They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but good publicists know that when every shelf in the bookstore is stacked with great reads, each more eye-catching than the next, an unremarkable cover of even the biggest masterpiece will probably gather more dust than eyes, leaving all the truths underneath it unexplored.
And being an astute businessman, as well as a long-time avid cannabis advocate, Gen X Biosciences’s founder and CEO Shea Alderete knows very well that the exact same principle applies to the herb, which is eloquently reflected in Gen X’s slogan, “Bridging the gap from science to culture.” The science behind a cannabis product is the true game-changer, but without the gravitational force of the cultural aspect that draws people, there might not be a game to begin with, no larger movement to unite around.
In that spirit, Gen X has established popular collaborations and partnerships with names like Snoop Dog, Marshmello, Coachella, ABC, ESPN, and professional supercross and motocross racer Tyler Bereman who promoted Gen X at the Monster Energy Cup.
But just like a book’s cover, the culture surrounding a cannabis product can only get you so far and would seem like nothing but a gimmick without any substance to back it up.
“A lot of that [the promotional campaigns and collaborations] was just to give us a little boost, to say ‘Hey guys, we’re here. Now look a little heavier in what we really are about’,” Alderete explains.
And what Gen X really is about is exploration of the scientific wonders of the cannabis plant and developing the biotechnological innovations that can unlock them.
Before Alderete even started Gen X, he knew that despite his experience of founding a terpenes company a few years back, he was a business and marketing major, not a scientist. His enthusiasm for the plant and preexisting knowledge of it alone wouldn’t suffice if he was to materialize his dream of creating a cannabis company that’s an epitome of supreme quality, the Apple of the Green Market. To that end, he hired a team of biochemists and chemical engineers to “advance his processes to a further level.”
In a way, Alderete is something like a film director with the overall vision who surrounded himself with a team of niche specialists to help him execute it on multiple levels that all come together.
Chromatography and terpene separation and isolation were the first steps of Gen X’s scientific journey which eventually led to the “molecular perfection” distillation system – the undeniable sign that it had been headed in the right direction. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder for certain types of products, supreme purity isn’t; it’s just a black-or-white mathematical fact. And the water-clear distillate that was the first product of Gen X’s trademark, science-driven extraction method has anywhere between 93% and 96% purity.
“We started out with water-clear distillate and there was a lot of people that couldn’t compete because nobody knew the processes that we’re using since it was all in-house. We developed it ourselves,” Alderete says.
The water-clear distillate perfectly epitomizes the difference between Gen X and their devotion to data and other companies that mostly focus on the recreational side of cannabis.
“In early 2015 and 2016, I was battling with a lot of recreational products where everybody thought their product was better than others and that was just based upon popularity. If you won a High Times Cannabis Cup, all of a sudden your product would sell, but the reality is, it’s all data-driven. My whole concept was proof is in the pudding,” Alderete explains. “I didn’t want to sell my product based upon my popularity. I wanted to sell my product based upon the data, what was shown, and what I could educate on.”
Shea didn’t see the lack of comprehensive education on the importance of data for cannabis products as an excuse to take a more lenient approach – on the contrary, he viewed it as a glaring gap that had to be bridged.
“I just felt like it was kind of my duty to really push the envelope on data and really show the consumers what they’re ingesting,” Alderete says, “so when you’re asked questions by a 50- and 60-year old person, you can sit there and tell them ‘Hey, my product’s tested, this is what it’s tested for, these are the percentages, this is why.’ To me, data is everything.”
This is why the stricter regulations kicking in are actually a welcomed equalizer of the odds for Alderete, getting everyone to play by the rules Gen X has been playing all along at the behest of their own integrity and commitment to the cannabis industry.
“Since 2016, we’ve been pesticide-free. We’ve never put out any tainted products and it’s been an unfair playing field. There have been lots of products in the marketplace that we were competing against that were cheaper but these companies have had tainted products,” he explains. “I wanted to stay in this industry forever, and I knew you have to start from the beginning and build that reputation and stand on that platform, and that’s the platform we decided to stand on [Gen X].”
In that spirit, all of Gen X’s products are 100% cannabis-derived, which is particularly important to the terpene contents as, instead of some synthesized imitation that merely provides artificial flavor, it unlocks the entourage effect.
As for the future, Gen X is about to go public and will continue to explore new unique intersections of cannabis, science, and culture. The next major one might be an analogue of 23AndMe in the cannabis field which will help people understand what type of cannabis products they’re more open to genetically. In addition, Alderete is getting involved with clinical research studies with universities like UCI and UCLA and working with doctors from Stanford in the pursuit of continuously pushing the envelope on all scientific fronts regarding cannabis.