Vertosa is a cannabis infusion technology company, developing customized emulsion systems to infuse brands’ products, including beverages, topicals and edibles, with THC and other cannabinoids in the mix.
Ben Larson, it’s Chief Executive Officer, said when he stepped into the cannabis space he did not have a relationship to the plant. But today, his refrigerator is always filled with products to test, making the process part of his own daily, self-medicating.
“To say, I eat my own dog food, is an understatement,” he laughed. “But, I really do love the experience, sociability, and ease of the infused beverage format. Second to the ready-to-drinks, the cannabis cocktails made with the infusions are a real crowd pleaser.”
Larson said the same social creativity many have enjoyed with a home bar, but using cannabis infused products make for a healthier experience.
40 Under 40
The 39 year old Larson graduated Cal Poly with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, spending six years in transportation systems planning. While he loved the engineering side of the work, it wasn’t the type of career he was looking for, as the gratification from the work done was slow in coming.
“The world of engineering is in stark contrast to what I was able to do in the world of start-ups,” he added. “I realized my life’s passion for helping others create and realize their dreams. I’ve now worked with early-stage businesses and startup ecosystems all around the world, and that has provided me the fortunate opportunity of playing a big role in the cannabis industry in California.”
In fact, his proudest professional accomplishment was putting his career on the line to back the cannabis industry.
“It was a risky endeavor, but in just two years time, I helped create an influential name in the industry, building a valuable portfolio of companies spanning ag tech to cryptocurrency, ushering in an emerging legal California market,” he added.
Recognized by the San Francisco Business Times in 2018 in its 40 Under 40 top entrepreneur list, Larson is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, investor, and start-up advisor.
“To be a serial entrepreneur is to have a relentless drive to create, to make something out of the concept of risking everything to will something into existence far less attractive than the allure of a steady paycheck and benefits—we are drawn into the fire like a moth to a flame,” he said. “I’d probably make a terrible cog in the wheel at this point in my career—I’d rather design a whole new clock! I think this is what drew me into the cannabis space. There’s so much to build and so much positive impact to bring to the world – and, of course, there’s no shortage of fire.”
Larson has made it his mission to help the burgeoning legal cannabis industry mature and grow through his Gateway start-up incubator.
“We launched the incubator program in 2015, as a nexus for California cannabis start-ups and mainstream capital and mentoring, and the rest is history” he shared. “Gateway has added more than 20 cannabis start-ups to its portfolio and recently launched a second $20 million venture fund.”
Aside from Gateway, Larson said he also works as an advisor and mentor with non-profit Youth Business USA, which is dedicated to coaching underserved young entrepreneurs.
Engineering the Stash
Vertosa’s process is to emulsify and reduce the size of the cannabis oil droplets to infuse products—including beverages. This process has allowed the company to be able to create a better delivery mechanism, resulting in faster absorption, greater efficacy, and consistency of experience.
With infusions coming off the line at work, Larson’s stash is filled with products and concentrates to test.
“I naturally consume the most through infusion experimentation and product testing,” he said. “Second to that, because it’s so easy to infuse anything, and I’m usually on the run or off to bed, plain old water infusions are probably my most common delivery.”
Larso said he’s a “huge fan” of Try Chemistry’s full spectrum oil smoking extracts, stating the complexity of the high with the convenience of a vape is hard to beat.
“With all the uncertainty surrounding vapes and the ingredients within, this is honestly the only oil I care to consume” he added.
Try Chemistry is another California company specializing in smoking oils and tinctures. The company sources from sun grown, craft cannabis farms from Northern California, such as Moon Made and Alpenglow of Humboldt County; and Croft Farms of Mendocino.
When all is said and done, flower rules for the concentrate aficionado.
“There’s always a place in my heart for flower,” he said. “You really can’t replace the experience. A high quality pre-roll, like Henry’s is always good to have on hand. And, just for fun, trying my hand at growing my own using the all-in-one kit from A Pot for Pot really ties it all back to this beautiful plant, helping me to remember what it’s all about in the first place. A beneficial plant.”
Henry’s Original is one of Northern California’s heritage cannabis farms in Mendocino. The Clean Green certified farm uses organic techniques.
A Pot for Pot is a company providing ready-to-grow kits with everything needed to start and grow a cannabis plant. The kits come with a box pot, seeds, soil, watering can/sprayer, nutrients, and plenty of support to ensure a healthy plant.
Aside from the enjoyment and healthful benefits of the plant, Larson’s bottom line in the cannabis space is to see the plant thrive, not decline among capitalism and politics.
“History aside, we’re fortunate to find ourselves in an era where many have accepted cannabis as legitimate medicine once again,” he concluded. “And this lends itself to greater investment, research and technological advancements. This was not the path I intended as an engineer, but I couldn’t be more happier than where I am today—in this greater good industry, with so many positive outcomes and healing happening everyday.”