Brian Armstrong, President, Vinzan International Inc. B Y A L E X J A C K S O N
For the past four years, Canada has been abuzz with the legalization of Cannabis. Companies like Canopy Growth Corporation, Aurora Cannabis and Tilray have seen their stock prices soar on the public markets and the industry doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In fact, a report from BMO Capital Markets predicts the cannabis industry world-wide will be worth $194 billion by 2025, and that doesn’t include Asia. The market’s appetite for initial public offerings (IPO) remains strong among both nstitutional and private investors. But this cannabis explosion has led many industry insiders to ask – what will be the next big trend in cannabis? A company that believes they have what it takes to be the next big thing in cannabis is Vinzan International Inc. They are headquartered are here in Toronto, but they aren’t a Canadian licensed producer, nor do they have any intention of entering into the Canadian recreational market. They are a global cannabis trading company, focused on cultivating cannabis in low cost regions and exporting to high-valued markets. Preferred Magazine recently sat down with Vinzan International, CEO Brian Armstrong to talk about their business model and their plans to go public in 2019. Preferred Magazine: Tell me a little bit about Vinzan International and what makes you different than the rest of the companies in the cannabis sector today? Vinzan: Our business model was built for where we think cannabis will be in five years. Cannabis is an agriculture commodity crop that is best grown in warmer climates. This forms the basis for Vinzan International. We treat cannabis like a commodity and we’re building our operations in the world’s lowest cost regions. Vinzan International took the 150-year old agriculture commodity trading model, used by the world’s largest agriculture traders, and applied it to cannabis. Every other commodity in the world; gold, copper, corn, wheat, zinc, and coffee are all traded as commodities. Cannabis is the only outlier. Preferred Magazine: You’ve decided to build operations in Laos, Thailand and Colombia. How did you select these regions? Vinzan: Each region needed to have an ideal climate for cultivation, a legal cannabis framework, and the ability to export around the world. In Colombia, Thailand and Laos, we found the ideal locations to build our operations. I also think it’s important to emphasise that low cost regions are only valuable if you have the expertise and ability to export to higher valued markets. Our team has dedicated an extraordinary amount of time to our export plan. Preferred Magazine: What has your team’s experience been in Colombia, Laos and Thailand? Have you been welcomed with open arms or have there been challenges? Vinzan: We’ve really felt welcomed in each of our operating regions. Our partners are part of the Vinzan family and we want to be a good global citizen. This desire to lift our partners up is exemplified by our Vinzan Care program. We take corporate responsibility seriously and we will be rolling out Vinzan Care in late 2019 and into 2020. The program will invest in education and health care in the local communities we operate in. Strengthening our local partners is an essential part of our business plan. Preferred: Can you tell me a little bit about the team you’ve put together? Vinzan: We put together a blue-chip team to match our ambition. Our President, Graham Armstrong was an early cannabis entrepreneur and helped grow Starseed to a $210 million valuation. Our Chief Financial Officer, Donald Stewart was an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley for 12 years and our Vice President of Operations, Kelsey Barnes joined us from IBM’s Cyber security division. Kelsey was previously the Director of Operations at MedReleaf before their $2.9 billion acquisition by Aurora. From top to bottom, our team has a track record of success in challenging environments. Preferred Magazine: Are your plans to have an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2019? Vinzan: Yes, we are going public in 2019. The date is to be confirmed, but we are close to announcing our underwriting partner. We are in the final stages of our pre-IPO capital raise and we will have more to say about our IPO plans in the near future. We believe there is not a cannabis company in the public markets that offers investors the opportunity we do. Our IPO story will be one of the significant bottom line profitability, sound fundamentals, and solid corporate governance. Preferred Magazine: Will Vinzan ever service the recreational market, or is your plan to focus solely on the medical side? Vinzan: Our plan is to focus is the global medical cannabis market. Around the world new countries are moving to a legal cannabis framework for medical purposes. Countries like South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Brazil, and Spain, just to name a few, have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Cannabis has been used in Eastern medicine for hundreds of years and we’ve only scratched the surface with Western medicine. Vinzan International will be at the forefront of that change. Preferred Magazine: Do you ever sample your product? Vinzan: I am not a cannabis user, but I do believe in a responsible legal framework. That framework is medicinal on a global scale. The industry is transitioning into an age of accountability and institutional investors want to see strong business fundamentals. The Vinzan model and team deliver just that, bottom line results.
Learn more about us at www.vinzan.com