With more and more dispensaries turning to Altopa’s innovative oil blending platform Oblend, the company has decided to pivot from B2C to B2B.
Here to tell us about it is Nicole Wicker, CEO of Altopa.
Learn more at https://www.oblend.com
- Nicole’s background and how she came to start Altopa
- An inside look at Altopa and its “portable dispensary device” Oblend
- How the Oblend creates CBD formulas for specific needs and preferences
- Why Altopa is transitioning from a consumer-focused company to a business-focused company
- How Altopa partners with dispensaries looking to implement the Oblend
- Increasing demand for the Oblend among healthcare providers, formulators, and patients
- Where Altopa currently is in the capital-raising process and where Nicole sees the company heading in the next few years
Matthew Kind: 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 C-A-N-N-A insider dot com. Now here's your program.
Today we're going to learn how one entrepreneur is pivoting her innovative business from a consumer-focused offering to a business-to-business model. I'm pleased to welcome Nicole Wicker, CEO of Altopa CannaInsider. Nicole, welcome back to CannaInsider.
Nicole Wicker: Thank you, Matt, and thanks for the opportunity.
Matthew: Give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?
Nicole: I am sitting in my house in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I have been for the last four months.
Matthew: I'm in Fayetteville, Arkansas today. Weren't expecting that answer, were you? [laughs]
Nicole: No, you're fairly close to me. I was not expecting that answer.
Matthew: Tell us, on a high-level, what does Altopa do?
Nicole: Okay, Altopa is a biotech company that has developed a patented product called the Oblend. I like to think of the Oblend as a combination of an apothecary, a portable dispensary, and it has an Amazon platform. It's similar to a printer ink cartridge model. It contains canisters that are filled with ingredients such as cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids. It dispenses a combination of these ingredients within pharmaceutical precision on demand.
One more thing. The Oblend also includes a technology platform where you can search for and find expert-sourced recipes, you can adjust the ingredients, and within minutes, you can create personalized products with a push of a button. It always dispenses a very precise and consistent blend of these ingredients from the dispense port. You can also create a variety of products with an Oblend by placing a container underneath the dispense port, such as a vape or a container to create a topical or a tincture. Again, you think about it's a combination of an apothecary and a portable dispensary with an Amazon platform.
Matthew: It's been almost two years since you've been on the show. Can you share a bit about your background and what you're doing for Altopa and how you became involved in cannabis?
Nicole: Sure, I started my career with Ernst & Young as a CPA in their entrepreneurial services department. My specialty was identifying small companies with large potential, strategizing with their executive teams, and positioning the companies to maximize valuations and exits. This was during the dot com era, and I took most of my clients public. After I spent a decade with Ernst & Young, I transitioned to the private sector, and eventually became the CFO for a company called TearScience. TearScience was a medical device company that had developed a disruptive diagnostic and treatment device for dry eye disease.
My first task as CFO was to raise series C financing round, this was in 2008 which was the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Needless to say, this was not an opportune time to raise money. We were pre-FDA approval, pre-revenue, and we were trying to raise $28 million. Fortunately, after giving over 100 investor presentations, we managed to close not 28 million, but 45 million, which was quite an accomplishment and it turns out that our 45 million raise was the largest med-tech venture capital funding in the nation that year.
Within a month of this financing, our CEO was diagnosed with stage three throat cancer. The board appointed me as acting CEO, and then a month after that, we received approval from the FDA.
Now we could sell the devices within the US, we had $45 million in the bank, and I was now acting CEO. We started hiring sales reps throughout the nation, expanded globally. During the next three years, we took TearScience from a company that had 18 employees to over 250 employees, a company that was pre-revenue to a company generating revenue, with a run rate of 40 million. We're the fastest-growing company in North Carolina during these three years and a couple of years later, TearScience was acquired by a division of Abbott medical office optics called Johnson & Johnson Vision.
Matthew: Quite a journey there.
Nicole: Absolutely. It's been a good one.
Matthew: Well, while we're on the topic of raising money. You said you've done over 100 presentations or you've been involved with them. Any tips for people that are going to the process themselves and don't feel like they're skilled at it? You've probably seen patterns or you probably said, "Oh, I wish I could do this better next time you did." What advice do you have for people that are raising capital when pitching?
Nicole: I would tell them to start at least a year before you think you need to raise money because it always takes longer than you think. Raise more money than you think you need because you're always going to run into some obstacles that you're not anticipating and keep your head up, because it's a rollercoaster, it can be very emotional. Focus, focus, focus. Raising money really becomes a full-time job until you complete the financing.
Matthew: Okay, thanks for that. Just so we're clear exactly on what the Oblend is. For listeners that are trying to understand this, you have a hemp-based CBD and terpene blends that you make with your device called the Oblend. That device resides in dispensaries, and you can call up recipes and prescriptions on exactly what you want the blend to be for specific ailment. Do I have that right?
Nicole: Somewhat, but not exactly. Oblends are currently producing hemp-based CBD plus terpene blends for health care providers and patients. However, this is just a temporary starting point. Our next step is the exciting one. We are about to add cannabinoids to the Oblend. When you think of it this way, Oblend is simply a device that mixes and dispenses ingredients precisely, consistently, and on-demand.
Matthew: Let's walk-- Sorry. Go ahead.
Nicole: We do three things. We sell empty canisters to our partners that have Oblends. We don't touch the ingredients. We have the platform that enables users to find, customize, and create products, and then we also collect the data.
Matthew: Well, let's walk through a couple of scenarios, what where you're at now and then you said the exciting part where you're going, so people understand what you're doing today, and then how that's going to change in the future. Let's start with who generates the demand here, and who pays for the canisters, and who gets the final product?
Nicole: The final product always goes to the end-user, who is the person that is treating themselves, such as a medicinal cannabis user. That's our end user. There are several ways that end users go about getting their products. Some of them go through health care providers. If you think about health care providers using the Oblend platform, they don't have to have an Oblend. They just have to have the platform. With our platform, these health care providers can recommend different formulations for their patients.
Then our partners are the companies with a marijuana license because since we're going to the cannabis industry, we don't have a license. We have to partner with a company such as a LP, Licensed Producer, or a Multi-State Operator. They would have our Oblends. We sell them empty canisters. They fill the empty canisters with ingredients such as cannabinoids, THC, CBD, CBN, terpenes, and flavonoids. Then, they also create the products, and then they can deliver the products directly to the patients or they can deliver them to the healthcare providers for the patients to pick up or they can deliver them to one of their dispensaries so that the patient comes into the dispensary and picks up their product.
Matt: It sounds like it would be a great thing for a hospital or doctor to have in addition to dispensaries. What's a typical type of thing people would use this for? An end customer says maybe I'm going through some medical process for a disease and I'm having inflammation because of it and I know that my healthcare practitioner recommends this specific blend for inflammation. Next thing I know, I'm walking into a dispensary for a blend of the specific THC, CBD, flavonoids, terpenes, that has been recognized by some experts or scientists or healthcare professionals as helping for this inflammation. Is that a good [unintelligible [00:11:54]?
Nicole: Yes, I'm going to give you an example based on the healthcare providers that we have spoken with in the state of Florida. The state of Florida is a medicinal state meaning anybody that purchases a cannabis product in Florida has to get a recommendation from a registered cannabis healthcare provider. Currently, a patient walks in, the healthcare provider says to the patient, “Okay, you're treating for pain. You've never used cannabis before. I'm writing a recommendation for a total amount of CBD and THC. You're going to go down the street and walk into this one dispensary and you're going to start out with a product that just has CBD.
You don't want to have THC in this product yet. After two to three weeks, then you're going to go into this other dispensary and you're going to buy this product that's like a 25 to 1 ratio. Then, after two to three weeks, then you're going to go into this other dispensary and buy one that's a 20 to 1 ratio and then a 10 to 1 and then a 5 to 1 and then a 1 to 1.” Then, the patient walks out of the healthcare provider’s office, they walk into the first dispensary, and guess what? Their purchase is based on their discussion with the budtender. The budtender may say, “Hey, I know your healthcare provider recommended this product. However, if you're treating for pain and inflammation, I would really recommend that you just start with this product over here.”
The healthcare provider loses control and they have no feedback from that patient and that patient may buy a product that has too much THC and not get great results and then just stop use. With our platform, now, the healthcare provider has control of what their patients are getting. The healthcare provider can actually essentially write a prescription through our platform. That is sent to the patient. Patient approves, then it goes to the partner or LP. They create the product. Product gets delivered to the patient. The patient, through our platform, lets the healthcare provider know if it's working and the healthcare provider can go back to the patient through our platform and say, “Hey, Miss McGillicuddy, are you comfortable enough now to increase your level of THC by 1 milligram?” Miss McGillicuddy says yes.
The healthcare provider increases the dosage by 1 milligram. It gets sent to the LP, LP creates the product and the process repeats. We are creating this loop between the patient and the healthcare provider that currently does not exist.
Matt: Yes, and it's much more precise, it sounds like coming from your background in the pharmaceutical world. I know the Research Triangle Park's really big in that, where you are in the world. You're coming at this with a pharmaceutical angle. The platform is something software-based, like an app or a website or how does that work?
Nicole: Yes, it is. It's a web-based software platform that can be accessed from a mobile device or a computer. This platform, healthcare providers are really excited about it also because it is giving them a centralized location to access formulations that are proven to get great outcomes. Right now, the healthcare provider’s just recommending THC and CBD and maybe recommending a certain product from a dispensary that has good results.
With our platform, the healthcare provider can enter their formulations including specific terpenes and cannabinoids beyond THC and CBD. The platform also gives them the ability to see formulations that other healthcare providers are using, that are working for their patients. It’s building the centralized platform to help healthcare providers that are treating their patients with cannabis find and access formulations that are getting great outcomes.
Matt: From the patient's point of view and the healthcare professional’s point of view, they really don't need to know about the mechanics of the Oblend. It’s just what the product is in its finished form. It's kind of like the cloud. They send it to the Oblend cloud, and they get the finished product on the other side. We do want to know what's going on but just that it works as prescribed.
Nicole: That's right. We've made the platform very user-friendly. If you think about Amazon, when you go into the Amazon platform, and you want to buy a bicycle, well, there are recommended bicycles. You can read the customer reviews but you don't need to know about every screw and bolt in that bicycle. You just want to know that the users are happy and that it works. You select one.
Now, if you want to learn about the bolts and the nuts and read about each ingredient, you can do so but we've made it as simple as possible. If you want to access a formulation that's working best, other people with pain, then you simply select that formulation, and you have the product at your doorstep within 24 to 48 hours.
Matt: Yes. I noticed that the pharma industry which I consider you kind of a veteran of is the-- Likes to really solve complex issues. A lot of the entrepreneurs I have on here are doing a consumer product that-- It's like the simple A to B, and this is solving some big problems all at once and they're complex. Do you give guidelines to the dispensaries or the cultivators on, “Hey, this is how you extract oils or this is how you get pure CBD" or how does that work to ensure consistency?
Nicole: We do not give advice to the dispensaries or their LPs. They currently are extracting products. Let's say they are extracting a certain distillate. It has to be within our guidelines to work within the Oblend. We could recommend ways that you could make that distillate as clean as possible without turning it into a non-liquid ingredient, because right now, not yet, we're not working with powders. We want a very clean distillate that only has one cannabinoid and that distillate would go into one of our canisters. They could put terpene blends into canisters, they could put isolated terpenes into canisters. They could even include other ingredients that are healthy, such as cumin or turmeric into canisters as long as they are within their state guidelines and it's with the parameters of what we require. It can be used in the Oblend.
We just want to know for every single user that is using a product that has been created by the Oblend, this product is safe, meaning all of the ingredients have gone through our quality control process. It's safe, it's consistent, and it's precise. When I say precise, I mean this is within pharmaceutical precision, which you do not get in the cannabis industry right now. That is very important. I am from the pharma industry, what I quickly realized is cannabis is not medicine until it's consistent, and we are making cannabis consistent.
Matt: You have these dispensary partners, licensed producer partners. Back in 2018 when you were on the show, your product was consumer-focused then and you had just won some consumer electronic awards.
Nicole: That's right.
Matt: What happened, and why the pivot?
Nicole: Well, we know that everybody wants an Oblend, everybody. Cannabis users, both recreational and medical, health care providers want it, dispensaries, even private facilities like personal cannabis consumption lounges, hospice centers, and senior living facilities. There is no way that we can produce enough Oblends to meet demandbut what we did realize is that everybody doesn't need an Oblend to get what they want. They want personalized, consistent products created by the Oblend. Really, all they need is our software.
If we place Oblends in locations like a hub-and-spoke model, where these Oblends can service hundreds of users, then we don't have to build thousands of Oblends. Each Oblend can make over 200 products a day, so 6000 products a month. Patients and healthcare providers can get their products created by Oblends by using the platform. Transitioning from a direct to consumer to a B2B model totally made sense for us.
Matt: Okay. What does the Oblend device look like if I was looking over your shoulder right now and you had one in front of you?
Nicole: It looks like a big square box. It's a little bit larger than a Keurig coffee maker. When you open the lid, you would see canisters that are filled with the ingredients. Each one of these canisters is chip encoded, similar to an ink cartridge, and we have to encode the chips so that the Oblend knows which ingredient is in each slot. The front of the Oblend has a dispense port where the combination of the ingredients always dispenses from and then you would put a container underneath this dispense port such as you can screw on a different size vape cartridge. You could put a bottle underneath it to create tinctures or massage oils. You could put a container under it to make lotions and salves and eventually we'll move into creating nasal sprays and capsules, but right now it's the vapes, topicals. What am I missing? Vapes, topicals, and tinctures.
Matt: Okay. Will dispensaries buy the Oblend from you or is it a licensing type of arrangement?
Nicole: They will not buy an Oblend from us, we will place the Oblend at their location. We will sell them empty canisters that they will fill with ingredients. That will be in the form of a licensing dry goods arrangement. Basically, that's where the license is, it's the selling of the empty canisters.
Matt: Okay. The dispensary owners incentivized to do this because orders are going to come in specifically for the Oblend which drives traffic into the dispensary.
Nicole: There are many reasons why a dispensary would want this, I believe. Right now dispensaries are trying to find ways to differentiate themselves. They're trying to gain market share and with healthcare providers wanting the ability to have control over the formulations the patients are getting as well as the feedback, we are giving these LPs a way to capture market share. Florida is interesting because in Florida, these LPs are limited to only selling products that they create. You only have a certain amount of ratios and terpene blends and products. Then you have to create all of those inventory skews and stock up each one of your locations.
With the Oblend, you can create anything that you want. You're not limited to what you're creating, you don't have to stock up on inventory. In fact, if you think about it, you don't have to build an open dispensary all over the state. All you need is an Oblend in that processing center. All the orders go to the Oblend, Oblend creates them, and then they're delivered to the patient. It's really opening up an interesting opportunity. I will also say that if an LP does want to brand themselves at the national level, think about Oblend being located in a dispensary and think about the Starbucks model or the Apple model when a patient is walking in, each patient has a unique user ID.
The Oblend sitting there, somebody's standing behind it like a barista. They're like, "Hi, hi, Mrs. Miller. Last time you were here, we created this formulation for you that was supposed to be for your pain. Do you want me to create the same product? Would you like to add a little extra beta-carotene to it or increase the THC levels or instead of creating it as a tincture, would you like to create it in a topical form?" It's really personalizing the experience and creating customer loyalty now at the dispensary. It's giving them a way to brand themselves at a national level.
Matt: Okay. That's interesting. You said that the LPs, that you're moving from phase one to phase two that you're excited about. Talk a little bit about that.
Nicole: Okay. We have proven the Oblend. Oblend is currently creating products that are hemp-based with terpenes. Again, that's just a temporary item that we were doing in order to make sure that the platform worked, that the patient surveys were working and that the Oblends were robust. The next step is transferring Oblend to an LP's processing site. At that time, we'll be training the LP on how to operate an Oblend. Then they will be purchasing the empty canisters, filling them with ingredients, and receiving the orders at this processing center and creating the products.
Matt: Wow. Okay. What's the interest like from licensed producers, licensed holders? What kind of feedback you're getting and kind of interest?
Nicole: I try not to approach different companies and get them excited before we're ready. We've only approached a couple. We've approached one in Massachusetts and one in California that aren't necessarily the big multi-state operators. They're smaller dispensaries but they own several stores. They're very excited. They can’t wait to have an Oblend. They got it instantly. I have had initial discussions with a couple of the larger multi-state operators and they're intrigued, but that's about as far as we've gotten. We are ready now to open those discussions and have serious discussions and decide who our first partner is going to be.
Matt: I think about there's some doctors out there that we probably both know of that are really well-known for understanding the interactions between terpenes, cannabinoids, and coming up probably with formulations that would be helpful. Are they going to be third-party recipes coming into this or how does that work?
Nicole: Yes. Absolutely. What we have created not that it was intended to be created at the beginning, but what we essentially have created is a platform for healthcare providers, for patients and for formulators. Formulators can now put their formulations into our platform that can be accessed by healthcare providers and patients. These formulators can collect through our platform the data that they want so badly, the patient feedback on what other formulations are working correctly. Now, we did not know that these formulators were going to be necessary until we started talking to the healthcare providers.
We realized that most healthcare providers aren’t ready yet to start creating their own formulations and they don’t really know what terpenes to add to cannabinoids for things like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, or anxiety, or pain. What we did is we reached out to some of the leading formulators and researchers in the nation and we partnered with them and now have their formulations in our platform. We're very, very excited about the level of interest that we've received from these formulators and it's all because they want to help people and they want the feedback from these patients.
Matt: Very cool. I can see why that would be having a lot of different variety is helpful feedbacks, helpful-- That will make a lot of sense. You're moving more to a licensed holder model. Right now there's no multi-state operators. It's more small operators. It's probably good for getting the feedback on a smaller scale first and then training, you're training license holder staff perhaps on how to operate an Oblend. Is that a difficult thing or how hard is that?
Nicole: No. It's not difficult at all. I'm going to call it the processing center. At the processing center location, they have our empty canisters, fill them with the ingredients and you have the person creating the products. We have developed a production fulfillment module in our platform. When a healthcare provider finds a formulation for a patient and sends it to the Oblend. The Oblend's receiving all of these orders and these orders are getting queued in this production fulfillment model.
The person creating the blends can sort the orders by first-in, first-out. They can sort them by what type of products they're going to create or they can sort them by ZIP code and then they just start creating the product. Each product takes less than a minute to create and we've tried to do everything, everything in our platform as easy as possible and they get as user-friendly as possible. The training process should not-- It's like a day for production fulfillment and a day for the ingredient training and that’s it. They're ready to go.
Matt: How do you determine pricing for this type of thing? Let's say I have a tincture that's made. Is there a minimum pricing set or is that done through the dispensary? How does that work?
Nicole: Pricing is really up to the dispensary. However, we do believe that being able to create a customized, personalized product does or should produce a premium price. If I walk into a dispensary and I have the option of purchasing a vape off the shelf or creating my own personalized vape and the one off the shelf is $45, well, I'm probably be willing to spend $50 on creating my personalized product. We believe that products created by the Oblend which are also consistent will probably be sold at a little bit of a premium. Not too much but there's reason that it deserves to be sold at a premium price.
Matt: Very interesting here. The platform, the technology, the Oblend how it all works together, the different parts. It's a complex business model but I think once the inertia really-- It was very clear after you won that award in 2018 like people want this. There's demand for it when they see and understand what's going on. It's just it's a new category in our mind in a way that needs to be explained and since there's different participants in this ecosystem [unintelligible [00:37:56] like, "Okay. Who is the end-user? There's the licensed producer. There's a healthcare professional and then they all come together around this recipe and how it works." It's really interesting. I would like to try a formulation.
Nicole: You and everybody else.
Matt: I know. Yes.
Nicole: What we've realized and again, this wasn’t really the intent at the beginning. The intent was to create a device that produced personalized consistent products on-demand. Essentially, what we have created is a platform or an ecosystem for the cannabis industry that we believe will create a network effect. You've got formulators coming into the platform that want to put their formulations in into our platform. If it's a very well-known formulator, we are willing to pay them a royalty fee. It's a way for researchers to start generating income based on all of their years and years of research without having to wait for cannabis to be approved in the US and then have to go through clinical trials and obtain a patent.
Matt: Great points. Also, skill in this area sometimes comes from unlikely places. I'm thinking about how one company open-sourced its gene-editing software and they found this one woman who was a secretary in the UK. That was the most incredible gene protein folder or something. I remember reading about this and they were like we were shocked. We didn’t think that someone just random without these certain skill sets would come with incredible abilities. Also, I've heard the same thing for the mining industry where they put out bounties and they said, "We need to find gold mines that have this much gold per mile." They put a contest out there, and laypeople solved these problems in ways that they just couldn't even conceive of. Do you think that's going to happen here with the Oblend?
Nicole: Yes, yes, yes, yes. You're talking my language. Totally. First of all, the Oblend is not just limited to the cannabis industry. Yes, we are focused on the cannabis industry because there is a huge unmet need in this industry, and we can turn cannabis into medicine, and we can make cannabis accessible to those who want to treat with cannabis. We can take the fear out of using cannabis by being able to control the amount of THC in such tiny, tiny amounts. Yes, this is for the cannabis industry.
If you think about other industries, the genomic industry, and the companies that are looking at your DNA and analyzing your risk factors versus your brother's risk factors versus your mother's risk factors based on their current body composition. Then you think about the ability to have ingredients in the Oblend and you start supplementing people's body to ward off their potential of getting these different diseases. Then you're really moving into preventative medicine. Preventative medicine using health or plant-based healthy ingredients.
That ultimately is where we want to be one day. Where I think we need to take this company or a very large company that already has the infrastructure built could take this company. It's exciting.
Matt: It really is. Is there patents involved you have here in intellectual property in creating the Oblend?
Nicole: Yes, yes, absolutely. We've been very aggressive on the patent front. We filed our first provisional patent back in early 2016. Since then, we have been granted over 50 patents. We have been granted our key utility patent, and we have filed continuations on that as well as divisional patent applications. We've extended our patent coverage internationally, and we have several different patent families that are active. We have also extended our patent coverage beyond the cannabis industry. We've extended it to other vertical industries, such as the cosmetic industry, the fragrance industry, the tobacco industry.
Again, this device is moving into unchartered territory. It's like the first lab at home. What can you do with a lab? Yes, you can create formulations, but you could create shampoo, you could create makeup or personalized eye cream and day cream and sunscreen. It's really exciting. It's almost too big for this little tiny company to do by ourselves. We can focus on the cannabis industry. However, we realize that it may be best for this company to partner with a company in the cosmetic industry or in the tobacco industry or in the psilocybin industry.
Matt: Oh, yes. That would be cool.
Nicole: We have that in our patents too. You're talking microliter amounts that need to be dispensed. That's what we do. We can dispense in microliter amounts. If there's a company that comes to us that would like to license our technology for another industry, we would be willing to look at it. Because again, ultimately, we are collecting the data, we're collecting the data which is another exciting opportunity. [chuckles]
Matt: I can see why you're focused just on one aspect here. Cannabis is high margin, also, there's no legacy, really infrastructure still. Everything's new so people are more open to it. They say, "What genius loves constraint?" If you go after too much too broadly, you have to start somewhere and get traction. It makes sense that you're starting here. Are you still raising capital right now? We talked about what you did in your previous life raising capital, but are you still raising capital now?
Nicole: Yes, we are. We started the company in early 2016. We've raised $5 million through two different preferred equity rounds, and we are currently in the process of rounding out a $1 million convertible note. We've raised $750,000 of it, and we have another 250 remaining for investment. As soon as we close this, we are going to kick off a $5 million series A-round, and we would like to get that filled as soon as possible. We have a lot of interesting things right around the corner. We're excited, and we really want to focus on making our commercial launch successful.
Matt: Also for license holders, are you still looking for more partners for right now, or is that on hold or would you like them to reach out to you?
Nicole: We definitely are looking for the right partner. If there's anyone out there listening to this right now, and you're an operator or have a license or know of a company that may be interested, please feel free to reach out to us. We have a lot of interesting things to share with you, and we definitely know how important it is to make sure that our first partners are successful. We're going to be doing everything we can to make our first partner successful. Our team will be there at their location doing everything we can to ensure success. Very excited.
Matt: We'll get your contact information and how people can reach out here after we ask you three personal development questions. You've been on the show before, so we've got some new ones for you.
Nicole: All right. I'm ready.
Matt: Okay. What is one skill you use all the time that you think is important, but wasn't taught in school?
Nicole: There's a lot actually. We are commercializing, so when I think about a commercial launch, it's all about strategy. It's like a chess game. You cannot think about your next move, you have to think about your three next moves or your five next moves. What if your opponent does the move that you didn't anticipate, then you have to have a plan B and a plan C because things don't always turn out like you expect them to. Strategy, always listen to the market, listen to your customers, listen to your fellow employees. There's always things to be learned, gather as much information as possible, be willing to make changes, adopt to the market, and make adjustments as needed.
Matt: That's really good. Resiliency. What do you do when it's not clear what to do? [laughs] That's what I call it. What do you do when it's not clear? The MacGyver quotient, I call it.
Nicole: Yes. It's like detective. That's right. Detective. Talk to everybody. Do your research. [laughs]
Matt: What do you think besides what you're doing, which is fascinating, but if you were to pick one other thing that's going on in your field, what do you just think is really cool?
Nicole: Given this COVID crisis right now and the hit that the cannabis industry has taken recently, there's a lot of M&A activity going on. There's an opportunity for companies to acquire other companies at extremely low valuations. I believe that this was going to lead to not only big transactions within the cannabis industry but also big moves from other big players from other large industries such as the pharma industry or the tobacco industry or the ag industry. I also think there's a huge opportunity to brand at the retail level. We have some brands that we've heard of, but there's no true leader on a national level. There are some multistate operators aggressively fighting for this title. There are some Canadian companies that are moving into the US that are fighting for this title. I think it's going to be interesting to see who becomes the big winner as far as branding at a national level on the retail level.
Matt: Here's a Peter Thiel question for you. What's one thing that you believe to be true that practically nobody agrees with you on?
Nicole: That is a very hard question. I can't tell you anything that I believe that almost everybody doesn't agree with me on. However, I can tell you this. I believe that one day, Oblends will be used worldwide for disease prevention and when I tell some people this, they look at me like I'm crazy. That might be it. Right now, you have companies out there that are assessing people's risk factors of diseases based on their DNA, genetic makeup, you mentioned genetic sequencing, body composition.
There's no reason that Oblends cannot be used or will not be used as a preventative plant-based precision device that caters to each person's individual needs. To me, it's black and white, [chuckles] but for many people, they look at me like I'm a little crazy when I say things like that. [chuckles]
Matt: No. It's good to have a strong vision. Also, when you're in the pharmaceutical space and now, it's a pharmaceutical technology, both, you have a sense of what that world is going to because you're so deeply immersed in it that it seems so clear so it's connecting the next dot where laypeople like me haven't connected the first few dots before it.
Nicole: That's right and you know what? I'm reading about the industry all the time. About two weeks ago, it became very clear to me that right now, especially with the COVID crisis, virtual clinical trials and decentralized clinical trials are growing like crazy and you got the telemedicine. Again, you've got Oblend providing medicine for people and patients are seeing their visits through telemedicine. Whatever formulation they come up, it's sent to the Oblend. Oblend sends it to patients. We're sending surveys to the patients. Guess what?
Now, we're in the market of virtual clinical trials and decentralized clinical trials. Cannabis is not illegal in the US right now so we cannot technically perform clinical trials, but there is no reason why you cannot use Oblends to perform virtual clinical trials and decentralized clinical trials. I love it. Again, it's black and white to me. I am ready to get out there. I'm very excited.
Matt: Well, Nicole, as we close, can you let accredited investors know how they can reach out to you and also license holders if they're interested in learning more?
Nicole: Yes. If you would like to reach out to us, probably the best way is to send an email to email@example.com. Let me spell that. It's info, I-N-F-O @oblend, O-B-L-E-N-D.com.
Matt: Okay, great. Well, Nicole, thanks so much for coming on the show. This really sounds futuristic. Also, I can tell it's got likes because I really want to try one. I can think of a lot of different things I would like a formulation for. Immediately, I thought about a Sunday anxiety formulation. Maybe we can get someone like a Dr. Ethan Russo who's into terpenes to create one or something like that, but there are so many others I can think of off the top of my head.
Nicole: Okay, wait, wait. Now that you mentioned him, Ethan is one of our partners that we've partnered with. Through his company that he was formerly with, he just formed a new company called CReDO Science. With his previous company, ICCI, we entered into an agreement and hired Ethan to have formulations for anxiety, pain, and insomnia. That's already on our platform. They're available in the hemp CBD formats and he's also provided us his formulations that include cannabinoids. We're getting great feedback from these formulations.
We are changing people's lives just from the hemp CBD formulations which Ethan told me that they weren't going to work nearly as well as the cannabinoids formulations, but just the hemp CBD formulations are doing wonders for people's lives.
Matt: Wow. I'll certainly be watching closely for that one as available. Well, Nicole, thanks so much for coming on the show. We really appreciate it. For everybody that's interested, accredited investors and for license holders, that was info@oblend. Nicole, congratulations so far and keep us posted with everything you go have going on. I'm really watching this closely.
Nicole: Yes. Thank you so much, Matt. Thanks for all the listeners. I appreciate you having me back on your show. Thanks a lot.
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