Exclusive Interview with Redbird Bioscience Chairman and CEO Bill Thurman
Oklahoma cannabis operator Redbird Bioscience has structured its business for low-cost market entry, low-debt, and hard assets, according to Chairman and CEO Bill Thurman. The company is currently ramping up for cultivation, processing, distribution, and warehousing at its Stilwell facility. Thurman spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about Redbird’s team, the Oklahoma market, and how he sees the company thriving as cultivation becomes commoditized. The audio of the entire conversation is available at the end of this written summary.
Healthcare Experience in the Cannabis Space
Thurman spent more than two decades in the chronic healthcare space, navigating an industry with hard asset development, services, and stringent regulatory compliance requirements. During this time, he gained insight into a population that could greatly benefit from chronic symptom management options. Thurman also developed close working relationships with physicians and physician groups.
Thurman worked with one of his fellow operating partners, Dr. Nimesh Patel, for about 15 years. Together, they are excited to create a business with a stable revenue base while exploring how cannabis can help patients. A number of other physicians are providing their insight as Redbird executes on its business plan.
The company is also in the process of onboarding its C-suite management group, which will be headquartered in Arkansas. This leadership group will help guide the company as it examines potential growth opportunities.
The Oklahoma Cannabis Market
Oklahoma is a medical cannabis market, but its regulatory program is different than many other states. Oklahoma’s public referendum model has allowed for a market with broad distribution opportunities; operators in the state do not have to contend with as many varying local regulations, according to Thurman.
Taking into account his experience in healthcare, Thurman sees a market with room for competition as a means of creating better service and better consumer-driven products. He prefers Oklahoma’s model to markets in which a license could cost millions.
The company took over a building in Oklahoma, and Redbird began its construction on the 65K square foot indoor cultivation and processing facility in January 2019. In the meantime, the company has been utilizing a 6,000-square-foot lab, which will help the company reach $1.5 to $2 million in revenue during its first 12 to 13 months, according to Thurman.
The facility-wide launch will likely take place within the next few months, and as the company scales, it should have the capacity to achieve market penetration goals.
Redbird is focused on wholesale, manufacturing, and distribution of consumer packaged goods. As the company grows, it will likely have a few retail locations that will serve as showroom locations. The company is planning to offer a wide variety of products, including flower, concentrates, and extracts. Redbird is also interested in exploring edibles and sublinguals.
The company currently has about 30 employees, but that number could double over the next 60 days and increase to over 100 within 180 days, according to Thurman.
Redbird is well-positioned with current partnerships to expand into the Texas market. The company is also keeping an eye on the New York market for potential distressed asset opportunities. Arkansas, Georgia, and Missouri are also of interest for future growth.
The company has been privately funded by Thurman and a group of individuals, including physicians and other partners he has done business with during his years in the healthcare space.
Now, Redbird–positioning itself with hard assets, cash flow, and equity–is currently exploring options for more capital to explore potential opportunities in M&A and the CBD space. Thurman has previously done private equity deals with venture capital in the healthcare space. To date, the company has raised $20 million.
Growth in 2020
Thurman expects Redbird to generate $1 to $1.5 million in revenue during the first quarter, approximately $4 million in Q2, $6 to $8 million in Q3, and $6 to $9 million in Q4, depending on various factors.
While there is talk of cultivation becoming a commodity eventually, Thurman is currently positioning Redbird for success in such a market. The company is onboarding team members with extensive experience in commodities. He and his team understand moving a commodity to the creation and distribution of a consumer packaged good.
While Redbird is bringing on new team members, Thurman acknowledges that finding the right talent can be a challenge, particularly as cannabis companies strive to create pure, consistent products at scale. When it comes to opportunities on the horizon, he is looking forward to more states embracing consumer choice and access. With nearly every aspect of healthcare available for home delivery, he expects to see more states embracing cannabis delivery over the next few years. As the industry changes, Redbird will be busy establishing its platform and preparing to take advantage of new opportunities.
To learn more, visit the Redbird website. Listen to the entire interview: