Almost four years after its birth, the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) will soon start selling KEB, the only local rolling paper in Quebec.
“We launched KEB 30 months ago with the equivalent of the value of a used tank. It's a great moment for us, it proves that our approach works," says Renaud Lessard Ste-Marie, the duo's artist-filmmaker.
With his brother Jérôme, who is CEO of the young company, they now have the opportunity to live off the fruit of their labor, if all goes well.
At the time of the Journal's visit to Jérôme last Friday, the two entrepreneurs were in the process of receiving their order for 100,000 packets of 32 sheets intended for the SQDC.
This is the equivalent of all their orders for the past two years. These 100,000 packages will now be sent to each of the 90 branches in order to start selling in two weeks.
Soon produced in Quebec?
The objective is to sell them in three months, so that the annual sales target is 400,000 packs per year. At $1.99 per unit, we are talking about annual sales of nearly $800,000.
For now, KEB manufactures its organic and vegan paper in France. The goal is, and always has been, to make it here.
“Two municipalities have already contacted us to relaunch a paper mill. We really want to produce in Quebec, and the SQDC will bring us the critical mass to do so, ”says Renaud.
It will be through sales, they say, as banks and institutions have been skittish about funding a business remotely tied to cannabis.
“We were refused at the Business Development Bank of Canada and PME Montreal. We had to fight with Desjardins to get them to grant us the necessary line of credit,” says Jérôme.
They finally convinced Desjardins, who had initially refused to finance them, by insisting that it is the Lévis institution that takes care of the financial management of the SQDC.
"We're just looking forward to joining the SQDC, KEB will become a real business, we'll be able to make a living from it and maybe even pay for an employee," Jérôme exults.
Soon other products
The two brothers are not lacking in ambition. They already have other products in mind, such as a St. Lawrence walnut top or recycled glass ashtrays.
"We are there thanks to our community, the rollers and rollers who have purchased our products online, when it is not common to do so," insists Renaud.
All this to say that they are attentive to the needs of their customers. Going through the doors of the SQDC was neuralgic, and frankly it was self-evident, but it is only a first step towards greater things.