This month Dan Bilzerian’s Ignite International will take over Canada. Ignite’s team has worked hard to comply with restrictions implemented by Canada’s Cannabis Act and Health Canada.
Despite the obstacles, Ignite is accomplishing goals to ensure the trust of customers globally. Being a horizontally integrated company, Ignite has solidified partnerships with exceptional growers and manufacturers in Canada. Dan Bilzerian and his team want the best, and their search to obtain and maintain quality and dosage are not finished.
Ignite’s Global Head of Cannabis, Gene Bernaudo, discussed some of the challenges the brand has faced and how they are overcoming each, to show how consistent Ignite is in all aspects of the business.
Q: What was the process and timeline for CX Industries to sign the exclusive agreement with Ignite International Brands to supply premium cannabis & CBD products?
Bernaudo: As some may have heard, we are no longer doing business with CX Industries. I can’t really discuss the circumstances of the split. What I can tell you is, we have since partnered with CannMart a leading processor and distributor of cannabis in Canada. This was very strategic in nature. One of the reason we chose CannMart as a partner is because they do not have a grow. I bet you a bunch readers are scratching their heads right now. Yes, you read that right, we did not want to partner with a large commercial Licensed Producer, producing the same mediocre product as everyone else in the industry. A partnership with CannMart solidified processing and distribution channels which allowed my team and I to focus on sourcing product from craft growers who are producing small batch, high-end cannabis. With this strategy we were able to move very quickly. We finalized our partnership with CannMart in Dec 2019 and are launching Canada with 10 skus on March 13, 2020. We chose to start with the infamous BC market and scale our way across Canada.
Q: Canada’s ad industry has strict laws against celebrity endorsements for pot products. Did this play a factor in the naming of the company? Has Dan Bilzerian had to make any sacrifices to get Ignite into Canada?
Bernaudo: Dan is the CEO of Ignite International Brands, Ltd. This allows us some leeway in how he can speak about the products. I would say our approach is similar to the approach Bruce Linton took back in the early days when he was out doing roadshows and promoting Tweed. As far as sacrifices go, I wouldn’t call them sacrifices I would call them strategic adjustments. We have had to adjust the type of content we post and ensure we are compliant in all markets we do business in. To me this is a great sign, it means we continue to grow as a global brand and evolve as a business. At the end of the day, we are a cannabis company but we are also an International FMCG company (Fast moving Consumer Goods) which means we have to be able to pivot and adjust strategies based on regulations in jurisdictions we are doing business in. When you have one of the best marketing teams in the world backed by a social media genius it’s easier to get the job done.
Q: Ignite has plenty of celebrity endorsements posts on social platforms such as Nikita Dragun, Cardi B, and Jake Paul. Is this the most effective marketing strategy for Ignite? If so, how has Canada’s Cannabis Act been an issue?
Bernaudo: The celebrity endorsements you are referring to are not for our cannabis products. Most, if not all of your references endorse our CBD line and in the U.S. there is no rule against that. It’s a pretty level playing field up here, the only real issue the Cannabis Act has imposed on us is we cannot use our iconic Goat Head logo as it depicts an animal or fictional character and can be deemed to appeal to children. Rules are rules and we have been happy to abide by them.
Q: Dan Bilzerian highlighted having one proprietary device that holds THC, CBD, and Nicotine all in one so, he decided to attack the Juul market. How will this translate in Canada, knowing they have a temporary halt on the production of flavored e-cigarette pods?
Bernaudo: Great question, the vape market in Canada from a nicotine perspective has been a disaster from the start. I 100% agree with Health Canada’s stance here. Nicotine use amongst young people is the highest it’s ever been and its largely due to flavored e-liquid in all its forms. I don’t agree with a ban, but what I can tell you is Health Canada is consistent in how they regulate. Similar regulations will apply to nicotine. E-liquid flavors and or packaging/logos cannot “evoke a positive or negative emotion or ‘way of life’ such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.” We do have a nicotine strategy for Canada, its largely based on waiting for regulations to be implemented, waiting for trade to open up again in China (due to Coronavirus) and of course, for the ban to be lifted. We have made major headway with the device in question and it will most likely be introduced first in Canada with THC and CBD pods as regulations permit its use.
Q: Dan Bilzerian markets Ignite Cannabis as an active lifestyle to sway from the original stigma of laziness. Canada’s Cannabis Act prohibits pot companies to “evoke a positive or negative emotion or ‘way of life’ such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.” Luckily, Ignite is still able to conduct this kind of promotion in the US. Do you believe this was a loophole that helped the brand’s message reach Canadians?
Bernaudo: I think having a social reach of 43 million followers definitely helps get our message out there in any form we want to deliver it. I wouldn’t call it a loophole as we are not using it as such. We are an International company and post content and product placement ads on social channels conforming to regulatory requirements where the particular product we are advertising is being sold.
Q: What other obstacles have Ignite faced in expanding into Canada?
Bernaudo: The only obstacle we have faced in Canada is product procurement. The biggest challenge has been securing products out here that meet our team, including Dan’s, criteria. We are happy to recently have forged some solid partnerships with amazing craft growers that will ensure we are able to distribute quality, consistent cannabis products across Canada. All the retailers and Provincial boards have been very supportive, and we look forward to working closely with them to bring our products to consumers.
Q: What are Ignite’s launch plans for this week in Canada? Will Dan Bilzerian be in attendance?
Bernaudo: Our BC launch event will be held this Friday, March 13th, at Bar None in Downtown Vancouver. Dan will be on the ground the day prior to meet with partners and industry leaders as we continue to grow relationships north of the border. He will also attend the launch event alongside hundreds of partygoers eager to celebrate Ignite’s Canadian Launch.
Bringing clean water – Christopher Kenny’s Preservation Earth Project
Science plainly shows that a human can survive three weeks without food, yet most individuals cannot survive three to four days without water! Dehydration sets in, and the person will go into shock and become vegetative even if they continue to breathe. In other words, water is an essential requirement. A living thing cannot thrive without it. Nonetheless, it is a horrifying truth that billions of people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water.
In developed countries, when everything from technology to luxury is available, receiving clean water at home is as ‘natural’ as breathing fresh air. Most individuals in advanced nations may not pay much attention to it, but this is not the case for the rest of the globe. Many countries continue to lack access to clean water sources or water appropriate for human use. Safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene at home should not be limited to the wealthy or those who live in cities. These are some of the most fundamental human health requirements, and all countries must ensure everyone has access to them.
The Preservation Earth Project (PEP) made its way to Tsaile, New Mexico. Over time, uranium mining, fracking, and pesticide abuse damaged the water supply, resulting in a high occurrence of numerous illnesses. Approximately 35% of the Navajo people do not have access to flowing water, and some must go to a remote location to fill barrels with water from a polluted local spring.
There is no doubt that climate change is boosting storm strength. Recent natural catastrophes have heightened the need for groups to step up and give support, answers, and relief to individuals affected by such natural disasters. The Preservation Earth Project is a non-profit organization that provides support, education, and solutions to help society transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
A look back at Christoper Kenny’s life
Chris Kenny was born in Summit, New Jersey, on May 4, 1961. He was one of twelve children. In 1980, he received a B.A. in economics and finance from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. He also attended New York University, earning a commercial real estate management degree from the Schack Institute. Since 2018, he has served as the head of Strategy and E-trading at Hartfield, Titus, and Donnelly. Kenny started his career in the U.S. In 1985. He worked as a Treasury Bond Broker. He formerly worked at Bonds.com as the director of fixed income sales and technological development. His academic background is in business and finance. Chris is passionate about developing and promoting renewable energy, mainly when it is used to assist people in need. The potential to aid those in urgent demand as a result of a human-caused environmental or natural disaster is not just a philanthropic act but also a once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity.
He used solar power on mobile platforms as a backup power source for emergencies, water purification, and water pumping.
His academic credentials are in business and finance. Chris is passionate about developing and promoting renewable energy, mainly when it is used to assist people in need. The potential to aid those in urgent need as a result of a human-caused environmental or natural disaster is not just a philanthropic act but also a once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity. He has over 38 years of experience in finance as a salesperson, broker, trader, and investor.
Making clean water available to everyone
In 2012, Kenny founded The Preservation Earth Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It provides assistance, education, and alternative energy solutions to help society shift to renewable energy. It was involved and aided Haiti several times after the 2010 earthquake, providing portable solar electricity for water purification and medical facilities. In 2020, the business devised a solution for the Navajos’ contaminated water source. They collaborated with engineers and local officials to build, produce, and install a solar-powered water filtration system for the Navajo people of Tsaile, New Mexico. Other activities have included providing portable solar power to the “Cajun Navy” for rescue and clean-up in areas devastated by the 2015-2021 hurricane season in Louisiana.
The project designed, delivered, and installed a solar-powered filtration system that will provide clean drinking water to the local Navajo community 365 days a year for many years to come. Several more initiatives are in the works to provide safe drinking water to Native American communities on the Navajo Reservation.
President’s letters of gratitude
President Jimmy Carter sent Chris two heartfelt letters encouraging him to continue his charitable work. He suggested calling Habitat for Humanity and asking if they were interested in collaborating on a few projects. He and Kenny both helped out at the charity.
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