Transforming Cannabis- Kim Rael's Journey from Tech to Azuca Innovations

Transforming Cannabis: Kim Rael’s Journey from Tech to Azuca Innovations

In this captivating episode of “Roots to Risk,” hosts Eric Schneider and Isaac Bock engage with Kim Rael, the CEO of Azuca, to unravel her extraordinary transition from the tech and venture capital world to spearheading innovation in the cannabis industry.

Kim shares the compelling narrative of Azuca’s mission to revolutionize cannabis edibles with advanced formulations that promise fast-acting, great-tasting, and predictable results. Dive deep into the challenges of navigating a highly regulated market, the technological breakthroughs in edible formulations, and Kim’s personal evolution from a cannabis skeptic to a leading industry innovator.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in the confluence of wellness, technology, and cannabis, showcasing how openness to learning and innovation can lead to groundbreaking success in new industries.

Transcript

00:01 Eric Schneider
This is the Roots to Risk Podcast hosted by Eric Schneider, alongside Isaac Bach. Roots to Risk brings you insights, the latest stories, and long form discussions about the cannabis industry. You’ll hear interviews with industry leaders and their perspective on current and future trends, how they’ve built success and what challenges they have faced. Our goal is to facilitate candid conversations and provide informative content for the cannabis community at large. Let’s go. What’s going on ib? How we feeling today?

00:30 Eric Schneider
How are we doing? Looking good.

00:33 Isaac Bock
I’m good. How are you doing?

00:36 Eric Schneider
I’m good, man. Excited to see you. Excited for another episode of The Roots to Risk Bringing the Energy. Today we have a great one on deck with the CEO of Azua, Kim Sanchez Rail. Very, very unique background and excited for, for her story and how she got into the cannabis space. But just quick background for you, Isaac and our viewers. One of the co-founders of azua serving the global cannabis industry with best in class advanced ingredients and formulations for fast acting, great tasting and predictable edible cannabis.

01:15 Eric Schneider
Kim is an active community leader, startup veteran and longtime investor in innovation. She has extensive experience as an operating executive in both startup and Fortune 50 environments. And as a venture capitalist, as an investor and board member, she has worked closely with entrepreneurs advancing innovations in culinary technology, digital and physical infrastructure. Energy and water rail has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford.

01:45 Isaac Bock
We won’t hold the Harvard

01:46 Eric Schneider
Thing thing. Unbelievable background.

01:48 Isaac Bock
Yeah. I won’t hold the Harvard, I won’t hold the Harvard thing against there, but yeah,

01:53 Eric Schneider
I know. I, as a fellow Quaker, all her background is, is super impressive. Has a wealth of knowledge, you know, previous to the cannabis industry. I’m very interested to hear, you know, one of those things that we always, you know, inevitably ask is like, how is that transition period, right? Moving from more traditional industries into this highly regulated and nuanced market that is cannabis and ever changing market that is cannabis. And so I’m excited to hear her perspective and what, what they’re building at Azua and what’s on deck for 2024.

02:27 Isaac Bock
Yeah, definitely. And I think her kind of variety of a background, just given the fact that she’s kind of seeing things across various industries through different scopes, whether it was on, you know, kind of her initial phase on the manufacturing side all the way through being a VA vc. Like she’ll have a great perspective on what’s going on with the industry in general, and excited to hear what she has to say.

02:51 Eric Schneider
Absolutely. Well, let’s bring her in. Hey Kim, thanks for joining us today on the Rooster Risk Podcast. Yeah, great to see you. I really appreciate your time. And you know, we’d love to just learn a little bit more about Azua and, and your role within the organization. How you, you know, ventured your way into the cannabis space, and just to provide the viewers with a little bit more background.

03:14 Kim Rael
Sure. So azua is a company that does what I call advanced formulations that we develop and then license to cannabis brands and manufacturers, hemp brands and manufacturers. And what our advanced formulations do is we eliminate a lot of problems for manufacturers and consumers. So for the consumer side, which is where we started, we set out to solve, you know, the edibles problem of slow onset poor predictability and bad taste. So we have solved all of those problems for consumers.

03:47 Kim Rael
And in addition, consumers, when they consume a, an azua infused product, they also experience what we call the delta nine. The smoker’s high in an edible form. So instead of the traditional edibles, 11 hydroxy couch lock, where the THC has been processed by your liver, if you consume an azua edible or azua infused edible, you will get that Delta nine euphoric, you know, uplifted experience, which is great.

04:13 Kim Rael
So lots of benefits for consumers, for our products. Our business model is that we license these formulations to brands and manufacturers. And what we do for brands and manufacturers is, in addition to solving those problems for their end consumers, is we’ve created a business model and a manufacturing process that is very cost effective and infinitely scalable. So you can implement our infusions at a small scale. If you’re in a state that has a smaller market or a very large scale, if you’re a large brand, like for example, a wanna brands, you can scale our process across, you know, many, many infinite jurisdictions.

04:54 Kim Rael
So we’ve solved scaling and cost effectiveness problems for manufacturers. We’ve also done done studies that show that using our infusion method actually reduces the manufacturing waste or manufacturing loss of active ingredients. So what, by that I mean, if you manufacture edibles or beverages, typically you will lose some percentage of your active ingredient in the manufacturing process.

05:20 Kim Rael
And you, you lose it in two basic ways. You lose it through oxidation and heat that just causes some of the, the active to not be there at the end of the process. And you also lose it, what, what’s called transfer loss, which is, you know, cooking, manufacturing with something like distillate is like cooking with tree sap, right? It’s a really difficult ingredient. It’s hard to work with. It sticks to everything. It’s hard to measure. And our infusion process makes that difficult ingredient a very easy ingredient. So you get predictable dosing, ease of manufacturing and reduced manufacturing costs.

05:58 Kim Rael
So it’s really a win-win for our manufacturing partners and for their end consumers. So that, that’s what we do with Another way to think about us is for product development in the ingestible category. So think of all edibles and beverages and topicals. We act as an outsourced product development resource for your product team, right? So we have really developed best in, best in industry expertise in-house to support our brand partners with formulation issues, formulation questions.

06:30 Kim Rael
So, and our number one, our number one value as a company is helpfulness. So we really want to help our partners have the best, very best products they can have in the market for consumers to have great experiences.

06:44 Isaac Bock
No, that’s awesome. I mean, how did you guys develop the infusion technique that allowed for the reduced, you know, 11 to hydroxy issues as well as kind of the dosing model? ’cause that’s been one of the long lasting issues. We’ve spoken to a lot of people out that have been kind of a criticism of edibles, you know, for a long time as you never know how much you’re actually getting each individual edible. So it sounds like you, you all have solved one of the biggest problems in the consumable category.

07:11 Kim Rael
Yeah, so it’s, it’s a great, great story. Ron Silver, who is a chef, well-known chef in New York City, has the IES restaurants and a lifelong lover of, of the cannabis plant. And Ron Ron would always, you know, he is a chef. He’s a chef who loves cannabis, but hated edibles. Right? And why did he ate edibles? ’cause they taste bad. They’re unpredictable, they slow onset, all of those things. So Ron, with his chef’s hat on a number of years ago, was set out to solve those problems. And he is a, a great chef, and BA very creative human.

07:45 Kim Rael
And so he really studied how, how do you bring sort of the science of food, the science of cooking, the science of, of drug delivery. Because what we really are is a drug delivery system, you know, embedded in an edible and through a lot of trial and error and experimentation created what we now call our activators, the first generation of our activators.

08:09 Kim Rael
And what the activators are is a non-used precursor ingredient that we sell, right? So if you, if you license our formulations, we license the formulations for, for free. We don’t charge for that. And the way we make our, make our money as a business is we sell the non-used precursor that you have to have to make the infusion work. So if you need a gallon of that a month, you only buy a gallon a month. If you need a hundred gallons a month, you buy a hundred gallons a month. So there’s no, you know, minimum order quantities or anything like that.

08:43 Kim Rael
So really very flexible for our customers. But yeah, it was Ron in the kitchen in New York trying to figure out, you know, how do we make edibles a wonderful category? And we’ve done that. It’s, it’s, it’s been a really fun ride. Hard ride. Yeah. Hardest thing I’ve ever done.

08:58 Eric Schneider
Yeah. No, I, and and when you say hardest thing you’ve ever done, like, we’d love to learn a little bit more about, you know, your background, Kim, you know, prior to assuming the role of, of CEO at Azua and, you know, what, what led you to the cannabis industry and just would love to get a a little bit more background into, to you personally.

09:18 Kim Rael
Sure. You know, my background was all in sort of tech finance, advanced manufacturing at Intel of all places, right? So my career was all in innovation and the last 20 plus years was all in startup world, but all tech startups. So I’ve been a co-founder, founder of companies in the tech world, and then was in the venture capital space. So I was investing in tech companies for a decade. So, fast forward, I have always loved startups.

09:52 Kim Rael
Like I love the, the chaos of startups. I love the unpredictability of startups. I love doing DA different thing every day. I hate doing the same thing twice in a row. Just, you know, always liked to be doing something new. So I realized that I loved startups, but I also reached a point where I was kind of done with the tech world. It was just not interesting to me anymore.

10:15 Kim Rael
And where my, my personal passion had evolved to was the wellness category. So I started thinking about, you know, pivoting into wellness. I thought about raising a venture fund to fund wellness companies. I, you know, I started just turning over rocks. I looked at everything from, you know, buying a, a hot yoga studio to, it’s all kinds of things, you know, raising a fund. And I’d never actually really thought about cannabis, to be honest with you. I, you know, I was in that Nancy Reagan just say No generation.

10:49 Kim Rael
I bought that brainwashing hook, line and sinker for the first 50 years of my life. And so I really, you know, cannabis wasn’t in my, it wasn’t in my view, right? Yeah. And a friend of mine from business school who had joined the cannabis industry, and he met Ron Silver, he said, you know, you need to meet the chef in New York.

11:12 Kim Rael
He’s got this really cool thing. He wants to launch a company. You’d be a great CEO. And I’m like, yeah, no, it’s, you know, I don’t know anything about cannabis. I not even sure that I like, like the industry, you know, and it’s in New York and I’m in Albuquerque and I’m not moving to New York. And so I said, no. I said no once. And then a few months later, you know, we were on the phone again, he said, said no again. And then a few months later, Ron asked a third time, he’s like, I really wanna launch a company.

11:44 Kim Rael
I really want you to be CEO. And you know, saying Isaac earlier, like, there’s 13 million people in New York. Like, why don’t you find a CEO in New York? <laugh> <laugh>. But, but I, you know, it was kind of one of those situations where the universe colluded.

12:00 Kim Rael
And my, my middle child was, I was moving her to New York City for her to start her first year of college in New York. And it just felt like I was supposed to do this. That despite my ignorance, and it was ignorance about cannabis, that I was really supposed to dig into this. So what I told Ron the week I moved my daughter to New York City was, I won’t agree to be CEO, but I will agree to pretend to be CEO for 90 days. And that 90 days we’re gonna get to know each other.

12:33 Kim Rael
I’m going to, you know, do due diligence on this industry. I’m gonna learn everything I can learn. I can, I wanna figure out if this can actually be a business. And mostly, honestly, as someone who’s had business partnerships in the past that didn’t, didn’t work out that great, I mostly wanted to get in Iran and, and assess Yeah.

12:50 Kim Rael
Like, you know, his character. ’cause it always comes down to the people. A hundred percent. Can you trust the people? It doesn’t, you can put anything you want a contract, it doesn’t really matter. It’s, it’s all about the human beings you’re working with. And so I, I signed up to be, pretend to be CEO for 90 days. And I said like, at the end of 90 days, if, if we don’t think that this is a go, you don’t owe me a dime. You don’t pay me a thing. I am not taking any equity in the, in your company. You know, if we’re not part, like we, we shake hands and walk away. Yeah. You know, that, that’s it.

13:22 Kim Rael
So at the end of 90 days, I was like, I was just madly in love with this plant, with this industry, with this person as a, as a business partner.

13:30 Kim Rael
I was like, this is gonna be such an interesting thing to do. But to get there, I had to go through this. I had to rewire my, my knowledge set. Yeah. Right on campus from that Nancy Reagan just say no, you know, I’ll tell you how goofy I was. This the same kid that was moving to New York in 2017 when she was in high school. Her, you know, they were on a school trip. The kids got caught with a joint, you know, there was whole, they all got in trouble. They all got in school detention or whatever it was, and got in trouble.

14:04 Kim Rael
She went to an art high school. So of course they were, you know, the teachers were all stoned all the time anyway, but <laugh>. But, but, but she got her punishment at school. But when she got, or her consequences is a better word, when she got home, mom made her, gave her an assignment to write a 5,000 word essay on the evils of marijuana. That’s, that’s, that’s how far I was on the idiot scale. Wow. I was far, far on the idiot scale.

14:31 Eric Schneider
I wouldn’t call that the idiot scale. Like I, I, I totally get what you’re saying, Kim. And I, I would, I want to continue the story, but I just think it’s like even myself too, and you know, Isaac, like as former athletes, like, it was absolute No, can’t be around it. You fail, you’re drug. Like, I just feel like that was the stigma a lot of times that we just grew up around, you know, I, I, you know, and, and now we have a lot more education and understanding of the plant. And I think it’s, it’s been tremendous. But I just want to cut you off because I don’t want you to, to be too hard on yourself.

15:05 Eric Schneider
You know,

15:07 Kim Rael
I do like to share that because I know that everybody out there is in a different place on this journey. Yeah. Right. In terms of understanding. And there are, you know, the, the, the legacy, you know, cultivators and producers who, you know, knew all along. Right. And then there are, you know, the people who are still like, you know, you know the devil’s lettuce. Right. You know, so I think a part of my mission is to help people who grew up with that stigma to come on the, come on the educational journey that I went on.

15:42 Kim Rael
Right. And hopefully faster than I did, but to really be part of the story that this plant is a helpful wellness plant for our community. You know, it’s, and then when I think about the things that, that were normalized when I grew up, you know, all, you know, booze everywhere, right? Still. Yeah. Like, and it’s a poison ethanol, the ethanol molecule is a poison to the human body. That’s all It is. A hundred percent poison. You can wrap it in whatever sugary drink you want.

16:13 Kim Rael
It’s still a poison to the human body. Right? THC is not a poison to human body. CBD is not a poison. They’re actually helpful wellness molecules for the human body, you know, and everything has its limits. Right. But it has been a really interesting journey for me to kind of come around that bend.

16:31 Isaac Bock
Yeah. On, on that point, I mean, what was kind of some of the most helpful, you know, resources or people you spoke to during that process that helped you kind of turn the corner and fall in love with the industry in the plant in general? ’cause I think that’s something a lot of people I’ve spoken to outside the industry, like don’t know where to start, I guess, in looking for information about it that’s reputable. So would love to hear what was useful on your end.

16:56 Kim Rael
You know, the, the biggest single aha moment for me was there were a couple of studies on, you know, what’s generally called, called the harm index, right? That looks at all of these substances and rates, their harm, their relative harm on humanity on a community. Right on. And, and that was my aha moment. If, if I had to say there was one, it was really seeing how cannabis is not statistically a harmful substance, but alcohol, which we glorify is the num is the most harmful.

17:35 Kim Rael
Right. Completely legal. And then, you know, that, that graph and there, there’s more than one. But there was one particular study, I think it was the UK based study that I was, it just blew, blew away everything that I ever thought about any of the substances that we use recreationally. So that was one. And then, yeah, and then, then then hearing from people on the medical side of just, you know, miraculous changes in quality of life for medical patients who use cannabis as medicine.

18:09 Kim Rael
So it’s both, both sides. Both the adult use recreational side and, you know, the, the true quality of life improvements for people who had no relief from, you know, conventional medicine.

18:20 Isaac Bock
No, definitely. When I was getting my master’s through Maryland on this subject, I, I think my aha moment was just learning what, how the background of the war on drugs kind of started with cannabis and all the Right. The undertones that were going on with that issue. So, no, I, I agree with you. I think having that single aha moment wherever it comes for each individual, however you connect with it, is extremely important.

18:43 Kim Rael
Right. And, you know, be getting educated on the racial injustices, right? The, the discrimination and enforcement, like all of those elements of the, the history of criminalization, you know, moving towards legalization really a remarkable journey for, for me personally. <affirmative> on the business side, though, hardest thing I’ve ever done. <laugh> the tough.

19:08 Eric Schneider
So, so let’s dig into that a little bit. Obviously the, you know, we talk about it at length on, on this show is just like the regulatory framework and market segmentation compared to any other industry, right? Obviously with the barriers of, you know, federal illegality, but, you know, state mandated programs, you know. Right. What were some of the early challenges that, that you felt that were kind of like that aha moment of, of the challenges of, of cannabis and, and how have you been able to leverage your previous experience and, and help Azua grow and the organization grow as a whole?

19:51 Kim Rael
So we did our first, our first launch with the partner in Massachusetts in the fall of 2018 with Mayflower in Massachusetts was our first, first THC partner. And at that point in our, in our business, our business model was our team or a couple people from our team would come on site. We, we all got badged in Massachusetts back in the day. I mean, the whole company was like four people at that time. So, you know, but we were badged to touch marijuana in the state of Massachusetts, which even doing something like that, you know, every state’s different.

20:25 Kim Rael
But we would come on site and run the infusion process for the edibles. And in some cases we’d actually manufacture the edibles early on at, at initial scale. And then we’d, you know, leave and go back to New York and New Mexico and whatnot. And then when they needed more, we’d go back and, you know, it didn’t take a genius to figure out this is completely, you know, the products were lovely, but this is completely unscalable as a business model.

20:53 Kim Rael
Yeah. So, so what I, what I realized was if this is going to be an actual business, I have to figure out a way to simultaneously protect our intellectual property, because that’s what we are, we’re fundamentally a biotech company. Yeah. That just intellectual property that which we license. So we need to protect that intellectual property in an industry where once an a fusion is done, it can’t move across state lines in the regulated markets. Right. And so, how do I do those two things?

21:25 Kim Rael
I, I don’t want, you know, I have to be able to, you know, protect our formulations and, and yet scale this. And I can’t have this be my people in someone’s facility every time we need to run a batch. Some people still do that in this segment, in this, you know, infusion segment. It’s, it’s a really bad business model.

21:43 Kim Rael
It’s bad for the customer, it’s bad for, for us, and it’s expensive. So we figured out a way to do that. And the way we figured out how to do that is what we, what we now sell is a non-used precursor. We have a whole line of precursors depending on your end product. And we sell, we sell this precursor again, like I said, at any volume, and it’s non infused so we can ship it anywhere in the world. It’s like shipping vanilla. Yeah. Right. It’s just a food ingredient.

22:13 Kim Rael
We can ship it anywhere. So, so that was the big business breakthrough for us, was figuring out a way to do those things, and then the rest of it’s block and tackle. Right. It, it’s, it’s being there for your customers. It’s, it’s never missing a shipment. It’s, if there’s a problem, you, you know, you’re up at midnight solving the problem for a customer. It’s all of those things that build any business, but it, it, it took kind of really thinking through a different business model, especially coming out of like tech and software where like you just, you write the code and you scale it, right?

22:49 Kim Rael
Yeah.

22:49 Eric Schneider
It’s very fluid. Yep.

22:50 Kim Rael
It’s just very fluid. Yeah. So, but my background, you asked about my background. I, I spent seven years at Intel and those seven years, one of the things I did worked on was quality systems in, in a manufacturing organization. So, you know, putting a million transistors in something the size of your pinky nail, that’s hard to do. Right? You’re the quality systems that you need to do that need to be very disciplined and scalable. So I think I have that manufacturing discipline Yeah. In my gut, right?

23:21 Kim Rael
So, and I also spent a couple years working on Capitol Hill on the policy side very early in my career. And so I have an inherent comfort with policy and regulatory dialogue. I have the manufacturing quality systems, RD technology, you know, been involved in startups for 20 years. So I think it took all of those things and you know, a lot of sleepless nights, to be honest with you, <laugh> to get us here. But we’re in a great, you know, I’m so excited about the industry.

23:52 Kim Rael
I know 23 was a tough, tough year. Yeah. But I’m more excited than ever about where, where I see the industry going in 24. Yeah.

23:59 Isaac Bock
To that point, you know, what are the things you are most excited about in 2024, both from an industry wide perspective as well as for azua individually.

24:09 Kim Rael
So I think those things that Industrywide and and Azua perspective are, are pretty, pretty well aligned. What I would say, I, you know, I don’t have to repeat the bloodbath of 2023, right. You know, we, we’ve all been through it. Yep. What I will say, you know, and where we sit in the value chain in the industry, right? Was we’re, we’re on the front end, you know, talking to, to partners about product innovation, new product introduction. And what I would say is going into 2024, I, you know, I’m saying a three to four x increase in the desire to launch new innovative products in 2024, right?

24:55 Kim Rael
So that front end of the new product innovation pipeline through partnerships, ’cause that’s how we do it, we do it all through partnerships, is as the velocity there is higher than it’s ever been. So I’m very, that, that to me is a leading indicator, right?

25:11 Kim Rael
That is, there’s, there’s, there’s a lot going on. So I’m optimistic about that. I am super bullish about beverages. I think it’s time. I think, you know, we’re social creatures. We are accustomed to socializing with the beverage in our hand. We’ve reached a point in the industry where the formulations, the infusion work that companies like Azua do, have reached a level of quality and stability and maturity where we can now enable that consumer experience akin to alcohol, you know, lower doses, sessionable beverages that tastes great.

25:53 Kim Rael
And it’s just very, frankly, it can be very similar to enjoying a beverage the same way you have an alcoholic glass of wine or whatever. So, and it’s not universal across the industry. I mean, I think there is also an achilles heel in beverages right now that we need to talk more about, which is stability of beverages once they’ve been packaged.

26:16 Kim Rael
Because the achilles heel is, is shelf life and the degradation over time. So we, we only launched our beverage activator in the second half of last year because we wanted to get it right. So, and in our beverage stability studies, you know, we’ve done, we’ve pulled dozens of beverages off the shelf and run potency shelf life studies on comparing our infusions to other commercially available infusions.

26:47 Kim Rael
And we, we think we’ve cracked that nut, right? We’ve got very nice stability on the shelf in, in our beverage formulation. So I, I think it’s time, I think it’s time for beverages. I think the consumers want it. You see that in the HD nine sort of, you know, mini bubble. And hopefully it’s not a bubble, it’s actually a trend. So we’re excited about all of that. I also think that when I first joined the industry in 2017, part of my, my thesis kinda when I went through that, do I really wanna do this phase, was a belief that cannabis is going to, you know, obviously grow, but new consumers are gonna tend the to be consumers who don’t wanna smoke or vape, right?

27:34 Kim Rael
So over time, the edibles, ingestibles beverages category, I think will outpace the other categories. And you’re starting to see, you’re starting to see some of that trend in data that that was published last year by BDSA, right? Where, you know, flour as a percentage of the industry is declining edibles as a percentage of the industry is up year over year, right? So I think that realignment of consumer preferences to the different categories is, is gonna continue.

28:09 Kim Rael
So I’m excited about that. There’s a trend called premiumization that some of the analysts talk about. And, you know, interesting data to me is that consumers are willing to pay more for products that are designed for specific effects. So, and for products that are fast acting. So there’s, you know, about 25 to 30% of consumers have stated that, that they are willing to pay more for these premium products.

28:42 Kim Rael
So I think that bodes really well for, for the industry, right? Because part of the industry, you know, you guys know this, you have to combat this race to the bottom, right? Yeah. Where, you know, there, there, there will be a place for, you know, two buck chuck, there’s a place for two buck chuck in the market. Do they still call it that? I don’t drink wine, but you know what I’m talking about. Yeah,

29:03 Eric Schneider
Right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yep.

29:04 Kim Rael
It’s called Charles Shaw or something, but there, there, there will be a place for that. But there also is a place in the market for well designed, well formulated premium products. So I, I think that’s really gonna be, there’s gonna be high velocity in those categories this year, and I think that’s a good thing for the industry.

29:26 Isaac Bock
No, I agree. And I think the overall market data across not only cannabis, but you know, consumer packaged goods in general kind of supports that thesis because people are looking for more specific elevated experiences in whatever part of their life. So having, you know, an evitable that does a very specific thing to your mood or helps you sleep or helps you kind of re-energize is definitely more appealing than, you know, ever at this point.

29:54 Kim Rael
Yeah. Yeah. Super exciting. Yeah,

29:56 Eric Schneider
And I think it’s also too, like we’re starting to see people just not looking at, you know, THC percentages in terms of like comparing products, but just like, and, and that just comes with educating consumers on, you know, the differences and, and variations between products, but especially with, you know, newer markets coming online, right? And you’re tapping into customers that may have not been historically smokers, right? What’s more approachable than, you know, a finely dosed edible that is, it is just more approachable, right?

30:32 Eric Schneider
And, and so I think, I think you kinda hit the nail on the head with a lot of different projections for 2024. And we’re, we’re certainly excited as well. And it’s great to hear your story, how, you know, you kind of, you kind of flipped the, the coin and, and to see what you guys are doing in this space is tremendous and, and definitely very needed. So we really appreciate you, you being on our show today and sharing your story.

31:04 Eric Schneider
And before we wrap things up, Isaac just has a, a few fun questions and then we’ll, we’ll send you about your day.

31:10 Isaac Bock
Yeah. So, so nine, nine work related in theory, but you know, let’s say you’re, you’re waking up before some hot yoga, which you mentioned earlier. Whatever you do for your exercising, you need to get yourself in the zone. What’s at the top of the playlist to get your mood elevated? <laugh>

31:28 Kim Rael
You mean music?

31:29 Isaac Bock
Yeah.

31:30 Kim Rael
Yeah. Oh, I’m always down for some Billy Joel.

31:38 Isaac Bock
Love it, love it. Different veining a little bit, but you know, has there been a book that you’ve turned back to a few times throughout your career or in personal life as well? We’ve done some gig wrecks on the personal development side as well that you would recommend people look to who are tuning in?

31:59 Kim Rael
Absolutely. Great. By Choice, by Jim Collins. So this is a book that talks about how, why do some organizations thrive in chaos and other organizations fail in chaos. And it is the perfect book for entrepreneurs in cannabis. It wasn’t written for cannabis, but it is the best.

32:16 Isaac Bock
Awesome. Last. Yeah, that, that’s a new one. I haven’t heard that one before. That’s a good one though. Great bite.

32:23 Kim Rael
Yep.

32:24 Isaac Bock
And, and then last one, obviously IES is exempt from this, this conversation, but what’s your favorite restaurant? Can be in the city, it can be in Albuquerque, it can kind of be anywhere, but what’s a go-to spot that you have,

32:37 Kim Rael
I gotta say ca if it’s not Bubbie’s, right? Ca de betas. It’s a, a new Mexican restaurant really close to my house, which has really fast, really good, really spicy green chili, great takeout.

32:50 Isaac Bock
I love that. There’s nothing that’s

32:52 Eric Schneider
Dried up your alley.

32:53 Isaac Bock
Yeah, yeah.

32:55 Eric Schneider
That’s one of the reasons why I moved back to Colorado is to get a little bit better access to to that.

33:00 Isaac Bock
But when you grow up on that type of food, you kind of, you miss it. So <laugh>.

33:05 Kim Rael
Yeah. And you know, Colorado’s green chili is pretty good, but you know, New Mexico, Colorado have those green chili rivalry, new Mexico’s the OG

33:11 Isaac Bock
Green. It also <laugh>, my view is just depending on what, what they’re using and if it’s too flowery, definitely I’m not a fan of the ultra flowery green chili, which is a Colorado staple, which you need to find the ones here that don’t have it.

33:25 Kim Rael
Yep, a hundred percent. I hear you. Does green chili, garlic, salt, and then pork or whatever else you want. Exactly.

33:33 Isaac Bock
Still same page then

33:34 Kim Rael
<laugh>. I’m a purist. I’m a purist, yes.

33:38 Eric Schneider
Purist in, in cannabis as well as food, which obviously there is a tremendous amount of overlap. So, but no, that, this has been great Kim, and, and again, really appreciate your time. Super insightful and love what you guys have, you know, built and, and excited to see what, what’s on deck for 2024 and we’ll be following closely.

33:58 Kim Rael
Great. Great to see you guys. Thanks you.

34:00 Eric Schneider
Thanks. Bye. Another great one. I thought it was fascinating. Like I feel like most of the viewers that are, sorry, most of the participants that we’ve had on the podcast have like, had interest in cannabis previously or, you know, had some inkling and, you know, wanted to dive into the industry further, right? When they’re coming from more traditional background, like hearing her perspective and how it’s changed from what her preconceived notions were, right.

34:31 Eric Schneider
Growing up in the Reagan era, it tremendous. And I think how she’s approached it with an open mind and where, you know, her beliefs are today stemming from data and research and all of the information that she’s, you know, compiled when she was, you know, a 90 day interim CEO at Azua, I think just shows that listen, you know, even if you’re not a fan of consuming or the planner, like having an open mind just may I think open your eyes to the benefits and it may, it’s different for anybody.

35:09 Eric Schneider
And the wellness component is, is really tremendous. I know I’ve had my own personal journey, like being a former athlete, like saying absolutely no, like get that away from me to learning more about the plan and understanding it and having much more acceptance. I think it was really just cool to hear her journey. Obviously everything that they’re building at Azua is tremendous and what’s on deck for 2024, but that, that stuck out to me.

35:38 Isaac Bock
Yeah, definitely. I mean I think her perspective on it prior to being in the industry is much more relatable for a majority of the country, obviously. Yeah. There’s a lot of people who feel the way she used to and don’t have the information to kind of understand it. So I’m not sure how many people who listen or watch this podcast would fall into that category. But it’s definitely good insight, you know, into that. And the fact that like, the public perception of cannabis is vastly different than what it actually is and what, you know, it should be moving forward.

36:14 Eric Schneider
And it’s, and it’s really hard to get that sense unless you’re in it. It’s like this ironic, it’s like, well if you don’t have those beliefs, it’s gonna be really hard to jump into the cannabis industry. But then it’s really, yeah, I mean, challenging to see I think

36:27 Isaac Bock
Too. Yeah. You know what I mean? You have to be in the industry around it. Like having grown up in Colorado, like I was around it, I was a little bit more open to it earlier on and have my own ways of getting around the drug test issue in college, just timing wise. But, you know, making sure that you, that’s understand how beneficial, don’t think Murph is listening to this. And if he is, you know, I think he knows where my stance is on can at this point. So I think we’re on the same page, but no, I mean like, listen, it’s one of those things where, you know, people should always kind of do their own research when it comes to things and, you know, test and see what works for them.

37:09 Isaac Bock
But there’s definitely a lot of health and wellness benefits to the cannabis plant that are not spoken about, you know, enough on the, you know, public forum.

37:22 Eric Schneider
Just keep an open mind, you know, that’s all we can ask for. And, and this has been a, a, another one that was tremendous. Her background was just super impressive and, and love what they’re building at Azua and, and excited to watch and see what, what’s on deck for them in 2024. And I as always, thank you for your time, Isaac.

37:52 Isaac Bock
Absolutely. Thank you too. And yeah, that was a great one.

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