As cannabis cultivators pour billions of dollars into developing cutting-edge, efficient grows, we need to ask: is there a hidden disruptor that could steal their business in the years ahead?
Here to help us answer this is Kevin Chen of Hyasynth Bio, one of just a few companies experimenting with non-plant-derived cannabinoids.
Learn more at https://hyasynthbio.com
- Kevin’s background in cannabis and how he came to start Hyasynth Bio
- An inside look at Hyasynth Bio and its work with non-plant-derived cannabinoids
- A deep dive into biosynthesis and how Hyasynth Bio uses this process to grow cannabis compounds inside yeast cells
- How Hyasynth Bio has successfully overcome challenges with biosynthesis
- The history of biosynthesis and cannabis and where Kevin sees this relationship evolving in the years to come
- The different types of end products we’ll start to see for sale in dispensaries that use biosynthesis
- How biosynthesis will affect cannabis prices
- Hyasynth Bio’s intellectual property strategy and how Kevin manages the company’s patents
- The traditional cannabis companies that are investing in biosynthesis
- Where Kevin sees cannabinoid biosynthesis heading in the next 3-5 years
Matthew: Hi, I'm Matthew Kind. Every Monday, look for a fresh new episode where I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at cannainsider.com. That's cannainsider.com. Now, here's your program.
As cannabis cultivators pour billions of dollars into creating cutting-edge efficient grows, we need to ask, is there a hidden disruptor lurking that may steal their business in the years ahead? Here to help me answer that question is Kevin Chen, CEO of Hyasynth Bio. Kevin, welcome back to "CannaInsider."
Kevin: Great to be back.
Matthew: Great. Give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?
Kevin: I am in Montreal where we have our labs and offices. And right now I'm actually in one of our, like, back storage rooms because our conference room is fully occupied and we're moving a bunch of stuff around with some new instruments. And so the storage room is the quietest and most private space right now here. But yes, surrounded by boxes and desks and instruments, and yeah.
Matthew: I appreciate you going deep cover for the interview, resourceful. That's a good trait in an entrepreneur.
Kevin: Of course. Yeah. It's part of...I mean it's part of communication I guess to give context to where we're at.
Matthew: Yeah. So you were on the show a year or two back, but for new listeners, can you give us a summary of what Hyasynth Bio is?
Kevin: Definitely. So you could describe us almost maybe as one of these hidden disruptors that are coming up to the industry and gonna change a bit of how this industry works. But our basic goal here is to create strains of yeast that you can use in industrial fermentation the same way that you may be brew beer or produce insulin and then use the yeast to produce THC and CBD without having to grow plants at all. And so as opposed to like, you know, a plant growing cycle or where you have to have all this light and energy and it takes three months to grow, a yeast will grow in about a week, and then you can do an extraction and purification from that, which is also relatively straight forward. And then you end up with like your purified, you know, ingredient that you can use and all kinds of different applications. So we really want to take advantage of that, like industrial fermentation system and process that so many industries rely on today, and bring that to the cannabis world.
Matthew: Okay. And as I mentioned, you were on the show a couple of years back, but could you share a bit about your background and journey and how you got into the cannabis space?
Kevin: Yeah, definitely. So my background is primarily in biochemistry. So I'm coming from a science background and then I got interested in, I guess, the cannabis industry as a whole back in 2014 when we were sitting around as co-founders and talking about some ideas of, you know, startups that we could do. And I guess we were a bunch of people who knew very well how to engineer a yeast to do all kinds of different things, and some of our previous work was with the yeast or algae to produce different kinds of like anticancer drugs or to produce maybe like precursors for plastics, things like that. So we kind of had our laundry list of ideas of things that we could make using a yeast. And cannabinoids was one of those, opioids was another one actually. Those two industries are gonna be headed in opposite directions, I guess.
And so we started with cannabinoids, investigated a bit further. I got a chance to meet a lot of the researchers and patients and companies that were, you know, working in the cannabis space and just getting started. And that really gave us, you know, a good amount of inspiration and motivation to kind of see, you know, how important, you know, these compounds are and how important it will be to have a really good supply chain for these things in the future. And that's how we got into it.
Matthew: Okay. Yeah. Like three months back, I think it was, I was up in Montreal and you were kind enough to give me a tour of your facilities. Can you talk a little bit about your lab and just walk us through what you showed me there?
Kevin: Yeah, definitely. So I guess we're divided up into a few different sections of, you know, genetic engineering and fermentation and analytical chemistry. So what you walked by would have been like, you know, kind of walls of freezers and incubators and shakers and some robotics stuff and a lot of machines that do all kinds of different things. But our typical workflow is to basically try and generate and screen as many different kinds of yeast strains or enzymes that are involved in cannabis biosynthesis as we can. So, you know, we're always working in the scales of, you know, thousands of samples per week. And whether it's like, you know, a new strain of yeast that we're trying or a new version of like the cannabis, you know, THC biosynthesis enzymes that we're trying, there's all kinds of different things that we'll do. And that's maybe like, you know, the bulk of what our work has been like for the past while.
The next phase after we've got these strains of yeast, of course, is to do like production. And that's what we're producing in a much larger volume of the vessel and actually purifying material out and then having that sent...you know, either verified internally or maybe sent externally for validation. And that's like the kind of like production and quality workflow that is becoming more important now as our strains get closer and closer to completion.
Matthew: Okay. And what's the relationship, or maybe you can name the university and what's the relationship with the university? Because you're kind of like on the edge of campus or even on campus. They're kind of fostering, you know, innovation with graduates. So maybe you could talk a little bit about what's happening there.
Kevin: Yeah, a little bit. I can tell you, we are on the campus of the university. The university that we are inside of, I guess, we don't have a specific relationship aside from a lease, I guess. And you know, it's a good location and the lab space is great. And it's the University of Quebec in Montreal and we're really happy to be here and have this location just because it's nice space and nice location. A lot of our teammates are coming from Concordia or McGill University and with each of these universities, maybe we've had a bit more of like, you know, either a hiring relationship or other kinds of like startup, you know, initiatives that exist there. And so I can point to them better as far as like, you know, universities that are pushing more startups and getting things out, which is interesting. And here we're, yeah, mainly just renting space, I guess.
Matthew: Okay. And biosynthesis is a term some people get stuck on. I mean, that's the whole thrust of your business. But for people that get stuck on that term biosynthesis, is there ever a way you can help them get unstuck in a simple way? You're so deep in the weeds, it's probably like, it's so clear to you.
Kevin: Yeah. No, I just did a big, long meeting with another investment banker and he was tearing apart my slide and saying like, "All this stuff, you just don't need," you know, he doesn't get it and it doesn't matter. Just curious about, you know, the profit and the margins and stuff like that. I was like, "Okay, I guess so." But...
Matthew: I care about it, I disagree.
Kevin: Yeah. And I mean, being from scientists also, his comment is like, you know, "It's clear you like to teach people about what you're doing and that it is science," and it is fun to teach. So I do still enjoy that and I won't...I'll take away...I'll dial it back a bit, but I guess I'll give you the...I mean, the quick spiel about biosynthesis is that as far as like coming back to the basics of like how biology works is that, you know, your cells themselves are machines. And maybe I'll use insulin as an example of where, you know, there are cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. And that you need that to help regulate, you know, your glucose and this is how if that doesn't work properly, then you end up with, you know, conditions like diabetes.
And so, you know, back in the 1970s and '80s, people figured out how to produce insulin using a bacteria and then that became something that can be dosed as an actual drug. And that's, you know, most of what we know of as like, you know, the insulin today being used for treating diabetes. So, you know, it's the same kind of analogy there where, you know, there is, you know, cells in cannabis plants that are responsible for producing THC and producing CBD. And inside those cells, there's a whole lot of chemistry happening to do that.
And our goal is to replicate that kind of chemistry, but inside of yeast cells, which grow a lot faster and are lot cheaper to grow and create that same sort of equivalent where, you know, we don't need to grow cannabis anymore, we can just grow yeast and have a much more stable and reliable supply chain for this. So, you know, that's kind of how it works. And then getting into the deeper weeds is like, you know, it is genetic engineering and we are changing a lot of different parts of a yeast genome, but this is a yeast that started out maybe as like a typical brewer's or a baker's yeast kind of thing. Did I get too far into the weeds or is that a good overview?
Matthew: No, no. No, I think that's good because it's more context.
Kevin: Yeah, definitely. And it is like such a complicated and interesting field because, you know, some parts of it really touch on the yeast that you do use for baking and brewing and ways to like engineer and modify that or to breed new types of yeast that give different flavors for like, you know, I guess if you think about the flavors of beer where you have like, you know, your range of sour beers and also like other kinds of beer that part of that flavor is driven by the yeast and which yeast it is and the genetics of that yeast. And then, you know, maybe that's a kind of introduction to using fermentation to handle, to produce flavors and to boost fragrances that are unique. And then in our case, you know, getting a bit more hands on where, you know, we're trying to be growing something very specific in a really specific, you know, way as opposed to dealing with, you know, breeding and wild fermentation kind of stuff. But a lot of the concepts kind of start to align when you think about they know the science and the chemistry of what's actually going on inside these yeast cells to produce different like flavors and fragrances or, in our case, cannabinoids.
Matthew: Yeah. So growing cannabinoids and yeast in a lab environment, and obviously, you know, at a 10,000-foot level when I went into your lab, I'm like, okay, you guys are creating cannabinoids in a lab and cultivators are more like farmers and there's just, you know, juxtaposing these two things. It's just very clear like, wow, and something's gonna happen to here. It's hard to know what, maybe these two fields will merge. Maybe one will take over, but you have a lot more ability to change things in a profound exponential way than a traditional cultivator. But, I mean, why is biosynthesis not bigger than it is right now? What's kept it from scaling up to this point?
Kevin: Yeah, it's a big challenge on, I mean, the scientific front, maybe specifically, to just engineer a yeast that does these kinds of things. And if I think about a good story to tell here, like I think biosynthesis kind of technologies and sort of genetic engineering has had a lot of different kinds of challenges over the past few years. I mean, if you think about the insulin type of thing I just described, how that's like the major way to produce insulin now, that was a great success story and that was like the 1970s and '80s that got first developed. And then over the past like, you know, 15 to 20 years, there was a lot of attention going towards using biosynthesis in the biofuels world. And that was a really, you know, interesting story because it was like huge amounts of investment that went into these, you know, people that were trying to engineer yeast or algae or whatever to produce biofuels. And then it just kind of tanked in the end and a lot of money that, you know, was invested into this kind of R&D went to waste because in the end you couldn't, you know, grow sugar, which is maybe the main feedstock for a yeast cheaper than you could buy, like, gasoline, right? And the economics were never quite perfect enough that that needed to move forward.
There's still some like stuff coming out now. I think that's like, you know, the newer version of the biofuels stuff that is kind of on its way to market. But it's really hard to just kind of, you know, walk into a room and say that you're an engineer yeast to do something. Or I guess, sorry, it's easier to walk into...It's easy to walk into a room and say that but then when you actually get into it, then, you know, you're still dealing with an organism that has its own priorities as far as, you know, wanting to grow faster or slower depending on how you feed it and everything like that. And so the science starts to get really, really challenging.
And this is why, you know, in our case it is about, you know, screening thousands of different strains and samples and ways to do this stuff and as opposed to like, you know, hundreds. And so, you know, maybe there's a big, you know, scientific challenge in the biosynthesis world that has always made it hard to develop these kinds of technologies and kind of like to say that. But I think we're getting to close to a point now where it is gonna become more of like a normal thing to start to see biosynthesis take over different industries, not just cannabinoids. And maybe we're recovering a bit from this like, you know, huge failure of the biofuels kind of thing.
Matthew: Okay. So you think we are approaching some sort of transition where finally there's gonna be that leap that's needed and is that gonna come from looking at so many different strains and maybe manipulating them on a genetic level?
Kevin: That's gonna be definitely part of the story. And it's like, you know, seeing how the kinds of challenges that we've run into that like, you know, a lot of it's kind of unexpected, but then, you know, you can find ways to deal with these different challenges that you can get. And then whether that's something that has to be changed on your process or with the, you know, genetic engineering or whatever else, either way, like, you know, I feel like, you know, today maybe we...over the course of enough years of experience, like we've got a good handle of how to solve a lot of these like yeast engineering problems and it's, you know, maybe closer to being a finite amount of time and money that has to be invested to complete a biosynthesis pathway. And in our case right now, you know, we've already done it, we've made cannabinoids using our yeast. Now, there's some more like process improvements and strain improvements that we need to make. And that's, you know, even more of a clear, you know, sign that this is gonna happen. There's not gonna be any like really big issues. This isn't like discovery science anymore. And I think we'll start to see that kind of across different industries that are like anything like, you know, chemical or bio products. Yeah.
Matthew: Okay. What end products do you see being first to market in a dispensary that use biosynthesis?
Kevin: That's a good question. I don't know. I mean, I would say not...I mean obviously not like cannabis plants because you're still...it's the cannabis plant that you're smoking, right? So that's not gonna change really. But almost, you know, anything else like, you know, the cannabis oils or maybe the other kinds of derivative products like edibles and stuff like that, we'll start to see...I mean in our case, you know, it is also kind of like, you know, let's see, you know, once we are ready to start like marketing products and putting things on the shelves, we'll have a decision point where we'll have to decide exactly what it's gonna be. And I don't know if I can say specifically what it will be today. Partly because we're still like exploring to some extent and seeing who wants to develop the next best thing.
And I mean, one of the big questions I think overall for the entire cannabis industry is also like, you know, what is the future of, you know, these products, like is cannabis oils, like, you know, the default way to use cannabis or is it gonna be kind of as pills or is it gonna be like a food, like a beverage kind of thing? And maybe that's more, like, you know, what'll help drive our decision-making process for who we're gonna work with and how we're actually going to like, you know, get our stuff onto dispensary shelves somewhere.
Matthew: When I think of Anheuser Busch and their huge manufacturing facilities in the U.S. or up there in Montreal and saw the big Molson facilities, what's it gonna take for biosynthesis to be at that level, like producing cannabinoids there, like what kind of leaps are gonna have to happen? It's just finding the right strains?
Kevin: Yeah. It's partly just finding the right strains. And I mean there's challenges all along the way and I mean it's just a matter of making sure that your research teams are experienced and that you've, you know, got the right approach to managing the capital that is going to go into this kind of, you know, larger-scale facilities. In a lot of cases, there are, you know, manufacturers that you can hire just to do this kind of manufacturing. That's one of the big advantages here is that, you know, unlike a lot of cannabis growers where you sort of had to start, you know, build a greenhouse from scratch almost especially in....or especially if growing indoors, you kind of have to build a specialized facility for this kind of stuff. In the industrial fermentation world, there's already industrial fermenters that exist and then you can either buy those or hire them to do work for you.
So, and then those companies will have experience of taking strains from like small scale to like, you know, immense scales like the ones that you see in these, you know, beer fermentation breweries. So there is like a, you know, rational way to actually go about doing the scale-up. It's not risk-free, but it's at least, you know, you can manage that risk. And this comes back to maybe a bit of like, you know, our experienced that, you know, as we get into it, that will help drive our strategy there is, you know, again, having staff who have spent a lot of time around the biofuel stuff and seeing a lot of companies go up and down.
Matthew: Okay. Kevin, has there been interest from brewers or it's been more cultivators or investors? I mean, who's kind of interested here? I would think this is kind of the brewer's bread and butter because they're used to yeast at a huge, you know, manufacturing level. Has there been interest there from brewers?
Kevin: Yeah, there definitely has to some extent at least, but there's also some like, you know, divergent, you know, ways to do fermentation that like, in one case, we're trying to produce like, you know, beer. In our case, we're trying to produce like a fine, you know, chemical in the end. So the types of fermenters that you would use are a bit different and it's not like a perfect crossover. But the skillset and like the experience is still the same where like, you know, you are dealing with huge fermentations and there's capital risk to manage there. And so people who understand that are like people that I like to talk to you too. But we have gotten a lot of interest from, you know, maybe all kinds of the same areas of people who are just like looking at the cannabis industry. They'll often come across our type of technology and kind of approaches to see how this might, you know, affect their investments or if it's a cannabis cultivator, then they, you know, wanna know how this might affect their own company as a whole. And so it's a bit of like all of the above, I guess. And we're always happy to have, you know, these conversations and to see, you know, who's interested and see if this relationship to build now or something in the future.
Matthew: Yeah. I try to think about how this will impact cannabis pricing, you know, for a kilo or a pound of cannabis. And I'm thinking it's gonna be less of an impact on flower, dried flower, but extracted oil, that's where the margin hit might come from because this is effectively what you're creating is probably an input or ingredient to some other finished product. So is that what you're kind of thinking too?
Kevin: To some extent, yes. I mean overall, it is a more efficient process. But there's tons of also new stuff that we'll get into that'll be more about building specialized formulations or starting to target some of these more rare cannabinoids because we can engineer, you know, strains to produce those too. So I think there's a few different business models that will kind of like play out and there'll be...you know, in one case, you know, we can focus a lot on these, like, newer formulations and increase the diversity of the products available on the market and have like some really unique stuff come out. And then there's also like, you know, maybe focusing on that commodity style, like ingredient supply where it is about, you know, having cost metrics that start to make sense for like the, you know, really large scales and for like a mass-market product and where those costs of, you know, cannabis oils or there kinds of products that might start to come down, which to some extent, I would argue they almost need to anyways.
If you think about, you know, the way that a lot of other food and beverage industries kind of work and how those margins are like and what the cost of ingredients is there, I think, you know, from some of the conversations that I've had, like the cost of growing cannabis is like, you know, way beyond anything that people would consider for, you know, being a food and beverage ingredient. And that prevents a lot of people from even entering this market at all. And so I think, you know, in order for the cannabis industry to...yeah, coming back to, like you said, maybe we're disrupting the cannabis industry. But maybe, in reality, this is about, you know, the natural scale and the growth of the cannabis industry that becomes important because if we have this really expensive and crude product then market won't grow.
Matthew: Yeah. The price is gonna come down in one way or another. I'm just trying to imagine all the different ways it can. Can you talk a little bit about your intellectual property strategy and patents in your business and how you manage that whole thing?
Kevin: A little bit, yes. Not very much, but like maybe just a little bit. And this is like a really interesting area to kind of look at IP-wise. And there's a lot of different, you know, competition coming into this space that we're keeping an eye on. I mean, as far as like maintaining IP and having good defensible positions, it's just about like, you know, having great advisors, having people who have lots of experience who can help guide that pathway and then making sure that that's part of your work. In our case, you know, we have two patents which are published and people can take a look at. And maybe that's currently the only like public thing I should say about our IP stuff. But it's part of like, you know, maybe the plan overall to have a good portfolio and to make that part of what, you know, helps support us when we start bringing products to market.
Matthew: Okay. Do you have any traditional cannabis companies as investors for real, like licensed producers or anything like that?
Kevin: Yes, we do. One of our bigger investors overall is Organigram, which is based out of Moncton, New Brunswick.
Matthew: That's cool. You know, they're looking ahead, so that's great.
Kevin: Yeah. And they were the first ones to really make a big, you know, investment towards this kind of technology actually. And, you know, despite...I've spent a lot of time, you know, talking with a lot of different kind of these producers and they were the ones to really like step forward and make an offer. So, and now we've seen a lot more, you know, since then start to step up too. But, yeah, it's one of these areas where like if you're ahead of the game where you're starting to look at it now, then now's the right time to start looking at that and start making these relationships, right, because it's coming.
Matthew: Yeah. And where are you in the investment process right now in raising capital?
Kevin: Yup. So we are...so I guess we did close our Series A investment with Organigram in September of last year. Now, we're looking at plans for funding for our commercial development and really focusing more on like the manufacturing go-to-market strategy and stuff like that. So that's what we've got upcoming in the future. So there is definitely more fundraising in our future and then how we go about that, we're still maybe like, you know, working out a bit or I can't say too much about like, you know, our plan for that overall, but that's kind of what's coming.
Matthew: Okay. And when you look out on the horizon, let's say three to five years, what do you think is possible for cannabinoid biosynthesis?
Kevin: So many things. It's about getting this into a, you know, larger-scale situation and having like...I mean, I always look to existing industries in food and beverage or in pharmaceuticals as examples of how things should go with like, you know, product manufacturing. And right now cannabis is just like so far, you know, from what you would see for like, you know, the sugar that goes into like the typical like, you know, canned beverage, let's say, where it's something that is sourced easily in immense scales and people can really build global brands off of like these ingredients. And right now that almost doesn't exist in the cannabis world. So I think, you know, one of the first things that we'll see is that kind of normalization of the cannabis supply chain and we wanna play a big role in that and provide those kinds of like larger-scale reliable ingredients.
And then like I said earlier a bit too, there's gonna be a lot of interesting like product diversity to be introduced and really new ideas about like, you know, which cannabioids should be formulated and how they should be formulated and which, you know, pharmaceuticals can be developed from these unique formulations. Maybe not so much for the recreational market, but I think for, you know, there's a hundred cannas [SP] out there and some of them probably work better for certain diseases than other ones and we want to help with like, you know, discovering that and making that real.
Matthew: Okay. Let's jump to some personal development questions here. If for some reason you couldn't work in the cannabis industry or biosynthesis at all, in other words, if you had to do something totally different from what you're doing now, just because you think it's interesting and fun, what would it be?
Kevin: Yeah, that's a fun one. I guess, I mean for me, what really got me interested in this technology and in this, you know, I guess in the cannabis industry as a whole is how fast-paced it is and how it is this kind of like, you know, not just the new technological kind of revolution, but also this new cultural revolution where this is like the end of this prohibition and being a part of that whole like, you know, movement is so interesting. So I'd like to be part of these kinds of things that have this kind of impact and that use really interesting technologies and, to some extent, that are always gonna be like...you know, have a high technological risk because that's part of the fun of it.
I've thought about this a little bit at least where, you know, if I had a job at like a regular tech company or maybe at a company that has more established like revenue streams or that isn't using so much like of these, you know, inventions of new technologies, then I feel like I'd become quite bored maybe a bit. And then now I have to focus on these higher risk and very intense kind of challenges and probably not so good for like, you know, making money all the time because, you know, risk is hard to manage. But at least it's what I enjoy doing and I like to work in science and technology and like towards people who are always thinking a bit about, you know, how you might invent new things and create new products and be in an industry that is exciting and changing all the time. Yeah.
Matthew: Cool. And you have a maker space, which is totally unrelated to what, you know, you're doing at Hyasynth Bio. Could you talk about what a maker space is and what you have going there in Montreal?
Kevin: Yeah, definitely. That's very much a side project and yeah, don't have as much time as I would like to spend working on that. But it is a maker space so you can get a membership and you can make whatever you want there. And we have most of the tools for any kind of woodworking project at least and some metalworking and other kinds of things too, like laser cutting and 3D printing, and it's sort of born out of that movement. And it's just a fun thing to manage. And you meet a lot of really interesting people, including, I mean, some people that are coming from more like the finance world who would just wanna have a hobby and then the people who are trying to make, you know, their livings off of trade skills and will actually run their businesses out of this kind of space.
So it's an interesting, you know, side project to work on from like a business standpoint and just to gain some more experience in like different kinds of work and business models for me personally. And like, it's a social good project. So it's a nonprofit, it's co-op and, you know, I really wanna find ways to, you know, support these kinds of communities and, you know, create...I guess we're doing a lot of work with inclusivity and just making these tools more available before...I guess there's this constant issue that I hear about in the educational system now where people are getting less involved with trade skills and people are forgetting how to do woodworking and normal, like, you know, house stuff. And so we've had some of the school boards come to us and talk about like re-introducing, like, shop class kind of thing. But anyways, I'm getting into the weeds with that product to you. But it's quite fun, yeah.
Matthew: Is there anything that's anybody has made there that's kind of jumped out at you? Like, hey, wow, this is pretty cool that this was made with all the tools at the maker space.
Kevin: We've had a lot of people be interested in making guitars, which is this sort of like complicated skill that normally you go to school and spend a lot of time on, but now you've got this little guitar making club of people who are just there like every week, every Tuesday night I think, they meet up and they just go at it and make guitars and now they made some like really, really beautiful projects. And that's one of the things that...I mean it's cool to make a guitar, but if I were to think about making a guitar, I feel like it's something complicated, it takes a lot of time, and it's maybe hard to do, but I guess, you know, maybe it's not so difficult to start doing that. And part of the process of making is like the fun of actually making it and then, in the end, you have this like really, really nice product. And so that's one that I was maybe a bit surprised that like kind of took off and that, you know, we have now this like group of hobbyist guitar makers that will just work on their projects and have a lot of fun doing it because I feel like it is a bit complicated. But we have a great team that's running that. So it's awesome.
Matthew: Okay. That's cool. Here's a Peter Teal question for you. What is the one thing that you believe that most people would disagree with you on? It can be about anything, not necessarily the cannabis industry.
Kevin: Maybe I only think of agreeable things and everybody's just happy to agree with me. No, I guess, I mean there's questions about...I mean, one of these ones actually in the cannabis industry I'll specifically maybe address is this idea of the entourage effect. And the agreeable thing that I would say is that, you know, it exists. It's something that is like worth looking into and definitely there's something going on there. But I find a lot of people like use it as a sort of dismissive way to like, you know, accept that like cannabis is the ultimate solution and the end goal for everything that we ever need, which it definitely is not. Like we can define things that are better than cannabis or find specific parts of cannabis that really need and really can improve on or that will make for better medicine and so on, so forth.
So it doesn't make sense to, you know, be so centralized on like, you know, accepting that cannabis, as it is naturally, is like the ultimate solution. And so like the agreeable point I would say is like, yeah, it's part of the story where, you know, for us as a company and for the cannabis industry as a whole, you know, we're gonna find a lot of new things and the entourage effect or whatever will get more refined and we'll start to understand a bit more how these different components work together and be able to, you know, leverage that to build really interesting things. And then make the disagreeable thing that I could say is also that the entourage effect shouldn't exist or doesn't exist. Or maybe the fact that, you know, this word was even used to describe this is actually hindering a lot of maybe new science that should come into effect because people are more keen on investing more in the cannabis growing and less so in the actual understanding of this entourage effect and getting to the bottom of how these things actually work. And yeah, that's one that I sometimes get stuck on a bit, or I always get asked about it and then I usually give this kind of answer and then people are like, okay, this is good.
Matthew: No, that's controversial enough, I think.
Kevin: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah, that can make me...you know, I don't think I've...maybe after a few drinks, I'll just say it doesn't exist and then be in an argument with somebody for awhile, but...
Matthew: Let's start there just for fun just to poke a bear.
Kevin: Yeah. Yeah. But I think it's one of these things that like fully satisfied with acknowledging its existence and finding ways to work with it. But I find that, you know, maybe there was a better way to approach that challenge as opposed to just kind of like, you know, accepting it and using it as a reason to not do more science. I think that's kind of silly.
Matthew: Okay. And last time you were on the show, you mentioned two books, "Future Perfect" from Steve Johnson and "Bold" by Peter Diamandis. And are there any other books that you've had an impact on your life since then that's worth talking about?
Kevin: Yeah, definitely. I've been reading a fair bit lately. So I've got maybe five I could recommend, but I'll choose maybe a couple of these. I really enjoyed "The Three-Body Problem" series from Cixin Liu. And that's like sci-fi, but it's like a being sort of recent and relevant. It's actually really, really interesting. So highly recommend that one. And then I also am really enjoying reading a bit about the modern art world in this book called "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark," and it's, "The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art," by Don Thompson. And this is like a really interesting, like, you know, discussion about like how the modern art world works and how people will kind of drive up the price of different kinds of art. And it's always this like, you know, mix of subjective judgment and personalities and everything like that.
And to some extent we see that a lot in like the startup world too where, you know, it is about valuation and about hype generation and how to like, you know, leverage that in many ways. So I like to...I'm interested in reading this book because it's a fun book to read, but also there's something interesting like, you know, tidbits about like, wait a second, you know, this kind of applies to some of the things that I do on an everyday basis. Or it kind of explains a bit of like, you know, the things that we see in the startup world.
Matthew: You know, it is similar in some regards, the modern art and how, you know, art dealers, they really try to get you into the narrative about the artist or the piece and something about it. And usually, if it's unusual or something that, you know, has some dimension to it that's fun to share, then they can kind of hook you into it. You know, like they can get you to buy into the story about the artist or the piece or why it has some sort of importance and then they're kind of hinting at maybe it's limited supply and then there's other people looking at it and in the future, who knows how much could it go for. You know, I've seen all that with art and it's like, well, you know, even though you know it's happening, it still works. Like our minds are hard wired that way to think in terms of, you know, stories and narratives.
Kevin: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And this is I mean, pitching 101. And if you look around and watch some like, you know, pitch instruction videos for startups, like they do really focus on leveraging that story and making sure that, you know, part of what you tell is it about, you know, your team and your overall story and trying to get people hooked on like this idea, right? And I mean, in the extreme cases, it goes awfully where, you know, the CEO is just kind of over-pitching and the story is too much and there's not enough like function behind it. So it's this really, really interesting, like, yeah, communication question that is funny about how like the human mind works and what we have to do in order to get each other to understand things, to focus a bit maybe. But it's, yeah, yeah, really, really interesting.
Matthew: I think about how powerful that narrative is too because, you know, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, we have the idea of the two quaint guys from Vermont and I've been to their factory up there in Vermont and it's nice and everything, but I mean, they were bought by Unilever, a huge, multinational years ago, but people still kind of have that quaint kind of idea about Ben and Jerry when they're buying ice cream, even though all of that has gone. So it's so durable once it's in people's minds.
Kevin: Yeah. Yeah, it is. And I guess that's what sticks and that's why, you know, we have brands that have value in the end, right? And, you know, I guess with Ben & Jerry's, it's enough, like, great ice cream behind it that people still love the ice cream and they still love the story. If the ice cream wasn't so good then maybe people would kind of shy away from that.
Matthew: That's true. Good point.
Kevin: But I think there has to be like this nice...I mean, in the end, you kind of have to have to deliver something. And I think that maybe in this book there's like these art pieces that maybe it's not so much about delivering on something and something feeling just about generating a lot of energy, but it's it...yeah, I mean understanding this aspect of like, you know, what attracts people to certain things is an important thing to think about. And it applies to like, you know, daily life or at least gives you a sense of, you know, how people will rationalize certain decisions. And whether it's, you know, us talking to like the Canadian government or us talking with investors or us talking to like potential customers, there's always like, you know, this goal, in the end, of trying to get people to understand and be interested in what you're doing.
And then you have to also kind of, you know, give them something functional that they can actually latch onto in the end. So it's not like a pure story and this always like maybe worries me about a bit being in this like biotechnology sphere where companies will go out and raise like tons of money. And the biggest like, you know, scandal of the decade is the Theranos company which managed to raise tons of money without showing very much technology at all. And then, in the end, their investors were totally fooled by this great storyteller, which is both unfortunate for like the wonderful storyteller that could have used her skills, like, elsewhere and also for the industry as a whole of like, you know, getting people to understand things and not be afraid of technology, I guess. So yeah, it's so many interesting, you know, such an interesting dynamic to kind of like look into and understand it. And it is also like a very funny story to tell about this shark that was sold for $12 million.
Matthew: That sounds like a great book. I'm gonna have to check that out. What's the title one more time for people?
Kevin: It's called "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark."
Matthew: Okay. Okay. Well, Kevin, as we close, please tell listeners how they can find you online at your website and also for accredited investors, how they can reach out to you if they're interested in investing.
Kevin: Definitely. The place to go is hyasynthbio.com. So that's spelled hyasynthbio.com. And for now, that's the place to go for I mean all points of contact, I guess. For now at least still, I don't know how long this will last but I do go look through all the emails that do come through that. And if somebody is interested and coming from an investment firm, that is one that I like usually pick up and will reply to. And otherwise, it's nice to hear from people just, you know, who have their different stories and if there's a relationship to be built between like, you know, us and another company you or if you have an idea then it's always nice to chat about, I guess. So I encourage people to come out and reach out to us.
Matthew: Great. Well Kevin, thanks so much for coming on the show and educating us today. This is a really interesting area, biosynthesis, so we'll watch closely as this proceeds and come back and give us an update sometime.
Kevin: Yeah, definitely will do. I would love to be back sometime.
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