Q&A with Dr. Christopher Shade, founder and CEO, Quicksilver Scientific
Shade talks partnership with Truss, future ventures and weathering an economic downturn.
Things are looking up for Quicksilver Scientific.
The Colorado-based company recently partnered with Truss Beverage Co., a joint venture between Molson Coors and HEXO Corp. in Canada, on the development of Veryvell Drops, a line of water-soluble cannabis products that allow consumers to customize their dose.
Additionally, thanks to increased demand for health and wellness products during the COVID-19 pandemic, Quicksilver is expected to bring in 15 to 20 percent more than original revenue projections, despite the economic challenges the pandemic has also presented.
Cannabis Products recently spoke to Dr. Christopher Shade, founder and CEO of Quicksilver Scientific, about the company’s partnership with Truss, its future ventures and how it has fared during the recent economic downturn.
CP: How did Quicksilver Scientific’s partnership with Truss begin?
CS: Truss Beverage Co. was at the end of a long search to find a partner to make the emulsion for its cannabis beverages when David Durkee, who then was an R&D director at Molson Coors, discovered us. David had vetted more than 30 different companies to find an emulsion that met Truss’ criteria, and none had passed muster.
Truss, a joint venture of Molson Coors Beverage Co., was looking for an emulsion that produced an onset and offset time similar to alcohol and featured clarity when used in beverages. Even though none of these other groups had been able to deliver on those requirements, I knew Quicksilver Scientific’s delivery system could exceed those expectations. When Truss executives drove over from Golden, I took them into Quicksilver’s Louisville lab and made a beverage for them right there on the spot. Once they tasted it, they knew they had the right formula at last.
CP: What was the thought process behind the Veryvell line?
CS: The Veryvell line is a drink additive, as opposed to a ready-to-drink (RTD) product. RTD products are sold with certain dosages and flavorings that are chosen by the manufacturers. There are a lot of benefits to these types of ready-to-drink beverages, but a lot of consumers also want the flexibility of adding the emulsion directly to their own drinks so that they can choose their own flavor palate.
With the Veryvell drink additive, consumers can choose the specific dose they want to consume. Each drop is about one milligram, so it is an easy way for consumers to dial in exactly the dosage – and effect – they want.
CP: What role did Quicksilver Scientific play in its development?
CS: Quicksilver Scientific’s IP is what I’d call the engine of the Veryvell product. In Canada, there are very specific regulations regarding ethanol content and the use of certain emulsifiers. As such, we had to design the formula using precise materials allowed in the Canadian market. Once we overcame the regulatory hurdles, we developed the chemistry of the formula. We send this formula to Truss, where they then add the specific cannabinoids during the final processing.
CP: What challenges does the drop format present for the developer?
CS: The biggest challenge in this case was regulatory. Health Canada is incredibly specific regarding the exact ingredients you can use and how much ethanol can be in the product. And during work on the custom formulation, Health Canada was undecided on some requirements, such as how much residual ethanol could be in the final formula. That delayed us a bit, but any time a hurdle popped up, we engineered our way around it.
CP: Will the Veryvell drops come to the U.S.? Or has Quicksilver worked on/will work on a similar product?
CS: I hope so. I believe that Truss CBD USA will start making RTD products and then later make additives available. The U.S. venture of Truss Beverage Co. will focus on opportunities for non-alcoholic hemp-derived CBD beverages in Colorado.
CP: What does it mean to have professionals from a titan like Molson Coors on Quicksilver Scientific’s team?
CS: It’s obviously a big moment for Quicksilver Scientific to be able to bring on talent like David Durkee, but it isn’t the first time the company has had this kind of connection. Quicksilver Scientific’s first president led the athletic apparel company Asics. Our chief marketing officer came from Asics and was formerly the senior director of marketing and communications for Qwest Communications. But to get another Ph.D. right from the beverage field was quite a win for us.
CP: What do you hope will be accomplished through Quicksilver’s new ventures division? Are there any upcoming projects you can discuss?
CS: Quicksilver Scientific wants to move more aggressively into the beverage field, specifically functional beverages for health-conscious consumers. Toward this goal, we’re looking at how to add premium nutraceuticals into beverages with the intent of offering additional health benefits from drinks beyond just hydration and flavor.
The extensive and cutting-edge technological expertise utilized by Quicksilver Scientific’s natural medicine applications are a perfect extension into the functional beverage market. We’ll use this technology to build our portfolio as we introduce additional products to market directly or through partnerships with others.
As for upcoming products, we are immersed in research today to develop future products that address cardiometabolic health, blood-sugar control and weight loss.
CP: How has Quicksilver weathered the recent economic downturn? How do you expect QS to perform the rest of this year?
CS: As devastating as the economic downturn has been to many, it actually has affected us differently because it has created an even greater demand for our products. The pandemic put an intense focus on immune-health and risks, and a great many of Quicksilver Scientific’s products are focused on supporting a healthy immune system. For example, we just unveiled the pinnacle in our immune health series: Immune Charge+, a powerful combination of vitamins A, C, D, E, K1, K2 and Haschberg Elderberry extract in a single liposomal shot.
Additionally, some of the people who are at most risk are the same people who are also at a risk of cardiometabolic problems. Because many of our supplements help support cardiometabolic conditions, we’ve seen their popularity increase.
As for our business operations, which were deemed essential, we took a number of precautions in order to keep our employees safe and our business operating. We’ve separated teams not only to keep people apart under social-distancing rules but also to minimize risks of losing whole groups of workers in a given function if someone on the team does fall sick.
With all the precautions we put in place, we were able to keep production running so that we could meet our customers’ increased needs. The demand has been so strong that it has boosted our projected revenue for the year. We expect to end well above budget – probably 15 to 20 percent above our original projections.
CP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CS: We’re truly excited to see the line of products that eventually will be created by Truss for the U.S. market. Innovations of this kind are just the beginning of the possibilities that will come from blending botanicals and nutraceuticals with cannabinoids. And when you mix together botanicals, nutraceuticals, terpenes and cannabinoids, you can achieve precise, targeted effects via different formulations that highlight one or another aspect of the cannabinoid experience.