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SFU biz students score with marijuana venture

Four SFU business students have been praised by their peers for an “innovative” plan to help marijuana producers enter the market of high-end edibles.
SFU business students Garrett Downes, Smarth Duggal, Jeff Salzsauler and Michael Pizzolon, founders of the company Stolz: Cannabis Infused Fine Chocolates, won “most investable opportunity” at Opportunity Fest.

Four SFU business students have been praised by their peers for an “innovative” plan to help marijuana producers enter the market of high-end edibles.

The Beedie School of Business students snagged a first-place prize at Simon Fraser’s Opportunity Fest, a marketplace-style event where students show off their products and projects to judges from industry, academia and the community, last month.

Garrett Downes, Smarth Duggal, Michael Pizzolon and Jeff Salzsauler caught the judges’ attentions with their company Stolz: Cannabis Infused Fine Chocolates.

The student-led company placed first place in the “most investable opportunity” category, and they scored the title of “innovators’ choice,” an honour chosen by participants and judges. Each win earned them a $500 Visa gift card, according to a press release.

Stolz’s business plan? To provide marijuana producers the tools and skills necessary to build their edibles business from the ground up, including “everything from recipes to helping producers with equipment purchases and crafting high-quality cannabis-infused chocolates,” noted the release.

“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,” Salzsauler, who is a professionally-trained chocolatier and has experience building companies’ pastry programs, said in the release. “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.”

The team has already begun testing their edible products and has a collection of recipes ready to go once they find some clients, which they are hoping to find within Victoria’s medical marijuana community. By 2017, Stolz’s founders hope to tap into the marijuana market south of the border, and once Canada approves legalization, they intend to operate as wholesalers of their edible products, according to the release.

“The demographics of cannabis users is also changing,” Salzsauler said. “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.”