Kettering graduate hoping to break into 'massive' CBD oil market
A young Kettering entrepreneur is hoping to break into the 'massive' CBD oil market after setting up his own firm.
Saul Hughes, who was born and bred in the town, is just 24 but has big plans for his business BIFLI.
His firm sells products using cannabidiol (CBD), a natural compound of the cannabis plant, which are legal because they contain zero per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance that produces the “high” with cannabis.
CBD has been declared safe by the World Health Organisation and has been found to help with anxiety, stress, insomnia and pain.
But Saul, who went to Bishop Stopford School in Headlands, admitted half of the challenge is getting that across to potential customers.
He said: "Because the market is so new it's as much about educating people as it is pushing the product out at the minute.
"Some people see the cannabis link and think it's illegal, but it's not.
"With CBD oil you don't get the mind fog - it's completely the other side. CBD is a magical natural compound and it's only just beginning to gain traction."
The decision to set up his own business was a big change in career path for Saul, who went to Royal Holloway University in Egham to study petroleum geology.
After realising he wanted to go into business, he completed a master's degree in Belgium with a dissertation focusing on the UK CBD market.
Having gone to America and seen the benefits CBD was having on people there, he decided to put his in-depth research to use and had his lightbulb moment on a skiing trip.
And he's hoping it could prove a money-spinner with the UK CBD market, currently estimated at about £300m, expected to be almost £1bn by 2025.
But because of the nature of the items he is selling, it's been far from easy.
He has had to do a lot of research and has signed up to the Cannabis Trades Association, whose lawyers keep on top of ever-changing laws.
Saul said: "Starting a new business by myself during the pandemic hasn't been easy.
"Combined with changing regulation due to UK law and Brexit it's been a challenge to get to where I am."
BIFLI's CBD stems from industrial hemp which is grown in Colorado, chosen for its high CBD but low THC content.
Once cultivated the oil is extracted from the hemp biomass, purified and refined before it is put in a vacuum and heated until the CBD evaporates.
Crystals are then tested to ensure they meet strict regulations before being mixed with coconut oil flavours including mint, blood orange and melon, resulting in an oil which is a little bit thinner than olive oil and is place under the tongue for between one and two minutes.
Currently Saul's one-man band is e-commerce only, but he is looking to start selling his products in shops in Kettering soon.
He said the CBD oil market is potentially 'massive' and hopes to stake a claim for a share of it in the UK.
He added: "I've looked around and aside from the eight to 10 main competitors there's a few other small businesses doing it - but I'm probably one of the youngest."