Cultivating Business Innovation Through Cannabis Hackathon


Pranav Sood, CEO of Trellis, a cannabis seed-to-sale software provider for cultivators, extractors, and distributors, hopes the young company’s first foray into the cannabis hackathon realm will spark innovative, creative, and cool ideas that advance the company’s competitive position by helping customers best leverage their data.

“It’s our fundamental philosophy that the organizations that will produce the best product, that will produce the best customer experience for their end-customers, are the ones that leverage their data in the most effective way,” says Sood, who founded Trellis four years ago in Toronto.

In broad strokes, Trellis helps users track cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution. More specifically, data is collected on everything from crop yields to packaging to presence of pesticides to customer sales.

“Tracking inventory from cultivation to extraction to distribution, there’s a lot of data that goes throughout that process,” Sood explained in an interview.

That’s why Trellis recently dipped its toe into the hackathon pool at the first-ever GrowUp Cannabis Hackathon in Toronto, a 24-hour bout that tasked hackers, engineers, developers, and coders with building tech innovations, including data visualization, for the budding industry. Competitors were required to write new code, use at least one of the provided APIs (application program interfaces), and submit only original work created for the contest. Bleary-eyed members of the winning teams then headed to Niagara Falls for the awards presentations at the GrowUp Conference & Expo.

Sood regards the hackathon as a possible business-strengthening venture on three fronts. First, “from a product perspective, it’s that rapid prototyping, the ability to get fresh eyes on things,” he says.

Second is all about brand. “A lot of our brand speaks to being an innovative company, being at the forefront of an aggressively growing industry and pushing the boundaries on making a product that’s useful for our users.”

Third is the potential to identify and add talent, something Trellis is looking to do beyond just its home country. The company now has 135 clients in several US states, including California (where its sales and marketing team is based), Canada (where its development team is located), as well as Australia and Jamaica.

“Sometimes the traditional recruiting methods work; other times it’s more difficult to find the talent,” Sood says. “This is a great opportunity to do the recruiting process in a more experiential way and have them interact with our product and our brand.”

Expert recruiting firm HAYS reports that job-seekers can also increase their employability through hackathon participation by learning in a low-risk environment, gathering experience turning concepts into action, and building their networks of contacts.

The hackathon concept is also a fresh way to generate new ideas, particularly for a company like Trellis.

“Software, to the general person, it’s not terribly exciting,” says Luann Williams, part of the commissioned team handling production and sponsorships for the hackathon. “Within the cannabis space, it’s exciting because it’s a tool that [businesses] can use to streamline their processes.”

“I think our industry is now evolving and we’re moving towards more traditional industries that have ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, that have demand-management pools, all these things,” Sood says. “All that is taking the data, making sense of it, and presenting it in a way that allows operators to make key strategic decisions and optimize their businesses.”

Williams hopes the hackathon event yields tangible results. “Our goal as hackathon producers is that the hackers build something that’s actually useful and might be able to be incubated and continued to be worked on.”

If the hackathon produces something genuinely effective, Williams explains, Trellis “can work with that team and either pay [them] to continue to work and create something that’s actually useful and can be integrated.”


Angela Stelmakowich | Contributing Writer



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