This interview was conducted with Terry Booth, CEO of Audacious in October and has been edited for clarity.
Terry Booth is one of the OG’s of legal cannabis as a founder of Aurora Cannabis in 2006. His next chapter begins at Audacious Brands, which was renamed from Australis. However, his initial entry into the company wasn’t a smooth one. Green Market Report had a chance to sit down with Mr. Booth and discuss his plans for Audacious.
Green Market Report Executive Editor Debra Borchardt: The last two years at Australis Capital or Audacious (CSE: AUSA) (OTC: AUSAF) have been a little rocky with the dissident battle.
Terry Booth: I didn’t join the dissident battle right away. In fact, I was offered a position there as a chief strategy officer. I said no. When I joined the dissident battle, it was game on. We beat him handily. 60 million votes to 10, or shares, rather. And back in August, when we knew we were going to win, we started plotting and pivoting us back to the cannabis space where it was meant to be. We want to excite, ignite and delight the shareholders. So we want their chins held high. That’s what we’re doing. I joined in March as CEO.
Green Market Report: Or rejoined.
Terry Booth: Sort of rejoin. You’re right. I was originally the CEO of the company. And we got rid of the board, got rid of the management team, brought in new blood onto the board, a lot of smart people. Leah Bailey, Jon Paul, both Harvard educated. Cannabis business people. Jon’s the CFO. Leah is our Chief Business Development Officer and then Dr. Duke Fu, who is the COO. He came onto our board through an acquisition. He was actually interim CEO while I was negotiating for my position as CEO.
So those four people got to work including me and we’re executing our deals. We were in one state then, and now we’re in five. We’re working in many. The east coast is important to us with New Jersey and New York and Pennsylvania. If you think about that, that’s 80 million people. Super excited about this US endeavor. It’s a lot different than Canada. We call it 50 different countries here. You have got to know your way around the regulatory landscape. That’s my background. So I’m pretty confident in it and even at Aurora, we knew a lot about what was happening in America because they had backing rights into Australis if it ever becomes legalized.
So that’s a story of how it was founded and here we are. Now we’re in Nevada, California, Missouri, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Washington – and that’s just with cannabis. We’ve also got Thomas Larssen ALPS projects who not only built greenhouses for weed but also builds greenhouses for sustainable vegetables.
Green Market Report: Would you say there’s a specific brand identity for the brands that you have. You’ve got Provisions…
Terry Booth: This company really is a brand play. It’s a brand company. We’re not going to have a big CapEx model. We’re not going to build massive facilities anymore for ourselves, but we’re building for others, and we’ll negotiate to get some of that canopy for ourselves and get our own cultivars into those facilities and our own brands. The way you do that is sort of tricky because we’re piggybacking on top of other people’s licenses. So we’re actually skipping the licensing process. If legal says that we’re allowed to do what we do, so far so good. In Nevada, California, and Massachusetts, it’s exactly what we’re doing. We also fix facilities. We went into Arizona, a massive one, I don’t want name the name, they’re in trouble. They were having systemic problems with their growth, and we’ve been in there for months now and it’s really turned around. We’re just getting our crop consultants in, engineering and design, nutrient delivery systems…
Green Market Report: Walk me through that. In that example, there’s someone that’s struggling and you guys go in. Fix and then produce your brands from that location?
Terry Booth: If they choose to. It’s the second step in the process. So Thomas Larssen, he’s the president of ALPS, Aurora Larssen Projects is where that name was born. He’s been in the grow industry for over 30 years. Took over from his father in the Netherlands and in Denmark. So he knows what he is doing with respect to growing. He’s hired a team of engineers and crop consultants and cannabis people that can go into facilities and say, “Hey, this is not good. Right? You need more lighting here, your nutrient delivery system shouldn’t be top-fed it should be table fed. You’re wasting space there, but those lights are wrong. Your environmental conditions are wrong. Your humidity’s too high, or it’s too low.” All those types of things end up with what? Good cannabis and higher yields, higher THC content, if that’s what you so choose.
So we have a deal with a company in Colorado called Three Rivers, and they do plant tissue culture and micropropagation. So we can move clean genetics state to state without it being illegal. If they’re in… It’s called agar, like a Petri dish of goo. That makes plants… and we offer that service to our people that we’re building for. So we’re not just an engineering firm that comes in and says, this is what you got to build. It’s right from the seed to when it’s shipped and packaged. We’re not the sale, ALPS isn’t, but we do have that at AUDACIOUS with Green Therapeutics. And the brands you were asking about, we have five now very strong brands, I believe.
We are now licensed in Cali with the deal we did with Herb and Eaze. A lot of the money that we’re raising right now is going to getting products and getting those things going. But again, we’re not going to build these massive structures unless it’s for somebody else and we’ll get a canopy in those structures.
Our first entry into the CBD space is with the Professional Bull Riders Association and it’s the first major sports organization that has signed a CBD deal. I don’t think we were close when I was with Aurora. These sports franchises are going to come on board, but the PBR is cool. Right now, it’s just a topical, and eventually, we’ll get into the edibles of CBD. And as you know, in America, they did an amazing thing by taking that off of the controlled drugs and substances risk, CBD.
Green Market Report: Then you guys just recently bought the beverage company LOOS.
Terry Booth: LOOS, yeah. That’s the only way I think you should be selling beverages with cannabis because it’s expensive when you put it in 10-ounce cans and you have to keep it refrigerated, and you have all the-
Green Market Report: I’ve heard about the interior of the can, the metal that you have to worry about coating.
Terry Booth: Yeah. That happened to one of the bigger companies where the THC wore away the metal. In Canada, we’d only be able to put a 10 mg in that shot. In California we can put a 100 mg in it. So it’s a powerful shot. So the LOOS deal. Young guys, smart. Anthony and Ben and their sales team. They were as much hired for getting that product on the shelves, as it were for building our sales force in Cali. Important. Then we did the Herb deal and that’s a San Jose dispensary. But the cool thing about the Herb deal was it included Eaze, and Eaze is the largest delivery company in Cali and the best.
They connected through Herb through an investment so they could do Northern California delivery. So the pieces of the puzzle are all falling into place in Cali. It’s the state you can’t not be in, but it is hard to navigate profitability. So you need to be in all the verticals and need to know what the hell you’re doing.
We’re in M&A mode. And JV mode, we want to make sure that we’re 51%, at least. We’re doing deals with social equity groups. That’s what we did in Massachusetts. So we’re okay at taking 49% on that. A good example of that is these guys from Belle Fleur and Rapper Weed, amazing guys. They originally approached us for cash, because they thought we’re still a capital company. And we said, “Nah, we don’t do that anymore. But what are you up to?” Well, we have the social equity license. They have the largest that you can get in Massachusetts. So 110,000 square feet of canopy, which it includes for retail. It includes manufacturing. And their social equity licenses in mass also include delivery where no one else can get delivery except for SEs.
So they phoned us and, no we don’t give it cash, but what are you up to? Well, we’re building a facility. These guys used to manage a million square feet under in Cali and they… No we don’t need any help. But for two and a half hours of speaking with Thomas Larssen and, and Joel Fuzat, I was on the call for about an hour, they were convinced. They need us. They want us. So we signed a contract and we’re now building that facility. Shovels were in the ground two months ago. So that’s exciting in Massachusetts. Our diversity and inclusion program that AUDACIOUS have, I think it’s better than anybody else’s, not to be a little bit audacious, but we have an independent committee advising management. An independent board, rather. Various cultures and LBGTQ people, people color, and whatnot. And they’re making a difference with not only advising what management should be doing, but looking at the states where things are not being done like they should be done on social equity.
Green Market Report: It’s all talk and not a lot of substance.
Terry Booth: That’s not what this is about. On the social equity side of things, you need to educate. So we’re working with colleges, we’re working with SUNY, we’re working with the university in Canada to put together the courses that will let social equity and people be educated so they can own their own damn businesses.
That should be the goal. Right. So anyway, that’s a big part of what we’re up to. We’ve got lobbies hired in New York and New Jersey. If you think about New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, adult usage, that’s huge. So the opportunity on the build side is very large with ALPS and the opportunity on the license side is getting better and better. That’s cool. So it’s fun. I love the business of cannabis. I love business period.