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Yooma: building a vertically integrated CBD and wellness platform

Yooma Wellness is building a multi-branded, vertically integrated wellness platform in the CBD and wellness space, CEO Jordan Greenberg explains.

With a £7.5m financing deal with Chrystal Capital and £220,000 investment from SEED Innovations, Yooma Wellness is sweeping up a number of companies across the CBD and wellness space. Its buy-and-build strategy pushing Yooma’s reach across the global CBD market.

Greenberg explains that, with the industry being largely characterised by companies that are undercapitalised, onboarding on the Yooma platform gives the ability to provide working capital to continue the growth trajectory of promising CBD and wellness companies.

“I think each of the acquisitions has a different place with the wide breadth that we have approached this market with. We wanted to diversify away from pure CBD so we have got some other wellness and actives, and even some non-CBD skincare products. But, also, we have global distribution, and it is the vertical integration that is really exciting to me,” says Greenberg. 

“Being able to provide the input materials and active ingredients really gives a cost advantage, and I think one of the things that gets overlooked is the ability to cross-sell through various channels and geographies. So, we are looking at taking some of our CBD products and getting import approval and selling them through Japanese channels that otherwise would not be available to these companies.”

Yooma’s recent acquisitions include Socati, a US CBD, cannabinoid and functional ingredients manufacturer operating from a 22,000 square foot facility in Montana, premium UK CBD brand Vitality CBD, CBD manufacturer N8 Essentials, and Japanese wellness brand Vertex. Additional acquisitions include US sparkling water seller Big Swig, and EMMAC Life Sciences Group brands Blossom, What The Hemp, Hello Joya and MYO Plant Nutrition.

Yooma: building a vertically integrated CBD and wellness platform

“Socati produces the highest quality bespoke CBD, cannabinoid, and other functional ingredient blended oils. This is a downstream manufacturing facility so we can now white label and sell finished consumer products to our customers, instead of selling just the bulk ingredients, such as tinctures, bottling, labeling, packaging, as well as wax-based products, for example. One of the things I like about that facility is that we have got room for expansion. So, we are looking at putting some additional manufacturing capabilities into that facility. 

“The Vertex acquisition is really interesting – it is based in Tokyo, Japan, and they sell wellness products primarily through two channels. One is through home shopping networks, so they have relationships with all of the major home shopping networks in Japan, and also have various online e-commerce platforms. This represents a really exciting opportunity – the demographics in Japan are 130 million population, 100 million of that are over the age of 30.

“We think Japan is a really interesting market for CBD – all CBD products are legal in Japan, with the caveat that they have to be made from Japan compliant CBD. So, we have got compliant products that are either synthetic or made from the stems of the hemp plant. 

“We are seeing the proliferation of CBD cafes, TV products, online listings – so, in addition to starting the process of import approval for some of our products for their existing sales channels, with our infrastructure on the ground in Japan, we are very excited about that market.”

Buy-and-build is not a new strategy for Yooma’s management team. Yooma’s executive chairman, Lorne Abony, has been the CEO of multinational dual-listed companies for the last 20 years and served as the Chairman of EMMAC Life Sciences Group, Europe’s largest independent cannabis company which employed a similar strategy, and sold to Curaleaf International in Q1 of 2021 at USD$407m. 

Yooma director, Anthony Lacavera, has extensive experience in technology and telecoms and is chairman and founder of Globalive Capital, which has made over 100 venture and private equity investments over the past 15 years, and director Antonio Costanzo was co-founder and CEO of EMMAC Life Sciences Group, continuing to serve as CEO of Curaleaf International. Costanzo was key to the development of a publicly listed Canadian company, Nuuvera, which was acquired by Aphria in 2018 for USD~$826m.

“We are in this business for the long term,” said Greenberg. “We believe in regulatory clarity and I think the FSA in the UK has done a great job – it has been very deliberate about the novel foods applications and setting out those rules and regulations. Of course, CBD is legal in the US under the terms of the 2018 Federal Farm bill, but what is not clear is the regulatory pathway from the FDA and the DEA that governs label claims, dosages and manufacturing standards. So, we are operating in this legal environment, but with some uncertainties

“I think once we have that regulatory clarity further in the UK, and certainly in the US, that will be the inflection point for the industry. There has been a lot of CBD brands or nutraceutical brands who have been on the sidelines waiting for that regulatory clarity before entering the space. 

“We strongly believe it is a question of when and not if – as there is certainly a global trend towards the legalisation of cannabis and CBD. It is a slower process than we hoped, but we see a strong future for CBD and significant growth in the near term. We believe that there are real medicinal qualities to CBD and other cannabinoids, used in combination. We are starting to see not just empirical evidence, but clinical studies and trials that support that view.”

Yooma completed a reverse take over to list on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) in February 2021 and listed on the Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Market (AQSE) in August – marking the fourth-largest raise on the AQSE in 2021 and the largest ever capital raise for a cannabis company on the exchange.

“We are looking at the process of uplisting in Canada from the CSE to the Toronto Stock Exchange, or what is more compelling to us, is uplisting from the AQSE to the standard list on the LSE. So, it is absolutely our intention in 2022 to do that.”

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