How one CEO is bringing a “Silicon Valley” vision to the tight-knit, organically-grown vibe of the cannabis community.
Conception Nurseries, a first-of-its-kind cannabis nursery company, is poised to revolutionize the market by utilizing the science of tissue culture and micropropagation.
As one of the world’s biotech leaders in genetic cannabis cultivation, Conception Nurseries is using the latest tissue culture techniques to help growers reduce risk and increase product yields by delivering clean, vigorous, elite genetics that deliver quicker, more consistent crops, harvest after harvest.
Conception Nurseries’ CEO, Kevin Brooks, is no stranger to innovation. A Silicon Valley veteran, Brooks spent over 15 years launching and overseeing exits for numerous tech firms. In 2016, he made the switch from tech to cannabis, when he took the helm as CEO of Connected Cannabis Company. Brooks led his team at Connected to dominate the expanding market as one of California’s largest vertically-integrated cannabis operators.
Today, the Conception Nurseries team aims to merge the traditional, organic cannabis community feel with big league science and biotech. With an eye for innovation and cutting-edge techniques, Brooks has his sights set on a new frontier in cannabis.
In this interview, Kevin explains Conception’s unique biotechnology and what it means for growers and consumers.
Q: Can you discuss your background and how it led you to the cannabis industry? More specifically, the biotech segment of the cannabis industry?
Kevin Brooks: I spent 15 years of my career in Silicon Valley. Early in my career, I helped launch a computer forensics firm that specialized in e-discovery. At the time, we built one of the largest legal technology companies on the West Coast. We sold the firm to a competitor, creating a coast-to-coast footprint. We eventually acquired a European company to create a world-wide network, which was then sold to a publicly-traded firm.
Post-acquisition, I spent time helping tech startups in the Bay Area scale operations into new regions. I was watching the cannabis legalization trend in other states, and knew it was only a matter of time before California went legal. At that time I met up with a group who had a small but meaningful footprint in Northern California and was looking for executive leadership to help transition the business into the regulated world.
During my tenure I helped grow that company, Connected Cannabis, into what is now known as one of California’s largest vertically-integrated cannabis operators and a recognized leader in cultivation, distribution, and retail.
Q: What were some of the valuable lessons that you gleaned from your time spent expanding Connected Cannabis?
KB: There were three major things we did at Connected that were really unique. One, we were the first group to scale across California. At the time, there were a few really strong regional players, but we had not seen a group able to successfully scale outside their own home turf. Connected was the first to really have a retail presence across California, and by the time I left, the company had the largest cannabis retail footprint in the state.
The second thing that Connected excelled at was developing some of the most well-known branding differentiators. We were one of the first groups to team up with key social influencers to help promote our brand and our products. Several of the genetics have shown up in #1 hit songs and achieved worldwide recognition, influencing pop culture as we know it.
Third and most important we grew some the very best product on the market which commanded some of the highest prices in the state. The company is now known as one of the world’s leading producers of top-shelf, designer cannabis.
Q: How did you make the leap from Connected Cannabis to realizing the greater need for biotech and micropropagation techniques in the industry?
KB: Connected Cannabis was a “cultivation-first” company with a retail footprint, and we focused on delivering excellent product to the market. But harvest after harvest, we recognized a common challenge: consistency. Despite our skill, we had serious consistency issues in terms of harvest yield and plant quality. You might get one crop with buds one size, and then the next harvest, they would be different. Retailers and their customers didn’t know what to expect. Our team was looking outside of the business for solutions and we learned that cannabis is more than 60 years behind any other large agriculture crop. Virtually every cultivator growing at scale was dealing with the same growing pains, so to speak, including inconsistent harvests, immature plants being rushed to market, mother rooms getting wiped out by diseases, and a whole host of other issues.
Q: What’s the big picture solution that Conception brings to the market, and what are the benefits to consumers, investors, and licensed producers?
KB: Our focus on adding value to the base of the supply chain through introducing elite, high-quality genetics that far outperform traditional cuts from mom plants and removes the biggest risk to the business, mom rooms. There is no question that current supply introduces unnecessary risk to cultivators and therefore the entire supply chain. Licensed producers [LPs] face significant challenges around scaling. Grow rooms are rife with expensive inefficiencies. There is virtually no other agriculture crop where cultivators grow from their own nursery.
The other challenge we see with mom rooms is you are limited in your scalability. For example, most LPs can’t scale their moms up quickly enough to meet demand. Often times we are seeing growers produce less desirable (and unprofitable strains) due to mom room availability.
Conception Nurseries aims to provide solutions to growers’ major headaches. In turn, our elite genetics will provide consumers with consistent, high-quality and high-producing strains of cannabis that are scientifically proven to be a superior product.
Q: What is your vision for Conception Nurseries and for the cannabis industry, in general, moving forward?
KB: Over the next five years we expect to launch ten locations throughout the US and Canada. We will do this through thoughtful, strategic partnerships with key cultivators.
Q: On the investment side, can you briefly touch on if you have plans to move public or how you’re funding operations for long-term growth?
KB: We were very fortunate to have oversubscribed our first seed round and have recently launched our Series A. While we are always keeping our eyes open for the right capital raise opportunities, right now we are focusing on building a great company and service that will change the way this industry operates, bringing it to the 21st century.
Visit the Conception Nurseries site to learn more.