In 2008, while working as a project manager for a small telecommunications and data center in the Midwest, I was told of an executive management meeting in which one of the C-level leaders suggested the company should start random drug screening their highly technical staff. Immediately, another manager spoke up, exclaiming, “If you start random drug testing, we’re going to lose at least half our staff.” He was right – most of our most talented developers frequently consumed marijuana despite living and working in a state where one can still get arrested for possessing a single joint to this day.
However, ten years later, in what seems an incredible twist of irony, cannabis and technology are being openly married in the First Annual GrowUp Cannabis Hackathon September 6th through the 7th. Joining together in a glorious union of cannabis and coding genius, developers are converging on Toronto, Canada with just 24-hours to meet the Trellis challenge and impress a panel of judges.
Luann Williams, who handles the hackathon production along with her colleagues David Hazan and Travis Laurendine, stated during an interview, “The Hackathon event will bring together about 100 developers, engineers, and coders – forward thinkers – to develop visualization tools for a particular data set in the cannabis industry.
As an international seed to sale software provider, Trellis is currently operating across the globe in the US, Canada, Australia and Jamaica. As the legal cannabis market spreads throughout out the world, the databases at Trellis are expanding, too; and Pranav Sood, Founder and CEO, wanted a creative way to attract, find, and hire some of the best hackers, developers and engineers in the business to provide an innovative way to put all that data to use.
As a complete seed to sale solution, the Trellis databases collect a broad range of data including, inventory tracking data, purchasing data, harvest details such as a moisture levels, harvest weight, and yield loss, cultivation tracking information, and extraction process monitoring. Additionally, the database also tracks all cannabis waste disposal and proper chain of custody.
While the software provides reporting and certain dashboard capabilities, Trellis issued a 24-hour Hackathon challenge to create a new, innovative way to display the data they capture.
Enter the Hackathon
As one of the first of its kind, this GrowUp Cannabis Hackathon is designed to bring hackers, engineers, developers, and coders together in a highly creative, high-energy environment to explore new ideas regarding tracking, purchasing, reporting, strain identification, verification, integration with the cannabis industry, and other solutions for cannabis data.“We need to display the data and make it useful,” Sood stated in a recent interview. “Owners and managers are too busy with day to day operations to do the analyzation.” In an effort to reach beyond the typical boundaries, the Hackathon acts as a catalyst for innovative creation to provide the solution.
Hackers will have access to all of the data and multiple APIs in order to create their solution. Sood mentioned that solution could be anything from dashboards, to virtual reality or artificial intelligence. Currently the Trellis software application collects more data than required by regulation, so the breadth of information developers have to work with is vast.
Hosted by experienced Hackathon facilitator, Travis Laurendine, hackers will form groups based on complimentary skill sets. After the sponsors present their APIs, the teams will be given just 24-hours to build an application which must use at least one of the presented APIs. The API sponsors will be on hand to spend time with the teams, and Trellis officials will also be onsite to help steer hackers in the right direction.
All contestants must be at least 19 years old and will be selected through applications which are due by September 5th. Throughout the event Hackathon contestants will be provided with food, snacks, and beverages, as well as, entertainment to keep the creative energy buzzing.
At the end of the 24-hour creation window, teams will present their projects to a panel of judges including Jay Rosenzweig (Managing Director of Rosenzweig & Co), Alex Blumenstein (Co-Founder of Leaf Forward, Canada's first cannabis business accelerator), Matt Shalhoub (Managing Director of Green Acre Capital), and Rachel Colic (VP Brand Strategy & PR for Pure Global Cannabis Inc.). Judges will select finalists and winners with the highest scoring submission based on the judges’ opinions on the following factors: Impact to the cannabis industry (25%); User Experience (25%); Innovativeness (25%); Technical Excellence (25%).
Finally, the winning team will get whisked away from Toronto after the 24-hour event on a luxury tour bus to Niagra Falls for an awards presentation and ceremony at the GrowUp Cannabis Conference and Expo. Additionally, the team will be offered the opportunity to contract with the cannabis technology company to continue their work.
However, it’s the event itself which excites Sood. “Timing is everything. With Canada leading legalization, the market is exploding, and we are at the forefront.” Sood continued, “The stigmas are diminishing and now is the perfect time for engineers to jump in and get acquainted at this unique event.”