Good chats to Organic Genetics‘ co-founder, Holly Wright, New Zealand’s first female co-founder of a medicinal cannabis company.
What inspired you to start a medicinal cannabis company?
After the New Zealand legislation changes in 2018, our interest in the industry really sparked. I’ve personally always been interested in exploring natural wellness, having seen friends and family suffer from the side effects of prescription drugs and opioids. This became a big driving factor for me and my role in the business.
At the time, we also had a lot of influence from Los Angeles, where my husband Paul (our CEO) grew up. The majority of his friends and family were already part of the medicinal cannabis industry and were able to give us some amazing insights. After numerous discussions around the incredible potential of medicinal cannabis and the industry, we finally decided to take the plunge and founded Organic Genetics in 2019.
You’re the first female co-founder of a medicinal cannabis company in Aotearoa – what learnings have you gained so far?
The last two years have been a huge learning curve for me, both as a female in business and in this industry. There was no road map here in New Zealand when we began, so there has been so much to decipher along the way.
Because this industry is so new, there has been so much to learn and a lot of challenges to overcome – from navigating the licensing regime to securing the cultivation locations, to building our team and now, capital raising. I had to learn very early on to be flexible and quick to pivot with all our business decisions, adapting to regulation changes and evolving to meet the market’s needs.
Do you have any tips for other women / young mums looking to start a business?
That’s a good question, and I’m certainly not an expert yet! But a few tips that have worked well for me have been:
- Setting up boundaries for work and family life from the onset. This is so important, but also very hard to do. When you’re working, you’re working and when you’re with your family, you’re with your family. I’m always striving to have a good work-life balance and set aside quality time as a family to do things we all love together.
- Make sure you find at least one good support person to lean on. I’m lucky enough to be building this business alongside my husband Paul. We always make sure we can be a good friend and support system for each other. For us this often means jumping in and supporting each other with the parenting or household duties so the other can focus on different tasks within the business – there is always a lot of tag teaming going on in our house between work and family life!
- Make time to look after yourself. When you’re running a business and looking after a young family, it’s so easy to get burnt out. I try and make sure to set aside some time each week to do something that makes me happy and fills up my cup. Whether that’s an exercise class, a lunch date with a friend or something indulgent like a facial. It also helps to have that time to step back from the business as it often puts work stresses into perspective and inspires new ideas.
What are Organic Genetics’ plans for the next 12 months? What about the next five years?
It’s so exciting to think about the future, we can see it so clearly. For the next 3-6 months we are very much focusing on raising capital for our business.
We currently have our very first equity crowdfunding campaign live on PledgeMe, which gives everyone in New Zealand an opportunity to be a part of this exciting billion-dollar global industry, and become a shareholder in Organic Genetics. By reaching our equity crowdfunding goal, we can fast-track our plans for the internal buildout of our Indoor EU-GMP Cultivation facility where we plan to cultivate our high THC premium, craft cannabis.
We are also currently developing the import side of our business, where we are working around the submission of multiple EU-GMP imported CBD products. These products have the potential to provide a steady revenue stream for Organic Genetics from day one. In five years’ time, we envision being fully operational and vertically integrated, from cultivating at both our Auckland and Northland locations, to developing and manufacturing our own product suite, and supplying both the local and international markets.
In what way has COVID-19 impacted the company?
Like most businesses, Covid-19 has presented many new challenges and unpredictable circumstances that unfortunately we have had no control over. For us, it’s meant delays on the external build of our indoor cultivation facility, a delay in overseas partners and potential investors visiting New Zealand, cancelled travel plans to visit our partners and their facilities in California, not to mention trying to raise capital during a nationwide level 4 lockdown! As always though, we are staying strong and putting in the hard yards to make this a success because we are so passionate and believe wholeheartedly in the future of Organic Genetics!