In this panel discussion, recorded on June 14, 2019 at the Cannabis Forum Summer 2019 in New York City, BevNET Editor-In-Chief Jeff Klineman talks with several cannabis industry professionals — including Nanogen CEO Ben Larson, CAN CAN Cleanse CEO Teresa Piro, Big Rock Partners COO Joyce Cenali, and Botanica co-founder Chris Abbott — about how entrepreneurial brands can best overcome these challenges.
Ben Larson joins us and shares the importance of creating white space in your everyday environment: “What I like to think of white space is this: doing my best to clear out all the thoughts in my head. As an entrepreneur with so much stuff going on, especially in the cannabis industry where you have many things pulling at you, even beyond the course of normal business, sometimes you need to find a way to just separate yourself and create that white space so that you can actually think and be strategic and prioritize as you see fit.”
What’s better than a regular beverage? An infused one.
Or at least that’s the thinking at Nanogen Labs, a Cannabis-industry startup that’s bringing us weed beer, among other drinkables. Grit Daily caught up with CEO Ben Larson after BevNet’s gathering in New York at the newly opened 420 Shop to get a closer look at the company’s origins and its “magic behind the scenes.”
The importance of ingredients was highlighted by Piro, Nanogen CEO Ben Larson, Botanica co-founder Chris Abbott and Joyce Cenali, Big Rock Partners’ founding partner and COO.
Nanogen Labs produces nano-emulsions that enhance the water compatibility and bioavailability of cannabinoids.
“If brands aren’t struggling yet they will,” Larson noted. “There’s a lot of fairy dusting going on in the CBD space. After the hype goes away, what’s going to keep a brand moving?”
Cannabis investor Ben Larson, former managing partner at cannabis startup accelerator Gateway, is one of the entrepreneurs incubating a minority-owned business in Oakland. Larson’s new firm, Nanogen Labs, which is working on technology to help cannabis compounds dissolve in water, is providing space to equity entrepreneur Lemar Key. Key is connecting craft growers to consumers with his Nimbus Cannabis Marketplace.
To really get the business off the ground, Larson estimates Key needs at least half a million dollars. “But he has competitors in that space that can raise $5 million to $10 million,” said Larson, “so that makes it really difficult to compete.”
By “vehicle,” Larson is referring to the method of consumption. Compared to smoking, vaporizing, or ingesting it, the most rapid and efficient delivery system is, in fact, water-soluble CBD. At Larson’s lab, the focus is on nanoemulsion — a process that breaks CBD down into micro-sized clusters.
“With nanoemulsion,” Larson explains, “we are able to reduce the droplet size of the encapsulated oil so that it is better absorbed by the body. It can pass through the membranes of the body instead of going all the way through your digestive tract and getting filtered out by the liver.”
One method Two Roots may be employing to achieve its effects is through nano-emulsion, said NanoGen Labs founder Harold Han, who has a PhD in emulsion chemistry and has been working in the field for more than a decade. Han said that by making the cannabis oil containing the main psychoactive component — Tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC — small enough, it would be possible to achieve the effects Hayford talked about.
“The technology exists to do so now, but you would have to customize it for large production,” he said.