It’s 2014, and for two states, it’s the first year of marijuana legalization. As a result, 2014 is a year for a number of firsts in the cannabis industry. This past weekend was the first-ever Marijuana Tech Startup Competition in Denver. The event was organized by CannaBuild and MassRoots; it coincided with the Denver Startup Week, which focused on Denver-area entrepreneurs in general. Though the Marijuana Tech Startup Competition occurred at the end of Denver Startup Week, the competition wasn’t actually affiliated.
Before the event took place, the lone-wolf status of the Marijuana Tech Startup Competition was cemented when organizers were forced to change the name of the event from the Marijuana Tech Startup Weekend. It turns out, according to The Denver Post, that the term “Startup Weekend” is actually trademarked by UP Global. According to an UP official quoted in The Denver Post’S story, UP hosts startup weekends around the world, and wasn’t too keen on having cannabis associated with their term.
Still, despite the naming controversy, Forbes said Denver is the second-best city in the country to launch a startup. Considering the rise of Colorado’s cannabis empire, Denver is likely the best city in the country to launch a marijuana startup.
So how did the Marijuana Tech Startup Competition work? It started on Friday, September 26, 2014, where entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to an audience of investors and developers. The ideas, according to the event website, were judged on whether they addressed an issue facing the cannabis industry, and whether they represented a project that could be tackled over the weekend. After the pitches, developers joined teams, and the weekend of coding began.
The Marijuana Tech Startup Competition consisted of more than just coding. There were mentors and speakers on hand, and while the event began on Friday evening, it ran for two full days on Saturday and Sunday. According to organizers, more than 150 people attended the three-day competition, including 45 developers and representatives of 12 investment funds.
Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots, a social media site for cannabis culture, called the competition a “high success,” according to Digital Journal. The ArcView Group was also present for the competition. According to The Denver Post, ArcView has reportedly invested $225,000 into CannaBuild, and over $1,000,000 into MassRoots.
Winners received $2,500 for first place, $1,000 for second and $500 for third. Each prize was named for a sponsor. The Surna first-place prize was awarded to CannaRegs, an informational application to notify members of the cannabis industry of any changes to laws and regulations. The Good Chemistry second-place prize went to CraftedHere, a directory of marijuana-friendly businesses. The Cannaseur third-place prize went to CannaBrokers, a system to make wholesale transactions between cannabis wholesalers and dispensaries easier.
This tech startup competition, and many other events like it that are occurring thanks to legalization, are like the work of the First Continental Congress putting together a young country during and after the American Revolution. Legalized cannabis is a revolution in the realms of commerce and personal freedom, which is exactly what entrepreneurs across this nation need.