It was a quiet Sunday morning as attendees came into WeWork Seattle. Mundane conversations mixed with the smell of fresh coffee and while energy was low, spirits were high as organizers lead teams into the final day of GrassRoots Hackathon.

Originally posted on hellomynameiszen.com

Day 2 of GrassRoots Hackathon exploded into the beautiful spaces of WeWork Seattle (wework.com/seattle). Teams quickly set to obliterating every possible surface with Post-Its, while the furious click-clackity of keyboard driven brainstorms persisted throughout the day.

Originally posted on hellomynameiszen.com

I have the pleasant opportunity to be a co-organizer of GrassRoots Hackathon, Seattle’s first cannabis technology hackathon.

Day 1 of GrassRoots Hackathon kicked off as entrepreneurs, technology experts, and industry leaders descended on WeWork Seattle to shake hands and discuss the rapidly growing, and changing, cannabis industry in Washington State. You can follow the live coverage of our event using #GRH2015.

The recent explosion of popularity in cannabis as an industry is fascinating and thought-provoking. Although perhaps too early to call, it seems reminiscent of the development of the technology industry - at first mistrusted, then grudgingly accepted, until becoming a part of everyday life.

The newly-legal cannabis industry is in the news a lot lately, and for good reason: it's America's fastest growing industry, expected to grow by 64% in 2015 and create 200,000 new jobs. But as the saying goes, oh-so popular amongst entrepreneurs, "You can mine for gold, or you can sell pickaxes."

Event organizers are often asked: "What do sponsors get out of these events they spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on?" It's a fair enough question - to a lot of people, the benefits to sponsoring an event like a hackathon or startup competition can be hard to spot.

Those familiar with other startup competitions will recognize GrassRoots format:

Friday:

We'll open the event with drinks, networking, and dinner on Friday night, before getting down to business.  We'll go over what to expect from the weekend, what resources you'll have at your disposal, and what we're looking for in judging criteria during the presentations on Sunday.  After that, it's time for the pitch process: everyone who wants to present an idea gets 60 seconds to say who they are, what problem they want to solve, what their propose solution is, and who they need to help build a Minimum Viable Product. Once everyone who wants to has pitched an idea, participants will vote on their favorite ideas, and then form teams around them.  Friday night will end with the newly-formed teams going off to brainstorm and get on the same page before heading home for the night.

There are a lot of great benefits to attending a hackathon or startup competition. Here's what we've come up with for GrassRoots:

  • Expand your network - Be around other professionals (sponsors, coaches, and fellow attendees) who are passionate about both technology and cannabis

 

  • Find a co-founder - Truly get to know someone by working together on a project, and you might just find the yin to your yang and do amazing things together.

 

GrassRoots is for anyone excited about the intersection of cannabis and technology. You don't need to be a veteran programmer or experienced entrepreneur to attend – you just need to be passionate about cannabis and willing to spend a weekend building and launching a company.