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fourfive: The story of two rugby players who decided to tackle the CBD business

The CBD industry is a competitive scrum – but Dominic Day and George Kruis are used to that

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fourfive co-founders Dominic Day and George Kruis

fourfive was set up in 2019, after founders George Kruis and Dominic Day, who have 25 combined years of rugby experience behind them, were looking for a more natural way to deal with repeated injuries.

From starting with CBD, the pair have now branched out into vitamins and nutrition too – part of their vision of creating a rounded wellness brand for people from all walks of life.

Cannabis Wealth caught up with Dominic to find out more about his journey from injured player to CBD businessman.

How did fourfiveCBD and fourfive Nutrition come about?

George and I started fourfive originally just as a CBD brand, before branching out into vitamins; we see ourselves really as an all-round wellness brand.  

In 2018, we were both struggling with injuries – I’d just had a second knee op – and so we were looking for something that was going to help us recover, but a more natural alternative to the prescribed medications we would normally be using. 

At the same time, CBD had just been taken off the banned list for sport, so we tried it; we saw such great benefits, and it significantly cut down our recovery time – we were sold.

However, while we were convinced about CBD and the benefits, we weren’t ecstatic about the quality of products on the market; to be honest, you could never be sure that what you were taking was what it said on the bottle. 

Dominic Day and George Kruis

We knew that a lot of rugby players were using CBD and so soon realised that there was a market for a product that was sourced well, manufactured well and, most importantly for athletes, tested to the best standards.

After researching and designing our product range, we launched in 2019 and it’s been a rollercoaster ever since.

What led you to CBD personally?

I was injured and laid up so I started googling alternative recovery methods, which is where I came across an article about CBD and its benefits. 

There was a vape store down the road from my apartment, which had CBD in the window, so I hobbled down on my crutches and decided to give it a go. 

Before that, I’d had 15 years of more conventional treatments – ice, physio, medications – so I wanted something more natural.

Now, I incorporate the CBD along with the physio and other support, with everything working together. We tend to see it as a supplement, but we’d like to see people using it like a vitamin – just part of their daily routine. 

Where does your product inspiration come from?

It’s probably 50/50 between us and customer demand. Our core range is based around oils, as that’s how we started using it, but that’s also designed around customer and retailer feedback for what they see as being strong in the market.

One thing we want to avoid is being too sport-heavy, and we’re not just focused on professional athletes; CBD and quality nutrition is for everyone. We have lots of customers between 40 and 60 who want to live a more active lifestyle and they’re looking for things that can help them. 

How has the business grown since 2019?

Obviously, it was started by George and I, although we brought someone in to help in the early days  as we were both playing full time. 

Over the last two years, we’ve grown to a team of seven, with plans to up to 162 in next six months. There’s real potential for growth there, both in the company and in the market, and we’re tapping into that. 

At the moment, we’re focusing on sales and marketing teams. We get such good feedback from retailers that lots of brands out there are just labels on bottles. They love that we have a brand story that people can relate to. 

What do you think have been the key developments in the industry over recent years?

We’ve been involved in the CBD industry for nearly three years now and acceptance is definitely growing. When first got into it, nobody knew what it was – or certainly not beyond the stereotype. Education is getting around – although there’s still a lot of work to do – but people are coming round to the fact that this is a natural product with a lot of benefits. 

The novel foods regulation is also going to be a really key development. At fourfive, we’re really into wanting quality products where people know what they’re taking. The novel food regs will force everyone to have really compliant products, which will improve consumer confidence – that’s a massive step forward

Do you find the CBD industry collaborative?

Absolutely; if any of us are going to grow we need to collaborate, because it all ties in together – the education, the quality products.

It’s not about brands going out there alone to land grab, it’s about working together to all make the market as big as we can make it so we can all benefit.

We also need that unified voice in response to regulations, to give us that strength in numbers.

Dominic Day and George Kruis

Who is your business inspiration?

My business and sports inspirations are all tied up for me; I recently retired from sport and so I’ve looked to people who have successfully made that transition. 

Someone who I think is quite inspirational is Alex Rodrigues – he was a hugely successful athlete in the US, before transitioning to the business world.

That’s kind of the example we’d like to set, and the more successful we can be helps us to lead by example and show that life after sport can be just as exciting.

That’s why we want to support as many athletes as possible, and we’re looking at onboarding other what we call ‘Team players’ with fourfive; helping them both with their sporting career but then also afterwards. 

It’s not a support group as such, but we do have that sense of community; for example, we’re working with rugby player Jack Nowell, who’s behind Exeter clothing brand Mustard, and Maddie Hinch and her hockey coaching clinic, to help them with their businesses. 

Because we know that business is hard, if we can help people navigate that through our network, that’s something hugely beneficial. 

What’s the best business advice you’ve been given?

To build business on solid foundations. We didn’t have massive business experience, but we’ve built this firm in a way that’s compliant and doesn’t make any stupid claims. 

What are the key qualities you need to succeed in business?

You need to have that resilience to get past setbacks and keep pushing forward – there’s always another way.

You also need to be good at communication, and that’s something George and I are both good at.  It’s partly a skill that has come from our sporting lives, an ability to get your message across and also stay calm under pressure.

The CBD and nutrition market is such a great industry to be involved in, and the growth we’re looking at over the next four to five years is just phenomenal – it’s a very exciting time.

Leadership

Canopy Growth appoints industry veteran Christelle Gedeon as chief legal officer

Gedeon’s cannabis and commercial expertise will further Canopy Growth’s strategy for North American cannabis leadership, the company said.

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canopy growth appoints Christelle Gedeon as chief legal officer

Christelle Gedeon is one of Canada’s Law Department Leaders of the Year and formally served as chief legal officer at the international cannabis firm Aphria.

Canopy Growth has appointed Christelle Gedeon as its new chief legal officer. Listed on the Legal 500 GC Powerlist in 2020 and the 2019 Canadian General Counsel Awards Tomorrow’s Leader, Gedeon is a commercial lawyer and strategist with more than a decade of legal and strategic experience.

Most recently she acted as chief legal officer and corporate secretary for The Metals Company (TMC). Prior to this, she served as the chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Aphria Inc, where she oversaw the reverse takeover of Tilray.

“Christelle is a proven leader in the legal and cannabis industries, and we are excited to have her join Canopy Growth as we continue to build the leading brand-driven cannabis company in North America,” said David Klein, CEO of Canopy Growth.

“As a company, we have set clear priorities including achieving profitability while advancing our competitive positioning through a premium focus in Canada, high-impact CPG brands and the continued growth of our US THC ecosystem. I am confident that Christelle’s commercial and legal acumen will be key to further bringing our strategy to fruition.”

In addition to her expertise in the cannabis industry, Gedeon brings experience with complex regulatory structures, intellectual property management, corporate governance, government relations and strategic acquisitions.

She has also had a direct role in the completion of more than 50 mergers, acquisitions and strategic investments including during her time as a partner at Fasken, a leading Canadian law firm, where she advised life sciences clients on commercial, regulatory and government affairs matters.

Gedeon received her Bachelor of Law from McGill University and is a member of both the Ontario and Quebec bars. She is also a registered trademark agent and holds a PhD in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Toronto. Her appointment to the role of Chief Legal Officer at Canopy Growth is effective immediately.

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‘The hemp revolution has already happened, now it needs reigniting’

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hemp farms Australia

Hemp fibre produces some of the strongest and most durable materials in the world and absorbs more carbon than pine trees. Hemp Farms Australia believes interest in the plant needs reigniting.

Cannabis Wealth sat down with Lauchlan Grout, co-founder of the Australian industrial hemp farming agribusiness, Hemp Farms Australia. The company was launched in 2013 by Grout and his childhood friend Harrison Lee to cultivate, process and sell the primary components of industrial hemp.

A dedicated seed supplier, Hemp Farms Australia was one of the first players in Australia’s hemp industry. The company specialises in variations of the plant that perform well in sub-tropical environments, a rare thing for a plant that originated in the icy tundras of Siberia.

Now a leader in hemp seed genetics, the company supplies seeds for growing grain for food and growing fibre for animal bedding, hempcrete and bioplastics. Grout talks about his passion for hemp and its potential to tackle the growing threat of climate change.

How did you get into the hemp sector?

After school, Harrison and I both went to work for his family in their abattoir here in Brisbane. They supply a couple of big grocery stores and supermarket chains with beef. We started on the kill floor and then went to the boning room. That was about five or six years of work experience in the abattoir as well as out on their farm. We learned there are so many facets to a supply chain.

At the time, hemp was being brought up a lot as this wonder crop; there were 70,000 uses for it apparently, but that just didn’t make sense because we hadn’t seen it anywhere. If there were so many uses for hemp, why wasn’t it being used?

So we dug deeper into that side of it and realised that all the different prohibition laws and the fact that hemp was so closely related to cannabis meant both of them, in Australia and many parts of the world, were illegal to grow even as for food or fibre.

But not many people realise that back in the day, the British and Russian naval fleets were all kitted out with hemp sales and hemp ropes because it was the most durable fibre in the world. All that knowledge and all that belief and all that industry were lost so we saw it as an opportunity to bring back something that could actually have a great impact on people and the environment.

Why is sustainability so important to you as a company?

The Earth is not heading in a nice direction in terms of the environment and climate. The climate extremes that we’ve seen in the last ten years here are comparable to what farmers have spoken about over the past 60 years. It seems like the events of those 60 years have repeated themselves in the past ten but double the scale and in a harsher fashion.

Farming is not easy. You have to budget for one in three crops to fail; it’s sometimes a business that can make you extremely depressed and that’s why so many farmers kill themselves; it’s terrible. They just have no water and if you have no water, you can’t do anything.

If I can do something that would not only help potentially reverse climate change or at least stop temperatures fluctuating so heavily by reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere, I want to do it.

Hemp is the highest carbon sequestering plant and one of the most sustainable protein-producing plants in the world. Hemp can reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere on a scale 40 times larger than a pine forest. Not only does it suck out the carbon, but it also locks it in the plant material so you can then build a car with that and produce fuel. Henry Ford built a car back in the 1940s out of hemp plastic that ran on hemp biofuel.  All this stuff has been around but it just needs to be reignited.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced on your journey running Hemp Farms Australia?

The first five years were challenging but also hopeful. Every mistake that we made hadn’t been made before because no one else had stepped that far yet. In other established industries and markets, you can read books or you can speak to people to find out what not to do, whereas in this sector there was none of that.

For example, nobody knew that you have to store industrial hemp at a certain temperature and in a certain humidity once you’ve harvested it, otherwise it will go mouldy within two or three days.

With our first crop, we harvested 40 tonnes of seed, we put it in an aerated silo which had heaps of fans running through it, but it was partially in the sun in a big metal container. We came back to check on it two days later and you could smell the mould from where we parked hundreds of metres away.

There were 40 tonnes of seed there worth every bit of $10 a kilo. That’s $400,000 worth of seed.

How have things changed since the early days of setting up Hemp Farms Australia and what have you learned?

We’ve got great advisors now and our key cornerstone investor is a very wise and smart agricultural businessman, so the last three years have been a lot different to the previous five.

I’ve learned that if you have something of value, then it’s worth risking a lot more than you think you would ever risk. I was questioning myself in the early days. I was doing it because I believed it will have a good impact on the world and the environment and the people living in it, but is it going to make me any money? Am I going to be able to build a family off of this? Those things were running in my head so much because things were ticking but they weren’t ticking the way we thought they would.

But I think the biggest thing I learned is If you believe something and you know in your gut that it will happen or it should happen then do not stop; the maths doesn’t need to line up. If money is the only thing that’s stopping you from keeping on the grind, then you shouldn’t be grinding it.

You run the business with a close school friend. How do you find running a business with one of your best mates?

Harrison and I have been very close friends – pretty much best friends – since year seven at school. We weren’t very fond of each other to begin with. He was very much into gaming. I was very much into sports. But he taught me the world of gaming and I taught him the world of sport and we became very close friends after that.

Never ever get into business with your best friend is what everyone told us. I will admit, we’ve been through some pretty bad times, to the point where we were not talking to each other, but you get over it, you harden up and you laugh about it.

We suddenly just said to each other ‘business is business and friendship is friendship’. We both have to pull our weight and we can’t be bickering at each other just because we know each other in and out.

Why are you proud to be part of the hemp and cannabis industry?

Not only can you heal people medicinally, but you can also house people through the fibres, you can clothe people through the fibres. There’s so much that hemp can do for people. Hemp revolutionised things back in the day, it’s now about reigniting it to a level where we can make a change.

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Gerardo Gorostiza joins team at Linneo Health

Linneo Health has appointed Gorostiza as chief financial and strategy officer.

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Gerardo Gorostiza joins team at Linneo Health
Home » Leadership » fourfive: The story of two rugby players who decided to tackle the CBD business

Gorostiza will be bringing experience of corporate finance, strategic planning, business transformation and corporate development to the Linneo Health team.

Medical cannabis research and cultivation company Linneo Health has welcomed Gorostiza as Chief Financial and Strategy Officer.

The company has stated that Gorostiza possesses a track record of success leading the financial and strategy functions of a number of multinational businesses, both private and publicly listed.

Read more: Linneo Health explores trends in medical cannabis

Linneo Health CEO, Don Bellamy, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Gerardo to Linneo Health as chief financial and strategy officer. 

“He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, and his strategic mindset and leadership skills will be invaluable to Linneo as we continue to build on our success and growth as the leading provider of medicinal cannabis, for the benefit of patients.”

Gorostiza’s previous roles include Uralita, Adveo and Grupo Costa Food, as well as having worked as a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

Read more: GMP certification allows Linneo Health to continue cannabis research

Most recently, Gorostiza was CFO and subsequently CEO of Juan Luna, a leading Spanish food processing company, where he played an integral role in the professionalisation of the company and its subsequent sale to a top industrial player.

Gorostiza holds an Executive MBA from the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, and qualified as an Industrial Engineer with the Universidad del País Vasco, Spain.

Gorostiza commented: “Linneo Health’s fully integrated platform, enabling the research, manufacture and supply of the highest quality medicinal cannabis, puts the company in a prime position to grow at scale as this market matures.

“I am looking forward to working with Don and the team to maintain Linneo’s leading position and continue its expansion.”

Gerardo Gorostiza joins team at Linneo Health

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