Entrepreneurs

5 Questions With Cofounder/CPO Of ECommerce Solution Dutchie: Zach Lipson

This was the pitch… Quite a good one I should add…

The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world, and by 2025, a quarter of all retail spending will be online. COVID has only accelerated the trend of online ordering. One company has experienced a 700% growth rate since March and just announced a $35M Series B round with big name investors like former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. The largest and fastest-growing e-commerce solution for cannabis, Dutchie, is powering dispensaries to quickly and easily sell products online while allowing customers to purchase their products for pick-up or delivery. Are you interested in going behind the scenes with CPO/Co-founder Zach Lipson to learn more + get a preview into other big upcoming announcements? Quick pitch below. 

Dutchie facilitates over $2.4 billion in consumer sales annually, serves over 1,300 dispensaries across 24 states plus Canada, and processes over 10% of legal cannabis sales worldwide. Because online sales are on average 30% higher than in-store sales, Dutchie’s e-commerce solution provides a cost-effective avenue for businesses to increase their bottom line and keep customers coming back.

Dutchie recently launched the industry’s first contactless payment solution to help protect thousands of small cannabis businesses and their customers nationwide amid the public health risks of the pandemic. They also just announced a $35M Series B round with investments from former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital, and Kevin Durant’s Thirty Five Ventures to continue bringing innovative tools and products to meet constantly changing market demand and tackle the much larger illicit market.

Zach has over a decade of experience in the user interface and design industry, such as social networking platforms, which have led to three successful exits. As technology’s importance grows in powering the cannabis industry, Zach can give you an inside look into new product launches and other company news.

Zach Lipson Bio 

Zach Lipson is the Co-founder and CPO at Dutchie, the world’s largest and fastest-growing ecommerce solutions for cannabis. After successfully exiting three software companies he founded, Zach assumed his position at Dutchie as co-founder and chief product officer. He leads the company’s product design, direction, vision and processes, and assists in the overall strategic direction of the company.

Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about yourself, why cannabis instead of law or medicine? 

Zach Lipson=ZL: Since I was young I’ve always been passionate about design, business, and constantly dreaming up ways to merge them together. My dad was an inventor, with multiple patents, and a really driven entrepreneur. We also grew up in Detroit, a city known for it’s hustle, so I was just surrounded by creative thinking and drive from a really early age. I was coming up with my own inventions when I was in high school and filed my first patent when I was 18. Nothing against lawyers or doctors, I’ve got nothing but respect for those professions, but when you’re raised the way I was you dream really big. There are no limits, so I always knew I needed to be doing something entrepreneurial where I could come up with ideas, solve really interesting problems, and build great businesses around the solutions. 

When I graduated college I started becoming really interested in technology and startups. It was the height of the “Web 2.0” movement, with companies like Facebook really starting to emerge. As I dove deeper into the space I started to realize that startups provided me with something really unique, sort of the perfect intersection where all my interests met. I founded It gave me the opportunity to create tangible things that weren’t just aesthetically pleasing but that solved complex problems for people too. I spent the next decade honing my skills as a product designer, product developer, and a co-founder of several startups. One of those companies was a financial tech startup that was acquired in Nov. 2017, right around the time my brother came to me with the idea for dutchie. 

WB: When did you discover the plant? Do you remember who you were with? Indoor or outdoor grown?

ZL: I was sixteen when I first tried cannabis. I was with a group of friends, we went off into the woods and were in a circle smoking a joint. Back in those days it was definitely the norm to smoke  “in the shadows,” because we were worried about our parents or the cops finding out. Oh how things have changed.

That first experience I had was with flower, and back then you had no idea how it was grown. I’m not even sure how we got it. Those who have known me since I was younger are pretty shocked when they find out I’m now in the cannabis space, because I rarely consumed back then. Frankly, cannabis always made me uneasy, so I was always the one passing on the joint as it made its way around the circle. Fast forward to around 2015 when I tried an edible (a legitimate one, not a batch of brownies a friend made) for the first time. The high was wildly different, and it had the opposite effect on me that flower did. It changed everything for me. I quickly came to realize that it wasn’t cannabis in general that was the issue for me, it was the consumption method and the product, and to this day I’m a regular consumer of edibles. We know that cannabis affects everyone differently so I think the key is to experiment to find the product that’s best for you as an individual.

WB: What do you do? Elevator pitch? Who is your mentor? Schooling? School of hard knocks? 

ZL: I’m the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Dutchie. We’re the world’s largest and fastest-growing e-commerce solution, built specifically for dispensaries. We power online ordering for the cannabis space in two ways: through advanced tools that allow dispensaries to easily offer online ordering through their websites and through our online marketplace, dutchie.com, for consumers. I’m heavily involved in a number of different departments internally and help cultivate our company culture. However, the majority of my time is of course spent developing our product, working with our product managers and designers to push our product forward. I also help build strong relationships with our stakeholders and our dispensary customers. I’m always trying to get in-depth insights into what’s happening at an operational level with dispensaries. You’ve got to really empathize with what they’re going through on a day-to-day basis and ultimately that leads you on a direct path to innovation.

I got lucky, I have two incredible mentors that happen to be in my immediate family, and who both offer really different perspectives. First, there’s my dad, Ron Lipson. He definitely has more of that “school of hard knocks” type of background. He didn’t have a whole lot when he was growing up, but he hustled to build a highly successful automotive business in Downtown Detroit, which he’s owned now for over 35 years. Being a witness to his grit and creativity has, and always will be, a huge inspiration for me. 

Then there’s my uncle, Larry Freed, who is more of the quintessential tech entrepreneur. He went to business school, ran venture-backed companies, has been through acquisitions, and is also an investor himself. He gives me guidance on high-level business and sales strategy, fundraising, and market and customer analysis. He really pushes me to think about our decisions from all angles which I really appreciate.

I graduated from Business School at Michigan State in 2007 with a concentration in Marketing. However pretty much everything I do today at dutchie I learned on my own. I’ve been designing interfaces and building software for about a decade now, and everything I’ve learned has been a product of simply practice, self-education, making (a lot of) mistakes and then making sure I learned something from them. 

WB: What are your six and twelve-month goals? What obstacles do you face? How do you anticipate removing them? 

ZL: We’re moving incredibly fast at dutchie and the roadmap is constantly changing due to new priorities, changing regulations, and customer needs which makes it challenging at times to zoom out and focus on longer term planning and objectives. My 6 month goal is to build our product organization to support enough ground level work that we can effectively execute on our longer term strategy. 

In 12-months time I want dutchie to successfully expand to serving additional customer segments. Til now, we’ve been hyper-focused on serving our dispensary customers and doing so at an incredibly high bar. I think we’ve done a really good job there. But starting now we’re going to be focusing more and more on everyday consumers and making sure that we’re creating an absolutely incredible, innovative experience for them as well – something that they’ve never witnessed before. I want to focus on delivering premium education and content, as well as a personalized experience where consumers can get the product they’re looking for really fast. 

Cannabis is an industry that’s growing at a rapid clip. One of the things that we deal with very intimately is how often the products are changing. New and exciting brands are emerging daily, and existing brands are evolving their products line at that pace as well. With education and product information so critical to delivering a great experience for consumers, we have to keep up. I would say that’s the biggest obstacle we face. 

WB: What is your favorite food memory from childhood? Favorite ice cream flavor now? 

ZL: As I mentioned I grew up in Detroit, aka Hockeytown. We were big Redwings fans and had season tickets. My favorite childhood memory was heading downtown with our Dad for games. True to form we had a “hack” for everything – a secret (free) parking space that was close to the arena, the perfect time to hit the concessions to avoid the lines, and best of all we found a way to get a few seconds on the big screen for literally every game.

Cookies and Cream, in a Blizzard, from Dairy Queen. There’s no contest.

WB: What is your passion? 

ZL: It’s broad, but I’m passionate about the act of creation. The thing that has always drawn me to so many of my passions –  art, design, photography, building software – is the concept that you can take an idea, something that you only saw in your mind, and turn it into something tangible. To go a step farther, when you’re in your creative process there’s a moment – a very specific moment –  when you realize that you’ve “got it”. I believe there’s two types of creatives: Conceptual artists (who know exactly what they’re going to create ahead of time) and Experimental artists (who experiment with their work until they’re satisfied.) I’m definitely the latter. I live for that moment when I can say “I got it, that’s it. It’s done”.

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