A group of entrepreneurs, startup developers and cannabis-industry professionals networked and talked shop at Seattle’s first Cannabis Tech Meetup at Magical Butter Studios in SoDo Monday evening.
Red Russak, co-organizer of the Seattle Tech Meetup and one of the leading forces behind the Cannabis Tech event, was surprised and delighted that more than 50 people with a “perfect blend” of cannabis and tech backgrounds attended the inaugural event. With the legalization of marijuana, so-called cannapreneurs are looking to profit.
“Prohibition era is close to ending. You’ve got smart people thinking about where to start their business,” he said. “Any help we can provide for the community, the better.”
Many of the startups are similar to existing tech companies, just tailored to the marijuana market, such as Canary, which is being described as “Uber for marijuana,” or The Happy Crate, which, similar to Birchbox, provides “tools and accessories to help you smoke smarter” as well as fun things to do while high. Founders of both Canary and The Happy Crate attended the meetup, along with James Lathrop, owner of recreational marijuana store Cannabis City which will be the first in Seattle to open its doors on Tuesday.
However, like Magical Butter’s “marijuana food truck” the company spent the winter marketing, it is questionable whether some of the ideas would even be legal under the new Washington regulations.
After an initial networking session, 15-second introductions from people in the room and a brief presentation by Magical Butter about their botanical extraction device (which is legal), attendees were free to trade ideas and ask questions. Entrepreneurs happily networked over snacks and drinks provided by Magical Butter (not THC-infused, to some attendees’ dismay).
Cy Scott, co-founder of Seattle-based cannabis tech company Leafly and co-organizer of the event, fielded queries about how to tap into the tech side of the industry. “I would get a lot of people coming up to me knowing I’m one of the co-founders of Leafly, at the intersection of tech and cannabis, saying they want to do something similar but didn’t know where to start,” he explained.
Russak and Scott consider the first event a resounding success; Russak was especially thrilled by one software developer who announced to the room that he had never smoked in his life, but was interested in the business opportunities the legal cannabis industry provides.
“We want to enforce and reinforce that this is not about cannabis smoking or consuming, this is about cannabis as an industry,” said Russak. “We want to avoid having a rep that we are anything but entrepreneurs who are smart enough to get in on an industry that’s going to be worth billions in five to ten years.”
Cannabis Tech Meetup. 6 P.M., Monday, Aug. 4, Magical Butter Studios, 2225 1st Ave. S, Seattle; $10 (www.meetup.com/Cannabis-Tech-Meetup).