The Silicon Review
“Our business portfolio consists of cannabis companies in retail, cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution.”
Originally launched on the foundation of medical cannabis, KOLAS, a cannabis giant, has evolved from its entrepreneurial cannabis pedigree to a growing force of professional business expertise and sprawling operational diversification. This evolution has helped with the ongoing normalization of the cannabis industry and its consumer use, aided through the legalization of adult recreational use, and now labeled an ‘essential’ supplement for any personal need (with the advent of COVID-19).
KOLAS was incorporated in 2018 and is based in Sacramento, California.
Interview Excerpt: Garib Karapetyan, CEO of KOLAS
Q. KOLAS is a Sacramento-based company and serves in and around this location. Why did you choose California’s capital to run your business?
KOLAS has been a pioneer in California’s legal, medical cannabis industry since its humble entrance in 2007, working closely with local municipalities, as well as state regulators and policymakers. Developing our company in the political center of California (the nation’s largest state cannabis market) has given us an advantage in fostering and implementing compliant operating procedures and systems.
Founding our company in Sacramento, the state capital, has helped us nurture an intimate understanding of the regulatory bodies situated in our same city. KOLAS maintains beneficial relationships with these agencies as the entities responsible for overseeing the growth of commercial cannabis in the State of California.
Q. Given that KOLAS is dedicated to giving Sacramento the cannabis experience like never before, how uniquely do you address your customers’ needs?
We think globally but act locally. Our ‘elevate your life’ culture allows KOLAS to be an essential part of everyday life.
KOLAS’s competitive advantage is our unique approach in leveraging an extensive network of entrepreneurs, industry experts, and thought leaders to develop and generate significant value for our customers, led by an industry-leading management team.
Employees are encouraged to grow and develop their skills and knowledge base for their own benefit, as well as being better equipped to fulfill our customers’ diverse needs. And KOLAS gives back to those with less, offering support and resources for the local community, non-profit organizations, and those impacted by governmental and societal shortcomings.
Q. What are your focus areas? And would you like to talk about the products KOLAS offers?
KOLAS is vertically integrated and horizontally diversified, which allows us to focus on three major business facets—retail stores and proprietary consumer products; non-plant-touching industry-centric entities; and outsourced business services.
KOLAS Energy optimizes the efficiency of the entire cannabis and hemp value chain by integrating new technology, including solar photovoltaics, on-site microturbine power, and heat co-generation. Surplus energy is sold back to the utility grid and other energy distributors. While these innovations have improved efficiency and cost-management, they also move KOLAS toward its ultimate goal: complete elimination of its carbon footprint.
As one of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, we must develop an innovative and sustainable means of cultivation. We wish to establish a universal standard and a net-zero energy state.
We have joined forces with an industry-leading Israeli software company, Growor Inc., with plans to develop a sustainable and efficient means to cultivate cannabis, hemp, and ultimately, other agricultural plants. Who better to learn from than Israel?
While KOLAS Energy transforms the in-house supply chain, KOLAS University works to educate the external face of the business. “KOLAS U” provides formal certification and generational knowledge to KOLAS employees and management staff (and anyone interested outside the company) in a custom-made, interactive training program. Graduates emerge well-prepared for jobs and careers in the cannabis and industrial hemp industries.
Any operational division that receives a KOLAS University graduate gains a valuable resource, spreading their company’s research and knowledge through the KOLAS family and benefitting both KOLAS employees and customers.
We believe it’s important to provide educational opportunities for all future and current employees in the cannabis industry. KOLAS University sets a high bar in the quality of training so that customers can have the highest level of customer service and product information in an ever-changing and complex industry.
Efforts like these support the KOLAS family of entities and support other cannabis businesses and potential underrepresented entrepreneurs.
“I believe the cannabis industry is the next big business boom in the United States, and historically, the black community has been the last to join when new sector opportunities are developing,” noted Jay King, President and CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce. “With the partnership we are building with KOLAS, we can make sure the black community is part of this new historical moment in American business.”
Encouraging diversity in the professional cannabis community doesn’t end with programs like KOLAS University. As a member of the Sacramento Cannabis Industry Alliance (SCIA), KOLAS is a part of an organization dedicated to advancing awareness around the many positive impacts the cannabis industry has had on the local communities in which we operate. Those efforts include the SCIA’s Cannabis Cares Grant Program, which provides $250,000 in monetary and in-kind contributions to assist new dispensary license holders.
Q. What new endeavors is KOLAS currently undertaking?
We haven’t just built a company - we have built an economy with the ability to scale exponentially. For example, KOLAS University will expand into national platforms while developing digital training that will allow it to expand globally. Also, through an ongoing partnership with UC Davis, our R&D team will continue to be a leader in product development, building upon an already solid track record of innovation.
The expansion of KOLAS Hemp will take our local Sacramento company into national brand recognition. Having navigated the challenges of the cannabis industry from seed-to-sale, KOLAS has been expanding into the world of industrial hemp and leveraging our core competencies in a brand new federally legal sector. KOLAS’s time-tested cannabis operations, best practices, intellectual property, and vertically integrated structure provide much-needed consistency and rigorous product development to the nascent industrial hemp marketplace. With vetted cannabis infrastructure ready to scale on-demand, KOLAS Hemp aims to achieve swift business growth and global market penetration within the next few years. This rapid market transformation will accelerate as wholesale and export channels reach maturity, and delivery direct to consumers is conducted via e-commerce.
Q. How do you plan to transform your company into a future that is unfolding before you?
KOLAS is positioned to be the world-class brand and model for cannabis and industrial hemp locally, nationally, and globally. Our business portfolio consists of cannabis companies in retail, delivery, e-commerce, cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution. In addition, we have partnerships and new projects slated to double the size of our portfolio. From our formal ratification in 2009 to 2020, KOLAS has been entirely self-funded and expects to more than double overall revenue by 2022.
Our extensive real estate holdings have the special cannabis permitting required by the state and local governments under which KOLAS operates - building our brand recognition through licensing to establish ourselves as the face of the cannabis industry and, more broadly, the Global Leader in Cannabinoids™.
One thing that we are known for is that we are pioneers, and competition typically follows pioneers. We believe that we are always prevailing and creating and are always in creation mode. Generally-speaking, people who have reached the peak in their organization are in preservation mode. KOLAS is constantly creating and pioneering for a better industry.