BioAgra Technologies is a research, consulting, and system/product implementation company for licensed and LP applicants. BAT delivers new technologies and products to the burgeoning cannabis grow operations.
Dorian Balshin and Gary Rotman, both with a background in the medical industry, co-founded BioAgra in Toronto in 2016. Balshin founded Bio-Media Ltd., an international leader supplying prepared media to the medical and health food industries, while Rotman is an entrepreneur, specializing in introducing first-to-market products in developing markets.
One of those projects included Rotman developing a medication management and reminder system for the senior care industry. Bio-Media Ltd. serves as BioAgra’s parent company.
Despite experience in a similar field, the start-up continues to work through red tape associated with the medical cannabis industry.
“It’s a big learning curve understanding we are in the pharmaceutical business,” says Rotman. “But there are also the related challenges and satisfaction of implementing strict Health Canada guidelines with suppliers.”
Rotman adds that he and Balshin were both intrigued by the medicinal cannabis industry after networking with like-minded industry people, including the Father of Aeroponics, Richard Stoner.
As the only employees of the start-up, Balshin and Rotman wore many hats, with Balshin taking the title of CEO and Rotman vice-president of sales and marketing.
“Still, we both had to source unique products and solution, identify and vet the right partners and alliances, identify go-to market strategies, and open doors with initial customers,” says Rotman.
The company has since added two more employees, and now distributes Canada-wide with plans to expand to other countries as soon as possible. Rotman says the company is able to move quickly due to its experience understanding challenges licensed producers and growers face scaling growth in sterile environments.
Another strength of BioAgra enjoys is sourcing and building relationships with suppliers, inventors, manufacturers, and alliance partners, as well as identifying new technologies and products that are the best in the industry.
Partnering with Stoner, adds Rotman, has given BioAgra a leg-up in the start-up phase.
“The realization that we have partnered with the Father of Aeroponics at exactly the right time has been great,” says Rotman.
“He discovered aeroponics and related systems and products through a NASA-funded project for (International Space Station) fresh food growth nearly 25 years ago.
The new cannabis industry, couple with competitive forces, requires growers to maximize yields and quality in the shortest time at the lowest possible cost, can be delivered most effectively with a properly implemented aeroponics system.”
Shortly after BioAgra secured a deal to represent Stoner globally, Stoner finalized a joint venture with the government of India after 15 years of engagement. That deal will allow Stoner to implement his aeroponic systems at manufacturing facilities throughout the country.
“That was probably one of the best days on the job so far, getting that call from Richard,” says Rotman.
Still, new challenges arise every day in the unstable cannabis industry as it finds its way.
“There are similarities to the dotcom boom in the mid-1990s with crazy valuations and minimum profitability,” says Rotman, adding that being flexible while maintaining and executing a clear strategy ensures that BioAgra will follow the right highway to success.
“Make sure you’ve got an alternative income source because ramp-up is almost always longer and harder than anticipated.”