Table of Contents
In the rapidly growing cannabis industry, Countdown has emerged as a new innovator and competitor, redefining the landscape of cannabis-infused beverages. Angus Rittenburg, a former Tesla engineer and the driving force behind Wherehouse Beverage Co., Countdown’s parent company, recently shared exclusive insights into the brand’s journey, innovative technology, and dedication to quality and sustainability.
At Tesla, he worked on the mechanical design of the battery pack for the Model 3. After leaving Tesla, he explored various beverage-related ventures but found the cannabis industry particularly intriguing due to its unique challenges in regulatory compliance.
A Tesla Engineer’s Influence
Rittenburg’s tenure at Tesla profoundly impacted Countdown’s approach to its products and consumers. He emphasized their unwavering commitment to delivering a top-tier final product to consumers, a principle that seamlessly translated into the cannabis industry.
“The theme at Tesla, which is probably part of their success, is total obsession with the final product,” Rittenburg explained, underscoring the significance of quality in Countdown’s ethos.
He said from a personal perspective, “I think the biggest carryover from Tesla, in addition to my technical experience, is just that obsession with creating a consistent product that customers enjoy.”
Innovative Technology for Precision Cannabis Beverage Production
“In the regulatory environment today, you have to produce THC drinks in every state that you want to sell it, and that presents a lot of challenges,” Angus highlighted.
Angus explains their initial approach to beverage production, which involved mobile facilities on tractor-trailers, allowing them to enter multiple states quickly but presenting logistical challenges. They developed a novel dosing system and centralized production to overcome these challenges.
This new system involves punching holes in traditional beverage cans, inserting one-way valves, and infusing THC at a later stage. The result is a highly efficient, automated process that can produce a large volume of cannabis-infused beverages.
Countdown’s technology sets it apart in the cannabis-infused beverage realm. Rittenburg drew a comparison between their dosing machine and distillate cartridge fillers but emphasized their machine’s superior efficiency. The system’s ability to swiftly transition between various flavors and potencies is an entirely new approach in the cannabis beverage production sector.
When discussing dosage precision, Rittenburg shed light on the technology driving it. “It doesn’t care what flavor the beverage is if you’re dosing; there’s just a screen to input what you want,” he elaborated.
The system harnesses precision pumps, flow meters, and real-time checks to guarantee consistent and accurate dosing. Rigorous quality checks are conducted, including using an HPLC machine for validation.
Navigating Complex State-Specific Regulations
Countdown grapples with the intricate web of state-specific regulations, a formidable challenge in the industry. Each state boasts its own distinct set of rules, particularly concerning packaging, dosing, and quality assurance.
Rittenburg divulged its approach to adapting to these regulations, such as providing a custom cap for dosing, resealable containers, and tamper-evident packaging. “We solved the initial problem, and within a year, we were in 10 states. At that time, we were more widely distributed than anybody in the industry,” he stated.
The Future for Countdown
The company harbors ambitious expansion plans, aspiring to enter new markets swiftly, notably where existing infrastructure is lacking. Underscoring their distinctive production capacity, Rittenburg affirmed, “From a quality and production capacity perspective, it’s quite fascinating. I believe we can produce at a scale that would never make sense in a single market, and with that, you get an enhanced level of quality.”
He continued, “In a four-foot-by-five-foot footprint, we can run 70 to 80 cans a minute. So you’re well over 30,000 cans a day out of a machine that is smaller than most people’s desks.”
He also touched on the formulation process and the technology invested in ensuring consistency from can to can. Highlighting the importance of investing in equipment and testing tools to guarantee product quality, Angus discussed the company’s stability testing, microbial considerations, and flavor development processes.
For example, they aimed to create a nostalgic flavor for their beverage, reminiscent of red, white, and blue popsicles. “We did a Berry Force, modeled after the rocket pop, those red, white, and blue popsicles. It’s kind of nostalgic, but that’s what was the goal,” he laughed.
Commitment to Sustainability
Sustainability is at the forefront of Countdown’s agenda as it strives to reduce its environmental footprint. Their participation in deposit programs across various states and the shift to printed cans instead of plastics underscore their dedication to environmental responsibility.
Rittenburg expressed its sustainability commitment: “Choosing cans over bottles was a conscious decision to move away from glass or plastic and opt for aluminum, which is highly recyclable.”
Angus added, “Sustainability is an important issue to us at Wherehouse Beverage Co. and something that happens most efficiently at scale. As we bring our brands to market, we’re planning towards a more sustainable future, beginning with our initial choice to use aluminum cans and expanding our program from there.”
Regarding GMP compliance, Angus mentioned that their facilities are cGMP-compliant and SQF-certified. They are also helping their partners with compliance when needed, demonstrating a proactive approach to meeting regulatory requirements, including potential federal regulations in the future.
Future Endeavors and Customer-Centric Approach
Countdown isn’t just another player in the cannabis-infused beverage arena. With an engineering mindset, cutting-edge technology, and unwavering dedication to quality and sustainability, they are poised to make a profound impact on the industry. As the cannabis sector continues to evolve, companies like Countdown are instrumental in shaping its trajectory.
Peering into the future, Countdown has an enticing array of new products in the pipeline, including a 100mg SKU slated for launch. While Rittenburg couldn’t divulge all the details yet, he tantalizingly hinted at various offerings tailored to diverse customer preferences.
Countdown is the pinnacle of innovation in the cannabis beverage realm, aligning its values with quality, compliance, and sustainability. As cannabis legalization and regulation progress, Countdown stands ready to thrive while offering consumers reliable and delightful cannabis-infused beverages.