Testing lab startup Desert Cannalytix is aiming to be the standard in accurate and reliable cannabis lab testing in the U.S.
Founder and CEO Malorie La Fuente recently sat down with Regaboost blog to discuss her vision for the company, the problems it is seeking to address and solutions her team is bringing forward.
On starting early
Regaboost: Tell us about your background in Clinical Laboratory Science. What attracted you to this field?
Malorie: I was born in Brooklyn, NY but my family moved to TN when my father, who previously worked on fighter jets for the Air Force, landed a position in Memphis. There he served as a field service engineer for biomedical equipment servicing a variety of laboratory settings.
I remember the pharmaceutical and clinical labs within St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where he would bring me during summer. He showed me that they were able to manufacture amino acids for the patients that had illnesses preventing them from producing their own.
On having a career in lab testing
R: How did your training and honed expertise help your career early on?
M: Within two years into my professional career, I was quickly promoted into supervisory and managerial roles. My clinical rotations were at some of the best pathology labs in NYC.
R: As a young leader in such critical positions, what did you do to transition well?
M: They say being a leader requires special and charismatic traits. You end up dealing with a wide range of employees, peers, customers, and various other regulatory bodies so you have to be a people person. You will also need to learn that you can’t always be the good guy. You will have to make difficult decisions and will also have to have difficult conversations sometimes. Being a leader can seem like riding on a never-ending roller coaster but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
R: What’s your perspective on leadership?
M: While many leaders I’ve encountered have a totally opposite mentality to me, I come from a mindset of service to others. I strive to make impacts and to leave areas in my life journey better than how I found them. I like to invoke passion and specific talents in those I deal with. My aim is to be a pioneer that leads others into new experiences and new ways of looking at things. Keeping up with current trends and also creatively coming up with innovative solutions to do things differently has been a huge part of my success in management.
R: How did you get into cannabis lab testing?
M: I have always been a huge advocate for any sort of plant medicine. While I understand, cannabis or any other plant medicine is not a cure-all, treat all, those with symptoms and illnesses that could benefit from plant medicines counted on safe products to consume.
On Desert Cannalytix
R: Tell us about Desert Cannalytix?
M: Correcting the vague laboratory testing and quality assurance standards for cannabis in the state and establishing a CBD/Hemp testing facility would require an aggressive strategy that would allow us to set these standards ourselves.
So we are building a state-of-the-art testing lab in Las Vegas that will ensure safety within the CBD/Hemp market. The operation of this lab will facilitate high-caliber products free from harmful substances and contaminants for its customers that can furthermore be sold with accurate labels and descriptions to its consumers.
We are also developing the Desert Cannalytix app, where users will be able to make payments, view lab reports/certificates pdf, view the status of a sample.
We have secured partnerships with technology and tools providers for the equipment necessary to run an effective CBD/hemp laboratory. So far we have two of the most trusted analytical equipment providers, Perkin Elmer and PathogenDX on board as vendors.
At the moment, we are currently seeking standard local and government licensure required to start a CBD/Hemp lab. We plan to seek additional accreditation from relevant agencies, including an ILAC certification, upon operation.
R: Is it difficult to apply for a license?
M: I was patiently awaiting the opportunity to apply for a license to run/ open a cannabis testing facility but in the first year and a half, there was no movement. The department of taxation in Nevada governed the cannabis industry at the time.
Despite the uncertainty of ever getting a license, I didn’t give up working. I started putting time and money into necessities such as, building a website, developing a business plan, putting together quotes to develop a startup budget.
R: How did you manage to overcome this hurdle?
M: I kept moving forward even if I was still unsure what direction to take my idea and how I was going to raise the money to support it.
About this time, I met my present CFO, Bonito Sahagun. Upon meeting him, I had no clue, he would be accompanying me for the long haul as he originally was simply offering friendly advice. He has helped overcome huge hurdles that would have been near impossible without him.
R: We heard Bonito was instrumental in shifting the company’s focus toward CBD/Hemp?
M: In the late spring of 2020, I was initially excited by the news that due to a directive from Nevada’s governor, the state’s cannabis regulations would be governed by a cannabis compliance board. However, another year passed and she still failed to get an opportunity to apply for a license.
Licensure is critical to opening. I was beginning to feel defeated. It seemed at the time, everything was working against me.
After listening calmly to my frustrations, Bonito gave me the idea to change our strategy.
I began to think of other ways we could open. One day, I had an idea to change our business model to strictly servicing CBD/ hemp and any other future plant medicines potentially coming down the pipe. I knew the market was just as large, if not larger for CBD/ Hemp.
R: So what’s next for Desert Cannalytix?
M: We are starting a crowdfunding raise. This was actually a decision made by my CFO. Anyone could support us even if they didn’t have heaps of money to invest. Not only with money, but it’s a great way to get people to learn about your brand and services.
R: What would you like to share with your potential investors?
M: The cannabis industry is definitely glamorous and can have passive trends, but testing isn’t going anywhere. We can say that well-operated cannabis testing labs are the most secure investment to make in the cannabis space.