40 Under 40
For the past five years, the Marijuana Venture staff has compiled an annual list of some of the brightest young leaders and influencers in the cannabis industry. As in past years, we have narrowed the list from hundreds of worthy candidates to present 40 individuals from the vast and ever-changing business in the United States and Canada.
It is our honor to share their stories.
Title: Founder and CEO
Keegan Peterson had spent 10 years selling to and consulting with major retailers on their workforce management and technology needs, but he had a realization after a friend with a legal cannabis business lost his sixth payroll company, had to pay employees in cash and told Peterson a story about taking $1 million worth of cash in a duffle bag to pay his taxes.
“The cannabis industry needs the same tools as everyone else to be successful,” Peterson says.
In 2015, he founded Würk, a technology company focused solely on the cannabis industry. The Würk platform is designed to ensure that cannabis workers — and taxes — can get paid just like any other business, assuming the business is compliant with local and state laws (an extensive underwriting process to vet clients is the first step). The platform includes human resources and payroll software and workforce management tools, all built with a back-end banking infrastructure to ensure that people get paid.
“We’re helping companies hire employees, manage and track certifications, we’re paying them, we’re helping them create schedules for employees,” he says. “All of the technology that’s required to deploy people to service customers, we’re behind the scenes making that happen.”
Currently, Würk has hundreds of clients in 33 states and has paid more than 60,000 employees since the inception of the business. Peterson says the response has been positive because so many cannabis businesses get dropped from payroll providers, but Würk is a permanent solution and a stable partner that allows its clients to focus on their business.
The challenge for Würk, according to Peterson, is ensuring compliance with the different tax laws and regulations in the 33 markets in which clients operate. For example, he says, in New York, if a building faces a waterway, there’s an additional tax for that. It gets even more complicated when working with multi-state operators, making this industry much more complex than any he’s previously worked in, but more rewarding.
“The people are just good people and they are doing this for the right reasons,” Peterson says, “so it gives so much more purpose to come to work every single day.”