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VIDEO: Behind the scenes with British cannabis firm Avida Global

The company is on track to become a world-leading, vertically integrated seed to sales operation

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Avida Global's production facility in north east Columbia

British cannabis firm Avida Global is on track to become a world-leading, vertically integrated seed to sales business. CEO David Kirby reveals the highs and lows of the journey so far.

Founded in 2018, Avida Global is a producer of high-quality medicinal cannabis oils for the worldwide medical and well-being markets​.

While its management team – hailing from backgrounds in business, horticulture, banking and finance – is headquartered in London, its production facility is in north east Colombia, a region renowned for its natural growing advantages.

But in a fast-growing, highly-competitive market, what sets Avida apart?

CEO David Kirby, who has worked for the likes of Capgemini and Shell, takes Cannabis Wealth behind the scenes.

 

Avida Global is currently fundraising via Seedrs and has already overfunded its £1 million target by more than 137 percent.

This is Avida Global’s first crowdfunding campaign having already raised more than £6.1million to date.

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New CFO Ranjan Kalia appointed to Curaleaf

Kalia joined international provider of cannabis products Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. as CFO on 19 July.

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New CFO Ranjan Kalia appointed to Curaleaf

Curaleaf thanks former chief financial officer (CFO) and welcomes new appointment of Ranjan Kalia. 

Kalia joined international provider of cannabis products Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. as CFO on 19 July. He succeeded Michael Carlotti who has stepped down for medical reasons.

Commenting on the appointment, Curaleaf CFO, Kalia, said: “I am truly honoured to be joining the Curaleaf team at this exciting time in the company’s evolution. As Curaleaf has established itself as the global pure play cannabis leader, the company remains in the very early innings of its long-term potential development in this dynamic and fast growing industry. 

“I look forward to partnering with the entire Curaleaf team to continue executing on its track record for financial performance, strong balance sheet and robust engagement with the financial community.”

Leadership expertise

Kalia will bring a wealth of expertise to Curaleaf after having served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Virtusa Corp, a global provider of digital strategy, and extensive experience and knowledge across corporate tax regulations, US SEC regulations and Sarbanes Oxley compliance requirements.

He has also spent eight years with EMC Corporation serving in various roles including vice president of finance and chief financial officer – Asia-Pacific region, and has held senior financial controller and audit positions at GE Capital, Pepsi Cola Co., and Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Boris Jordan, Executive Chairman of the Board of Curaleaf, commented: “On behalf of the Board of Directors and the executive leadership team I want to personally thank Mike for his tremendous commitment and contributions to Curaleaf. During Mike’s tenure as Chief Financial Officer he delivered exceptional financial performance management while ensuring the Company maintained its commitment to a strong balance sheet to help drive our business and meet our goals. Mike played an important role in setting the foundation for our future success; moreover, he’s an exceptional professional and friend. We wish him all the best for a prompt and full recovery.”

Joseph Bayern, Chief Executive Officer of Curaleaf, commented: ”I am pleased to welcome Ranjan to the Curaleaf executive leadership team. With over thirty years of experience in executive finance positions at complex multinational companies, Ranjan brings a wealth of expertise which will be instrumental in helping fuel our continued growth. He’s joining us at a very exciting time for our company and I look forward to working with him.”

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‘We’re still at the very beginning’: Cannamplify and state of the cannabis industry

We spoke to the CEO of Cannamplify, a brand management firm helping companies get a foothold in the complex sector.

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Cannabis Wealth spoke to Shaan Mahrotri of cannabis brand management firm Cannamplify to find out what goes on behind the scenes.

How did you get started in the industry?

I’ve worked in finance and investments for my whole career, after starting to do the books for my parents’ business while I was at school. I’ve been a CEO or COO for all manner of businesses – you name it, I’ve helped build it or destroy it.

In recent years, many of the businesses I’ve been involved in were early-stage investors in the cannabis industry in the US, landing all along the chain, from cultivation to extraction to consumer.

In 2017, I and one of my partners started to bring over interesting and mature CBD brands from the US, just when the industry was kicking off in the UK, and we ended up forming Cannamplify in 2019.

The business is a suite of different things. In the beginning, we functioned as the administrative and operative partner for companies coming to Europe, supporting them with everything from warehousing and logistics to setting up websites.

We then set up our B2C offering, Nabino, which is essentially a shop front for the brands we were bringing over.

We also act as a B2B wholesaler, supplying CBD brands to a number of outlets in mainland Europe, with some registrations in Japan, although the events of 2020 slowed that element down a lot.

We also have a The Bosky Agency, which is our marketing side, focusing on what and how we’re we’re allowed to advertise to consumers.

We always say we deal with everything from the end of the production line to when the product reaches the consumer’s hands.

The company was set up as a partnership between three different operations.

Where do you think the industry is at in 2021?

To be honest, at the moment the industry isn’t as big as anyone thought it would be.

We’re still at the very beginning, everyone is relying on the traditional, existing vertical supply chains – there’s nothing specially for cannabis, so it will take a while for the world and the industry to catch up with each other.

At Cannamplify, we focus on the end of the value chain as that’s where we see the value being, in the branding, movement, operations.

Outside of that, I sit on an advisory board of a high-risk payment company that focuses on cannabis and vape; banking in the sector is non-existent and it’s not long ago that everyone had to deal in cash.

I remember a farmer in Oregon once showing me his two barns; one was full of his crops and the other was full of his cash, as no bank would touch it.

The industry is starting to get legitimised now, but it’s still at the point where there’s a black market – CBD is very much grey.

The professionalism you see in other industries is still trickling down, but there are still too many bad actors, people jumping on the bandwagon – not just in the product, but also behind the scenes.

There are a lot of opportunistic things going on, so we need to inspire that trust – which will take time.

That’s why I believe that starting with a focus on the medicinal benefits of CBD is the right thing to do.

Much as I’d like to be able to walk down the street and buy some weed, it’s only right that we focus on the very real medical benefits of CBD for the time being. Look at Canada; they tried to do everything at once, and it’s just too much.

The cultural shift will take generations, which is why education is so important – for retailers, not just consumers.

What do you see as being the key developments over the past few years?

As there has been more acceptance of hemp, there has been more focus on using every element, with an awful lot of awful lot of R&D into ideas like using hemp for building materials and bioplastics.

However, like everything, it all comes down to scale – you need that outlay before you can develop a product, and it’s only then that you can begin to market it, which means it can be slow progress.

In terms of collaboration within the industry, everyone is still finding their tribes at the moment, although there should definitely be more of a sense of working together than there currently is.

While admittedly it’s a small industry and everyone knows everyone to some extent, there’s still a way to go.

Having said that, cannabis years are like dog years – you learn an awful lot in a short space of time.

Who is your business inspiration?

It might sound cliched, but definitely my parents, who are first generation immigrants, working as traders and businesspeople. I definitely get my drive for business from them; I started my working life doing their businesses books in the holidays, so it’s always been in me.

I never had any doubt that I’d go into business – I’ve always run my own things and never been a 9-5 person.

What are the key qualities you need to succeed?

I’d say that surviving on very little sleep is the main thing. The world has changed a lot; in the early days, you could switch off – there were no emails from LA or calls from India – so the stamina you need is very different today.

I also think it’s important to be reasonably good at everything and not excellent at one thing; for me, a business always needs someone looking at the big picture.

The best advice you’ve been given

Someone once said, you’re not a doctor, you’re not a fireman – nobody’s going to die because you made a mistake.

Whether an email went out with a typo, or the servers are down, it doesn’t matter – deal with it and move on.

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Potyque: The women’s health foundations of an emerging British CBD brand

We sat down with founder Michelle Rust to get the inside line on how the company came into being.

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Credit: www.potyque.com

Potyque founder Michelle Rust set up the firm in 2019 after using CBD to treat her menopause symptoms.

Cannabis Wealth spoke to her about why chose to put her experience in the pharmaceutical industry into delving into a whole new industry.

Why did you enter this industry?

It was through my husband initially, who, after lots of research, came upon it as a potential solution for the menopause symptoms I was struggling with.

Since we started Potyque, the industry has become quite congested, but I hope that the introduction of the novel food licence legislation will enable all those with the license to trade legally.

That is one of the main reasons why we started Potyque; coming from a pharmaceutical background we are very comfortable with prescription drugs and the regulations that surround the industry, while also remaining totally focused on consumers.

How long have you been part of the industry?

We started our CBD journey back in 2018 and it took until the end of 2019 to create the brand, and finally get Potyque to market.

How has the industry grown since you first started?

The industry has grown exponentially. This makes it very confusing for consumers understanding the differences between what type of CBD to purchase, what strength to start with and how to titrate to get the maximum benefit.

That’s why, as well as selling the product, our website has lots of information on how best to use CBD and where to start – we know from personal experience what a minefield it can be.

What do you feel are the three key developments or updates that have changed the industry?

I think the novel food regulation for CBD companies (which came into effect in March) can only make sure the industry is self-regulated, which will lead to better controls along with higher standards and levels of compliance.

Ultimately, this means consumers will have greater faith and trust in CBD containing products, which can only be a good thing for the market as a whole.

What do you think the future holds for the industry?

It’s a very exciting time for everyone involved in the industry, and it’s set to continue.

The CBD world is still very much in its infancy and our hope remains that there is a place for consumers to have the benefit of the full ‘raw’ plant.

We’ve already identified in excess of 100 cannabinoids in the raw plant, and I’m not sure anyone so far has really found full benefit from isolating each fraction.

At the moment, legislation looks to be heading towards refined, purified, isolated oils, but we’re not so sure that’s for the best for consumers – why mess around with what Mother Nature has given us?

How much of the industry relies on collaboration?

Collaboration is a key part of the industry, especially with it still being relatively small and new.

Any fledgling field relies on collaboration and cooperation amongst those companies that innovate, otherwise it will quickly run out of ideas and options.

Who is your main inspiration in business and why?

My inspiration comes from so many different directions. I read a lot!

I love learning about new start-ups, the customer experience and successful entrepreneurs… there isn’t just one and the list goes on and on – there is always someone to be inspired by.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given in business?

I find too many people focus on profits or getting to the top, but the piece of advice I always remember is that people will never forget how you made them feel, so try to always be kind and genuine.

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