Founded in 2017, Biscotti Brands is the first Italian cannabis brand in the United States. Biscotti only specializes in non-volatile manufacturing and produces clean, organic, and sustainable products out of a State permitted facility in Oakland, California.
Meet Luca Andrea Collins
Luca was born in Pavia, Italy. Luca Andrea Collins spent his life traveling the world as his father pursued a career in international human rights.
Throughout his travels, Luca learned of and studied traditional hashish making in Morocco, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Northern India, and Nepal. He admired each country’s unique hash making traditions and was inspired to merge these historical traditions with the Italian craftsmanship of his own culture.
However, the negative perception and strict anti-cannabis laws in Italy kept him from pursuing his dreams in his homeland. So, Luca left his life in Italy for Oakland, California where he attended Oaksterdam University and met a diverse team of cannabis experts with a similar narrative. This team came from different backgrounds where cannabis consumption was negatively stigmatized and judged. Like many people today, they were afraid to leave their comfortable lives to forge a path filled with judgment and the unknown.
However, it was through their shared decision and Luca’s passion and leadership skills that led this team to finally overcoming these fears that brought Biscotti to life.
On this Outside-In with DCN, I had the opportunity to jump on a call with Luca Andrea Collins, CEO of Biscotti Brands to discuss the brand in better detail.
DCN: Who is Biscotti Brands?
Biscotti Brands: We are a chemical-free and solvent-free cannabis concentrate company specializing in hash products. We are the largest commercial hash manufacturer in California and are poised to be the largest in the United States. Please visit BiscottiBrands.com to learn more about us.
DCN: For your first year in business, what achievements would you like to recognize?
Biscotti Brands: I’ll list out a couple below;
- We received a license from the city of Oakland, California
- We hosted the “Bong Appetit” – an event for cannabis audiences
- We were featured in MG Magazine
- We purchased a building for operations; this meant we had security in the form of a position in the industry, a location to work out of, and a license to operate from the government.
- We formed good distributor relationships
- We opened a business bank account
- We paid our taxes
- We paid our employees
DCN: As the end of 2017 approached, how did you start preparing for adult-use in California?
Biscotti Brands: “I had to ask myself questions like: Do I pull the trigger on the $200,000 packaging order or will the passing of 2018 regulations bust that deal long term?
I was under the impression we (cannabis businesses who applied) would get our license within January, we (Biscotti Brands) were in the top three to get approved without an equity partner. We focused a lot of our push to work with good distributors, and made a lot of good sales before January,” stated Luca Collins, CEO of Biscotti Brands.
DCN: Once the regulations came out, what challenges did you realize you and your company were going to be presented with?
Biscotti Brands: “The funds derived from our previous sales push helped with the first two months of operations since our team spent the majority of that time creating SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). We still had to pay rent, wages, utilities, bills, and we had zero money coming in for the first sixty days of the new year. Although we kept our cameras always running in case of a government crackdown,” stated Luca Collins, CEO of Biscotti Brands.
DCN: What are the frustrations that you believe other entrepreneurs need to be aware of?
Biscotti Brands: I’ll list out a few below:
- Trademark your brand*
- Set up banking for your brand
- Packaging issues
- Social media issues (e.g., our Instagram account got deleted at 5,000 followers)
- Public Relations companies (Who do you want to work with? Who are your connections?)
- Real estate issues
- Navigating the transition from medical to recreational model in dispensaries
- Feelings of uncertainty
*California accepts cannabis related trademarks.
DCN: What is the equity program? What insight can you give into that and why it is beneficial for entrepreneurs like yourself?
Biscotti Brands: “The program was called Cannaequity. From my understanding, they offered this opportunity to persons who had resided in a specific district for an x amount of years, and under the premise, you are a cannabis advocate and user and were unfairly treated due to your economic upbringing. This program was also presented to persons with opportunities that could sponsor some of the applicants instead of not approving them,” explained Luca Collins, CEO of Biscotti Brands.
DCN: The beginning of this year, you have had to put all of your focus into your application process, can you offer a few tips for other entrepreneurs who are going through a similar process?
Biscotti Brands: “My advice for other entrepreneurs would be to be patient, yet persistent in obtaining your permit. The process involves quite a bit of bureaucracy and you often run into issues you would likely never expect,” stated Luca Collins, CEO of Biscotti Brands.
DCN: Outside of the standard means to run your business, how much money are you looking at just in licensing fees, compliant services?
Biscotti Brands: “By doing everything in compliance, I’d say you’d need a two million to three million budget to start a brand, said Luca Collins, CEO of Biscotti Brands.
DCN: How can we as a community/industry, look at helping cannabis startups like yourself through this process?
Biscotti Brands: “I think the most valuable way for the industry to stick together is to have as many industry players show up to all their local government, and state government, meetings. The BCC (bcc.ca.gov) meetings are crucial to the industry. These are the meetings that allow key players to voice their opinions and concerns to officials that could influence the regulations. We must take part in the meetings and try to be active in all sectors. We, as manufactures, are affected by the entire supply chain. Manufacturers are just as concerned with the regulations that apply to the cultivator as we are concerned with the regulations the retailers must abide by. Hence, we try to be active in every subcommittee meeting,” explained Luca Collins, CEO of Biscotti Brands.
DCN: Any final comments or questions I missed that you would like to share with the DCN audience?
Biscotti Brands: The industry has evolved substantially in the last 12 months, and it will continue to morph. July 2018 and December 2018 will be two giant milestones for the industry, and we will see a ton more change come to California. I firmly believe that the brands that survive past Dec 2018 will be the ones in it for the long run. The cannabis industry will see a ton of new players coming in and a ton of players being forced to leave. 2018 will be a rollercoaster ride.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me.
DCN: Thank you, Luca, for giving our readers more insight into Biscotti Brands and what you and your team have been working on the past year.
To learn more about more Biscotti Brands, check out their website!
To learn more about Luca Andrea Collins, check out his Entrepreneur of the week.
Want to follow them on Instagram, visit them @biscottiofficial