Cannabis Wealth spoke to Cedric Val, founder of Happease, to find out more about his journey from a beach in India to CEO of an international CBD business.
“My cannabis journey started in 2014, when I left my job as graphic designer in France, feeling life was not as exciting as it could be.
“Firstly, I went to Mumbai, India, before travelling by bus to Goa, where, on a beach, I experienced one of the most joyful times of my life – I couldn’t stop smiling.
“You see, in Goa and India as a whole, cannabis is freely grown for spiritual purposes, making it very different from Western culture and society.
“This is where I learned about the full possibilities of CBD and how it can be used, and it became my mission to work in the industry in some way.
“After a short spell picking fruit in Australia, I ended up in California, where I continued my quest to work in the CBD world; that’s why I chose San Francisco, as it’s one of the cities with a more vibrant cannabis scene.
“For a time, I was homeless, going from place to place to ask for work – it was my first experience of being seen as an immigrant
“However, one day got lucky and got the chance to work on a farm run by two Israelis, although in the end, it wasn’t really what I was looking for – too many hippy vibes.
“However, it was there that I was introduced to Tim Littlefield, who’s pretty famous is CBD industry – particularly after his arrest was featured on the TV show Pot Cops.
“I spent six weeks with him and learned so much – one thing he taught me was to stop calling cannabis weed and should call it medicine instead.
“Tim set me on my way to becoming a real cannabis entrepreneur and to believe in myself; he gave me the last drop of knowledge I needed to be complete.
“After that, I moved to the Czech Republic – where Happease was born in 2018.
How it started
“I launched the first pod at Prague’s Cannafest, but it was totally unsuitable.
“To be honest, I’d spent a lot of time on the branding but not enough on the product.
“However, the show did give me the opportunity to show the world I exist and get the name of Happease known. It was also at this festival that I met Gabriel, my current business partner, of Simply Green in Amsterdam. Because partner at early stage.
“We went back to the drawing board and spent six months designing and testing various products, eventually deciding on creating a CBD vape, using CCELL cartridges.
“We relaunched in Berlin in June 2019 and, just one month later, Happease was invited to the World CBD awards in Barcelona, where we won the prize for best the best vape product.
“However, the very next month, the press (in the US particularly) was full of headlines about how vaping CBD can kill, which led to a number of our investors backing out.
“But I firmly believe that ad things happen for good reasons, and so we looked at branching out into different products, before shifting our focus to oils.
How it’s going
“Now, the Happease brand comprises vapes, oils and extracts, with formulas heavily influenced by all the places I’ve visited on my CBD journey.
“I’m so proud every day of what we have created, and every day is a fresh reminder of our success, whether that’s looking at our facilities or closing a new deal – as well as the Happease brand, we also make white label products for other companies.
“I do think there are still a lot of battles ahead for the CBD industry, but we’re making headway. We’ve brought the public onside, and they’re now starting to understand the benefits of CBD for health and wellbeing.
“The plant has potential to heal the planet from many things, and I’d love to see the medical community starting to look at more natural alternatives, as opposed to relying so heavily on prescription medication.
“CBD is only a small part of what I want Happease to be; I’m looking to bring in a lot of ayurvedic plants, to bring back this ancient knowledge that can really be efficient for so many elements of modern life.
Plans for the future
“That’s why we’re keen to establish Happease all over Europe, through the website and through creating social media accounts in each language.
‘The novel food regulations will also open a lot of possibilities; we’re currently working on formulas for drinks to offer a mix of mood-enhancing combinations.
‘This is as well as looking to launch a line of CBD+ products, adding CBD to a range of ingredients and compounds to create different effects.
‘One thing my experience has taught me is that we are here for a limited time and we need to make the most of it.
“We don’t want to make a fortune or climb to the top of the tree; our business is all about enlightening people, to show off the potential of the plant and the product.”
Christina DiArcangelo: dedicated to revolutionising patient care
DiArcangelo entered into medical cannabis following a personal experience with a loved one.
Entrepreneur and CEO Christina DiArcangelo is putting patients first in her work – championing patient care and providing best-in-class patient advocacy services.
Christina DiArcangelo’s journey into cannabis began after she was already working in the pharmaceutical industry. Having more than two decades of experience in the biotechnology, nutraceutical, and medical device industries, DiArcangelo entered into medical cannabis following a personal experience with a loved one.
As an expert in biotechnology, DiArcangelo has now worked with a number of CBD companies and is CEO at Affinity Biopartners which conducts groundbreaking medical cannabis and cannabinoid clinical research, as well as at Affinity Patient Advocacy which assists cannabis patients with their medical cannabis journey and with legal cannabis patient advisory. Other roles include CEO at Spectral Analytics Precision Tele-Monitoring, and CEO and co-founder of AI Health Outcomes, where she has been involved with revolutionary projects and global clinical studies that positively impact patients.
“I have worked on 25 FDA-approved drugs in my career, and I have been in the cannabis and CBD clinical research space globally for the past five years,” says DiArcangelo. “I’ve worked for some very large pharmaceuticals in the space, as well as small companies that want to pursue clinical studies, whether it is a CBD company or biotech. I have helped some CBD companies who received warning letters from the FDA, because I have been in biotech for so long I understand regulations. I am proud to say an excellent relationship with the FDA, both on the traditional side as well as the medical cannabis and CBD space.”
DiArcangelo, a practising Baha’i, created Affinity Biopartners – her second clinical research organisation – which is now coming up to its six-year anniversary. Alongside its medical cannabis research, the company facilitates the development of drugs, biologics, nutraceuticals and medical devices.
“Affinity Patient Advocacy was started as a result of my father’s passing from stage four liver, lung and stomach cancers. In 2015, we did not have a medical programme in the state of Pennsylvania so I could not use medical cannabis legally to help treat my father while he was dying. So, that was interesting being his advocate, I swung in to help him because I have worked on a lot of different oncology indications throughout my career and I watched him battle cancer for relatively 22 years of his life, which was half of my life.
“So, as a result of helping him and then truly seeing with my own two eyes that there was a need for advocacy – that patients deserve a voice – and, what I love to do is design clinical studies that help patients, Affinity Patient Advocacy was started.
“This was me being able to give back to him, and carry forward his legacy because he always gave back from a labour perspective and a healthcare standpoint as he was very active as a union member. He was constantly working for people, whether it was grievance filings, trying to make sure people kept their jobs when they were unjustly accused of things. Making sure he protected his member’s rights was his number one priority, but then also ensuring that they had proper healthcare. So, you can see my foundation of where I have come from as a child growing up, and my career – serving people was very much at the forefront of my childhood into my adulthood. So for me, it was just turning the hat, not so much from a labour perspective, because I don’t work in that space, but I work with patients advocating for them, trying to help patients feel better.”
In 2018 DiArcangelo started an AI firm, developing a toolbox of two bots that sit on Alexa and Google that can be voice-activated and utilised for clinical research purposes.
“That means we can remind people to take the drug, we can ask them questions about how they are feeling and then we can collect electronic patient-reported outcomes. So, my clinical research background and all the years that I’ve been doing this have really pushed me into the tech space so that I could help my team develop an electronic data capture system.
“I also worked on building out a telemonitoring platform – I had already had the tech side. Spectral Analytics is a holding company, and underneath we have a commercial company called Avum RX. Avum RX is the CBD line and Avum is the non-CBD.
“The spectral analytics precision telemonitoring is what we open to do perpetual clinical research for CBD and medical cannabis patients. So, I took my tech and put it over there – why reinvent the wheel when it is working. I know how to work with central labs because of my biotech experience so that I can test patients looking at kidney and liver toxicity from a safety perspective, so I can drop down listings, and share them with the FDA, so that we are answering their requests, which is what they’ve requested in the entire industry. The FDA considers this a biologic, even though it is a plant that’s what they consider it – the only drug they have approved is Epidiolex which is synthetic.
“So, Spectral is gathering data to do perpetual clinical research and put patients’ care back into their hands. Doctors have access to the portal and we were doing gut microbiome analysis and we do cannabinoid testing to see what patients are deficient in – nobody is doing that yet. We do not know what we are deficient in, so, as somebody who is also formulating transdermal patches for Avon, how can I formulate for people if I don’t know what’s wrong with them?
“We are trying to work in the UK with our products because we have safe products, they are backed by science. I’m at the helm, formulating now with my scientific team and we have now formulated an immune boost patch. That is for autoimmune patients because I’m a patient, I have two autoimmune disorders and I wasn’t diagnosed until 18.
“The immune boost was not only developed for autoimmune people, but also palliative support for cancer, and then COVID. The patch has a lot of terpenes in it because, in my opinion, the terpenes are the healing components.”
Toby Noiles: one woman breaking barriers in cannabis
Toby Noiles is leveraging her experience to take on the challenges of building brands in the cannabis industry.
Toby Noiles is one woman breaking barriers in CBD and cannabis, leveraging her extensive experience to take on the unforeseen challenges of building brands in the sector.
Senior executive Tony Noiles has more than 30 years of experience in leadership positions across the retail food channel within North America. Noiles is now implementing her expertise to build out two brands in the CBD sector.
Noiles has been part of the premium CBD brand, Sky Wellness’ executive team leading operations, sales, eCommerce and supply chain as the Chief Operating Officer since 2020. In 2021, Noiles also joined N2 Packaging Systems – a high-end cannabis packaging company – where she serves also as the company’s COO.
Leveraging her dual citizenship in the USA and Canada, Noiles will be responsible for building best-in-class sales, customer service, business development, fulfilment, and logistics operations for all of North America.
As an experienced senior executive with a proven track record delivering accelerated P&L performance in a wide range of businesses from startups to revenue responsibilities of $19bn, Noiles has proven to be a level frontline leader with the intensity and determination to drive transformation and innovation within a culture of teamwork and continuous learning.
“I am a customer-centric, data-driven progressive leader that believes in fully informed decision making leveraging the experience of cross-functional, diverse teams and data sources,” says Noiles.
“Innovation and building strong strategic relationships internally and externally are a priority in my leadership style as well as empowering team members and partners to lead and grow vs. just execute.”
Noiles has led transformational strategies and delivering profitable share growth in companies such as Safeway, Sam’s Club, Fresh Direct and Northwest Co., and, throughout her career, has proven to be an innovative and transformational leader accustomed to full P&L responsibilities driving bottom-line growth, customer loyalty, and employee engagement in both perishable and non-perishable operations.
In her current dual COO roles, Noiles will be taking on the challenges of building two brands in the current CBD and Cannabis space for consumer and trade respectively.
James Bagley joins Tenacious Labs as board director
Bagley was formerly CEO of luxury drink wholesaler and retailer, DMD Ventures and was VP of Sales and Marketing at Naked Wines UK.
Luxury CBD brand CEO, James Bagley, is joining Tenacious Labs as a board director where he will alongside current members including board chair, former Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces, Sir Nick Parker.
Co-founder and CEO of luxury CBD brand OTO, James Bagley, is joining international CBD group Tenacious Labs where he will bring significant experience of scaling up businesses within the consumer and discretionary spend arenas to the role of board director.
Nicholas Morland, co-founder and CEO of Tenacious Labs, commented: “I’m delighted to welcome James to Tenacious Labs. OTO is a brand we hugely admire and, under James’ leadership, has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years to become a genuinely leading UK consumer brand.
“His expertise in driving growth and supporting the development of our global brands will be crucial in reaching Tenacious Labs’ goal of become the leading consumer-centric cannabinoid group in the world.”
Bagley said: “I feel proud and honoured to be joining the team at Tenacious Labs. Through its work with the Jersey Government, helping develop regulations that will strengthen the CBD industry worldwide, it has shown it is a business that believes in doing things properly – something for which I have great respect.
“It makes perfect sense to formalise our relationship through this natural step, and I look forward to us achieving great things for Tenacious Labs together.”
Under Bagley’s leadership, OTO has experienced significant growth over the last year, including expansion through partnerships with leading retailers, fitness and leisure operators, including the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Boom Cycle, Selfridges, Harrods, Sweaty Betty and Liberty.
“Having James join us with his years of consumer brand building and retail experience and his intricate understanding of the international CBD market is an exciting moment for Tenacious Labs. The Tenacious Labs commercial team especially look forward to working with him closely, and applying his skills and knowledge in order to grow our brands around the world,” added Adrian Clarke, co-founder and CCO of Tenacious Labs.
James will sit on the board alongside Nicholas Morland, co-founder and CEO; Adrian Clarke, co-founder and chief commercial officer; Sally Hayes, chief financial officer; and Susie Macarthur, chief operating officer.
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- Christina DiArcangelo: dedicated to revolutionising patient care