G Plante Mountain Bike
Photo Courtesy Guillaume Plante
I love Guillaume’s story. That is no successes come without hard work. This gentleman is uniquely geared to the metric that measures success by being better. Maybe it was the Green Rush that brought Guillaume to cannabis, or maybe it was a bit of good luck. More importantly what Guillaume has achieved did not come without being himself. I like that approach very much and try to emulate it in my own success. Now, with my deep compliments, may I please introduce Guillaume Plante.
Warren Bobrow=WB: Where are you from? What brought you to the business that you are in now? Did you go to business school? Who is your mentor?
Guillaume Plante=GP: I am originally from Canada, the second nation to legalize hemp and marijuana. I was born and raised in a small French speaking town called Shawinigan about an hour and a half north east of Montreal.
The short answer is through a long line of trial and error… lol… The long answer is I come from a family of entrepreneurs, have a background in business and logistics, and throughout my journey I came across our business group, Biokanetics. I don’t know how else to say it but… we just clicked! I first connected with them while operating my own company in Vail, Colorado. Roughly four years ago, Biokanetics was seeking fresh business opportunities and being based out of Colorado the “Green Rush” just made sense.
I have a bachelor’s degree in international business, post graduate project management certifications from Villanova University, but most importantly a solid 15 years at the business school of life. Eight of those years were spent in management for UPS in the industrial engineering department and the rest building on my entrepreneurial legacy. I know the expected mentor answer would be the Bill Gates and the Jeff Bezos of the business world, but for me it was my grandfather. He was not a tech mogul, an investment genius or an inventor, he was simply a family man who created a small construction empire. It started out with my grandfather mixing concrete out of a wheel barrel and eventually owning a fleet of cement trucks. As early as I can remember, with my yellow hard hat, I used to walk hospital and school construction sites by his side. He was respected as a family man and businessman, worked smart, provided a necessary service and delivered a quality product. His ideology lives through me and that is why I chose to follow the entrepreneur route.
Photo Courtesy: Somnus
WB: Tell me about your company? What was your inspiration? (Or who was your inspiration?) How did you discover the CBN side of the cannabis industry? What is your six-month plan, and one-year plan?
GP: You can say we sort of stumbled upon SOMNUS. Keeping in mind how successful the pick and shovel companies were during the gold rush, initially we decided to take a stab at the extraction side of the industry, providing processing equipment for large batch cannabinoids such as CBD isolate and/or distillate. Truth is we showed up late to the party and the existing tech ended up shifting overnight right under our feet.
However, through countless hours of research throughout the planning process, we discovered “CBN” or cannabinol and fell in love with its profile and properties. CBN is essentially THC without the heavy psychoactive properties. Our bodies are equipped with an endocannabinoid receptor system. There are CB1 receptors which exist primarily in the brain and nervous system and CB2 receptors which exist largely within the immune system. CBN interacts with both receptors offering multiple benefits, one of which is its sedative effect allowing a deeper natural sleep.
All of our products currently contain hemp derived CBN and zero THC, which makes them legal in all 50 states according to the 2018 Farm Bill. I think we can all agree that the key to a successful business model is providing a clean viable solution to a problem. Sleep deprivation is a serious reality and clean healthy solutions available are slim to none. That is why we created SOMNUS. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80 million American adults are chronically sleep deprived, meaning they sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours a night.
SOMNUS is an all-natural, mind calming formulation paired with our CBN hemp blend, designed to promote a healthy, restful sleep without creating that morning hangover feeling. We’ve made it our mission to no longer take NO-SLEEP for an answer while respecting the importance of a healthy mind and body!
Our six month outlook is to expand our current product line and initiate a hard launch by gaining a brick and mortar footprint as we are currently only available online. By this time next year, we are aiming to be available in at least one major big box retailer positioning ourselves as a nationally branded product line.
WB: Do you cook? Who taught you if yes? What is your favorite restaurant? What kind of food? Where?
GP: Yes, I do cook and here, I am going to go with the expected answer. My mother has been my biggest influence in the kitchen from an early age — although my final product still doesn’t measure up to her master pieces. I’ve been extremely privileged to have eaten in some of the most extravagant restaurants in the world and the first name that came to mind is Tacobar in Jaco Beach, Costa Rica. Very affordable hole in the wall taco joint. The fish tacos were out of this world…fresh lightly battered red snapper, cool crunchy slaw topped with a white based spicy sauce on a warm flour tortilla and the cool chill beach vibe was the cherry on top!
Guillaume Plante and his grandfather, Gilles Trudel
Photo Courtesy: Guillaume Plante
WB: What obstacles stand in your way? How do you approach these obstacles or any challenges in general?
GP: The first three that came to mind: The education process that comes along with pioneering the CBN path, the regulatory roadblocks and Covid-19. Everyone in our group is fairly seasoned with the business cycle and the ups and downs of life, which is why an adapt and overcome mentality is what we all share.
Particularly for me, the concept of adapting and overcoming was reinforced throughout my eight years in the U.S. Marines. To circle back to our obstacles…Our plan to manage the education process is to continue positioning ourselves as industry experts, shar and create valuable end user content along with continuing our efforts in new product development.
From a regulatory standpoint, although costly, the answer is as easy as we’ve partnered with one of the top hemp and cannabis law firms in the country to ensure we’re at the forefront of the movement as the industry pivots. It’s extremely important to us to ensure we play by the book and follow the best health, safety and quality guidelines a non-FDA approved product can offer. Although not yet FDA approved, SOMNUS is manufactured in a GMP certified and FDA approved facility.
As for COVID-19, this one blindsided us to say the least. A few weeks prior to the February 24 -28, 2020 stock market crash, we were right in line to ramp up production for our initial hard launch and due to the global economic downturn were forced to slam the brakes, we suspended a large portion of our marketing budget and offered a relief sale to help the folks in need by largely discounting our entire product line for a two month period. We’re currently phasing out by still offering 25% off all our products until further notice. It was a very hard decision but quitting was never an option…we’ve all been sitting at the edge of our seats planning for the economy to reposition itself into a more stable business place and are excited to see movement in the right direction!
WB: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where and with whom….
GP: My number one pick is always family! I grew up in a large family and have over 20 cousins, which I consider brothers and sisters and since I moved to the U.S. at the age of 15, I only get to see them all every three to four years. In terms of location, Quebec would be logical since they mostly all reside there, but assuming they could all teleport…as long as it’s a safe location with good food, drinks and shelter, I’d be willing to spin the location roulette as long as I get to celebrate life with my family and friends.