Meet our Technical Project Manager, Mike Schmitt. His academic background in Business, Food Science, and Microbiology and sixteen years of experience in the food and beverage industry lends itself well to working on the Operations team at SōRSE. Mike is the kind of person who will take on any challenge put before him, and he loves being a problem solver and mentor to his colleagues. Mike sees himself as a Jack of all trades who finds all of the work he is doing fascinating and fun, which makes him a valuable member of the team.
How did you end up at SōRSE? How did you find out about the company?
Prior to SōRSE, I worked at Doehler North America as a Technical Project Manager, and prior to that, I was a Food Scientist at Darigold for nearly ten years. After leaving Doehler and not working for a while, I got to the point where I just threw my hands up in the air and started calling people I had known from my past jobs, and Scott Riefler (CSO) was one of them. Scott and I had a wonderful supplier/customer relationship at Darigold; he really impressed me with his ability to be straightforward and honest, and he was someone I really trusted.
Scott asked if I was open to working with CBD, which I was. He said there might be a position at a company he was involved with, and it was SōRSE. The process from the first conversation to job offer was a whirlwind – it happened in 12 days! I came into the job knowing I would be doing a wide array of things – and it has been fun seeing how I can be of help with my food, tech, and business background. Officially, I’m a Technical Project Manager here, but “Startup Technical Generalist Manager” is a title that I created for myself.
What have been some of the significant moments in your time here?
Definitely coming to the understanding that we are so new in a young industry, that we have the ability to work with and guide lawmakers who are trying to regulate this industry, and that we can set ourselves apart through best practices. Having a food and beverage mentality and mindset is already built into what we do and what makes our product stand out. We have opportunities to improve, but we are definitely leaps and bounds ahead of our competitors. One of our competitors has even asked if we could convert some of their extract for them because they liked our liquid emulsion so much; it is so clean compared to their product. Our competitors are trying to follow us and are definitely not at the same level as we are.
In your time at SōRSE, what are you most proud of, and what do you love most about your job?
I’m proud of being trusted to get things done. In the past I’ve been entrusted to do a lot of different things, but to be trusted right off the bat feels fantastic. I am also encouraged to try something new all the time. At SōRSE you can really do anything you want. After working for companies with so much structure, I didn’t realize that I would flourish in a startup environment, but it turns out I like to build structure around the chaos. It’s also been fun to have been able to mentor and help others in ways that I hadn’t imagined.
What I love most about my work is the daily challenge. Because there is something new every day, I know that am not going to be bored. We have new markets we are going into, new suppliers we are working with – it’s great to be a part of this world. Today’s challenge is ensuring that our B2C products have risk assessments done, because B2B assessment is a lot different than B2C. This is connected to our overall goal and long-term strategy to be ready for when the FDA makes a ruling on how CBD can interact with food. We have to be FDA-ready to make the big sale. Consumers are demanding that they get access to products with CBD in them, and it’s just a matter of time before the FDA makes a ruling on how it can officially be put into foods and beverages.
Where do you see yourself in this role moving forward?
I envision myself talking on a variety of roles, as needed, to help the company grow. I ask that any company I work for challenges me, lets me do a little bit of travel, and gives me the opportunity to teach and learn. That has happened to my heart’s content here at SōRSE. In Week 8 of working here, I was able to travel to London to teach others about CBD in products and how it will affect development in the UK and EU. I’m also sharing as much as I’m learning with team; I see how important it is to understand state and federal regulations. We have 11 states with recreational laws, 33 that have medical. Each set of laws is different – and you have to know those differences. SōRSE needs to have a background in the similarities and differences of regulations in the industry to help make sure we can grow as the industry does, and I’m trying to help SōRSE understand this.
Can you share a fun fact that not a lot of people know about you?
Whenever I travel to a new country, I always have to stop by a McDonald’s to try a localized product or get a cheeseburger and fries. I really appreciate the effort that goes into making a cheeseburger in India taste like one in Seattle. I’ve met the team tasked with this effort at McDonald’s headquarters, and I love to nerd out with fellow food scientists doing their job on a global scale.