Leading The Way
Having started his career in bank regulation at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Mr. Koen formed a foundational understanding of strict adherence to compliance and financial sector best practices. With an eye toward the private sector, Mr. Koen left public service and eventually became CFO and head of sales for an oil and gas drilling and well-servicing company in the Permian Basin of West Texas. After the oil and gas market crash in the winter of 2014, Mr. Koen launched a transaction advisory firm specializing in the buying and selling of oil and gas assets. After some success, the new company was rolled into the launch of an SEC-registered broker/dealer and investment bank, Entoro Capital, where Mr. Koen became a founding partner and focused on lower-middle market deals ranging from $20-50M in total value.
In 2016, a cannabis deal come across Mr. Koen’s desk. Though initially hesitant, he decided to conduct some light underwriting of the burgeoning industry as a whole and eventually agreed to perform a site visit in Colorado to look at the operations of the entity being sold. Lacking in industry experience, Mr. Koen utilized his network and secured a consultant to accompany him for the site visit – that consultant would turn out to be one of two co-founders of the largest cannabis company in the country at the time, Liv Well, with a 2015 revenue of $85M. With the two Liv Well partners having recently gone through a split, Mr. Koen’s “consultant” proposed passing on this opportunity and instead join him in pursuit of a much larger and significant deal in Las Vegas, Nevada; a pursuit that would set a new path for Mr. Koen.
Ultimately, the 9-month pursuit in Las Vegas fell out but Mr. Koen had become intrigued by the cannabis industry and began a management consulting practice within the industry where he worked on various turn-arounds in Oregon, Arkansas, and Washington. He eventually partnered into an Oregon-based cannabis company that was underway in producing top-shelf cannabis in a sophisticated indoor facility. Here, he learned a new area of heavy compliance and the measures necessary to produce cannabis that would successfully gain shelf space in a highly competitive non-license-restricted market.
During his time with the Oregon operation, Mr. Koen maintained his management consulting practice and in 2017, during a consulting engagement in Washington, he met Jeffrey McPhee who was working as the COO of Sticky Budz; a prominent cannabis company in the Washington market. During the engagement, Mr. McPhee brought the emerging hemp industry to Mr. Koen’s attention. Mr. McPhee ultimately left the company to join Mr. Koen as head of operations in pursuit of the emerging hemp industry. In 2019, their pursuit bore fruit with the launch of a 500-acre hemp farm an hour north of Las Vegas in Pahrump, Nevada, where Mr. Koen acted as CEO of one of the largest hemp farms in the U.S. at the time – an operation that highlighted enterprise-level practices in large-scale cannabaceae cultivation.
While undergoing planting, a gap was realized across the hemp industry – a lack of affordable hemp seedlings. As such, in Q1 of 2020, Mr. Koen launched Imperial Seedlings and acted as the company President with partner, Mr. McPhee, as head of operations. Within Imperial’s first eight months of operations, the company produced and sold over 3 million seedlings to hemp farmers across the United States, from California to New Jersey, and provided significant consulting services to all customers. From the data collected across that selling season, Mr. Koen discovered that the largest issue plaguing the supply chain was distribution.
In Q1 2021, after the fall harvest of the 2020 season, Mr. Koen launched Elevated Distribution to assist in the distribution of hemp-derived products in the form of in-house manufactured pre-rolls, vape cartridges, dabs, and gummies; ultimately selling these products to nearly 200 stores across 8 states.
Mr. Koen holds an undergrad in Business Administration at Texas A&M, MBA from Southern Methodist University (SMU), and is FINRA licensed, Series 82.
Vice President of Supply Chain Management
Mr. McPhee grew up in Yakima Valley, Washington state as a fourth-generation farmer on 1600 acres cultivating cherries, apples, pears, wine grapes and hops. By the age of 13, Mr. McPhee was managing a 12-man full time crew and annual harvest crews of 1400 migrant labor employees. At age 16, Mr. McPhee became terminally ill and was given a short remaining timeline. At the lead doctor’s advisement, Mr. McPhee was put on cannabis to better physical position for a life-saving surgery. Upon its success, Mr. McPhee became infatuated with the plant; discovering large amounts of applicable cross-over between cannabis and hops as two members of the cannabaceae family of plants. Having grown up farming hops and being inundated among sizable hops farms in Yakima Valley, the global leader in overall hops production, Mr. McPhee began developing cannabaceae formulations of inputs/fertilizers and built collaborative relationships with GS Long, CPS and D&M Chemical in an eight-year study of crossover opportunities of hop-specific input systems for hemp and cannabis. These studies focused on the application of tested, verified, and in-practice input systems and technologies focused on the maximization of target compounds within hops and their effectiveness on the other cannabaceae family members.
From 1997 to 2017, Mr. McPhee operated various cannabis businesses and also consulted others in both Washington and Oregon where he first trialed his findings and then continued to develop evolving SOPs. In those 20 years, he honed his own best practices and developed deep relationships throughout the emerging industry with other thought leaders where best practices were shared within the close network. In 2015, Mr. McPhee became COO of Sticky Budz, a now-leading cannabis company in the Washington market, where he overhauled their greenhouse and product manufacturing operations to graduate company products from average to top shelf. He not only enhanced cannabis flower quality but, from his vast experience in hops extraction methods, also developed extraction practices that lead to the creation of industry-leading cannabis extraction products like dabs and concentrate-infused pre-rolls. During his time in the Washington cannabis market, Mr. McPhee also sat on various cannabis cup panels as a judge of cannabis flower and extraction products and sat on various state-based cannabis associations for the advisement in drafting of cannabis-centric legislation.
In 2017, Mr. McPhee partnered with Colte Koen to begin a pursuit of the emerging hemp industry – the new challenge being the scale of production. Ultimately, it was a coming together of his heritage of large-scale farming and his more intimate growing of the cannabis plant. In 2019, this pursuit culminated in a 500-acre hemp farm in Nevada and the development of large-scale cultivation, harvesting, and post-harvest processes centered around the hemp and, subsequently, cannabis plant. During the farming season, Mr. McPhee and Mr. Koen discovered a large gap in the hemp industry relative to seedlings/starts and in Q1 2020, launched a hemp seedlings business, Imperial Seedlings, in southern California. Operating in a 100,000 sqft. greenhouse, Imperial Seedlings produced and sold over 3 million seedlings to farmers across the United States and provided significant consulting services to all customers. As a part of the business plan, Imperial Seedlings actively participated in a few select farms but recognized a need to establish a new standardized process for proper drying as the traditional cannabis process of hang-drying would prove inadequate. As a result, Imperial partnered with Assur Technologies, an emerging large-scale desiccation equipment provider, to assist in harvesting with Imperial’s farming partners. Though mostly successful as a new drying technique, Mr. McPhee identified significant areas of improvement in the equipment and general practices of Assur Technologies.
After the 2020 fall harvest, Mr. McPhee partnered with Assur Technologies to assist in re-engineering the equipment as a complete overhaul and now maintains a named position as a patent holder on Assur’s latest drying technology. Today, this new technology is being adopted by some of the largest names in cannabis in California, Oregon, and Michigan. During his tenure with Assur, Mr. McPhee also lead the effort in developing Global GAP certifiable post-harvest processes in anticipation of federal regulation.
Vice President of Finance
Eric Bergin is CFO for Pharmalogux. Mr. Bergin has over 17 years of experience in Finance with a specialty in Fund-level activities. Prior to Pharmalogyx, Mr. Bergin started and ran a successful financial consulting firm for Private Equity firms. Prior to his consulting firm, Mr. Bergin was Director of Rockpoint Group (Private Equity firm with over $50 billion in Assets Under Management), where he was responsible for the Finance Group, as well as acquisitions, asset management, and investor reporting activities. Mr. Bergin has been a guest lecturer on Private Equity Funds at Harvard Business School since 2012 and Stanford Graduate School of Business from 2012 – 2015. Mr. Bergin graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2001.