Think differently. We’ve heard it before, but what you may not have heard of before is of the new millennial company who has taken that motto and used it to drive their vision to all corners of the nation. Isaac Dietrich is the founder of MassRoots (OTC:MSRT), a social networking platform for cannabis consumers that’s opening communication and connecting the cannabis community. He’s here as testament that working smart and resisting the urge to ‘follow the crowd’ can lead you to building a business that truly makes a difference.
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
That no one else was pursuing it. Our initial idea was for a social network for cannabis consumers, a place where people would feel comfortable sharing this aspect of their lives, where they could connect and communicate their love for marijuana, and no one else was doing that in the industry in April 2013. We follow Apple’s model, ‘think differently’, and this is a business model that had not yet been tried in the cannabis industry and because it was different and unique; there I decided that it was worth my time and effort to pursue it.
What skills from your previous experiences helped you in what you are doing now?
Well I used to work on Republican elected officials campaigns in Virginia, helping people get elected and building grassroots support for various causes and organizations. And in 2012, as I was sitting back watching the results come in, I saw that cannabis was legalized in Colorado and Washington and I knew right then that this was going to spread and that this was a winning message from the movement and that this was the future.
So, that definitely pushed me to join the industry. My experience in political campaigns came in handy when Apple stepped up and recently banned all cannabis delivery apps, social networks, and games in the App store and as you could imagine, this is greatly harming the innovation in this industry because 41.6% of the population of Americans who have an iPhone cannot access any marijuana-related app on their phone. This is a grave concern to the industry as a whole, so we began a grassroots campaign to Apple requesting that they allow marijuana apps just in the 23 states that have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. That’s just one instance of utilizing my background in political campaigns to help affect real change and change policy in the the biggest corporation of the world.
I saw that cannabis was legalized in Colorado and Washington and I knew right then that this was going to spread and that this was a winning message from the movement and that this was the future.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?
Building the best products and services for cannabis consumers. The people who are on MassRoots, who are on MassRoots.com, or who are on our Massroots Android app, are people who use cannabis on a daily basis. It is a core component of their lives, so we are building products and services to help them better communicate with each other, help them find the best medicine, and allow them to share this aspect in a more efficient manner. Right now, we are working on direct messaging which will allow people to express themselves in a far better manner than what’s currently available.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
What do you consider your weakness as an entrepreneur? Your strength?
My weakness is that I can’t always articulate my thoughts in a clear manner. I’m often stumbling through my thoughts, trying to figure out the most coherent way to voice what’s going on in my head. Sometimes I don’t always phrase things in the correct way, I don’t always do the best job in explaining what the purpose of MassRoots is and what we’re trying to achieve, but at the same time, we’re doing something that no one else is doing. We are a unique company, we are different, and as you can see just by looking at the MassRoots team photo in the media, not a single person in our staff is over the age of 23. Our strength is that we’re different, our weakness is that sometimes we can’t always put to words who we are.
How are you differentiating yourself from the competition?
Well, we are the only social network with more than 10,000 users in the industry that has been able to raise any form of venture capital. We are a unique business, we don’t face any significant competition. We are just focused on further differentiating ourselves and erecting barriers to competition, should any emerge in the future.
How do you find inspiration in this industry? What have you found that has inspired you?
Our users. Our users are who we draw our inspiration from, our users are why we are in this industry, we are building products and services for our users, who are active cannabis consumers. Right now, with this campaign to Apple, we’ve already had over 2,500 people sign our petition in the 24 hours it’s been live; and reading their emails to Apple has been very inspiring. They are the ones making the case to Apple that they are infringing on their freedom of speech, that they’re making their lives more difficult, and that Apple is prohibiting people who live in legalized states from accessing this marijuana-related apps.
This is a huge issue that needs to be brought forward and our users are actually the ones leading that charge. Yes, we have put it out there to the community, but the community is taking that message and making it go viral and it’s just incredibly encouraging seeing their notes and what they’re posting online, it’s awesome!
Apple’s image is of a social progressive company whose motto is ‘Think Different’, yet at the same time, they’re promoting some of the most prohibitionist policies out there. Android allows any marijuana app in their app store and they’ve welcomed them, it’s completely absurd.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Work smarter, not harder. Some people think that if you’re working 20 hour days and giving it your all, that you’ll succeed. That’s simply not the case, you need to have a good game plan from the very beginning and you need to be thinking three steps ahead of your competition. I’m not saying that hard work isn’t important, it definitely is, but you need to work smarter, not harder. If there’s a way to get something done in less time and do a better job of it, go the smarter route, not the harder route!
you need to have a good game plan from the very beginning and you need to be thinking three steps ahead of your competition.
If you could rewind time to 5 years ago, how would your business be different?
It wouldn’t have worked. It would have been too early for this industry for cannabis consumers. We entered at just the right time to where we had the popularity of mobile niche network applications like Tinder and other network apps for specific communities and we came at a time when legalization was spreading nationwide. So, had we started Massroots 5 years ago, it would have failed. We wouldn’t have been able to raise any form of venture capital, we wouldn’t have been able to scale to over 215,000 users, and we wouldn’t have been able to send a clear and coherent message to Apple to change their policy.
What will we be seeing from you and MassRoots in the coming future?
We’re working on a direct messaging feature right now, as well as a ‘Find a Smoking Buddy Near You’ feature that is similar to Tinder using your geo coordinates to find cannabis users near you. If I landed in Denver and didn’t know anyone there and wanted to find somebody to smoke with, I’d be able to login into MassRoots and find someone in a matter of minutes. So, that’s what we’re working on right now. Just as LinkedIn is someone’s professional identity, Tinder is someone’s dating identity, we want MassRoots to be someone’s marijuana identity; where they post everything that pertains to that aspect of their lives.
How would you advise someone who wants to join the industry?
Think differently. Don’t try to do something that everyone else is trying to do. The best businesses are unique and have ideas that no one has ever tried before and that is what makes them incredible, innovative, and successful!