At first glance, MassRoots is just like any other technology company in America. The Denver-based social platform for marijuana enthusiasts boasts an open-concept, loft-style office filled with 33 talented programmers, developers, and sales staff.
But beneath the surface there’s something unique about working at a pot startup, and it has little to do with the fact that employees are often permitted to consume the substance on the job.
America’s pot entrepreneurs are defining the working culture of the newly budding industry, a culture that exists in the nexus of social mission, financial opportunity, and typical startup life.
"Everyone here believes cannabis should be legalized for economic reasons, for social reasons, for moral reasons, so there's a tremendous amount of passion," says Isaac Dietrich, the company’s CEO and cofounder. "A lot of us also consume, and are very in touch with the cannabis plant, so it's something we're all very passionate about and want to move the cause forward."
Though there is certainly an element of advocacy, innovating in a brand new industry is also a rare and exciting opportunity for employees, explains cofounder Stewart Fortier.
A wide variety of pot-themed tech companies now service the licensed medicinal marijuana users of 23 states, and Washington D.C., as well as residents of the four states that have legalized recreational consumption. There is now a marijuana-friendly short-term home rental company called Bud and Breakfast, as well as a number of websites and applications for reviewing strains and dispensaries, including Leafly and WeedMaps. In 2014 the industry was valued at $2.7 billion, but it is expected to grow to an $11 billion industry by 2019.