Q&A: Navigating a Roadmap to Success | New Zealand business magazine
NZBusiness talks to Holly Wright and Paul Lee, co-founders of medicinal cannabis company Organic Genetics, about their NZ $ 4 million crowdfunding campaign, as well as the challenges and lessons to be learned in order to be successful in an industry. highly competitive market.
NZB: What is the story behind your decision to launch Organic Genetics? And what were the biggest challenges and potential obstacles you faced in getting the business to where it is today?
Holly: We founded Organic Genetics in 2019, after much discussion about the potential of medicinal cannabis and its ability to help those in need. After seeing our friends and family suffer from the terrible side effects of prescription drugs and opioids, it only strengthened our desire to provide this wonderful natural alternative.
As Paul grew up in Southern California, where it is the cannabis ‘mecca’, this meant that we could nurture his existing relationships – ultimately allowing us to partner with a large team of seasoned industry professionals, as well. than having access to exceptional Californian genetics.
Because this is such a new industry, it has certainly been a long and difficult road, from navigating the licensing environment and securing locations to cultivate, to growing our team and capital raising. There was no roadmap here when we first started, so there was so much to decipher and learn along the way. We had to be very flexible and quick to deal with all of our business decisions, but every day we put in work and long hours because we are so passionate about what we are building.
NZB: You face a lot of competition from other new entrants. Why do you think you will be successful when the competition intensifies?
Holly: We believe that Organic Genetics has a few key points of difference that will really help us establish ourselves as market leaders in this industry.
First, we are aiming for vertical integration, which means that we will have full control over our supply chain and all processes, from seed to sale. We understand that there is currently only one other company in New Zealand that takes the same approach.
Second, to build a successful seed-to-sales value chain, we knew it would be essential to bring in the best experts in the industry who could provide not only a wealth of knowledge, but genuine testing experience. and errors. We’ve seen how extremely costly early mistakes in this industry can be – a bad harvest can have devastating effects. But we also saw this as an opportunity to move forward and avoid common pitfalls that other businesses may encounter when entering this industry. Our team has been put together with great consideration, with a proven track record in the cannabis business and extensive experience in large-scale cultivation, extraction, research and product development.
And third, our integrated partners are another aspect to ensure our success. Partnerships with Originals which have given us access to their highly sought-after genetic pool; product agreements with iX Biopharma and FarmCeutica to potentially import and distribute their range of EU-GMP certified products; and finally, our partnership with ANZ Pharma for access to extensive distribution channels in the New Zealand market.
NZB: How important is the crowdfunding process to securing the future of the business? And, from experience, what lessons can you now share around the whole crowdfunding process?
Holly: The process of raising capital is an integral part of the next step in biological genetics. Reaching our crowdfunding target by the end of October, when the offering ends on PledgeMe, will help us accelerate our plans for the in-house construction of an EU-GMP indoor grow facility in Auckland, where we will grow crops. handcrafted products with high THC content. cannabis.
Crowdfunding is just as important to us in building our community. Our vision has always been to organize a strong community of people who believe in both science and the quality of life that medicinal cannabis can offer. By opening our door to Kiwis to invest, we are convinced that we can develop a strong network of individuals who all share the same passion for medicinal cannabis and for the success of organic genetics.
However, crowdfunding is not the only requirement for securing our future. With the planning underway to submit several imported EU-GMP CBD products for approval, we anticipate that they will provide a stable source of income for the company from the start.
NZB: The medical cannabis industry has come a long way in such a short time. What concerns do you have for the sector in the future? What will be the biggest obstacles to growth?
Holly: Yes, the medical cannabis industry has come a long way, but we still have some catching up to do in New Zealand.
Two obstacles that all companies in our industry face are product approval processes and regulatory systems. The regulations put in place by our governing bodies are among the strictest in the world, and there have been compliance issues for many companies trying to bring products to market. Hopefully, we can learn from the industry globally and implement the right set of rules that will allow New Zealand to become a leader in cannabis innovation.
Education about medicinal cannabis and awareness of its benefits is also an obstacle that we as an industry must overcome together. Even with a national movement, a slight shift in the stigma and the international success of cannabis, there is still a huge need to educate consumers and healthcare professionals about the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis and how it can be used. be prescribed.
NZB: What lessons have you already learned about exporting your product to global markets? And what are your long-term export goals?
Holly: When it comes to exporting, we understand that everything must fall under the umbrella of the EU-GMP. It’s a new experience for us, but luckily we have the right team in place to facilitate this.
One of the perks of being here in New Zealand is that we are already known around the world for having high quality, clean and green products. Coupled with the stringent regulations our governing bodies have set, New Zealand has a clear advantage when it comes to the export of medicinal cannabis. The international markets to which we seek to export will be sure that our products meet only the strictest regulations and are made in one of the most envious places in the world.
NZB: Do you have any advice for other husband and wife businesses to ensure the success of the business and their long-term relationship?
Holly: Understand everyone’s work styles. Once you have a thorough understanding of how to work together productively, it can be a real benefit to have two different perspectives when situations arise.
Be a good friend and support system to each other, knowing when to step in and help with parenting or housework so the other can focus on different tasks in the business.
Spend quality time together outside of work. This is crucial for maintaining a good work-life balance and putting things in perspective.
It can be a difficult road but just as rewarding. Spending each day working side by side, solving problems, celebrating wins, and watching your business grow from scratch through your collaborative efforts is something you can be truly proud of.
NZB: Where do you see your business going in five years?
Holly: We plan to be fully operational and vertically integrated, growing our high-end, high-THC craft cannabis first in our indoor facilities, and then growing our CBD-rich hemp at our outdoor location in Northland. We will develop, manufacture and stock products both locally and internationally. We will also be involved in educational programs and work through social initiatives that are important to us, both personally and as a business. It’s exciting to think about the future – growing this business with amazing staff and a supportive community behind us.
For more information on Organic Genetics’ fundraising offering, which closes October 26, check out the PledgeMe website.
Main photo: Holly and Paul.