Company: Cirona Labs
Hunter Friedland always has his eye on the future.
Friedland started Cirona Labs in 2018, just before beginning his senior year at Cornell University — and before the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp in the United States.
By the time he graduated in 2019, he had a hemp processing license in hand and had gone through a National Science Foundation program in which he studied the hemp supply chain and interviewed farmers, retailers and manufacturers so he knew extraction was a “major pain point in the marketplace.”
“But pretty quickly after the Farm Bill we saw the commoditization of that industry,” he says, noting the value of distillate dropped 80% in a six-month period. “So we kind of pivoted our model to formulation and formulation science, creating a water-soluble tech industry.”
By early 2020, the New York-based company was producing and selling water-soluble CBD liquid emulsions and spray-dried powders to beverage and dietary supplement companies. This spring, the company moved into the THC business, licensing its technology to a California operator. Preparations are underway to enter New York’s nascent THC market with plans to do extraction, formulation and manufacturing of vapes, pre-rolls and beverages.
To help meet the demand in New York, Cirona Labs is preparing to move into a new 50,000-square-foot facility, though the state is yet to issue processing licenses for its adult-use industry.
But Friedland’s vision for Cirona Labs again looks to the future, not only for the possibilities in New York, but one day as a multi-state contract manufacturing business.
“We’re trying to build for what the market looks like 10 years from now,” Friedland says. “It all starts here in New York.”