Green Bits, the San Francisco TechCrunch Disrupt first runner up, brings point-of-sale software services to the world of legal retail marijuana. According to Ben Curren, CEO of Green Bits, “The most exciting thing is that [marijuana retail] stores can run like normal businesses. It removes all the headaches of compliance.”
It is also remarkable that marijuana-specific startups were allowed to compete in TechCrunch Disrupt for the first time in September and that Green Bits is the brainchild of a serial entrepreneur with previous interests not in cannabis, but in building software solutions for small businesses. These are the hallmarks of an industry that is maturing at lightning speed. For legal marijuana commerce, the next new thing is normalcy, itself.
What Green Bits Does
Green Bits software, like other POS systems, is designed to process payments in a way that allows cannabusinesses to turn data about sales, inventory, payroll and other employee functions into actionable intelligence. The extra advantage, according to Curren, is that it can be customized on a state-by-state basis to simplify regulatory and legal compliance, including seed-to-sale tracking and tax remittances. As he told MJINews, “It’s the same product, but you can plug in different rules for each state.” In a heavily regulated industry, easing the burden of legal compliance can be a significant advantage for a small business.
Where Green Bits is Going
The beta version of the software is currently in use in approximately 45 percent of retail cannabis business in the state of Washington. The company looks forward to expanding into Colorado and Oregon in the near future and, as Curren told MJINews, into Nevada, California and Alaska in 2016.
Asked about the company’s success to date, Curren noted that the company has depended largely on word of mouth advertising. “In some ways, simplicity is difficult to sell.” Although the underlying architecture of the system is not necessarily simple, the user’s experience with it should be.
Is Cannabis Too Disruptive?
Four months has made a huge difference in the world of legal marijuana. As recently as this past May, MassRoots (OTCQB: MSRT), a social media app for cannabis enthusiasts, was apparently deemed too disruptive for TechCrunch’s startup Battlefield.
In the September battle, two marijuana-specific startups, Green Bits and Leaf, a marijuana growing system, were allowed to compete. The first place winner of the competition, Agrylist, provides solutions to help greenhouse operators run their operations more efficiently by pulling in data from sensors at the grow site. Although now more immediately focused on tomatoes and salad greens, indoor agriculture technology has obvious applications for commercial cannabis growing operations, as well.
It’s All About the Data
Curren is a serial entrepreneur with a background in payroll software, not like many of the earliest entrepreneurs, someone primarily invested in the cause of legalization. He and partners reinvested profits from the sale of Outright, an accounting software designed for freelancers, to bootstrap Green Bits, although they will be seeking investment for further expansion.
Excitement about point-of-service software is a long way from the wild days of legal cannabis’s youth in 2014. But that is precisely the point of legalization. The emerging normal is business as usual, with a touch of technological finesse.