Agri-Tech & Cannabis Industry Take TechCrunch Disrupt By Storm

Since the Web 2.0 days, “disruptive” technology has been a huge topic of business conversation as well as entertainment for tech enthusiasts. With the nonstop rate of invention, trend watchers ask: Which apps, like Uber, Postmates, and Periscope, are completely changing the way we go about our daily lives? Which new devices, like the iPhone or FitBit, render old technologies and ways of life obsolete?

The United States’ largest annual celebration of disruption, TechCrunch Disrupt, took place this week in San Francisco, highlighting some of the best and most innovative technology startups with their Startup Battlefield competition. The judges began with a pool of 1000 startups, then narrowed it down to the top 25. Once the top 25 startups were announced, those companies then had to pitch their businesses at Disrupt SF, competing for honor, glory, $50,000 cash to help their project grow, and the Disrupt Cup trophy. The focus is always on young companies that are changing technology applications across various sectors.

In this exciting period of growth, it could be argued that the only truly disruptive industry left is cannabis. Where else are completely original products being made with increasing effectiveness, entrepreneurs taking humongous risks both with capital and with their personal lives, flipping the script on health care, pharmaceutical and retail business models, and creating entirely new, technologically-advanced agricultural solutions? That’s why we were ecstatic to hear that a cannabis-related company ended up right on the heels of the winner at one of the nation’s most buzzed-about technology events.

Coming Up Fast

First runner-up went to Green Bits, an all-in-one, turnkey Point-of-Sale solution for the cannabis industry that runs off of an iPad.

Green Bits is only a one-year-old company, but in Washington state, around half of all recreational shops use Green Bits as their POS of choice, due to its integration with the WSLCB Traceability API. Now the company is in the process of expanding into Colorado and Oregon, with support for all 24+ medical cannabis states as a major target objective for the years to come. State-by-state customization is essential to Green Bits’ R&D process to ensure their system – and their clients – remain compliant under state law.

“I am deeply honored to have made it to the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield finals,” said Ben Curren, founder and CEO of Green Bits. “There’s not a lot of competition providing this sort of software with our pedigree within the marijuana market. This is Silicon Valley-quality software, custom-tailored for this new business model, and I am thrilled my peers in technology have recognized that.”

Mainstream recognition doesn’t come often to the cannabis industry, so a hearty congratulations is in order for Ben and the Green Bits team on an amazing and groundbreaking achievement.

So Who Won?

The 2015 Disrupt Cup went to Agrilyst, a fully integrated greenhouse sensor system and metrics software solution. The company is led by co-founder Allison Kopf, formerly of NYC-based BrightFarms, a venture-backed urban greenhouse operator, and the NYC Acre startup accelerator.

Already dubbed “the Google Analytics for greenhouses,” the Agrilyst system takes indoor grow operations to the next level by providing valuable real-time data on environmental factors like light, CO2 levels, and hydroponics, while simultaneously allowing the end user to view data in a dashboard format and manipulate these factors through Agrilyst’s proprietary platform.

Agrilyst is currently in beta with six major greenhouse clients, but will be looking to launch soon on a monthly subscription plan.

While the system wasn’t necessarily founded for use in the cannabis industry, a smart CEO always keeps her options open. “Winning TechCrunch Disrupt is unbelievable,” said Allison Kopf. “We’re looking forward to making a big impact for food producers around the world. We’re also interested in exploring the floriculture and cannabis industries for potential application.”


Anytime a cannabis-related company disrupts the status quo, it’s a win for the entire movement. The more these fantastic research and technology applications are discovered and developed, the more mainstream industries will borrow and embrace the cannabis industry’s advancements.

Cannabis industry professionals have been dreaming for years of breaking into the mainstream business conversation. As you can see from this year’s Disrupt, the industry has officially arrived!

Photo credit: TechCrunch.