Anewsha, through its revolutionary patented and trademarked technology platform “Renewsha,” has announced a signed letter of intent with SPI Pharma to develop and license a precision dosing, tasteless, fast-acting formulation for all-natural API (active phytocannabinoid ingredients).
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On this edition of The Cannabis Today Podcast, I’m joined by Eric Knight, Chief Operating Officer of Anewsha Holding Group. Anewsha, through its revolutionary patented and trademarked technology platform Renewsha [00:00:43], has announced a signed letter of intent with SPI Pharma to develop and license a precision dosing, tasteless, fast-acting formulation for all natural API (Active Phytocannabinoid Ingredients.) And now, Eric Knight from the show floor of the Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition in New York City.
Steve Blank: [00:01:02] But I’ll jump right in and try to keep as little of your time as possible. Let’s jump right in and begin by giving you an opportunity to introduce yourself whenever you’re ready.
Eric Knight: Yeah, I’m Eric Knight. I’m the Chief Operating Officer of Anewsha Holding Group. We’re a diversified global life science corporation. We have three areas of focus which is health and wellness, agro-science and biotechnology.
Steve Blank: Okay, awesome. And where are you based out of?
Eric Knight: I’m based in southern California. I have partners in Michigan in New York, and I’ve got some global partners in Europe and the Caribbean.
Steve Blank: And you said you’ve been in this space since 2013?
Eric Knight: Yeah, I’ve been in the cannabis world since kind of the end of late 2013. Just right before adult use kicked in Colorado. Kind of fell backwards into the industry.
Steve Blank: Sure. What are a few of the stand out evolutions, developments that you think you’ve experienced? Be it with regard to the products themselves, the industry around it, the culture, the community. What are the…
Eric Knight: I’m a serial entrepreneur. I would say that this industry is like entrepreneurship on steroids, but it’s super exciting with just seeing the technology progression kind of across the board is interesting. But more to your question, my first job was bag man for a dispensary so to speak. Right? It was managing the money, dealing with banking and dealing with the shuffling of bank accounts and just trying to figure out how to run and operate a business that was–
Steve Blank: You’re saying that was your introductory role?
Eric Knight: That was kind of my introductory role, yeah. My background is more in strategy and operations and manufacturing kind of with a twist of technology and science. But my entree into the industry was about seeing dispensaries and operations go from two, three, five people to 30 to 50 people overnight. So, which is– that’s a challenge in and of itself. But then you overlay the complexities of the industry around with regulations and uncertainty and then the banking issues that everyone was dealing with. To some extent, people are still dealing with, but more so back in 2013, 2014, it was quite a different animal.
Steve Blank: Right. What is your take on the, have you– Were you here yesterday first of all?
Eric Knight: I was, yeah.
Steve Blank: Cool and New York CWCB Expo. Is this your first?
Eric Knight: This is my first, yeah.
Steve Blank: Cool. What do you think so far? What’s the experience been like?
Eric Knight: I think the guys and gals at Leading Edge really do a good job here and I’m impressed with what they’ve put on. These things are hard to organize logistically. And so they’re doing a good job and–
Steve Blank: Absolutely.
Eric Knight: -there’s a lot of great people here and it’s just a great business to business forum.
Steve Blank: For sure. For those who aren’t already familiar, let’s deep dive Anewsha.
Eric Knight: Yeah! Anewsha, well, we are here today introducing Bruce Linton’s conversation about the current state of the industry to really make an announcement around one of our flagship products. It’s really more of a technology platform called Renewsha. We announced today that we have signed a letter of intent for a global exclusive agreement with SPI Pharma. SPI Pharma is a global leader in delivery technologies, excipient technologies.
Steve Blank: Okay.
Eric Knight: [00:05:09] We’re partnering with them to develop the delivery platform for all phytocannabinoids which is really exciting because it’s an orally dissolvable tablet. So, it’s more of a formulation again that right now, phase one is CBD. But it’s something that will work with all phytocannabinoids. And as we understand more about the plant and kind of how it can be used to treat various health indications in the future and as the science kind of catches up to the industry for more of a biotech perspective. We have a great product platform that we’re super excited about.
Steve Blank: Awesome. Where websites, social media handles? For those who aren’t already familiar, where can we learn more, get in touch?
Eric Knight: Yeah. Right now, you can go to renewsha.com. It’s R-E-N-E-W-S-H-A dot com. Renewsha.com
Steve Blank: Cool. Tell me more about your evolution through the industry from that, the bag money man stories.
Eric Knight: [Laughs].
Steve Blank: Or maybe even, if we could take a step before that. What– How do I say that? Some boys are like, “I’m going to be a fire man when I grow up.” And they’re a fire man. And some guys are like addicted to the lemonade stands and trading the baseball cards and they grow up to be the founders and the CEOs and the investors of some type. So what, how–
Eric Knight: I mean, my background going way back to college was mechanical engineering and I just liked to build things. So that leads me into kind of why I think entrepreneurship and starting companies has really been exciting and something I’ve really done since graduating from Harvard business school. It’s all about creating, developing, building companies.
But prior to cannabis, I was in renewable energy for about 10, 12 years and started on the finance side and you kind of moved ship. Was never really that excited about being in the finance space. I’m more of an operator. Again, kind of like the roll up my sleeves and executing and actually make things happen and be hands on. So that over the years transitioned more to getting into early stage ventures around biofuels and solar technologies.
Steve Blank: Okay.
Eric Knight: It was an interesting kind of leap into cannabis just because there– I drew a lot from this highly regulated David versus Goliath market, which was renewable energy. And there’s a lot of parallels with cannabis. Cannabis is much more exciting in a lot of ways and you could argue that the industry existed prior… you know, it did.
Steve Blank: Sure.
Eric Knight: Prior to legalization. So there was one key difference, but in terms of navigating a very complex, highly regulated business is not easy. And you know, cannabis is in a class of its own in terms of– I grew up in this industry, in the early stages of adult use in Colorado. You know, dealing with packaging, label, regulatory changes where you get 30 days to make a major operational product change, and just you’ve got to be agile. I say that started complaining about some of the early difficulties in the industry. I just said it’s never boring and it’s always exciting.
Steve Blank: Glass is half full in Eric’s kitchen. So, a Harvard Grad with a renewable energy background, transitions into cannabis startups and cannabis entrepreneurship.
Eric Knight: Yeah, I kind of got my feet wet with a dispensary groups, Silver Peak in Aspen, Colorado. And worked with them for about a year and then really wanted to get more into the wholesale kind of manufacturing side of things. So, I was the Chief Operating Officer for Sweet Grass Kitchen for [00:10:00]. It was like from 2015 to 2018, a three and a half years. And it was interesting because again, the where I find myself today with Anewsha, which is again more of a– We’re positioned more as a life science company.
So, it’s the focus is technology kind of innovation and again, understanding the benefits of the plant, understanding how the phytocannabinoids really work and why they work. It’s the best application for the treatment of various ailments or indications for people. So less, I’m a firm believer in the social party side of the industry. But from a business perspective, I’m much more interested in the science, technology and the health and wellness of it. So that’s really what we’re focused on.
But my time at sweet grass kitchen, really what I was thinking about on a day to day basis was again, our number one priority was all about the consistency and trust of an edible product. And again, this early days of the edible business, people didn’t even know what activation of THC molecule was and they’re making edibles. And so, you can see it in some of the testing that was done going back five years where there was companies that were then opposed to the Cannabist would do a blind study there. They’d be like, they don’t have hardly any THC in their products. It’s just the lack of understanding or capabilities of activating the molecule so you’d get the desired effect.
So, very early on with Sweet Grass Kitchen, it was all about understanding delivery methods, consistency, dosing and really again, focusing on more of– More thinking about things more scientifically and just best practices. And the industry was, forget about the efficacy of and quality of products. The industry was going through and crazy expansion period. So just bringing in professional business practices was also something that was really cool to be a part of. Just a lot of entrepreneurs, just crazy times, and today, you look at the show today, it’s this industry has really come a long way in terms of where it’s going and kind of how it’s viewed from people like our parents or our grandparents and it’s taken seriously. And that’s a testament to all the hard work I think that everyone’s put in that’s been involved in this business for as long as I have in many people for much longer than I had been in.
Steve Blank: Absolutely, well said. To segue to the moms and the dads and the grandmas and the tack onto that, colleagues and classmates, obviously being less interested in the social aspect and more in the science. Did your friends and family and colleagues and severe having an immediate appreciation for that or what was the transition like?
Eric Knight: I’ll say that my friends from college and business school, we’re not surprised that I found my way into the industry. I don’t know of another Harvard Business School Grad that was in the business before me. There’s a handful that I had met early on and there– I’m sure there’s somebody who might’ve jumped in before me, but it was an early adopter. But parents, they’ve surprised. I thought my mom, if anyone would be less excited about it.
But it’s actually something that I think being involved in industry, she’s, I probably get my curiosity and my desire for understanding how things work and kind of that engineer logical, the logic that I apply to everything I do in my professional life, I think I get from my mom. So by being in this industry, it’s really been interesting to see how it’s caused her to really learn about it more and understand it. And she’s now the one who sends me all the articles and links and news clippings about the random going ons of legalization and kind of technology development within the industry, so it’s kind of cool. But yeah, I haven’t really had to deal with so much with the, maybe some of the stigma from friends and family.
Steve Blank: Sure.
Eric Knight: [00:15:00] But I’ve worked with a lot of people who have, and it’s again, it’s going back again, five, six years working with professional services like attorneys and CPAS that were, they want– It’s like they wanted to be involved in the industry, but it was too soon. And the stigma, whether it was colleagues or family was a real issue for people. Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with that. Like I said, I was just, I found it was the coolest thing to get involved with, and it was interesting. I came from California to Colorado in 2013 and I never for a minute saw it as an industry opportunity at that point in time until all of a sudden, it was like, wait a second, this really is.
Steve Blank: And then what point was that again?
Eric Knight: Is the end of 2013.
Steve Blank: 13, yeah.
Eric Knight: Yeah.
Steve Blank: Well, particularly here or within this platform, I’m finding a space around– How do I say that? Some individuals or brands win by being the cheapest, some win by being the superior product. Others win by potentially having a less superior and more expensive product, but the customer experience or in other words, who you’re working with can absolutely be the difference maker. And I take great pride in this platform really giving folks like yourself an opportunity to let the rest of the world know who it is they’re working with as well. So, I give you that context to say kind of tangented off and definitely tried to get to know more about you and your story, but please remind everybody why we’re here today with Anewsha on behalf– regarding [crosstalk 00:16:55] .
Eric Knight: Well, again, we’re super excited about Anewsha as again as a technology platform that is, it’s superior and unique in many ways. But it’s an oral dissolvable technology which provides for a rapid absorption. There’s again, with our partnership with SPI Pharma, and it’s really licensing their tech, their patented technology. Again, develop for the pharmaceutical world and now incorporating phyto cannabinoids into that platform.
As many people understand, sublingual absorption has a lot of benefits over typical ingestion and even smoking in terms of again, just the absorbs that itself is five, six times what it is if you were to ingest or eat a product. So, it comes down to cost. It’s a quality, it’s consistent, it’s convenient, it’s quality, it’s cost effective. And in that way, it’s superior again certainly for people who are truly treating conditions. And again, we’re in this weird phase of the industry where we can’t really talk about– Nor I think, should we necessarily talk about exactly what this plant can do for people from a medical perspective.
Anecdotally, people can decide for themselves. Anecdotally, there’s a lot of benefits. The science needs to catch up in terms of being able to say, you know, Bruce talked about this in his keynote conversation today. We need to understand the dosing, why you take something, when you take something, and there’s a lot of things that need to happen in order to really treat medical conditions, but that’s the direction that we’re trying to take this product. It’s a direction we want to go with this product, so it’s super exciting.
Steve Blank: Absolutely. See you, there you go. With those words, we were able to absolutely differentiate through price, through superior product, and I absolutely wanted to give a small window into, into Eric Knight, the who, one of the many who behind the big picture.
Eric Knight: Yeah. And there’ll be a lot of more interesting products and developments to come from Anewsha, the company which again we’re less focused on the company today as opposed to our proprietary technology portfolio which, which Anewsha is a small piece of. So, well maybe we can talk again.
Steve Blank: Of course, absolutely.
Eric Knight: [00:20:00] In the near future as we kind of make some more announcements around some of our other technologies and products.
Steve Blank: Of course, yeah. It sounds like the commitment is to creating value and in the few moments we’ve shared together, I know that that’s absolutely something also we share. Anything we will be remissed to not have touched on in this platform today.
Eric Knight: I’m sure, I can’t [crosstalk 00:20:24].
Steve Blank: Yeah, yeah, right now. Well, listen, I don’t want to keep you too long. Do have a card with you?
Eric Knight: I do, yes.
Steve Blank: I’ll be happy to exchange with you, do some followups as things develop. I can also use that to make sure that I get you all of the contents surrounding this.
Eric Knight: Yeah, sure.
Steve Blank: It won’t just live and die on iTunes one time. We’ll transpose to video and audio.
Eric Knight: I’m going to listen to your podcast now [laughs].
Steve Blank: There you go. At least one episode of one podcast.
Eric Knight: Well, I’ll listen. You’ve got me hooked on your show. So I’ve gotta listen to more of myself. I really want to hear myself talk. I’ll listen to– You can tell me what archives or upcoming guests that you think I should listen to.
Steve Blank: Yeah, okay.
Eric Knight: I’ll listen to them before myself. All right. I’m, yeah, I’m not the–
Steve Blank: Yeah, yeah. Like I was there.
Eric Knight: Yeah, it was there.
Steve Blank What are you excited or looking forward to with regard to the rest of the weekend here at CWCB? A workshop, an exhibitor.
Eric Knight: Yeah, there’s a lot of people that I’m interested in meeting. It was obviously, it was great to actually meet Bruce in person and have a chance to talk with him. It was interesting because, we’re Anewsha and Renewsha, we’re just hitting the ground running. There’s been years of development and business development activities behind it, but we’re still early life cycle of our growth. And it was interesting to hear Bruce and kind of a lot of commonalities with what he’s talking about and what we’re talking about. So just a handful of people that I think we’re kind of aligned in our vision for the future of this business that I’d like to have some more conversations with. Maybe they’ll happen on the yacht later tonight.
Steve Blank: Absolutely. Are you going?
Eric Knight: I’m going.
Steve Blank: Cool. We’re going. Well, we’ll see you there. One more time before I let you go. If you would drop a social media handles, website, where can we learn more, get in touch?
Eric Knight: Yeah. Check out renewsha.com. R-E-N-E-W-S-H-A dot com for some more information on our product. It’s just making a splash with it. It’s just getting going right now so we’re super excited about it. We’ve got a lot of great feedback so far and people are very excited about what it can do for them, so.
Steve Blank: Awesome. Thank you very much. Eric Knight live from the Cannabis World Congress in Business Exposition here at the Javits Center in New York City. Thanks again.
Eric Knight: Thanks, Steve.
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