Welcome to Outside-In with DCN where we interview upcoming startups and businesses in the cannabis industry. Each interview you will get to meet the founders taking a leap into building a business they believe in. Gain knowledge of their services, their mission and what makes each of the unique. On this Outside-In, with DCN we spoke with William Waldrop, CEO/Co-Founder of EVIO Inc.
Meet Evio Inc.
EVIO Labs was founded in 2014, and is the leading national provider of accredited cannabis testing, providing high quality analytical and consulting services for agricultural and biomedical industries in the United States.
DCN: William, we are so excited to have you on our editorial series, Outside-In with DCN. Let’s get straight to it; I would love for the DCN community to know more about your founding team, please give us a quick intro to each of their backgrounds.
William Waldrop: Of course, well as you are aware my name is William Waldrop. I am the Co-Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of EVIO, Inc. I led the company from startup to a nationwide presence with labs in five states. Previously, I was Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Newport Entertainment Group Inc. since September 2005 and served as its Principal Financial Officer and Principal Accounting Officer.
I also served as President and Chief Operating Officer of College Partnership, a publicly traded company. Before joining College Partnership, I served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Vision Direct Marketing, a full-service marketing company. I received a B.S. from the California State University of Long Beach, 1991 and an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California, 1997.
Lori Glauser is Co-Founder, COO, and Director of EVIO, Inc.
Lori is responsible for the strategic growth and day-to-day operations of EVIO Labs. Along with CEO William Waldrop, Signal Bay and EVIO Labs grew from a startup advisory firm in 2014 to 5 labs during the first two years of operation and are on track to open 18 labs by the end of 2018. Lori also leads the Advisory Services division which has provided services for dozens of startup companies that are now licensed to operate in the cannabis industry.
Lori is also the founding chair of Women Grow – Las Vegas served on FOCUS standards committee, co-author of Medical Marijuana Desk Reference, and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. Lori founded Signal Bay and EVIO Labs on a foundation of 25 years’ experience in engineering, management consulting, and startups. Her expertise lies in business planning and operations, business process design, financial forecasting, risk, customer experience, and regulatory and policy. Lori has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from the University of Alabama.
DCN: William, why did you believe it was essential to launch EVIO Labs, Inc.?
William Waldrop: EVIO, Inc., (formerly Signal Bay, Inc.) was formed in 2014 to provide compliance services for the cannabis industry. We recognized that regulatory testing was going to become increasingly important and underserved niche in the industry, so we began testing by acquiring our first lab in 2015. We saw that testing, with its high barrier to entry and rapid adoption across all cannabis-legal states, is not only important for the health and safety of consumers and will be an increasingly important component of the cannabis industry as the industry matures.
DCN: When looking at the landscape, what makes EVIO, Inc. different than the competitive landscape?
William Waldrop: One of our big value propositions is that we’re always ready to pull back the curtain, so to speak, at the laboratory and show you exactly how our work is accurate and precise. Any lab that we have runs accredited quality systems and has basic measurements about its consistency in performance in both accuracy and precision.
Another value proposition is our network of labs which provide us the ability to take best practices from across our growing staff of scientists in multiple locations. We leverage economies of scale and have accumulated expertise by working with a number of scientists and a variety of client types from across the nation under a variety of grow methods and regulatory constructs.
DCN: EVIO Labs has been providing its services since 2015, within one year, you hit 700 account milestones, and now EVIO Labs has over nine testing facilities in over five states, what has been the biggest learning lesson when it came to scaling EVIO Labs?
William Waldrop: Now that we have 11 labs, we have amassed a core of expertise that we expect will carry us through any new regulatory requirement that a state comes up with. We also have the understanding to communicate with our California clients what they can expect as they need to start testing to a higher standard going forward as the July 1st state-mandated testing is right around the corner.
DCN: In doing the research, I noticed over the past few years, instead of starting from the beginning EVIO Labs began acquiring testing facilities- It seems very strategic and also helps with keeping costs down, can you give any insight into why the company went this route?
William Waldrop: EVIO Labs currently has eleven operating laboratories in five states coast-to-coast; four in Oregon, two in Florida, two in California, and one each in Colorado, Massachusetts, and we’ve gone international with one in Canada. EVIO has several additional laboratories in various stages of development and is working toward the goal of opening 18 locations by the end of 2018.
The cannabis industry, perhaps more than any other industry, is still heavily based on relationships and trust. When we acquire a lab, we not only acquire the equipment, the location, and the personnel – we acquire the relationships and goodwill that those lab employees have built up in past years with the local grower and producer community. It also gives us access to employees who are familiar with testing cannabis.
DCN: By the end of 2018, you are looking to double the number of testing facilities you have from 9 to 18, which is enormous, any other milestones we should keep an eye out for this year?
William Waldrop: We have recently built our leadership team by bringing on a new CFO, President, Vice President of Operations, and Marketing Director – all of whom bring substantial experience to the company. With their added leadership, we will see continued improvements in standardization across our labs, present a unified message, and a focus on customer service. EVIO has several additional laboratories in various stages of development and is working toward the goal of having 18 operating facilities by the end of 2018.
DCN: What kind of due diligence should businesses do prior to working with a testing facility?
William Waldrop: Customers should ensure that the labs have the appropriate accreditations for the tests they perform. This generally means ISO17025. Also, a customer can ask the labs how they verify the quality of the product – do they perform third-party proficiency tests, and how well did they do?
DCN: Compliancy is extremely important especially for testing facilities, what have been the challenges your team members have had to work through each time EVIO Labs expanded in a new state?
William Waldrop: Keeping up with changing regulations can be a challenge. And each state has slightly different regulations, and within a state, the rules can change frequently. We have quality analysts at each of our labs, in addition to a corporate-wide quality assurance officer who is responsible for ensuring full compliance. We’ve implemented information systems to ensure that we stay on top of all the current and changing regulations.
DCN: As entrepreneurs, many of us get distracted in the day to day and don’t like to recognize our achievements, with that being said, we would like to ask, what is one of EVIO Lab’s most significant accomplishments this past year?
William Waldrop: In addition to growth, we have been able to accomplish this while experiencing relatively low employee turnover and being very resourceful. Our shared resource model has really helped us keep costs low while we continue to build in anticipation of market stabilization.
DCN: William, thank you for sharing with us more about EVIO, Inc and your journey.
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