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This week, LeafyPack CEO Alain Vo and Director of Market Development and Finance Jonathan Ballard visit the Cannabis Equipment News podcast studio to discuss why automation is a requirement in the volatile cannabis market.
Alain Vo started his career as an actor living in Hollywood. He didn't find much success in front of the camera, so he took a step behind the lens. He wrote scripts and even directed and produced his own films. He found producing a better fit, and his work culminated in the feature Ascension, a 2018 film Vo produced. He worked on the film with Max Borenstein, the writer behind the new Godzilla Monsterverse.
While he worked on the silver screen, he still had to survive. So, he started selling commercial lighting and saw an opportunity for LEDs in growing cannabis. He traveled to his first MJBizCon around 2018 and realized the opportunity presented by a burgeoning cannabis industry.
He met packaging expert Mark Evangelista, and the pair co-founded LeafyPack in 2019 to make automated packaging systems for the cannabis industry.
Jonathan Ballard has been financing equipment since the early days of the cannabis market. He spent a lot of time vetting equipment manufacturers and even financed LeafyPack's first machines. He was looking for a new opportunity to work for a young, energetic group and found a perfect match in LeafyPack.
Ballard says that automation does three things really well: it lowers costs, increases throughput and consistency, and controls margins in an industry with wild price fluctuation.
He admits that automation can be scary for the uninitiated, but the cannabis industry is becoming more affluent regarding professional manufacturing. He stresses that it is essential for equipment manufacturers to be stewards who help educate the market.
- Why the industry hesitates to buy into automation. (14:58)
- Where LeafyPack stands amongst the competition. (16:44)
- Why LeafyPack designs equipment that works well with other manufacturers. (21:23)
- LeafyPack's new partnership with Green Vault Systems. (22:44)
- How LeafyPack's Apollo automated pre-roll filler works. (28:58)
- The company's approach to new product development. (37:55)
- Issues with a lack of skilled labor in the industry. (46:10)
- How to overcome challenges with automating cannabis packaging. (48:33)
- Why cutting corners causes too many headaches. (53:33)
- The state of the cannabis industry and reflections on MJBizCon 2023. (58:00)
Please make sure to like, subscribe and share the podcast. You could also help us out by giving the podcast a positive review. Finally, to email the podcast or suggest a potential guest, you can reach David Mantey at [email protected].