Why grow huge gardens of cannabis plants when you take gene samples of the cannabis compounds you want and grow them in yeast? This is the argument Kevin Chen of Hyasynth Bio presents.
– Kevin’s scientific education and background
– Growing cannabis compounds in yeast
– Why growing whole plants in 12 weeks when you can grow compounds in 1 week
– The most desirable cannabis compounds clients are asking for
– Why the future of cannabis is in laboratory, not a grow
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What are the five trends that are disrupting the cannabis industry?Find out with your free cheat sheet at https://www.cannainsider.com/trends
While many in the cannabis industry are looking for new and more efficient ways to grow, some biohackers with biology and chemistry backgrounds are creating new ways to access the essence of the cannabis plant without growing a full plant. Here to tell us more is Kevin Chen of Hyasynth Bio. Kevin, welcome to CannaInsider.
Kevin: Hi, yeah, great to be on the podcast.
Matthew: Okay. Well, give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?
Kevin: We're based in Montreal, Canada, which is pretty cold right now, it's the winter time and, yeah, but it's a nice city. I like it a lot.
Matthew: Yeah. There's some dish there with like potatoes and cheese curds or something like that that people love. What's that all about?
Kevin: Yeah. The potato is something that is definitely here and you can get it in large quantities and there's some pretty good stuff around here, too. It's not necessarily a delicacy, but some people think of it as that. But it is a great fruit to have after a long night of partying or maybe on a cold winter day for example.
Matthew: Yeah. It looks good. It looks like a real comfort food. So it's like potato, it's like French fries, gravy, and like a cheese curd, which sounds gross but actually, it looks really good.
Kevin: Yup. And you can get that in all kinds of sizes and in all kinds of flavors and with that I mean cheese curds and gravy is the most basic one and then the most, you know, you can get into stuff that has smoked meat on it or it has stuff that is more like Mexican theme or there's salsa and avocados on it and then, yeah, pretty much whatever you want on fries, you can probably find it around here.
Matthew: Oh, good. Hey, at a very high level, what is Hyasynth Bio, so people can get a sense of what you're doing?
Kevin: Yup. So what we're doing is we're looking at engineering strains of yeast that will then be able to produce the cannabinoids like THC and another thing is in Cannabidiol, of course, CBD. And so our goal is to not have to depend on growing plants to make these compounds and also to be able to produce a wider range of compounds in the plants, it can do just on its own. So there's all kinds of different reasons for why this is important in the industry and, you know, from looking at it from our perspective and being up in Canada, we have maybe different scene than in the U.S., but in general, across the cannabis industry, there are a lot of questions of quality and of scale and if you're developing more serious therapeutics, and the FDA doesn't necessarily like that you're growing it from cannabis, they have certain regulations around that. So we're hoping to address a lot of these questions by changing the manufacturing system from, you know, depending on these plants and these big fields that have all these quality issues to something that's much more like a pharmaceutical manufacturing process.
Matthew: That's really interesting. We'll get into more detail there, but first what's your background? How did you come to have this idea and what's your education that allows you to think this way?
Kevin: Yeah. So my background is in biochemistry and I started on this track just by, I mean, started by being enthusiastic about genetic engineering in general, and that came from doing a undergraduate competition called the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition which is, kind of, like an engineering design competition where you're building like a boat or a car but instead, in this case, you're building organisms that do all kinds of different things, maybe it's just all for the environmental problem or maybe it's to make a certain product. Anyways that was, you know, several years ago that I first got enthusiastic about genetic engineering and about working in small teams on very, you know, problem solution focused projects
And so after that experience, I really wanted to keep doing that kind of thing where I'm working on projects that have very specific, you know, goals and impact and that work in a very fast pace. And so my longer story short, did an undergrad degree in biochemistry and started master's degree then started a company, and withdrew from the master's degree just to focus on that company since it master a lot of my interest and what I wanted to do, you know, in science and in general.
Matthew: Now, are you familiar with this CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology that's kind of emerging?
Kevin: Yup. That is all the rage now and it's super fascinating to, you know, watch that unfold and I mean, not just from, like, you know, how we could use it in our genetic engineering at work, but also how, you know, lots of other people can use it and there's some people pushing boundaries in terms of human experiments and that's super interesting to see as well because it's kind of pushing that, you know, limits of sci-fi and everything and it's more of a problem for the FDA and negative than it is for me personally, but I've got some friends who are like very into that scene and it's super fascinating.
Matthew: Yeah. The FDA is kind of slow on picking up on new technologies, it seems. Tell me, how do you understand the CRISPR/Cas9 because I want people to be able to understand what that is because it's this emerging technology that has huge impacts and it's being used now as we speak, but I don't, it's not really covered in mainstream media and people don't really understand it. It's kind of emerging and it's hard to digest what's happening, so maybe you could just give us an overview for the layperson.
Kevin: Yeah. So simply put, it has to do with editing genomes in general. So there's a few different ways that you can modify an organism but if you want to make that modification permanent, then you want it to be in the genome of that organism. So I think of, let me see if there's an example that comes to mind. If I just think of, like, let's say, engineering humans, and this is a case for using this technology, in cystic fibrosis, let's say, where it's a very specific mutation in the person's genome that causes them to have cystic fibrosis. If you had a way to edit the person's genome to remove that mutation, then suddenly they'll be healthy again. They don't need to have any kind of transplants or use very intense drugs. Their body will just naturally be the same as it would if they didn't have that mutation. And so that, I mean, the CRISPR itself, the reason why it's so interesting is that we've always been able to do a lot of gene editing and genome editing to some extent, but the CRISPR/Cas system helps make it a lot more precise where you're editing very specific points of a genome and you can do that with at least enough consistency that, you know, one can imagine using this at large scales.
So historically, there was a case, and I'm being tested on my timeline now. I'm gonna say the 1980s, 1990s, where the gene therapy was first becoming a thing and they had to use viruses to, you know, take fragments of DNA and distribute them throughout the human body and it ended up being that one of the patients that was being tested with this, you know, viral DNA transfer technique ended up dying because of complications from that virus. And so that was a big, you know, negative impact on gene editing and now it's all coming back again because now we have these new techniques and they're gonna be more precise and we can actually have a lot more options for how we want to do genetic modifications to a human being or to another animal or to a plant or to a microbe if you want to make, yeah, make a microbe, make a bunch of THC for example. And that's basically it. So I mean CRISPR/Cas is like the specific name for the system. I like to call it all just like genome editing technologies and there's other ones that exist, too, that are also pretty revolutionary and CRISPR doesn't always work in every single organism, but the idea here is that genome editing and having a genetic engineering being a lot easier thanks to this system this is what's happening.
Matthew: Okay. Now, let's circle back to what you're doing at Hyasynth Bio, but I want to frame this and paint a picture of what you're doing in the lab and how it's different or better than a traditional grower because there's people listening and they're saying, "Hey, well, you know, we have our grow all optimized and everything and, yeah, but it's 10,000 square feet and it requires all these inputs." How is what you're doing different or better than what a traditional cannabis grower might be doing?
Kevin: Yeah. It's physically different in the way that we're not really growing any plants. So we've got a pretty small lab and what we're growing is cultures of yeast. So we have either glass or stainless steel tanks that grow the...that you actually put the, you know, grow the yeast in. And each of these tanks looks maybe a bit like, you know, what you'd see if you were visiting a microbrew facility where there's, you know, some pipes that go in, some pipes that go out, and you're feeding different kinds of materials at different times of the process and keeping it all at the right temperature to actually grow the yeast that you want. And so that's what our process looks like physically. And what that means is that, you know, the yeast grows a lot faster than a plant so where it's actually like, you know, one-week turnaround to actually grow a yeast strain up to its full, you know, volume. Whereas with plants it's more like a few months. And then, yeah, there's not a whole lot of like, you know, green in our space. It's like you'd have a big room and a big stainless steel tank and that's kind of where you'd be producing your yeast and then you have a lot more, I think in general we'd have a lot more knobs and buttons that would go into the system just because there's some like finer points of control and this has been like, you know, inside a pharmaceutical like GMP manufacturing for such a long time that that's how things are done with this kind of technology. Whereas with the cannabis you can sometimes maybe just grow it in like a pot and then you're not really trying that many knobs and buttons but you're controlling the environments, I guess.
Kevin: But that's kind of how, yeah, how this would go.
Matthew: So people are I'm sure still scratching their head like, "Okay, Kevin is growing yeast and he's got a cannabis culture in here. Why yeast and what's the output of this? What does this do for people that want cannabis material, or is this allow them to do?" Can you talk about that a little?
Kevin: Yeah. So this allows people to produce something like CBD or THC or another cannabinoid at pretty large scales. So you can choose which cannabinoid you want and in what quantity or if you want a combination then that's possible, too. And then you can also scale this up to volumes that would be enough to treat, you know, millions of people who might have a certain disease or need a very specific combination of cannabinoids. And those are the main, you know, two things that this does and you can have that process be like pretty consistent in high quality, you know, GMP, whatever you want. But the key idea here is that, you know, we can choose what our yeast makes, you know, very precisely. And then that process scales up to actually, you know, supplying an entire country or population that is in the millions whereas you haven't seen that much of that in interest of cannabis.
Matthew: Yes. So this is pretty interesting here because you're isolating the one part of the plant you want and then, let's say, a typical grow cycle is 12 weeks for a plant, you're doing it much more efficiently in one week and getting exactly what you want from the plant. Now, there's people that are listening that are saying, "Well, the entourage effect, you know it's how these cannabinoids work together and interplay to create medicinal output or result." But you're saying you can create that in the lab, in the yeast, you can get that entourage effect. You can create whatever kind of tissue culture or plant culture you want and then put it in the yeast and just grow it in a way that orders of magnitude more efficient, is that correct?
Kevin: Yes, except we're not really growing any kind of tissue of the plant, like, it's just that this grows and it makes cannabinoids and it has all the parts in its genome that are going to produce the cannabinoids. And that's, but, yeah, that's pretty much it, like, we're looking at shorter processing times and being able to make for a specific products, and that's our interest.
Matthew: Okay. So what happens to the yeast then after you get your desired output? Is your output's in the yeast or is the yeast go away somehow? How does that work?
Kevin: Yup. Our output isn't the yeast but we extract a product from the yeast so at that point maybe it starts to look a lot more like what plant growers would do with their, you know, oil production, for example, where, yeah, they're taking a whole lot of plant material, they're mixing it with some kind of solvent maybe that's in oil and then they...or I guess supercritical CO2 is the most popular one that people talk about and you can probably use that same, exact same process for a yeast culture and then still get the same kinds of products out. And so in the end product you're not really...it's not like we're selling the yeast and it has all these, you know, other stuff in it where we're isolating the pure cannabinoids and then that's what would go into an oil or into a pill or into some other product that could go to market.
Matthew: Okay. And how many compounds are you focusing on right now and why did you choose the ones that you are focusing on?
Kevin: So right now we're mainly focused on the cannabinoids that are...and of on or on their way to the market, so like THC and CBD, of course, and then CBG is another target that we're after. The reason why we chose those is partly from like a technology standpoint, like, it would be easier for us to go for those ones than to go for the more like extremely rare ones that haven't really been discovered that much of. But in terms of like where our breadth extends, like, we might end up producing a lot more of these minor cannabinoids than producing the major ones. And so we're not necessarily that interested in producing THC because you can get that pretty easily from plants, but we would be pretty interested in producing something like THCv or CBDv or CBN where it's like not really a plant product and so we can make it definitely more efficiently and be able to serve, you know, people who actually need these materials in larger quantities.
Matthew: Okay. When you say larger quantities, what kind of quantities do you anticipate your customers or your current customers wanting?
Kevin: That ranges from maybe like a few grams if you're a registered university and you want to do something like mouse studies, for example, up to a hundreds or even thousands of kilograms if you're going for like a big pharmaceutical indication. So I think if you do a bit of math around the epilepsy case of like CBD or CBDv that GB Pharmaceuticals is developing, if you look at epilepsy as a whole and if we could treat, you know, everybody that had epilepsy with cannabis, then that's something like 50 million people worldwide. And if each person is using X milligrams per day of a certain product, it ends up coming out to pretty close to like 1500 tons or something crazy like that.
And yeah, when you think about those, you know, quantities and even like, I think, the biggest single growth operation is maybe that's actually running is one or two tons and that is now coming up to maybe tens of tons if you look at the biggest ones. But then that's still making, you know, orders of magnitude too small for this kind of, you know, broad and massive population. So that's kind of the, yeah, the range that we're looking at where it's like, you know, very specific high-quality products that research can use and then on the higher end of things like, you know, these massive supply chains that would be amazing, you know, to supply and to be able to meet that need.
Matthew: Okay. And is there companies that are like nutraceutical companies that are saying, "Hey, I need to add CB, let's say, CBD into some sort of finished product like, let's just say, a protein powder or a hemp protein or something," and they need a certain amount, is that a prospective customer base do you think?
Kevin: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And we've been in touch with a lot of different people in the industry across like, yeah, pharmaceutical and recreational and nutritional as well, of course, so we kind of, we understand like different aspects of marketing, what they're looking for. So that case in particular is pretty interesting for us where, yeah, we can definitely just provide CBD at the larger scales for nutritional products and probably do that in a much more consistent and reliable way than what you can get from hemp because I know that that's one of the biggest issues with the hemp source CBD, is that sometimes it's, you know, maybe it's coming from Europe or maybe it's coming from China or maybe it's coming from somewhere else and then in the end, maybe there isn't that much CBD in it after you buy the actual product or maybe there's like way more than what the label actually says. And so there's some weird issues in that industry that needs to be resolved and we think we can solve them.
Matthew: Yeah. Or just the volume of hemp you need to get down to that CBD oils may seem oppressively large to some people.
Matthew: So you mentioned that the cannabis industry is approaching you, pharma, any other industries that are looking at what you're doing and saying, "Hey, this might be able to help us."
Kevin: That pretty well covers it. There's some stuff coming up in the veterinary sciences as well. And I think there's at least a few different researchers or studies or talk about, you know, people using CBD with their pets and maybe it could also be used in an agricultural setting as well for, I mean, there's something like antimicrobial stuff but also behavioral related issues that sometimes come up, I'm not asking, like, "Are you familiar with industrial agriculture and growing animals at large scales?" But there are at least some talk of that, too. Yeah. And that's super interesting. I like to see this, you know, it's a newer idea and I think it has a lot of, like, potential and so I'm super interested in learning more about that.
Matthew: Have you been following what's going on with this company called Memphis Meats that's raised, they've raised a ton of money and they're creating, I guess you would call this...they're creating animal proteins in like a Petri dish essentially without actually having to kill animals to get their meat. Have you heard anything about that?
Kevin: Yeah, for sure. That's like the same scene that we're part of and, yeah, generally, the term that people use for this technology is cellular agriculture. For us, we fall under a few different terms whether that's like synthetic biology or metabolic engineering or cellular agriculture. But the cellular agriculture scene consists a lot of, you know, that kind of technology where it's like we're gonna use this biotechnology technique to produce a food product that normally comes from animal. And so, yeah, Memphis Meats is a great example of exactly that where it's all about, you know, let's get a petri dish that will grow a hamburger or grow a meatball, I guess was their first thing. And yet, it's capital intensive. It takes a lot of money to get that to, you know, produce that like a relevant price point because I think the first one that got made, like, whatever, a few years back, was a few hundred thousand dollars and now it's still maybe $10,000 for a hamburger that was produced this way and they're pushing that limit of price. But yeah, it takes capital and...but once it gets up to that kind of scale that can compete with industrial, you know, growing of cows, that should happen pretty soon and it will be super interesting to see how that unfolds.
Matthew: Yeah. I mean it's kind of a chicken and the egg problem in that customers probably are a little bit standoffish about lab grown meats, but if they can get the palatability right, it could be a big win-win for everybody. These animals wouldn't have to die. We don't have to have all these, you know, all these waste around, you know, agriculture and animal husbandry and so forth, so...
Matthew: ...it sounds a little weird in some ways, but I think this is definitely the future.
Kevin: Yeah, it does. And I think it is for sure. And having spent enough time around that scene, like, the more weird thing or this to me it feels more weird to talk about how viable industrial agriculture actually is where it's like, "Okay, we're gonna grow, you know, this many millions of cows in this way and then we're gonna have these machines that will slaughter them for us and then we'll have these people that are gonna cut them open and do this oil processing." And you're gonna run that at that large scales like that, and then, yeah, it seems almost more alien to me than like, you know, why don't we just use biotechnology to make the stuff and then that sounds way, way simpler even though it's, you know, the lab idea is a bit foreign, but I think the idea of industrial agriculture is also...and what actually happens there is very disconnected from what people will actually, you know, buy on the shelf. Like, I don't think that many people are aware of, you know, the issues that do come up and why it's so cheap to buy chicken from the store whereas if you thought about growing your chicken yourself, it'd be like really difficult.
Yeah. But anyway, that's kind of an interesting side issue that I think people should be more aware there like, you know, production methods and where their products are actually coming from and what kind of work goes into it, and the impact that it has on the rest of the planet. And then suddenly all these technologies that industrial agricultural build upon don't make that much sense and the technologies that are coming up now, like the cellular agriculture make a lot of sense. And they're extremely cost-efficient and extremely efficient for the environment and so on.
Matthew: It seems like every industry is right for disruption now, nothing is secure anymore so you got to disrupt yourself before you get disrupted, so...
Matthew: You're in the right field here. Okay, so is what you're doing at Hyasynth Bio, is that patentable and do you have any patents right now you applied for?
Kevin: Yup. So we do have a patent application in and in terms of our...and our process is overall patentable. And beyond that there's sometimes that I can say publicly about, you know, what our patents look like and our strategy right now aside from that, but it is interesting to look at the patent landscape for cannabis and for cannabinoids in general and there's, you know, on one hand, a lot of potential for new technologies and new patents to come out. On the other hand, there's kind of these regulatory conflicts where it's sort of hard to develop a new technology because you need maybe clearance and you also can't necessarily patent your strains of cannabis yet because the FDA or the, I guess the...is still like an illegal substance in some sense.
So, yeah, that's the situation and I mean, one thing that we are super keen on is looking at, you know, what areas of specific formulations and combinations of cannabinoids will make sense and what IP or patents could be developed around those because, of course, for, you know, if you're following the rules of nutritional pharma which a lot of people have different opinions on that, I'm not sure how your listeners feel about like big pharma and how evil or good they are.
But if you follow those rules then they have a lot of value in being able to patent their products and the culminations and the structures that they want to bring to market. And I think that, you know, when it comes to cannabis and cannabinoids there shouldn't be that much resistance towards, you know, that because that's what it leads to like the big cures and that's what leads to, you know, GW Pharmaceuticals Epidiolex product and that's the next product that they brought to market a while ago and so, you know, that's something that we would be able to do better than people who are just trying to breed new strains, let's say.
Matthew: Yeah. And how do you think what you're doing might be able to help the opioid crisis if it all?
Kevin: Yeah. I should hope that the crisis is resolved by the time we get to market and get up to that kind of scale. But assuming that the opioid crisis does stick around for another few years, I mean, we know that in quite a lot of cases people are reducing their consumption of either opioids or other prescription drugs when they've started using medical cannabis. And I can probably follow-up with some references around this specifically, but this is quite a few different companies in Canada that do, you know, sell large amounts of product legally, like, this is what they've been noticing. And, you know, if that's the case and that ends up being true for a lot of cases and people are getting relief on that then, you know, it would be amazing if we could divert, you know, 50% of the opioids that are going to market and replace those with cannabinoids which are more safe and less addictive. And then, like, it seems like a lot of the cause of the opioid crisis is because of like, you know, pretty generous prescribing of opioids where if you have like, you know, just some mild pain, maybe then you're getting prescribed an opioid and you don't really need it. But it's there if you want to use it, but if we can prescribe a cannabinoid in that case and have, you know, similar kind of relief for a lot of those cases, then we only need to prescribe opioids in the very extreme cases where they will be more useful than a cannabinoid. But pain is also a very complicated disease and it's hard to, you know, develop anything that just treats pain. Yeah.
Matthew: Yeah. Especially, you know, Tom Petty just died and they said, I don't know if you saw that but it looked like he had some opioids in his body and so forth. It's pretty much the same type of situation as Prince. And it's like, wow, how much of this is going on and it's just a huge, huge problem, so I hope it gets resolved. Now, tell us, Kevin, where are you in the investing process or raising capital, should I say? Where are you in that process with Hyasynth?
Kevin: Yup. So we did our second seed round at the end of last year in November and so with that wrapped up, we haven't opened a new round yet, but we're setting this up and thinking about, you know, what that's gonna look like and who we want to bring on our investors. And so we'd be looking at maybe in a few months or towards the middle of this year to open up for another round of funding and by that point, you know, we'd be looking at a larger series, a kind of round that's we're really, you know, bringing products to market and scaling up.
Matthew: Okay. Now, if there's accredited investors that are listening that are interested in investing, is there a way they can reach out to you or Hyasynth in general?
Kevin: Yup. They can just write to me directly or write to the, I guess we have a generic email address which is firstname.lastname@example.org and that goes to someone on my team if not directly to me. It goes directly to me now because that's how we're a small company and I'm the one that receives those emails, and but otherwise that's the fastest and easiest way for people to reach out.
Matthew: So that's hyasynthbio.com?
Kevin: That's correct.
Matthew: Okay. And, you know, there's a lot of...you're a young guy yourself, do you mind me asking how old you are?
Kevin: Yeah. I am 26.
Matthew: Yeah. Well done, kudos to you for hitting the books and making all these happen at such a young age. I was not a 26 thinking this seriously about stuff. So how about interns? I mean, there's a lot of young people that are really interested in getting involved in this industry and maybe they're saying, "Hey, it's still early in the year 2018, is there a way I could intern at some place like Hyasynth Bio or do you look for interns in the summer or at any time?" Are you only drafting from like the McGill University area there in Montreal, or is there anything that you could say around that?
Kevin: Yup. So we're still figuring what we want to do this summer if we want to bring on summer interns this time around or not. But at any given time, like, people can send us any notes to that same address and we'll keep it in our hiring logs and when the next opportunity for hiring comes up then it'll get busted out to those people. Or if we do find, you know, specific people that we really want to bring on, maybe not right now but maybe in the nearest future, then it's always good to have that Rolodex lined up so that we're not, you know, we don't have to go out and do a lot of promotions for our own recruitments. And in general, it's great to just hear from people and hear about what their interests are and always happy to connect. Yeah.
Matthew: Let's pivot to some personal development questions. I like to ask a few personal development questions to help listeners get a better sense of who you are personally. With that, is there a book that has had a big impact on your life or way of thinking that you'd like to share?
Kevin: Yeah, for sure. There's a few that are out there that I came to mind and a few that are in the same category. There's one that's called "Future Perfect" from Steven Johnson and then also a book called "Abundance" and a book called "Bold" that are from Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler and a few...have you read this one?
Matthew: I've read all of those.
Kevin: Okay, cool.
Matthew: They're great.
Kevin: Yeah. So they're super interesting just because it's, I mean on one hand they do subscribe to the...they're intense like, you know, hype of a lot of startups and a Silicon Valley kind of thing which there's pros and cons to that sort of logic. But on the other hand it is proposing like very different ways of thinking about starting business and solving problems and using what's available to you in more unique ways and embracing that we do live on a very connected planet which means that, you know, if I wanted to tomorrow, I could do a face to face, like, video call with somebody in India and figure out how we're going to, you know, supply the next big medication for disease areas there for example, and that's like perfectly reasonable to say like right now but that was not, it's just not possible, like, you know, 10, 20 years ago or it's like much weren't heard of, and it's...on the topic of cannabis, it's also really interesting to see a lot of different kind of companies, like, I mean, you've heard Modern...it turned up Modern Meadow, thinking about...yeah, Meadow MD on your show, and there's HelloMD which is another company in California, it's dealing with the interesting stuff, and websites like Leafly and Lyft who are creating communities and promoting and creating these networks where you can find places to buy products or get reviews, and even though it's still kind of legal, this is the world that we live in. It's like this is how connected we are. And there's a lot of stuff where you can learn and embrace by using these kinds of technologies. So those books, I think are really, really interesting for that.
Matthew: Yeah. I really, I would say "Abundance," I read "Abundance" first then "Bold" and they really had an impact on me in terms of getting across how poorly our primate mind understands exponential growth and that after a period of not growing in an exponential way there's all these technologies that are coming together at once that are going into this hockey stick moment where they're just growing exponentially because exponential growth curves are kind of tricky. They sneak up on you. At first, they just look, you know, a little bit like linear growth but then all of a sudden it's, you know, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and it's just going straight up like a rocket ship and, you know, I think we're starting to see some of that with the fields you're in, you know, also a 3D printing, also AI. They're all coming together at once and people are, kind of, they're lulled into a sense of complacency because they're thinking, "Oh, I've heard about AI here for a decade or two and nothing has really changed." And then in the next five, seven years, it's, you know, it's gonna level industries that we thought would never change are gonna be gone, just gone.
Kevin: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, and it's amazing, it's great to have people think more in that way, I think overall and whether you're an entrepreneur or if you're running like, you know, Fortune 500 company it's important to, you know, embrace like this is what technology allows us to do and we can use technology in so many different ways to solve our problems and, you know, the...like, the examples that they give you sometimes are like Airbnb and Uber and stuff where it's like, "Okay, now, if I had this car and some spare time I can go and drive people around and make money off of it and that's just a very simple piece of software that does that.
And now, with, I guess the other weird thing that's coming up is the cryptocurrency scene which I don't want to get to in depth about, but that's kind of its own weird and interesting technology scene that aims to somewhat revolutionize how financial transactions might be done. And that, you know, we'll see what that looks like in the next like two, three years.
Matthew: What's funny is that even before a company like an Airbnb or Uber could potentially go public they could start to get disrupted by a blockchain company that says, "We do Airbnb but as a blockchain token and we've disintermediated Airbnb, they're making 15% profit, let's say, let's take that down to 1.5% and all participants in the ecosystem would get the value from that instead of it being so lopsided to an Airbnb or Uber."
Kevin: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. It'll be of interesting to see how that unfolds. I mean in the end to some extent with those cases it is still software that has to drive it and some of these has to pay for, I mean, the service maybe and for some kind of validation but, yeah, it will be interesting to see, you know, what sticks around and where we are in the hype cycle and I guess, you know, maybe we are at the peak level of hype for this kind of stuff and then it'll dry up in the next year and then come back again with more real stuff. But it's at least, you know, it's worth paying attention because it is kind of different and it is probably, you know, maybe to some extent this is how my parents or grandparents felt when the internet came out where it's like the internet is now a thing and they can, you know, look at websites and get all this information suddenly and it kind of changes how people run businesses and do all kinds of stuff. And in the next five years maybe you'll be that kind of person where you're like looking at cryptocurrencies and its suddenly, like, everything uses cryptocurrencies for some reason and you don't fully understand it or you get into it now and then maybe you're part of that technology that grows very quickly. Yeah.
Matthew: Yeah. It's definitely interesting. I feel like there's a lot of hype around it, but there's no applications that everybody is really using yet but they're...except where I'll say the ICO market which is how a lot of entrepreneurs are starting to raise capital where they'll put out a smart contract and people can send in some cryptocurrencies to the smart contract and then when the contract executes tokens for that company, which could be considered like shares, are sent back to the wallet that sent the cryptocurrencies in and you essentially become like a shareholder in whatever companies doing that capital raise totally disintermediating Wall Street, which is really interesting. And that application is live now and people are using that, but I don't see a lot of other applications yet. But a lot of promise about what's to come, who knows how long that'll take, but this is definitely a rabbit hole.
Kevin: Yeah, it is.
Matthew: That could go down deeply.
Kevin: The only other thought from the standpoint of, I mean, thinking about currency in general and how in some, let's say, developing countries, the currency can also be, you know, extremely volatile and I know that it's always been a proposed, maybe hypothesis or ideas has been tossed around that. You know, these countries that do have these highly volatile currencies can actually adopt cryptocurrencies instead and then reduce the amount of, you know, fraud or other issues that would be causing this kind of volatility in their regular currency and then overall improve, like, the situation when it comes to the value of the currency and how that relates to other currencies and the value of, you know, the products and so on.
And those are, you know, those kinds of cases will be interesting to see if, you know, those come to real life and we can look at these kinds of cases being like, "Okay, now, this is something that did have a really big impact for a lot of people."
Matthew: Yeah. Well, how about, is there a tool web-based or a physical that helps you with your productivity that people might be interested in?
Kevin: Yeah. That's a good question and it's a, I've experimented with all kinds of different software and what is good or is not good. I mean, I can't really pin it down as like one thing that I do all the time that improves my productivity. There's the usual, like, business software tools that people use nowadays like Google Drive and Slack and those are fantastic, and various CRMs. I mean, the thing that's out of all of these that I think is important to take home when it comes to thinking about productivity is to get plenty of food and rest and to make sure that that's not like something that you're losing and I think you're definitely more productive when you're well rested and well fed and that's a lot of, you know, what if early entrepreneurs like myself gave up, like, first is like, "Oh, man, I got to work really hard, got to step up all night and then skip breakfast to get this thing done so that they can, you know, push this to next semester or whatever."
But actually, yeah, that's the message that I would leave it with that after doing this for a few years now. It's like, okay, people talk a lot about that kind of thing as being like, "Man, these entrepreneurs, they don't sleep, they don't eat, they just like work super crazy." It's like, well, actually, you know, try sleeping and eating and making sure that that's covered and then also focus a lot on your work. And that's better than...
Matthew: Good points. Let's just cover the basics, right, sleeping and eating. We don't do that very much. I always I'm like, "Maybe there's an app or some software that can make me superhuman. I can edit my genes and then I'll be able to stay up all night. I can work twice as much.
Kevin: Yeah. There's all this stuff in like, I mean, some people talk about this stuff in cannabis because it's also like, you know, mood modulators or the caffeine pills and these other things that are out there that you can try out, too, and I have some friends that will 100% vouch for that as like this is the key. But I haven't done too much of that and I definitely had my sprees of drinking too much coffee and that doesn't really work for me in terms of productivity so, yeah.
Matthew: Me too. I've done the same. Well, Kevin, as we close, tell listeners how they can reach out to you one more time and find Hyasynth Bio and connect with you.
Kevin: Yup. So plenty of different ways, our website is hyasynthbio.com. We've got a blog there that should be kicking up and becoming more lively in the next few months, so keep an eye for that because we do want to talk about more science and more of the community around this stuff. And then you can always write to us at email@example.com and that email goes directly to me for now and that might change whereas, you know, or hopefully that will change because maybe we just get too many emails that I can't handle them all. But for now, it goes to me and people can ask me questions and usually, I have time to answer for, yeah, just a few minutes answer your questions. So that's what I'll say.
Matthew: Do you think you could grow baking in your lab with yeast? I think that would be a hit, CBD baking.
Kevin: CBD baking, that would be a really great Saturday morning breakfast, I think. It's...we'll see. I'll have to write to them, Fitbits [SP] and they will open a collaboration or something like that.
Matthew: I think that should be the top priority for Hyasynth Bio, boom.
Kevin: Yeah. Baking is on the top list for some of these companies that are doing this meat stuff actually. That's a true statement.
Matthew: Well, Kevin, thanks so much for coming on the show and educating us. We wish you well in Montreal with Hyasynth Bio and stay warm.
Kevin: Yeah. It's been fun. Looking forward to hearing from the listeners and, yeah, I'll keep you posted.