16 Influential Technology Companies

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Ten years ago, having consumed cannabis at least once was enough to qualify job-seekers and entrepreneurs for an industry gig. In a world struggling to accept the plant as anything more than a prohibited substance, knowledge and experience were essential for individual and industry progress

Things aren’t so simple nowadays. Depending upon the vertical, knowledge about the plant, cannabinoids, consumption methods, lab testing, nutrients, lighting, and proper handling procedures—among a host of other things—is expected. Instead of mere education, recruiters seek candidates with experience that has kept pace with the rapid sophistication—and even more rapid technological evolution—of the industry.

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Gone are the days of unmarked flower sold out of mason jars and inventory lists scribbled on crumpled napkins. Today’s industry is increasingly digitized, streamlined, and uncannily similar to every other consumer-packaged-goods sector. With evolution has come a new set of qualifications and standards for what defines success.

For many operators, especially those who transitioned from the legacy market, keeping up has not been easy. Having operated underground for decades, cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers had little idea where to begin when they realized it was safe to step out of the shadows and showcase their work, and even less idea how to maintain compliance with a state-by-state patchwork of laws and regulations. One small misstep could cost a legal business hefty fines, loss of products, and perhaps its very existence.

Technology developers stepped in to ease some of the burden, not only with day-to-day compliance issues but also with sales and inventory tracking, cultivation processes, and personnel management. From business-to-business (B2B) marketplace resources to adaptable manufacturing equipment and software that can slash cultivators’ workload from days to minutes, tech companies have delivered a host of innovative offerings.

Agrify

Sector: cultivation
Year founded: 2016
Primary product: integrated cultivation software and hardware

Agrify’s artificially intelligent indoor grow systems help cultivators sustainably and scalably produce high crop yields with consistent cannabinoid and terpene profiles. “Our technology gives growers the ability to not only cultivate cannabis but also start having intentional results,” said Chief Science Officer David Kessler. “In general, the same strain can have over 100-percent variation in cannabinoid content and 500-percent variation in terpene profile. What our customers see, because of the granularly controlled environments we provide, is around 1-percent variability in cannabinoids and less than 0.1-percent variability in terpenes.”

Akerna

Sector: supply chain
Year founded: 2018
Primary product: compliance and management software ecosystem

Akerna Chief Executive Officer Jessica Billingsley founded MJ Freeway, a legacy seed-to-sale tracking platform, in 2010. After MJ Freeway merged with the special purpose acquisition company MTech to form Akerna in 2018, the new, publicly traded entity expanded its offerings to provide compliance solutions, data analytics, business-management software, inventory tracking, and consultancy. “Our ecosystem includes our compliance engine, open [application programming interface] infrastructure, user interface applications, and reporting applications,” Billingsley said. “We took care to use an approach that would address not only the needs of the small-to-medium-sized business segment, but also those of the growing enterprise market.”

Blackbird

Sector: marketing, ecommerce, delivery
Year founded: 2015
Primary product: marketing tools and transportation solutions

Once upon a time, Blackbird was a bicycle courier service. After collaborating with a competitor and moving into the cannabis space, the company became among the first cannatech businesses to provide direct-to-consumer delivery. Today, the software-and-services provider has expanded its platform to offer marketing and ecommerce solutions. The company’s software facilitates using data in an actionable, customer-focused way. “The license-holder is still leading much of the [consumer] experience in specific markets, and there’s no uniform shopping experience,” said Director of Marketing JamalEdeen Barghouti. “As we see more states come online, we’ll start to see shoppers lead the conversations, so we provide all the tools and features possible for brands and retailers to listen to and interact with shoppers.”

BLAZE

Sector: cultivation, retail, delivery
Year founded: 2017
Primary product: seed-to-sale solutions

BLAZE is one of the first seed-to-sale technology companies to focus heavily on the delivery side of the industry, thanks to cofounder and CEO Chris Violas’s personal experience running a dispensary from 2011 to 2014. The operation’s consumer delivery service helped him realize how many different pain points exist in the delivery model. BLAZE Dispatch, which centralizes operations to help clients save time and margin, addresses the issues Violas said operators encounter on a regular basis. “If you have twelve stores, do you need an inventory manager at each store? Probably not,” he said. “Our product makes it so two people can manage the bulk of a dispensary’s delivery dispatch remotely, focusing on automation and sales-channel expansion.”

CanPay

Sector: financial
Year founded: 2016
Primary product: debit-payment app

In an industry that has a notoriously complex relationship with payment, CanPay claims never to have experienced a banking-related shutdown or issue in its six years of operation. Offering a way for consumers to purchase products electronically at any of the 850 merchants that accept CanPay, the company has worked compliance into its technology to address regulations enforced by the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. “We’ve provided innovation to the industry by offering fee-free transactions to consumers,” said CEO Dustin Eide. “CanPay’s cost is low enough that merchants are willing to take on the cost of the transaction so consumers can shop like they do anywhere else.”

Cognitive Harmony Technologies

Sector: licensing and regulation
Year founded: 2021
Primary product: license application software platform

Cognitive Harmony Technologies, also known as CHT, intentionally places a heavy emphasis on social equity. Social-equity applicants often face additional hurdles when trying to qualify for a license, and CHT has built an entire incubator strategy around the issue. “Imagine TurboTax, but created for cannabis business licenses,” said cofounder, CEO, and Chief Technology Officer Walter Moore. “We provide clients with all the question-and-answer data-gathering they need in order to populate and generate all the documents they have to submit for an application. We also generate standard operating procedures, business policies, operational plans, impact-environmental plans, cultivation plans, and more.”

Confident Cannabis

Sector: wholesale, labs
Year founded: 2015
Primary product: wholesale- and lab-management software

Confident Cannabis serves wholesalers by providing inventory-led data tracking to vendors and retailers, but the company’s primary product and offering is designed for testing labs. Just as a retailer must connect to a point-of-sale system to operate efficiently, a lab needs an inventory management system—a point the industry is still learning, according to cofounder and CEO Steve Albarran. “Our lab-testing technology covers the whole workflow—everything from customer relations and sample intake to tracking, data, and final results being sent to Metrc,” he said. The team is working to build an integrated ecosystem so Confident Cannabis technology can connect seamlessly with other required software operators already use.

Eaze

Sector: ecommerce and delivery
Year founded: 2014
Primary product: consumer marketplace

Operating in California and Michigan, Eaze is an online marketplace that connects consumers to local brands while collecting insights that predict future retail trends. The company utilizes its consumer data to understand market forces including product preferences, purchase frequency, and the prices consumers are willing to pay, helping the industry understand what is needed in terms of education, awareness, and research. “We regularly invest in scalability and customer convenience to transaction- and payment-processing capabilities,” CEO Ro Choy said of Eaze’s plans for development as the industry continues to expand.

LeafLink

Sector: wholesale
Year founded: 2015
Primary product: wholesale platform

CEO Ryan Smith and Chief Technology Officer Zach Silverman cofounded LeafLink after examining business-to-business marketplace resources and determining the industry was underserved. The duo aimed to take away the administrative stress from operators who would much rather spend their time creating new products and services. “We believe brands and retailers should focus on what makes them special. All the stuff in between—how things are paid, delivered, etc.—they only do those things because they have to,” Smith said. “We handle the full life cycle of an order on a client’s behalf, and we provide tools that are increasingly native and self-servable for ultimate convenience.”

Metrc

Sector: supply chain
Year founded: 1984
Primary product: compliance platform

Metrc has been around since 1984, but the company forayed into cannabis in 2011 following Colorado’s legalization of adult use. The company’s technology creates a blueprint for track-and-trace compliance that has supported the industry through recent disruptions fueled by the coronavirus pandemic and Russian sanctions. “Our technology and insights are at the very beginning of the supply-chain cycle, so we have a good sense of plants going into the ground, industry resources, and what’s initially happening on the retail side,” said Chief Financial Officer Michael Johnson. The team’s software was created to support government bodies in their regulation rollouts but has expanded to support industry operators as well.

Nabis

Sector: wholesale
Year founded: 2018
Primary product: wholesale platform

Cofounded by co-CEOs Vince Ning and Jun S. Lee, childhood friends who began their industry careers as delivery drivers, Nabis offers fulfillment, warehousing, payment processing, financing, data analytics, sales and marketing services, and compliance components. Lee said the company is devoted to “brand agnosticism,” which he and Ning believe is imperative for the industry’s future health. “Alcohol distributors can play gatekeeper because household names have a tight grip on the supply chain,” Lee said. “For cannabis, we’ve flipped that model on its head. We treat all brands equally on our platform, and our marketplace is consistent with that platform so retailers can really weigh all of their choices.”

Outlaw Technology

Sector: supply chain
Year founded: 2019
Primary product: RFID tracking system

Outlaw Technology was formed to address what its founders perceived as unduly onerous seed-to-sale tracking requirements. The team has decades of experience in mainstream radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems, which they brought to the industry to enable companies to maintain compliance without becoming mired in time-consuming manual data collection. “People aren’t using RFID yet to track their plants because they don’t know how,” said founder and CEO David Eagleson. “But [the technology] allows operators to have a granular view of inventory. If I’m a retailer and you’re trying to return a vape pen that had a problem, I can quickly identify what lot it came out of and which batch it was, which allows me to trace who else might have been affected, rather than playing a guessing game.”

Revolution Micro

Sector: cultivation
Year founded: 2013
Primary product: programmable-spectrum LED lighting

Revolution Micro provides programmable lighting solutions to cannabis and the greater agricultural industry. The company’s technology was game-changing when it launched, offering growers the ability to program LED light spectrums. Customizable software allows cultivators to control color and intensity in ways that work with and enhance their other cultivation environment efforts. “By changing the light’s colors throughout the grow cycle, you can drive your plants to express certain terpenes or cannabinoids in a different way,” said Managing Director and CTO Greg Richter. “People just now are starting to figure out the spectrum of light you’re hitting the leaf with isn’t ‘just as important’ as everything else—it’s more important.”

Würk

Sector: human resources
Year founded: 2014
Primary product: payroll, human resources, and tax compliance software

Würk was founded by payroll and human-capital-management experts who wanted to increase employee value—and therefore retention and output—in the industry. The company was one of the first to provide 401(k)s to cannabis employees, and it recently implemented a multi-employer plan that brings down employer costs and increases returns. “We built a platform that allows customers and employees to view schedules, request time off, learn new developments, manage talent, track applicants, conduct performance reviews, and more,” said CEO Scott Kenyon. Würk currently is designing time clocks that utilize facial recognition and preparing to release a report based on the extensive HR data it has collected over time.

WM Technology

Sector: ecommerce, marketing, delivery
Year founded: 2008
Primary product: technology and software infrastructure

Weedmaps debuted when California’s market was medical-only. Since then, the consumer and business-to-business marketplace has expanded exponentially. Consequently, Weedmaps became software-as-a-service provider WM Technology and now offers a sales system, wholesale exchange platform, ecommerce platform, customer relationship management tools, a logistics service for dispatching, and an advertising network. The company recently expanded its ecosystem by acquiring Enlighten, a provider of digital in-store education, entertainment, menu, and marketing solutions. “When we met with [the Enlighten] team, they blew us away in terms of what they’ve done,” said Chief Operating Officer Juanjo Feijoo. “It seemed like the missing piece to our desire to offer ‘business in a box.’ The acquisition allows our clients to manage a menu across multiple platforms and locations in one place.”

Tymber

Sector: ecommerce
Year founded: 2018
Primary product: ecommerce website design and marketing

Digital design firm Tymber arose as a result of COO Kyle Dukes’s cannabis delivery service website needing frequent updates to remain compliant. Dukes called the site’s launch about ten years ago “the glory days, where you could be vertically integrated and control your own tech stack with traditional tools that were readily available.” Now, he said, “Compliance is much more difficult, and that’s what Tymber set out to solve.” The company currently is addressing proposed regulations about “ice cream truck delivery,” which would raise the in-car inventory limit for California retailers from $3,000 to $10,000. Tymber also is preparing for an industry-wide increase in direct-to-consumer sales, which Dukes believes is the future.