l-r: Students Garrett Downes, Smarth Duggal, Jeff Salzsauler and Michael Pizzolon are behind Stolz, one of the winners at SFU Beedie's Opportunity Fest.

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Cannabis business wins at SFU entrepreneurship competition

Winners of the most investable opportunity and innovator’s choice at Opportunity Fest 

April 20, 2016
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A team of Simon Fraser University students from the Beedie School of Business have designed an innovative new business that aims to help North American cannabis producers enter the lucrative edibles market.

Garrett Downes, Smarth Duggal, Michael Pizzolon and Jeff Salzsauler say their company, Stolz: Cannabis Infused Fine Chocolates, will help cannabis producers comprehensively build their edibles programs from the ground up. This includes everything from recipes to helping producers with equipment purchases and crafting high quality cannabis-infused chocolates.

“When we examined the cannabis market in the United States, we saw a lot of growers and processors who were eager to diversify into the edibles market, but lacked the expertise to do so,” says Salzsauler.

“Edibles are huge in the United States and the profit margins make them a very attractive alternative for producers. We put together a business model that allows us to share our expertise with producers who are hungry for it.”

Salzsauler is a professionally trained, classical chocolatier and a pastry consultant who has helped multiple companies build their pastry programs from scratch. Stolz will provide the “whole package” including equipment purchasing, operations design, staff training, marketing and quality control.

The Stolz team’s business model won first place as the most investable opportunity at SFU’s Opportunity Fest, and also won innovator’s choice as voted by participants and judges. Opportunity Fest is an annual marketplace-style, student-innovation showcase held at SFU’s Surrey campus and judged by local investors and business leaders.

“The Stolz team has done an amazing amount of work to combine their talents and create a responsible, compelling and ambitious business model to take advantage of a substantial emerging opportunity,” says Sarah Lubik, SFU’s director of entrepreneurship. “These programs are meant to be platforms for students to build skills and teams to take advantage of the opportunities they foresee, and Stolz has done just that.”

Ultimately, Salzsauler says what sets Stolz and their business model apart from the competition is their ability to provide end-to-end services to clients (including dosage control and childproof packaging) in an industry currently dominated by enthusiastic but sometimes inexperienced edibles producers.

“The demographics of cannabis users is also changing,” says Salzsauler. “As existing cannabis users grow up, the market is shifting towards young professionals who are college-educated with a higher income and status, creating a demand for higher quality products. All of a sudden this isn’t a fringe business anymore.”

Stolz already has a functioning prototype and recipes, and has begun product testing and validation. Presently, the team is seeking a partner in Victoria’s growing medical cannabis community. They expect to enter the American market in early 2017. Following Canadian legalization, they plan to operate as edibles wholesalers in the Canadian market. 

Downes, Duggal, Pizzolon and Salzsauler are students in the Beedie School of Business’s entrepreneurship and innovation program based at SFU’s Surrey campus.