As more states legalize marijuana, the cannabis industry has started to boom across the country. Students interested in a wide variety of fields, including law, business development, engineering, product development, marketing and more now have the opportunity to pursue a career in legal marijuana. Cannabis industry-related student interest groups at Binghamton University, University of Michigan, University of Southern California, UCLA, University of California, Santa Barbara and Cornell University, partnered to co-host the National Cannabis Speaker Series. These weekly discussions feature prominent or emerging leaders in the burgeoning legal marijuana space. This past Monday, Oct. 5 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., the event welcomed Zach Lipson, co-founder and chief product officer of dutchie, an online platform that allows users to order legal cannabis from the dispensary of their choice to their own door.
The discussion started with Lipson explaining his background and early life. Lipson emphasized how his upbringing inspired his creativity and allowed him to form an entrepreneurial spirit later on in life.
“My dad never made us feel like we had to be a doctor or lawyer or businessperson,” Lipson said. “We had a lot more creativity growing up and I began to think outside of the box since day one.”
Lipson developed an interest in graphic design when he was a marketing major at Michigan State University in the 2000s. It was when he started to work that he gained more experience in coding, proving essential to forming his base in product development. He spent his first few years out of college working for a start-up social network company that brought men and women together anonymously to discuss romantic relationships, dating and everything in between.
“I think back to those days as a crash course to the rest of my career,” he said.
The start-up company eventually grew larger, allowing Lipson to grow alongside it. He talked about a wide variety of topics ranging from his business strategy, his upbringing, navigating state marijuana laws, founding his own business and more.
Lipson co-founded dutchie with his brother in 2017. Lipson discussed the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the legal marijuana industry and the use of dutchie as an online platform.
“What happened during the pandemic in respect to cannabis was really interesting and unique because every state deemed dispensaries an essential business,” Lipson said.
As a company, dutchie has been growing to reflect the marijuana industry’s rapid growth and path toward acceptance in the eyes of both society and the law, reaching 120 employees and still growing today.
“The culture we’re building here is very unique,” Lipson said. “We’ve borrowed a lot from companies that are at our root. We have an energetic way of doing things and we like to motivate our people.”
Lipson also talked about working alongside his brother and the importance of reciprocal relationships.
“At the end of the day, we have a lot of trust in each other,” he said. “He complements me and I complement him.”
The final portion of the talk included a question and answer session with panelists and attendees from a variety of universities. Lipson shared his advice about taking a nonconventional career path and navigating an emerging industry.