Needless to say, it's been quite the year for Namaste Technologies (CVE:N) (OTCMKTS:NXTTF).
"We are, essentially, inventing an industry," interim CEO Meni Morim told Proactive in an interview. "Investors need to have faith and they do. We are currently building something that doesn’t exist."
Namaste has lofty ambitions when it comes to specialty e-commerce but its premise is simple: own the world of cannabis e-commerce, and be a one-stop shop for everything a cannabis user needs.
The Toronto-based company, which has been described as the “Amazon of cannabis,” operates the largest global cannabis e-commerce platform with over 30 websites in more than 20 countries under a variety of brands, through its licensed subsidiary CannMart Inc. That is not to mention, as well, its efforts in artificial intelligence, cannabis strain research and a global telemedicine app, plus sales of medical cannabis from its facility in Toronto.
Interim CEO Morim is the first to accept and recognize that the firm has had a shake-up number of months, but says it is now much better positioned and more streamlined as it continues with its ambitions.
There's little doubt the first chunk of 2019 was spent dealing with a number of issues, including a management shakeup that saw former CEO Sean Dollinger removed, and former chief product officer and director of artificial intelligence Morim step in as interim boss.
"It’s been very bumpy," said Morim. "We’ve had a lot of legacy issues to handle and we’ve put most of them behind us."
Namaste delayed its 2018 annual financials, as well as its Q1 2019 financials. The firm had switched auditors, which led to the delay, with new auditors coming in and having to start from scratch. The firm, to its credit, did reach out to respective securities regulators to request a management cease trade order, in respect to the late results filing.
"We did that proactively for the benefit of the shareholders," said Morim.
But now, the firm needs to regain investor trust as well, which it says it is well-positioned to do as it continues to execute on its strategic plan, growing the business and creating shareholder value.
"We have great people across the company and a solid business," said Morim.
And naturally, through every experience, lessons are learned and new policies put into place.
Customers the biggest asset
One of those moves has been the implementation of OKRs, or objective key results at the firm. In short, the tool creates alignment and engagement around measurable goals and is used by a number of heavy-hitter companies, such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Basically, the system drives companies through a performance growth culture.
Above all else, says Morim, the firm's single most important OKR is one very simple question: "Will this enhance our customer experience?"
"That's a fundamental change and puts us on the path of building that customer-focused marketplace," says Morim.
"Our most valuable asset is our customers," he added. "We’re doing everything to let our customers know it."
The firm has also moved to strengthen its board as well, with a number of new directors.
"We have a very active board and we are engaging our board in a frequent manner," said Morim.
The company's audit committee was strengthened, in part, to make sure controls were put in place in order to avoid a late filing, with a clear schedule, and more streamlined process -- all necessary moves, according to Morim.
Recent deals look promising
Namaste has had a string of recent deals that look promising, notably, its agreement with True Leaf Brands Inc (CSE:MJ) (OTCMKTS:TRLFF), which will see True Leaf’s pet products distributed through Namaste’s online dispensary platform.
"Partnering with a leading brand like True Leaf is an excellent way to enhance our consumer product offering and scale our vendor experience,” said Morim. “We're committed to building the most innovative and consumer-friendly marketplace, and this brings us one step closer to that goal."
The company also has the benefit of a strong cash position, which will help it execute its strategy, while also boosting innovation. In its latest financial statement, the firm recorded around US$52.7 million of cash in the bank.
Namaste’s business development team boasts a robust pipeline of partnerships which could strengthen the company’s position further.
Namaste has had a tumultuous few months, and it will take time to see how the company transitions forward. Simply put: the results will have to follow.
For now, the firm is continuing on its path, as it expands its reach and increases its total addressable market.
"We’re focused on streamlining in Canada," says Morim, adding that the company's aim is to offer an end-to-end experience, in a one-stop shopping way.
Namaste’s goal is to provide a seamless transition from consulting a pharmacist about personal cannabis needs to being able to get a medical document and order product “near instantaneously.”
Here's an example: a medical patient in greater Toronto could feasibly learn about medical cannabis, schedule an appointment on the same day with a nurse practitioner, and get it delivered to their door by 5 pm, all under the Namaste umbrella.
Once the product was received, users could use Namaste's mobile app, Uppy Cannabis Journal, which allows medical cannabis users to track the effects of different cannabis strains on whatever symptoms they may be looking to address. That data is then fed into Namaste A.I., which provides cannabis strain recommendations, based on machine learning.
The firm is aiming for a single sign-on experience, similar to a Google account.
"We're building an ecosystem," said Morim, adding that the firm is aiming to perfect the process in Canada and then look internationally, possibly to Germany, and is also keeping its eyes on the US. "We're building our platform in a modular way ... Once we get that right, we have the ability to expand that internationally. That's the high-level vision."
Contact Katie Lewis at [email protected]