High! Canada Magazine has had the extreme honor of sitting down with two time, Cannabis crusader and Cannabis Influencer Clint Younge. We had Clint in our August edition of High Canada Magazine and talked about mental health and his time with MMJ Canada. We are honored to have a chance to talk to Clint again before he leaves Canada on some international adventures.
Clint - It is such an honor that you've invited us to sit down with you again. Tell me a little bit about what you've got going on right now?
Thanks, Cy. I took the role of President for Company X in Zurich, Switzerland. We have 40,000m2 of outdoor grows with carefully selected high cbd plants, along with 20,000m2 of greenhouses and about 5,000m2 of premium indoor grow space. Company X has distribution across Europe and is also consulting on international projects. We work towards vertically integrating those new ventures into the Company X structure. We help the local governments build their Cannabis infrastructure and help educate the legislators' set up a fair-trade system to ensure a quality product for international distribution. Making sure that the local population benefits first and foremost on those ventures is primordial to Company X. As you can see, we have been on a marathon for the last 5 months, boots on the ground, getting things done. Bringing Swiss Hempcare and Greenology together in Company X was a large task on its own. Greenology are indoor growing specialists and was founded in 2017. In that short time, their master grower Tim has become one of the best in the industry. Amazing flowers with under 1% Thc, but with high THC terp profiles. Actually, Company X entered into the Silver Cup at Spannabis this year for CBD flowers and won first place, it was actually the first time we entered a competition as a unit. The amazing quality of the batch that won Spannabis was 17.6% and I believe 0.68% THC, but we already managed to push the bar higher on the harvest we had recently, it tested at 20.6% CBD and 0.7% THC. These guys are getting better and better as time goes, so who knows what other great material can come out of there in the future?
When we last spoke to you at the Lift Cannabis Awards in December 2018, you had walked away with two awards. High! Canada Magazine was so hyped to find out about your Spannabis win, tell me a little more about what happened between the time you won the two Lift Awards to the time your team won in Barcelona in March 2019. There is a lot that went on there during that period, can you tell our readers a little about that time?
Yes of course. When we last met, I had recently resigned from MMJ Canada. I had made a promise to my staff, that if I did resign from MMJ Canada I wouldn't take a job in the legal market in Canada. There were internal problems with the board, the vision of the company changed, the way things were going politically and the way that the government was taking control and ramping up enforcement.
By that point, I felt it was time to move on, keep my promise, and that's exactly what I did. I started probing European companies to see where I could position myself abroad. During that time, I was approached by several Canadian and North American companies, but after careful consideration, I decided to align myself with Company X. They were a no-brainer, a team with which I share the values. It was crazy, an instant synergy. Their level of compassion, donating parts of their salary, parts of their sales and their time towards building non-profits helping others. Of course, everyone cares about money, we all want to make money, it's a good business, you need to make money, but you should never sell yourself, your vision or your dreams. Company X always put compassion and integrity over greed. I was noticing that a lot of the people I was meeting during my quest to find the right partners were just talking about money, money, money and more money. That played a major role in my decision to not take their offers. For me, Company X had the values I was looking for, and in the heart of the largest untapped cannabis market in the world, Europe.
Company X and it's founding companies, Greenology, and Swiss Hempcare, were the ones with which I found the most affinity. I'd spoken to other companies in Europe and they always carry that 'Old Continent' national pride. When I was meeting the teams in Switzerland, I'd always hear that "Oh Man, we want to make everything Swiss made, Swiss strong". It made sense to me and, when you think about it, it's a great selling point for products because 'Swiss Made' carries a lot of significance, ethics, high quality, precision, perfection… What I found most interesting though, is that typical Swiss neutrality, working internationally with companies from various countries in the emerging cannabis markets. Helping them grow ethically, vertically integrating their structure in Company X, and truly becoming a worldwide cannabis brand.
The best thing about that is you, in my opinion as editor of a Canadian cannabis magazine is that you are at the top of your game here in Canada. A country that is world renowned and applauded around the world right now for the positive steps it has made in terms of Cannabis, in terms of legalization.
High! Canada Magazine is so incredibly proud of you because you've not only risen to the top of your game in Canada but you've taken that to Europe in a big way and you're leaving the country, making big sacrifices. You are leaving family and friends behind to do something absolutely amazing and it's helping Canada become a true World Player.
I never looked at it that way. I've always kind of looked at things like ‘I'm just a sick dude, a little bit broken’, trying to make the world a better place with cannabis. I knew it would have been immoral for me to take a job in Canada, especially in the legal market and after everything I went through with MMJ Canada. I don't mean any disrespect towards the people who work in the new legal framework, great, good on them, I know they need to survive. At the end of the day, you need to do what you need to do in this industry to make sure you have a paycheck and be happy. I didn't take a job in the legal market in Canada, simply because I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I didn't leave Canada and do this. Now I get to help developing countries with their economic situation and building both their legal and physical cannabis infrastructure. We can be extremely beneficial to local communities in developing countries through cannabis. I'm blessed that I get represent my home country of Canada doing this internationally, I've always looked at myself as more of a world citizen. I've always said from the start; I'm not going to stop until I do this across the globe.
I strategically placed myself in Europe with ICBC through Alex Rogers, Jamie Shaw, people like yourself Cy. I poised myself as a strong advocate in Canada by winning multiple awards and by being featured on various magazine covers. At the end of the day, getting visibility and notoriety in the industry is nice, but these are just some of the perks that the companies I work with get if they take me on as either a partner and/or consultant. What makes me competent at what I do is being able to build up an existing company from within, give the teams the ability to fight and win on the market essentially. When I started at MMJ, I always envisioned binging it from the starting blocks to somewhere special. They were doing about $900,000 in sales a year when I started. We managed to grow from 1 store to 11 stores and upward of $50 million dollars in sales a year by the time I left.
Over the last 3 years, we raised over $250,000 for groups like "The LOST Organization" with the help of so many amazing advocates and companies. I would honestly like to list them all because they all generously donated around $5,000, but they know who they are and should be proud to support such a good cause. A big thank you to bands like Monster Truck, Walk Off The Earth, Scott Hellman, Ben Sinister and many others that played for the cause and saw what we were trying to do. I helped build ‘The LOST Organization’ with Rebecca Taube, a big mental health advocate. That's when my drive and my ability to never quit comes into play, ALWAYS complete the task at hand. When I say something, whether I can be a bit harsh sometimes or not, which I feel in this industry you need to be, it gets done and it gets done very quickly. I am extremely lucky to have found a team like the one in Company X, which is driven to execute as fast and swiftly as I do.
Tell us a little bit more about Company X, who are you working with?
Mario Nyfeler , Tobias Jenni and Manuel Kobler make up the top management at Greenology. They are our indoor grow specialists for Company X and they excel at it. Tobias is also a board member of the Medical Cannabis Association of Switzerland, which works directly with the state on issues like cannabis compliancy, pilot medical projects, and R&D. It's like CAMCD (Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries) was for a while when Jamie Shaw was president. Some great people were involved in it as well and made some headway, such as Kerry Jang who's regulations were put in place before the final law was drafted in Canada. The beauty of Tobias having this direct communication with the state is that it covers a broad spectrum of cannabis-related topics. This makes Tobi's role very important, as educating the government about the rights and the wrongs of the industry is what will make it ultimately move forward on some issues.
Manuel Kobler, our Chief Legal Officer is another person that keeps Company X going strong. He keeps a close eye on all the partners as he knows the sometimes-tricky legal landscape operators in the cannabis industry have to navigate in. I care about Manuel very much, he's a very compassionate person and always on point. If there are any legal issues, it all comes down to his call, sometimes tough calls, that's something I admire very much in Manuel. His ability to balance and deal with not only Greenology but also with Company X is unmatched. He makes everything work seamlessly and keeps a leveled head doing so. I actually learned from his way of executing tasks, I tend to get overwhelmed with so many things going on at the same time, it is refreshing to have a calmer way of dealing with things, a different way to deal with my own mental health issues while I'm going through stressful times. Concerning my fight with mental health, I always used the LOST Organization as a safe place to deal with my stress, as well as Amazing Fitness, in Hamilton. You know I've never been through more struggles in my life than I have with cannabis and mental health, every time I come into Amazing Fitness, John, Alex and Mike (who are part of the family that runs it) make me feel loved whether I'm in a bad mood or I'm in a great mood. They always just tolerate and accept who I am, and it's a wonderful place to be able to go and work out and feel safe and deal with your stress. For this, you need a safe place, an outlet, and Amazing Fitness has given me all that. I'm very thankful for everything that both groups have done for me over the last three years, thank you guys.
Going back to Manuel and seeing the way that he goes about his businesses is a great experience for me. To get to witness it all from the outside looking in because it teaches me about myself and the things I could change. Mario, the CEO of Greenology is the educator in the group. He does all touring of the facilities, breaks down information, oversees the master growers and is overall a very educated man. Mario to me is a great leader, he always keeps his composure and is overall a different type of leader than I am. He doesn't speak unless what he says has substance and is always watching and listening. He's a very valuable asset when we get in big discussions with potential partners or strategic investors. Mario is a serial entrepreneur and has also dealt with big players in the past, making him an invaluable asset to Company X.
The rest of Company X would be Nicolas Meyerman and Sebastien Naville, along with the Swiss Hempcare Team. Nima and Sina Kämpf both come from a family of diplomats, they had the opportunity to travel extensively and live in many different countries across the globe. They have both been active in cannabis since 2016 when they founded their company, Swiss Hempcare. When these boys start a task - they complete it. What I really admire about Nima are his communication skills, his ability to see through the smoke and mirrors and to execute a task quickly. There is no better CEO for Swiss Hempcare. His brother Sina is always on the go, constantly making sure that all operations are going smoothly with Swiss Hempcare and Company X. They are both a valuable piece to the puzzle and bring a lot to Company X. They are expert outdoor and greenhouse growers, with a work ethic and dedication to the industry is admirable.
Together it's quite impressive what Swiss Hempcare and Greenology are doing. Nicolas and Sebastien are partners in Company X, they both come from banking and finance backgrounds in Switzerland. Having extensive client relations and portfolio management experience, they will probably be the ones you shake hands with at different conferences and trade shows. It's been a tough road for them the last couple of years, before getting into the cannabis industry. They each lost a parent to cancer and had to deal with the increasingly complicated and stressful Swiss banking sector. Since 2014 and the collapse of Swiss banking secrecy, along with increased sanctions and scrutiny from the U.S and European Union, it led many people in the financial sector to have burnouts and experience various mental health issues. With many in the banking sector losing their jobs, the last 5 years dealt a major blow to the Swiss banking system. Nick and Seb's entrance into the cannabis industry wasn't easy either. They were confronted with many obstacles and unscrupulous companies and realized that bringing their vision to a group of people who could grow it and execute it was the only way to get somewhere. I am extremely happy to have seen them persevere through all this, and to have those two in Company X is unbelievable. From sales or managing client relationships to bringing major deals to the table, there is nothing those two can't do. Seb has found his calling in large scale biomass projects, and Nick is an encyclopaedia about everything cannabis, especially when it comes to extractions and bi-products.
That's Company X essentially.
What does the future hold for you and Company X?
We are going to be working in multiple countries and vertically integrating those ventures into Company X. In order to be more efficient, I'm living part-time in Bangkok and with Company X we are working with Southeast Asian countries that I have to leave nameless right now. We also have potential plays in North and South America. As we move forward we'll be expanding our facilities as well as our distribution in pharmacies and retail locations across Europe. We are looking to become the biggest cannabis wellness brand in the world.
You're going to be seeing us at Cannatrade and ICBC in Zurich in May. ICBC is May 15-16th and we'll be on two different panels speaking. I will be on the Strategic Partnership Panel and Tobias will be on a Swiss business panel. Immediately after that, we have Cannatrade from May 17th to the 19th. It's easy to get a hold of us there, and we will also be out in force internationally throughout a number of events this year as well.
See you in Switzerland!