It’s been nearly two years since we provided our readers with a profile of Wana Brands and we wanted to circle back and share an update on the progress you and your team have made, challenges you have dealt with, opportunities that you have capitalized on and your view of what is next for the Wana Brands team and the cannabis industry.
CBE: Hi Nancy and congratulations for being CBE’s co-number 1 on our 2017 Most Important Woman in the Cannabis Industry list! Before jumping into those questions Nancy, please give the CBE readers and your peers what Wana Brands is all about and your operating philosophy, management team & capital structure.
NW: First, thank you so much. It was an honor to be recognized as co-number 1 on CBE’s Most Important Woman in the Cannabis Industry. I feel extremely honored to be included on a list of such smart, accomplished women.
Wana Brands’ operating philosophy is to promote the responsible use of infused products to help people enhance their lives, whether it be improved health or deeper enjoyment of the activities they love to do. We do that by developing and producing products that are focused on consistency, innovation and quality. In terms of our management team, I am the CEO. We’re currently recruiting for COO. We also have very talented individuals on our team in Operations, Finance, Sales and Marketing roles. Wana Brands is privately held.
CBE: What does the product line look like now versus 2016? What is new in your product development pipeline and/or in the works? How does WB decide what products it brings to market?
NW: Our product offerings today versus 2016 have many more class specific and CBD options and more delicious flavors like our new Mango Sativa. In terms of product development, in 2018 we’ll be bringing back some old favorites as well as many new products. The stamping and shaping requirements of 2016 required us to produce the old favorites in a new way, but our retooling also opened the opportunity to reformulate them for improved flavor and consistency. In the pipeline we also have next generation products that will be designed to enhance the infused product experience overall.
CBE: How many states are WB products currently sold in and what is your model for expanding the WB footprint and partner/licensee selection?
NW: Currently, Wana Brands products are available in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Arizona. We have focused on licensing agreements but are also looking at contract manufacturing. In terms of partner/licensee selection, we’re looking for well capitalized experienced partners with developed and sophisticated national or global strategies. Integrity and transparency are key values we look for in our partners.
CBE: Is there a typical IP/Licensing deal/model structure or do you customize by market and what are the financial requirements for expanding into new markets?
NW: We have a standard template but it is modified for each market, because the circumstances are different in each market. The financial requirements for expanding into new markets can vary tremendously based on market size and circumstances as well as regulatory structure.
CBE: Quality control, consistency and brand integrity have been a core discipline for WB from its inception, how is that going 7 years after launch?
NW: I think Wana Brands gets better and better every year. We have now activated the systems and underpinnings for consistency in our own operation in Colorado as well as our partners’ operations in other markets. Wana Brands continues to implement good manufacturing practices, add more depth and detail to our SOPs and document control systems, and we provide our partners with more and better support in onboarding and ongoing technical support.
CBE: What has worked well and what has not over the years?
NW: Obviously our focus on gummies has worked out very well for us both because it is the dominate edibles category but also because we’ve made investments in refining our recipes and production SOPs. That focus has given us overall market share in nearly 20% in edibles and over 40% in gummies in Colorado, according to BDS Analytics. We’re also very proud of Wana’s close relationships with our dispensary partners. One of our top priorities is to try to understand our dispensary partners’ needs and support them in ways that go beyond a typical vendor/customer relationship.
As you would expect, as a relatively young company in a brand new industry, we also have tried many things that did not work out well–products that did poorly, partnerships that fell apart, equipment that turned out to be a waste of money; the list is long. But the point is to learn from our failures, not to stop experimenting. Any company that hasn’t had its share of failures is playing it way too safe.
CBE: What does the future hold for WB and the cannabis industry domestically and abroad?
NW: We feel like Wana and the industry are still in the very early stages of what our company and industry will become. As a company we are looking forward to solidifying our position as an industry leading brand by bringing new products and technologies to market in Colorado and beyond. We also want to be a deep participant in educating the public about cannabis and in dispelling the many myths about cannabis. For the industry, especially when we look globally, cannabis is truly in its infancy. My greatest hope is that we are able to move forward with serious research that allows us to unlock the full potential of this plant so that it can make ever greater contributions to public health and wellness and so that more people can benefit from its use without fear of legal consequence.
CBE: Is there anything else that you would like to share with your peers, customers about your cannabis business journey?
NW: I always say that patience, resilience, and adaptability are the keys to long term success in the cannabis industry. I encourage people to keep their eye on the long term potential so that riding the day to day ups and downs is less painful. The best is yet to come.
Cannabis Business Executive Background Information
Company Name: Wana Brands
Year Founded: 2010
Ownership structure/operating entities: Privately held
Nancy Whiteman, CEO/Owner
currently recruiting a COO
Headquarters: Boulder, Colorado
Number of Locations: n/a
Number of Licenses by State: 2 in Colorado (rec & med)
Industry Segment/Category: Processor/MIP
Current Markets/States Served: Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona
Current Number of employees: 78
Market Strategy/Goal: To become the leading global infused products brand through partnerships in key legal national and international markets.
2015 Revenues: $4,758,071
2016 Revenues: $8,191,207
2017 Revenues: $14,052,886
2018 Projected Revenue: $15,500,000
Revenue numbers are for Wana Brands only, not for The Cima Group which holds our IP and does the out of state deals
Company/Revenue Mix: Wana Brands is a license holder in Colorado, and partners with license holders/contract manufacturers in other legal markets to bring consistent quality infused products to market.
Expansion Plans: Wana Brands is projecting expansion into California, Illinois, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington and Pennsylvania as well as internationally in Canada by 2019.
Financing strategy: Privately held