Interview with Joel Sherlock (Vitalis Extraction Technology)
On February 21st, Joel Sherlock, Co-Founder & Chairman of Vitalis Extraction Technology, will speak at Kahner Global's Cannabis Private Investment Summit in Fort Lauderdale, FL. This event gathers industry leaders and investors for a day of collaboration and networking
A serial entrepreneur and business leader, Joel is a born connector who has been building great teams and delivering the expertise to execute. Joel has been at the helm of 9 successful start-ups and corporate exits, including one of BC’s top private real estate brokerages, a national first action sports e-commerce company, a successful corporate consulting firm and a few private equity funds.
Joel’s time is now focused on Vitalis Extraction Technologies, Spectrum Asset Leasing and Doventi Capital.
Vancouver is home to Doventi Capital, the Private Equity fund he co-founded to support professionals in the growing legal cannabis market. Vitalis Extraction Technologies in Kelowna BC is an industry leader in manufacturing industrial CO2 Extraction equipment. Spectrum Leasing (Toronto, ON) is an asset backed lender designed to support the entrepreneurs and manufacturers in the world’s fastest growing market.
Coming from a finance, real estate and tech background, why did you choose to get involved in cannabis?
It all started with a real estate deal In 2011, we had a warehouse building and I was approached by group with an offer. It was listed for $10/square foot, but they came in at $12. That seemed like a strange negotiation strategy to me.
They proceeded to informed me they had a license to grow cannabis, as well as approval from the mayor and a business license. After laughing and ushering them out of my office, I called the mayor and health Canada out of pure curiosity. Turns out this was a real program and I had some reading to do. After much diligence we took the deal.
As it turned out, the relationship could not have been better. They were ideal tenants, and upgraded much of the infrastructure. A true win/win. At that time the MJ market was very small, so quickly we started to see more deals.
Why did you focus on extraction?
I understand real estate and equipment finance, I am no expert in cultivation, so I struck to what I understood at first. As the market grew and the cultivation companies started to scale you could see the competition brewing. While I feel there will always be a strong craft market, I feel a lot of the cannabis market will get commoditized. Look at any other market, like alcohol, many of the strongest companies are those that control the brands, their processing (or manufacturing) and distribution.
Also, when it came to the processing equipment investment all you need to do is go into any Starbucks, all the equipment is the same. There is a very important reason for that. Franchises and successful brands are all about consistency of experience, a standard processing platform, be it an espresso machine or CO2 Extractor.
We decided to focus on one platform that would efficiently deliver on all our extraction needs. The desire was for bigger pumps, larger capacities and options for colder pressing. Initially we were looking for 5 to 10 machines and the current producers were not that willing to move. I reached out to a friend (and brilliant engineer, James Seabrook) who was building oil and gas extraction equipment.
James took my small idea to a whole new level. With his experience and expertise he quickly sketched multiple upgrades and simple fixes for some of the industries biggest challenges. He was able to create a machine that could do all of our processing. We could run low-quality trim (often used for chocolate and edibles) one day, and the next, do a subcritical run on high-quality flower to retain terpenes, flavor and whole plant extract - all from the same platform.
What are the different ways to extract?