Cura Cannabis Solutions is in the process of closing out a $20 million funding round that doubles their valuation from $200 million to a cool $400 million over the last eight months, said the company’s co-founder and president, Cameron Forni. Having gained amazing traction since its launch in September 2015, then making legal cannabis history recently by reporting $18 million in sales for the first quarter of 2018, investors were breaking down the doors.
Not bad for a start-up that began three years ago in Forni’s Portland living room where he and his wife Lauren sometimes stayed up all night filling cartridges.
“We had $44,000 in cash and we’d maxed out our credit cards when the buyer at Nectar said he’d buy them all if we could we fill 500 cartridges… ASAP,” Forni said. “We started at 3 p.m. and worked until 4:45 a.m. the next morning. That was our first sale, now we’re the largest chain on the West Coast.”
Cura quickly became the largest cannabis company in Oregon — currently holding 25 percent of the state’s market share — then moved into California and Nevada’s medical cannabis markets in 2017.
With sales of Cura’s flagship Select oil, winner of Dope Magazine’s 2017 Best Concentrates Award, California’s now legal recreational cannabis market is outpacing Oregon’s. And the beat goes on.
“It’s been like riding on a rocket ship up, up, up every month,” said Forni. “No slowing down, no leveling out… just up.” There were months in 2016 when the company doubled in size.
But, what does one of the largest cannabis brands in the country do in view of our anti-cannabis Attorney General, Jeff Sessions? Head north.
Cura & The International Market
Cura is setting up shop in Canada where full legalization of recreational cannabis is expected to take effect this July. Forni, who “couldn’t be happier” about the plan, said they will work with Cannabis Compliance Inc. (CCI), a company that deals with over 90 percent of licensing in Canada. “We’re a perfect partner for Canada in terms of the regulation processes. This will be our launching pad to export to European markets.”
This is a major step in achieving Cura’s mission to become the leading provider of cannabis oil to consumers and premium edible brands in the U.S. and international markets. Although, Select oil vape cartridges won’t be legal in Canada until early 2019 and its oils for edibles will be available later in the year.
But that’s fine, says Forni, who calls himself a “hands-on operator all the way” and spends literally half his life flying from place to place overseeing just about every detail of the company’s activities. It takes time to set everything up.
“When we launch in each state, we start from scratch,” he said. “We have to make sure everything is clean, the grow sites have to be pesticide free, which is not always easy as sometimes pesticides get blown around from neighboring farms. Then we build the extraction site, the work sites, etc. It’s always a bit disconcerting as regulations are different in every state. But thankfully, everyone helps everyone in the cannabis eco-system.”
With vaping here to stay and resources flowing into the company, Cura’s science area, headed by renowned cannabis scientist and vice president of technology & innovation, Ken White, Cura is “diving into medical marijuana,” said Forni. “We are isolating lesser known cannabinoids like CBN or CBG in a way that allows for future research and innovation for numerous illness and conditions including Parkinson’s disease.”
Forni believes the rise of cannabis concentrates has everything to do with “convenience, convenience, convenience.”
Forni comes from three generations of entrepreneurs. Asked what his first business was Forni went back much to his childhood.
“[My first job was] cutting flowers from my grandma’s garden when I was 4 and selling them on the road,” he said. “I gave a free golf ball, which I ‘found’ at the nearby golf course, to every customer who bought two or more flowers.”
There must have been something about flowers — even back then.
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