SōRSE Employee Spotlight: Lee-Ann Loser

Employee Spotlight: Lee-Ann Loser 

Meet Lee-Ann Loser, SōRSE’s VP of Brewery Product Lines; she leads SōRSE’s growing presence in the brewing industry, working with hemp, hops, and other functional ingredients. As VP of Brewery Product Lines, she draws on the knowledge and experience she gained working for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company where she led their Experiential Marketing team. After five years at Sierra Nevada, Lee-Ann took the leap from craft beer to cannabis where she served as a Brand Manager for Privateer Holdings. Her knowledge and intimate understanding of the craft beer industry has proved invaluable as SōRSE expands its offerings to different sectors in food and beverage.    

What drew you to SōRSE?  

When I met the SōRSE team, they clearly had the same ethos that I’ve adopted in my career, including doing the hard work to provide the highest quality product and valuing customer relationships.  The quality program and regulatory attention is world class – as it needs to be in this industry.  

What do you enjoy about your role, and what do you find challenging?  

The people and the complexity. The intelligence in any given room at SoRSE blows you away.  I’ve learned so much in my first year at SōRSE Tech, from bits of chemistry to best business practices to food regulation.   

In start-up world, there are infinite paths forward.  It’s a challenge to not default to past solutions, but instead allow for growth by remaining open to hearing many different avenues to solve a customer problem.  

Over the course of your career, what have you learned about building relationships with customers and consumers alike? What skills do you find yourself drawing on most at SōRSE?  

Over the course of my career in the food & beverage industry, I’ve learned first and foremost, your goal is to make your customers’ businesses more successful.  While we love being innovative and proposing new products to our customers, we never want our customers to buy products that don’t add value to their consumers.  

Can you share some thoughts on SōRSE’s expansion into the brewing industry? What are the growth opportunities you see on the horizon?  

SōRSE has created a superior water-soluble technology and uniquely applied that in the Cannabis space.  Now, looking at the beer industry, we can apply this tech to solve long standing challenges like haze stability or fading hop aroma. It’s such an exciting time to be here and be presenting these innovations to brewers! 

Can you share something about yourself that not many people know about you?  

 I’ve attended over 300 weddings in my life!  In my early career, I worked in high-end wedding planning and venue management. I’ve been present for a lot of moments that range from heart-warming and wholesome to downright crazy and absolutely hysterical.  Needless to say, when it came my turn, I eloped! 

SōRSE Employee Spotlight: Mateo Moore

Meet Mateo Moore, SōRSE’s US Sales Director. Mateo leads the business development team that focuses on SōRSE’s expansion across the United States. He brings over ten years of experience in business development to his position, generating sales strategy for the team and managing key accounts. Prior to SōRSE, Mateo served as an account executive, brand manager, and marketing manager for notable tech, aerospace, and advertising companies in the US as well as in Australia. When Mateo is not at the office, you can find him on the golf course playing “unhealthy amounts of golf” and spending time with his girlfriend and their dog.    

Mateo Moore SoRSE

What drew you to SōRSE? What intrigued you about the company and the position? 

Originally, the people. SōRSE’s EVP, John Kueber, and I had known each other from past roles, and we kept in touch about potentially working together in some capacity or another in the future. When we first sat down and spoke about SōRSE in 2019, we both felt like it was a role that I would slot well into and would give me an opportunity to contribute immediately. As I considered my options, I really gravitated towards working in another early-stage company with the upside of being on the ground-floor of a new industry we would be creating in real time, which was/is exciting to me.  

What do you enjoy about your role, and what do you find challenging?  

As the US Sales Director, I enjoy overseeing the growth of our clients and observing the multitude of ways our team supports their efforts. The logistical challenges along the way, the sometimes seemingly infinite back-and-forth over product vetting, planning for future expansion, and assessing growing pains are all a part of the position we in Sales experience daily and fully embrace to support our clients’ success. At the core, I want to help one person in a meaningful way every day; my role gives me plenty of chances to do that before lunch on most days. 

Over the course of your career, what have you learned about building relationships with customers? What qualities make a salesperson successful? 

Empathy and trust are key. If you have those two in your DNA, the rest will follow. That and have a halfway decent Zoom Meeting camera set-up. 

Can you share some thoughts on SōRSE’s expansion across the US? What are the growth opportunities you are seeing nationally?  

Hemp-infused beverages that have launched successfully in local, micro-regional, and regional markets are starting to get serious attention from established distribution players. This is bringing infused products to markets all over the country. With that expansion, we support our customers as they grow and increase SōRSE’s footprint along with them – which are all good things. What’s really great is when we can assist our customers with other resources that grow their brand or following. Introducing our brand partners to co-packers in different regions to support growth, to formulators who can create a new SKU, to packaging companies who have inventory of appropriate product formats — this is how we support growth across the US, and the globe for that matter.  

Can you share something about yourself that not a lot of people know about you? 

My first job out of college was in outside sales for a pet food distribution company. I once ate a healthy-sized handful of dog kibble in front of a store owner to prove that it had human-grade ingredients. That built a lot of trust.  

SōRSE Employee Spotlight: Jerry Bryan

Jerry SoRSE Associate Scientist
Jerry, SōRSE Associate Scientist

Meet Jerry Bryan, SōRSE’s Associate Scientist on our R&D team. Jerry joined the company in 2019; he started as an intern while wrapping up his degree in Biology at the University of Washington. After graduating, Jerry started working for the company full time, tapping into his experience doing lab work in college for his role at SōRSE. Jerry is currently responsible for developing formulations that allow the delivery of functional ingredients in water-based systems and evolving SōRSE platforms. While Jerry may be one of the youngest members of the Science team, he is an out-of-the-box thinker who brings great value to the company because of his curiosity and his work ethic. Jerry was actively involved in the formulation of SōRSE Clear water-soluble CBD emulsion, which was launched in November of 2020.   

When did you start becoming interested in science? Were there any particular courses in college that you took that stood out? What about the field intrigues or excites you?     

I have always been interested in science from the first time I mixed baking soda and vinegar in elementary school. During my freshman year at University of Washington, I started working in a plant biology lab (Bendich lab), and that’s where I started to gain a passion for science and research.    

My favorite courses at UW were Plant Classification/Taxonomy and Organic Chemistry. Plant classification was fun because it made going on walks a lot more interesting once I was able to recognize plant families, and also gain an overall appreciation for the plant world. Organic Chemistry helped me visualize and understand how chemicals interact at a molecular level, which helps me in my current work.    

What excites me about the field of science and research is that you can learn something new every day. While research can be frustrating and tedious at times, I am always motivated by the next ‘ah-ha’ moment and the opportunity to learn something new. I am also excited to be a part of a company that is an innovator and pioneer in the cannabis/ingredient industry.    

How did you come to work at SōRSE? What was your first year like?  

Near the end of my final year at UW, I applied to every research job opportunity I could find and I discovered SōRSE. I even started working part time at SōRSE for about a month while I was still in school. My first year at SōRSE was nothing short of a deep dive on many aspects of the company. I got to work with Production and the Operations team and learned how to make large batches of finished material, made many finished beverages in product development, learned analytical tools to assess emulsion stability, and I also got to work on developing new SōRSE emulsions. Learning a little bit from each department allowed me to take a 100-foot view when developing products, and consider every aspect of a product before finalizing it.    

What do you enjoy about your current role at SōRSE, and what’s been challenging?    

I enjoy that I get to push the boundaries of what we think is possible in the cannabis and ingredient world. It’s also very rewarding to see something that I formulated on store shelves.     

At the same time, pushing those limits and boundaries is a very challenging task. Making something that no other company has commercialized means that I don’t have a reference point to work from; in essence, I have to start from scratch and come up with the concept myself. At those times, I have to trust my theoretical knowledge and keeping trying new things until I get the desired outcome.       

Describe a day in the life of Jerry at SōRSE. What are some of the projects that you are currently involved in?  

A day in life at SōRSE for me consists of ideation, research, bench work such as making emulsion or product development and helping prep/ship out R&D samples to customers. I am currently working on a lot of custom emulsions for specific customers.    

(I have a long list of specific projects I am working on, but my manager says they are top secret.)    

Can you share some highlights from your time at SōRSE?    

My biggest highlight so far at SōRSE is commercializing our Clear CBD formulation. When I talk about pushing the boundaries of what we think is possible, this is a prime example. This is a product that our customers have been requesting for a while. None of our competitors had successfully brought a successful clear CBD emulsion to market, nor was it obvious how to accomplish this task. This took over 100 iterations to get it right. Even when we thought we were almost done formulating, issues didn’t cease. I am proud to say we now have a Clear CBD emulsion that can be scaled up for production, has minimal sensory attributes, is robust with temperature changes, and can go into various beverages and applications without stability issues.    

If you could, what product infused with cannabinoids would you create for consumer use?    

A MiO-style THC product that has a pump mechanism, allowing easy dosing of 10 mg of THC. (MiO is a liquid beverage mix used to flavor water and other beverages.)   

Can you share a fun fact that not a lot of people know about you?   

I play keys and guitar for fun, and jam/make music with Trevor, our Shipping Manager, every week.    

 

SōRSE Employee Spotlight: Tim O’Neill

Tim O'Neill SoRSE Tech

Meet Tim O’Neill, VP of International Markets, who joined the SōRSE team in 2019 after serving as an officer in the British Army for ten years, where he took on a broad range of roles, from policy to counter-insurgency operations. Tim leads SoRSE’s international business development and is responsible for creating strategy for global expansion and building relationships with clients in Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. 

Tim enjoys the challenge of working in this burgeoning marketplace, especially as global consumers show increased interest in products infused with cannabinoids.  While he may live thousands of miles from the SōRSE headquarters in Seattle, Tim is an integral part of our sales team as the company expands to new markets around the world.  

What drew you to SōRSE? What intrigued you about the position?   

I crossed paths with our CEO, Howard, when I was looking at options outside my current role and he was looking for options for SōRSE outside of the US. It was clear that it was an opportunity to move into a brand-new role in a brand-new industry. It was an exciting prospect and a chance to really shape the position and make it my own. It was made clear that I’d be expected to be a self-starter, to make my own decisions and manage my own time; coming from the rigidity of my current organization, this sounded like the perfect job! It took four weeks from being offered the role to starting out as the newest member of the team.  

Prior to SōRSE, you served as an officer in the British Army for ten years. What skills that you developed in your time in the military do you find yourself drawing on working for SōRSE?  

I spent a lot of my time in that role operating ‘at range’ and trying to solve new and complex problems with only the resources that I had available.  I also needed to anticipate requirements for my time and my commanders, and prepare as best I could for uncertainty. It was all about trying to deliver results on time to the best of my ability and with the tools available.  My time at SōRSE has been no different. 

What do you enjoy about your role, and what do you find challenging?  

Working 8,000 miles and eight time zones away from the company office in Seattle has its challenges, but I’ve found the team I get to work with every day have taken it in their stride, and I try and use it to my advantage wherever I can.  The team I work with loves what they do and universally wants the company to do great things, which we are. 

Working with CBD on in a global marketplace has its challenges — one of them being regulatory differences. Despite the challenges, what are the growth opportunities that you are seeing internationally? How do you see people’s perceptions of cannabis changing? 

 Public perception and support for the legalization of cannabis products is only increasing everywhere you look. The ‘Post Prohibition’ era is coming everywhere; it’s just a question of when. People are preparing accordingly, and there is a lot of excitement around what that could look like.  People are being cautious and examining opportunities, but the pieces are already being moved into place. 

Can you describe some significant/meaningful moments in the time you have worked at SōRSE?  

Coming from the Army, and with little practical business experience, the last few years have been full of ‘firsts’ for me. I secured our first international order. Seeing that through from making the sale, helping with regulatory compliance, shipping, clearing customs and delivery was really satisfying. The fact that the customer was thrilled with SōRSE Technology and just how much better it was than the alternatives made me realize I was a part of something special.  

What are your work goals for 2021 and your personal goals?  

I’d like SōRSE to get in at the ground floor of every new legal hemp market in the world, as the best provider of emulsions for food and beverages.  

As a family, we are preparing for my wife to coach the Great Britain Rowing Team at the Olympics in Tokyo this the summer, and between a four-year-old, a Labrador and three chickens, I think I’ll have plenty to occupy me once I clock off for the weekend! 

Can you share something about yourself that not a lot of people know?   

I once accidentally crossed the border from Kuwait into Iraq on a jet ski. 

 

Going the Extra Mile: Mobile Runs Powered by SōRSE

A point of pride for the SōRSE team is our relationship with our clients and our willingness to help in whatever way we can to get their product to market – from recommending flavor profiles to connecting them with co-manufacturers. 

Nearly a year ago, one of our clients, Cann, a low dose social tonic, was looking to expand to other legal markets beyond California where they are based, but they did not have a way to produce SōRSE emulsion, the backbone of their beverage. Zach Hershberger, our Operations Managerand the Operations team put their heads together and came up with a plan – create a mobile unit and take production on the road.  

Recently we sat down with Zach, who has executed many of the mobile production runs, to talk about how this service came to be, what they entail, the benefits this provides to a client like Cann, and the service might expand in the future.  

What is the genesis story of the first mobile run? 

The whole process was born out of a request from Cann, who wanted to expand to Nevada. They basically said that “There was no Cann without SōRSE, that SōRSE was an integral part of their product. That led to them asking if we could produce SōRSE with their license holder in Nevada. At first we thought it was going to be pretty tough to install a lab in a new location, but then we realized it was feasible to take our equipment on the road and set up shop at the license’s facility. That first trip to Nevada was May of 2020.  

How did SōRSE’s and your relationship with Luke Anderson and Jake Bullock from Cann develop over time? 

I had just started at SōRSE when the company was ramping up emulsion production when Luke and Jake, Cann’s Co-Founders, visited the office in Seattle as they were evaluating emulsion suppliers. At that point, they were planning on operating out of San Diego. I shared some of my experience working at GreenMed Labs where we produced Happy Apple, just to give them an idea of what beverage production entailed. At that point, they knew what their product was going to be; they just weren’t sure where and how they were going to make it. I think one reason they went with us is that they realized we understood what they needed to accomplish.   

After they signed on with us as a client, I made sure they were taken care of, oversaw the production of their emulsion in California, and coached them through the processes that they needed to get production off the ground. Eventually they hired Ishan Kapoor, their Director of Operations, and I have been working with him since.  

What did you think of the idea behind Cann’s product, a low dose social tonic?  

I like the idea of a low dose beverage – I think it’s a great entry point for someone who is curious about infused beverages. It seemed like they had good idea behind it – a beverage to replace an alcoholic drink – and I really appreciated their commitment to using high quality ingredients. They refuse to compromise on the quality, and it shows in their product. It really seemed like a craft beverage.  

What does the timeline look like for planning and executing a mobile run? 

The calendar and the planning really depend on where we are going. If we are going across the country, it takes time to ship the equipment to the location. If we are driving, you have to factor in the travel time.  We recently introduced a second crate of equipment to the mix, so that should make things a little easier.  

The timeline works like this: A customer contacts us and asks us when we can make it; then our team looks at the calendar to establish a date. Once confirmed, we get the run on the calendar and start getting the ball in motion for what we need to do to execute it. That includes sending a packet of information to the client, basically their to-do list, and in turn they need to send us a Certificate of Analysis (COA) of the cannabis raw material they are using. The goal is that two weeks beforehand, we have all the details buttoned up. Facility requirements need to be met so that it is ready to go when we get there.  

Once we get to the facility, we take stock of the material and equipment we shipped and make sure we have everything we need. Then we set up the equipment for production. On Day 2, we start the conversion of the oil to the emulsion, starting the conversion. Converting a kilo typically takes two days using our mobile lab’s equipment. Day 3 is our wrap up, clean up, and package the equipment to be shipped back. I feel good about how efficient we are on these runs; the key to a successful run is maximizing our time so that we are not wasting our resources.  

In what states have you done mobile runs since this service started? 

We’ve gone to California, Nevada, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Illinois. 

What do you enjoy about mobile runs? What’s challenging about them?

What’s cool is seeing the interest and curiosity of the people working at the license facility in what we are doing and whyBasically when this big crate arrives, they are wondering what’s in it, and then once we arrive and set it up, they are wondering what we’re doing with it. This process is very different from the other processes going on at the facility, and they are inherently curious about what companies do with the emulsion. We find ourselves explaining what we are doing, who we are doing it for, and why. This exposes them to a world beyond flower – something so different from what they are used to.   

The challenges are adapting to the different facilities, assessing the spaces where we are working, and being able to respond to situations and snags quickly. At this point we are used to it – and we have learned how to adapt to new environments and problem-solve quickly.  

Why do you think it is important that SōRSE offer this service, and how does it benefit a partner like Cann? How does it benefit SōRSE? 

I think that offering this level of service to our clients shows that we see ourselves as partners in their expansion and overall success. It also gives our clients consistency in their product because we are using the same equipment and ingredients we do at our own facility. I think they know that not every supplier will have the capability to do a run in a new state like we do. Mobile runs have been beneficial for us, because we have been able introduced to partners and potential partners in new states. We have also learned a lot about how licenses work, and how differently they operate. 

 A year from now, what will mobile runs look like for SōRSE? 

If things continue to progress the way they have been, I think we will have more employees on the road doing these conversions. I see us doing higher volumes through trusted locations instead of small volumes in many locations – maybe two to three conversions a month. We will look to find trusted partners in each state where we can work consistently. Those partners can then act as a reseller to other companies who are interested in SōRSE.  I would love to see us get to a point where the license was wholesaling SōRSE to other companies for make their own products.  

 

Puget Sound Business Journal’s Cannabis Leader Spotlight: Diana Eberlein

“This isn’t your mom-and-pop industry anymore. It certainly started that way, but it has matured. This is a professional space. This is real food science. And once you look at it that way you will never look at it the same.” – Diana Eberlein, SōRSE VP of Marketing

Check out Diana’s interview with Puget Sound Business Journal where she explains how SōRSE is helping to drive the growth and maturation of the cannabis industry and changing people’s perspectives on cannabis. Read the full article here.

 

SōRSE Employee Spotlight: Loni Mowbray

Meet Loni Mowbray, our Quality Control Manager, one of SōRSE’s newest team members, but a seasoned veteran of the food and beverage industry. Loni joined the company in 2020 and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role in managing product standards. Loni has been working in the food industry since she was a teenager, and today develops food safety and quality programs for SōRSE. She’s excited to be part of an industry that is constantly evolving and changing, helping implement processes that ensure that products powered by SōRSE are of the highest quality possible.     

What compelled you to pursue a career in food safety? How did you get to where you are now?  

I had seen the movie “Outbreak” when I was 12 or 13, and it was really the first thing that ignited my desire to “do science.” I kept driving towards that through the Running Start program where I was able to take classes at my local community college and use the credits towards my high school diploma. Part of the Running Start program was a “learning into action” requirement, where I needed to find work in my potential field, and there weren’t a lot of science-related jobs in Mount Vernon, Washington at the time.  As a result, I ended up getting a job at Advanced H2O as a Quality Control Technician for bottled water and sparkling beverages. After gaining that experience, I had the opportunity to work for several different food manufacturers  Nature’s Path Foods, Da Vinci Gourmet (which became Kerry Food and Beverage), then to Stockpot Soups which was a subsidiary of Campbell’s, then back to Da Vinci when a quality assurance (QA) lead position had opened up.

At that point, I’d been working in QA for about five years and felt confident in my ability to be a QA manager, but I was lacking the necessary education. I enrolled at Washington State University with the intention of changing career paths to go into medicine and earned dual Bachelors’ degrees in Microbiology with a Medical Technology emphasis and Genetics/Cell Biology. I was hoping this would lead me to a career as a med tech, but in the end my degrees took me back to the food industry. I eventually worked my way through Trident Seafoods and Coca-Cola as QA Supervisor, to being offered the position of Ivar’s Quality Control Manager, where I focused on training, food safety, and food quality issues.

In the food and beverage industry, we learn new things every day; new issues pop up, and some old issues don’t get resolved. My feeling is, I want to make myself valuable by finding solutions to these problems and communicating the results to all levels within the company, with the end goal of developing a robust food safety culture.     

What drew you to SōRSE? What intrigued you about the position?   

A year or so ago, I hit a point in my career where I had found my place in the food industry, yet I was rethinking what I was doing and the direction I was headed. At the same time, I had started using cannabis and was interested in the science behind it and the different ways that it helps people. Compared to other industries, cannabis is brand new, and a lot of people who work in it know a lot about cannabinoids and extraction but not a lot about quality assurance or food safety, especially in the edibles space. I kept my eyes open for a QA manager position, and eventually saw one open at SōRSE. I was a little daunted because it seemed very chemistry-heavy and highly technical, but I went for it and applied. After a full day of back-to-back interviews, I knew that the SōRSE people were MY people. From the interviews I could see how super-smart, driven, and motivated the team is. I was thrilled when I was offered the job.    

What do you love about your role, and what do you find challenging?  

I love that, since day one, I have been in a state of constant learning, though the curve has been steep at times. There was a lot to figure out up front; I asked a lot of what I thought were inane questions, but I needed to get grounded in the science and the data. I’m learning more about cannabis than I ever expected, and I’m ecstatic to have the time to research. Topics like the Entourage Effect are really fascinating, and it feels good to take the skills and experience I have and make a positive impact on the business. It’s also great to be working for a company where people are legitimately happy I’m here; often in the food industry, the QC manager is the person people avoid because they feel as though the person in that position is more of a hindrance than a help. At SōRSE the level of appreciation my colleagues have expressed is a testament to how my work is being perceived, and how I am truly contributing to the quality of what we are doing here. I also love being able to see the positive impact our work is having in the industry, and helping people understand why quality control is so important in terms of legitimizing our products through gathering data, planning, creating processes and documentation. Once you get the processes in place, it’s just a matter of doing daily monitoring to make sure you are getting the results you want.  

One of the challenges I have in my role is switching between creating, planning, and executing programs for QC and being able to react in a moment’s notice if an issue arises. I to keep an ear out for what is happening in the lab and be ready to stop what I am doing to help out. Switching gears like that has helped me develop my ability to prioritize and find new tools to get things done.   

What do you think a consumer should know or be aware of when they are purchasing infused products?   

Consumers should definitely do some homework on the products they are interested in buying, who is making them and with what ingredients, and buy products from retailers that they trust. They should request documentation like the Certificate of Analysis (COA) on the product they are purchasing so they can be sure the potency on the label is accurate and that it has been tested for residual pesticides amongst other things. They can also look into the labs where the products are tested to make sure they are legit and are on the up and up. If the lab is reputable, then the results should be accurate, and consumers can trust the numbers. If consumers are going to dispensaries to purchase products, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions about how the products are tested for potency and safety. Consumers should also avoid brands that make medical claims – that is a huge issue with the FDA, since cannabinoids have not yet been approved as a food ingredient and as such any claims made have no federal scientific backing.  

 Can you share something about yourself that not a lot of people know?   

For me personally, one of the worst things about the social distancing required by the pandemic has been no karaoke. Karaoke has always been a huge outlet for me, and I really miss going with my sister. My three favorite songs to sing are “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos, “Misery” by Pink and Steven Tyler, and “Zombie” by the Cranberries. My favorite karaoke bar was a place in Kent, Washington called the Golden Steer; the KJ was an absolute rock star! I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get down there again, once it’s safe to do so.