses informed of changes to marijuana laws and regulations” which was considered vital to such a new industry that is going to be, for the foreseeable future, so tightly regulated.
Second place was awarded to CraftedHere which “provides an online directory of cannabis-friendly bars, clubs and dispensaries for tourists and marijuana enthusiasts “so that the trade may expand its customer base and America can compete with the Netherlands in attracting a tourist trade from marijuana. Finally, third place went to CannaBrokers, which “facilitates wholesale transactions between licensed growers, edibles producers and extract companies with dispensaries” so that retailers can buy approved products without the hassle of intense research into their background or the worry of not knowing where their product is coming from.
With technology and the Marijuana trade shaping up to be the two defining industries of America within the twenty-first century, to some, it only makes sense to bring the two together.
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By Vincent JS Wood