AACE INTERVIEW: Lulu Tsui
Lulu of NYC: What an amazing woman, I was fortunate to have made her acquaintance in New York when I attended an event at REVEL with Kristen Jordan of Maze.
Lulu, you are a dynamo, when do you sleep? So let’s start there, what is your dream business place to be in five years?
My usual 8 hours is now averaging around 6 hours of sleep these days. I’m also trying to squeeze in a nap on planes and trains whenever the Wi-Fi isn’t working! In 5 years I envision that I’m helping onboard manufacturers in other countries as they come online with their cannabis and industrial hemp programs. My mission is to to bring cannabis to the world in a safe and gentle way, so using AMBR as a tool to show transparency across the oil and concentrated products supply chain is my global dream business.
Who do you find the most resistance to your work in the cannabis industry?
That’s a good question. I’ve been pretty fortunate that I haven’t run into many folks who are resistant to growth of the cannabis industry. I’d say people who work in more traditional professions do seem to ask the most questions. But it’s all about having a meaningful discussion with another human being and being able to address concerns and questions in a respectful way.
As a person who loves to educate about cannabis, what was the most interesting exchange you had with a “newbie”?
I’d definitely have to say that’s my mom! She has been super supportive of my decision to jump into the cannabis industry but being that she’s from mainland china, she had never really come into contact with the plant. She was having some discomfort with joint pain, so I asked if she would be interested in going to the store and getting some cannabis salve. Mind you, my mandarin is very rudimentary, trying to translate marijuana terms into Chinese just made my mom go into hysterics. I eventually went on Youtube and found a Chinese news channel story about medicinal cannabis. That did the trick!
She was curious so I took her to one of my favorite favorite cannabis stores, Moss Crossing in Eugene, OR. (Shout out to Heidi and her team!) We found a few different salves and creams for her to try. Then mom looked through the store and started flipping through a copy of Northwest Leaf with close up photos of different marijuana plants. She’s an avid gardener and as she looked through it, something struck a chord. I’ll never forget the moment that she looked at me and said, “Oh the marijuana plant is so beautiful, can we plant some in the garden?” So that’s on the todo list with mom now.
Oh and a week later, my friend, Ophelia Chiu, in Portland called and said, “Hey, what’s the name of the salve you got for your mom? My mom called and said that your mom’s been using some cannabis products for her joint pain. Now my mom wants to try too!”
What name do you wish you had come up first for a strain? I’ve come across names such as “God’s Vagina” to “Russian Assassin”
Farrah’s Waves - Homage to the late 70’s, my favorite time period! It would be a sativa leaning hybrid strain with low THC % that when I smoke, I could actually function, feel inspired and creative. And music would sound AMAZING on the dance floor!
I was born in China and we immigrated to the states in 1979 to Eugene, OR where my babysitters were all hippies (crystal healers, yogis, weed growers, etc). My auntie smoked me out when I become curious about the plant. I then went to the University of WA in Seattle and fell into tech. After college, I spent 10 years in San Francisco really earning my chops in product UX. And then moved to LA where I lived on the East Side in Silverlake/Echo Park for 5 years. And throughout all of these places, my friends grew and sold.Because marijuana has been around my entire life, there was never a stigma around it at all. So I’m grateful that I have established friendships in those markets. I always have a place to stay and always I always hear about interesting ground truth perspectives.
Because NY didn’t really have product UX professionals at the time, I started working with companies like JP Morgan and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to create software design systems so I’ve actually been bi-coastal with NY since 2006. Having my feet planted in both coasts has definitely given me a competitive advantage. I understand west coast lifestyle, technology, and cannabis culture, but I also understand NY business and street culture and add into the mix the immigrant work ethic and 💥 - I’m going to help bring cannabis to the world via technology.
On the REVEL:
REVEL, the cannabis innovation showcase where we were introduced, came about because I wanted to share and celebrate the amazing people who are setting the standards for our industry.
We are bringing the most innovative companies and trailblazers from existing cannabis markets to share their stories - think cannabis Ted Talks - with the professional communities in emerging cannabis markets on the East Coast. Our goal is to educate and inspire the entrepreneurial spirit of New Yorkers. We are also doing a huge push to engage all the non-represented cannacurious industry sectors of NY - finance, tech, fashion, media, art, etc. - because our goal is to engage everyone in the cannabis conversation to normalize and de-stigmatize✨
I am founder and CEO of AMBR Technologies, a software platform designed to support and standardize the operations and data for the largest growing sector of the cannabis space - oils, concentrated products, and isolated cannabinoids. We understand the needs across this sector and are layering on top of that behavioral based software that will help take things to the next level.
I started in the adult use market by spending the past year and a half onsite at Root Sciences a Tier 3 grow and processing facility in WA state. Roots is focused on cannabis and hemp oil processing technology as they have installed the VTA short path wipe film distillation plant in and provided training for over 120+ processing facilities in North America. Being embedded with Roots and traveling with them on installs has given me the opportunity to apply UX methodologies to help solve operational challenges faced by the processing sector.
AMBR was born from seeing first hand a lack of digital tools that could support the immediate needs of processors/manufacturers/formulators of cannabis oils and concentrates. The data for the sector doesn’t really exist…I would like to own this sector.
I have assembled a world class team with deep enterprise software experience and proven track records. Kris Nybakken, the technical co-founder of WebMD has joined as CTO, and Mark Slater, a long time investment banker in software and technology, is CFO. They are VERY seasoned guys in the software/manufacturing space who really love the plant!
I am also happy to report that strategic advisors are in place to navigate quickly around cannabis policy, data security, and IoT/automation. Alan St. Pierre, who was the executive director of NORML for the past 20+ years, IX, the creative director of the Honeywell Automations and Control Group who I’ve previously worked with, and David Sturman tech expert/analyst from MIT Media lab have all come on as advisors.
I am very excited to change the way the cannabis industry is using software and hardware.