Over 1,000 startups competed this year at TechCrunch’s Disrupt. Two of the six finalists were cannabis-related. Agrilyst, a cannabis greenhouse data sensor, won the coveted Disrupt Cup and $50,000. It’s a far-cry from last year. After last year’s competition, MassRoots publicly slammed TechCrunch, claiming TechCrunch disenfranchised 50% of their vote and selected a company with less than 1,000 votes. MassRoots says they won the popular vote in the Startup Alley, yet were mysteriously were not admitted into the Startup Battlefield round. This year, however, cannabis startups appear to be welcomed with open arms.
Agrilyst is co-founded by woman, CEO Allison Kopf. Agrilyst helps cultivators operate more efficiently by retrieving data from sensors in the greenhouse. Currently, cannabis greenhouses already monitor C02 levels, light and humidity, but there’s not effective software available to control the data. In addition, timed lighting is generally hardwired and cannot be manipulated. Agrilyst helps growers understand the best way to use peak energy pricing. “Plants don’t care when they get their energy,” Kopf told TechCrunch. Kopf says her number one question is whether Agrilyst is intended for cannabis. She admitted that she’s acknowledged the potential in the cannabis industry.
Green Bits, the runner up, is a point-of-sale software for cannabis dispensaries. Green Bits said they have market domination in Washington with 45%. Green Bits said if a client pays them $500 a month, or $6,000 a year. Before Green Bits, the company sold the startup Outrightcom to GoDaddy. When asked about the effects of legalization, Green Bits CEO Ben Curren told TechCrunch “Drug abuse will be treated as a social problem rather than criminal. Millions of people will have an opportunity to get healthy and become a contributing member of society rather than a burden on the system.”
San Francisco is a tech sector mecca and the cannabis-related startups are beginning to be noticed. It’s comforting to see both the winner and startup are willing to help jumpstart the cannabis industry.