Namaste Technologies Inc (CVE:N) CEO on E-Commerce Platform, Cannabis-Inspired Food Line
Namaste Technologies Inc (CVE:N) (OTCMKTS:NXTTF) (FRA:M5BQ) Co-founder and CEO Sean Dollinger describes the evolution of the company from a vape retailer to an e-commerce platform. Dollinger envisions Namaste as an online marketplace of cannabis technology and equipment, with the flexibility to add new products to the platform. Namaste is developing a cannabis-inspired, branded food product line with Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans. Dollinger notes that the revenues of traditional LPs are often through B2B relationships. As a B2C company, Namaste has a different relationship with customers and has the power to educate, influence, and share. One advantage of this unique customer relationship is that Namaste’s customer base, at 1.26 million, far exceeds any customer number put forth by the LPs.
James West: I am here now with Sean Dollinger, CEO of Namaste Technologies Inc, trading on the CSE or the TSX Venture under the symbol N. Sean, welcome back and happy New Year.
Sean Dollinger: Happy New Year. Great seeing you.
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James West: You too. Sean your stock was under quite a bit of pressure in the last part of last year as were most of the stocks as was the broader market. You’ve come out of the end of last year and into the new year with quite a strong reversal. What is it that’s going to drive the stock higher in 2019 in terms of corporate milestones achieved?
Sean Dollinger: When we speak to our team, it’s always about keeping our head down. Our e-commerce platform is what’s got us here, right? We started as Namaste Vapes. We thought it would be a side business just selling a few vaporizers a day and that was just three years ago, and we started selling hundreds, thousands leading B2C vaporizer company in the world. But now as you know, we’re so much more where your everything cannabis store. So, whether you’re looking for vaporizes, cannabis, CBD, anything of that nature where your one-stop-shop.
So that’s really what we’re constantly keeping our heads down building out the platform and for fun on my flight, as you know, I just landed about an hour ago, I was looking at the top eight companies in the world, as far as market cap goes. I’m sure you know this but seven of the eight are technology companies and the only one that’s not is Berkshire and their main holding, their number one holding is apple.
So, it’s really interesting to see that and see where the big LPs are at, you know, like how fantastic there grows are and everything of that nature. But we bring it all together with the technology. So that’s really what we’ll keep our heads down and focus on in 2019.
James West: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. So, I’ve been shopping on the Ontario Cannabis Store and I found that it’s easier for me to access cannabis more reliably and at the same cost more or less through my medical affiliation with the industry and particularly using Namaste MD. I found that I’ve actually got a personal consultant now who can you know, I can talk to about all of the LPS as opposed to just one.
So, there are aspects to that business model that I think are going to be very powerful in terms of market share agglomeration over time. The focus on becoming the you know,sort of the marketplace of cannabis equipment and technology is not something that anybody else is doing if I’m not mistaken.
Sean Dollinger: Yeah. I haven’t been able to find anyone out there and yesterday when I went over to Aurora Sky and I got this tour, right and I’m looking around and it’s incredible what Terry has built with his team, his vision and everything they’ve done and then to think that other people are still coming up with license. You think to yourself, well, how am I going to be able to beat them or be able to get any traction and then I go over to Radiant Technologies that focuses on oil production and they have this microwave technology that’s incredible and I’m like, how would somebody compete with that.
The nice thing about Namaste, where we positioned ourselves is this e-commerce platform. So, when I hear people say, oh, well we could do this, you know, maybe in house for 20 million or 30 million and they’re worth half a billion dollars. I say then why hasn’t it been done just like you’ve said. Even Walmart who had all the money in the world in their bank account, they had billions of dollars cash, they still went and bought Jet.com. Why is that if it was so easy to do what we do, why’s everyone not doing it?
James West: Well, obviously it’s not that easy and you know, I’ve followed Namaste from before being a public company and I remember when you guys were first in the business, you were already at that time kind of a number one online destination for vape gear in particular. Does vape gear still sort of underpin your technological inventory?
Sean Dollinger: Well, it’s incredible. I remember meeting you at that show over at the University and that was the first time we met and I showed you this vaporizer we were working on and you know, that’s still the core of our business is the e-commerce platform due to the global expansion of allowing vaporizers to be sold because it doesn’t necessarily need to be used for cannabis. It could be used for other aromatherapy items. So when we meet as a management team really our focus is still on that core platform, but once you’re bringing the traffic and you know all about traffic and how important it is, without that you really have nothing at the end of the day. So our main focus is still driving it all there, but then being able to add products like cannabis now in Canada and will be looking to replicate the model that Canada is allowed us to develop here globally with UK being the next one on the list.
James West: Interesting. Is the marketplace for cannabis gear and technology limited in any way by the rules governing the regulation and sale of cannabis itself?
Sean Dollinger: There’s obviously a lot of different rules everywhere we go and one thing about Namaste being in 20 countries around the world, we really need to understand the ins and outs of the regulations and the rules. For example, there’s a lot even around CBD topicals here in Canada. We can’t really sell creams yet or anything of that nature. Food is something we truly believe in. We’re working with Pete Evans, he’s the number one celebrity chef in Australia, developing a brand called Heal; healthy eating, living. But all of these things, we need to take our time and when I speak to people I always tell them this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and I know we’re building the right foundation at Namaste and that’s what will remain focused on and to keep building out on the platform as you mentioned.
James West: You bet. You know, the whole situation surrounding CBD, I mean, it’s now de-scheduled in the United States from the FDA as no longer schedule 1 now, it’s schedule 5. Do you see the same thing happening for cannabis products that are THC heavy and the easing of regulations that currently restrict the sale of cannabis on a retail and on a wholesale level to a select few corporate participants?
Sean Dollinger: I think that as time goes on the laws will keep getting more and more clear. I still speak to experienced people and then there’s still a little bit of confusion, you know. Is the CBD from hemp okay to cross borders in the U.S? Is that not CBD from cannabis? Obviously is not. Even in a space where they’ve went ahead and moved forward to try to relax the laws, it’s still confusing and even here in Canada people are confused around some of the laws. You know, what do you mean that it can’t be in a cream? Why do you need to add it yourself?
And so I think over the next couple of years, even though we all want to get to the point where everything is legal and a hundred percent ready to sell we got to take the time because from our standpoint we’re a publicly traded company, we want to be licensed all around the world, it’s not just Canada and the UK but Australia and anywhere else that we’re able to move towards, the end of the day to help people and use our AI and machine learning to educate buyers and all of that type of good stuff. So, you know, I think I I think for 2019 we’ve really got to study and see where the opportunities lie.
James West: Yeah. So being a technology company your business model is different from that of a LP in that LPS are going to ultimately be competing on price of a commodity at some level. That is never going to be Namaste’s limitation.
Sean Dollinger: Correct. They focus a lot on B2B. Like when you look at the revenues that are coming like Canopy’s putting up. It’s a lot of bulk sales, right? $20,000,000 orders. Namaste doesn’t have anything like that. We have the relationship with a customer. In a space like ours where advertising and marketing is so challenging, but now we’re bringing the customer to our website. Think about the power that Namaste has to educate, to influence, to speak, to share and one database like again, I brought it up on your show Namaste has roughly 1.6 million plus customers around the world. The largest LP in Canada has 200,000 customers.
So, think about the information that we have and I’m not talking about names or credit card. I’m speaking about, you know, the buying habits, what people spend time looking at when they go buy a premium vaporizer, aren’t you going to want to show them premium cannabis? And if they buy a vaporizer that specializes in oil aren’t you going to want to show that oil first when they’re shopping? So, these are the different things that Namaste will be working on in 2019 in the future.
James West: Okay. Well, it sounds like it’s going to be an exciting year and we’ll have to have you back frequently Sean. Thanks for joining me today on short notice.