CFN Media Interviews Next Frontier Biosciences


Rachelle Gordon

January 11th, 2018

Policy


Research and development into medicinal cannabis has grown by leaps and bounds since the rise of legalization. Next Frontier Biosciences is a biotech firm specializing in the creation of best-in-class purified cannabinoid products specifically designed for the medical markets. The company has already introduced a line of sublinguals,  nasal mists, and topicals meant to help new consumers ease into cannabis consumption.

CFN Media recently sat down with Next Frontier Co-Founder and CEO, Marc Graboyes, and  Vice President, Pharmaceutical Development, Dorothy “Dot” Colagiovanni, Ph.D. , to learn more about the company’s impressive scientific and research-based approach to cannabis product development.

Rachelle Gordon:  What is the history of Next Frontier Biosciences?

Marc Graboyes:  Myself, along with my partner Paul Johnson, came together to bring advanced sciences to the cannabis industry; we recruited Dot a short time later before we founded Next Frontier in late 2014. We’ve been actively pursuing formulation sciences and product development for the last two and half years to the point where we are now launching our first line of branded products in Colorado this week.

The name of the line is Verra Wellness, which offers purified cannabinoid products for nasal, sublingual, and topical delivery. We’re really excited to launch in Colorado, and then we’ll be pursuing a multi-state expansion strategy with the goal of licensing our propriety formulations and brand identity in multiple states with a focus on California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

We are a group of former biotech executives and research scientists who are bringing advanced formulation sciences to the cannabis industry, working with highly purified cannabinoids and scientifically formulating them for improved delivery. We also are an IP holding company and provide brand management.

RG:  What is the benefit of Verra Wellness for the end user?

MG:  It’s really the fact that  the Verra Wellness products are so accurate, consistent, and convenient for microdosing, which allows you to achieve the maximum benefit with the minimum dose. We are providing alternative modes of administration for people who don’t want to smoke, vaporize, or eat cannabis products and we like think the products are kind of sexy. They look great, they’re very convenient, and discreet. If you have a soccer mom that just wants to throw a discreet container in her purse that’s pretty easy to do and doesn’t have that sort of stigma associated with smoking or vaporizing.

Dot Colagiovanni:  Our tag line is Derived From Truth. The word Verra comes from the French word meaning derived from truth; this is who we are philosophically. We’re coming to this industry trying to be transparent, and upfront with what we’re doing, all while providing really good science and hard data to take the industry to the next level of that credibility.

RG:  What else sets Next Frontier apart from potential competitors?

DC:  First of all, we’ve developed consistent, reliable, and safe products that we think will benefit consumers. We didn’t come into it like a lot of people do having already been in the industry or come into it from business standpoint. We took a different approach:  coming from the science side of it. We felt that’s where our strength is and we all know how to develop drugs; the difference between making a cannabis product and making a pharmaceutical product isn’t that big. Our team has the expertise.

MG:  Another thing that really sets us apart is our target audience/market. We’re not going after the traditional cannabis consumer who is simply looking to “get high.” We’re looking to provide much more of a therapeutic wellness benefit, whether it’s on the recreational or medical side. We like to target those who were previously scared by the stigma of cannabis, making it a lot more approachable while providing great branding where people would be excited and proud to be carrying our products with them. We are trying to bring new people into the market.

RG:   How is Next Frontier approaching fundraising?

MG:  Currently we finance the company primarily through friends & family, and angel investors. We’ve raised just over five million dollars to date and with that we developed a lab. We’ve got a one-million dollar laboratory in Denver with six scientists, three PHDs, and a hundred years of pharmaceutical development and experience on staff. We’ve developed all our initial go-to-market products and then we’re continuing to innovate. We’re really focusing on innovation and ongoing product development with a goal of developing the best products on the market and building a global brand.

As with most investments, you’re looking at the team, the technology, and the market opportunity. We have an outstanding team. Personally, I spent eight years as a corporate finance and securities attorney with a number of different large national law firms. Then I spent eight years as a Senior Vice President of General Counsel of a public biotech company so I have a lot of corporate finance, corporate development, intellectual property licensing experience.

We also have a top-notch scientific team, rounding out with a real high-quality sales and marketing staff. Simply put, it’s the team and it’s the technology – Next Frontier’s product profile is highly differentiated. We’ve filed provisional patent applications on all of our initial go-to-market formulations, and we’re focused on generating the scientific data to support patent filing so that we can build a picket fence around our go to market formulations as part of our product development program.

RG:  What are you looking for in potential business partners?

MG:  What we’re really looking for at this time are manufacturing/distribution partners on a state-by-state basis. Because cannabis is illegal federally, we chose to form Next Frontier as a IP holding company and a brand management company. We developed the proprietary formulations and brands and then we license them to strategic partners in each state. They hold the licenses that allow them to manufacture and distribute the products on our behalf. As we look to execute on the multi-state expansion strategy, we’re looking for those partners that can help us with that.

RG:  What are your current  projections for growth?

MG:  I like to think of the business in terms of product development and then sales and marketing. On the product development side, it’s to continue to innovate, to improve our existing formulations, and also come up with new product lines to expand our offering, always with a focus on working with highly purified products that are designed to be formulated for improved delivery. We’re currently looking at a number of differing alternative modes of administration, including sublingual tablets as well as oral strip technology among others.

In terms of growth, our long-term goal is to build a national and global brand. The way we do that is through multi-state expansion and licensing. Our goal is to be in the top five state markets by the end of 2018 and then into the next top five markets after that by end of 2019, with the goal of being in the top ten state markets by the end of 2019. We want to establish the brand here nationally in the United States and then we’ll look to expand internationally after that.

Rachelle Gordon

About Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based writer. She was the president of her college's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and worked in Amsterdam for a brief time. Find her online at www.rachellegordon.net.


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