It’s always interesting to not only understand the origins of a product, but also the story of its innovators. We sit down with Voon Innovation’s CEO Frank Svandal to get a deeper understanding of his Swedish roots, Snus background and what ultimately led him to the creation of Voon CBD pouches.
What is your background?
I’m from Kungsbacka, a small town located in the Southwest coast of Sweden. After finishing University in Gothenburg 1995, Internet was the new thing, and I threw myself in to start an internet business. It took time to find something with a profitable future. But with the site Northerner.com launched in September 1998 came the beginning of my +20 years career within the smokeless tobacco and nicotine industry. It led me to become a shareholder of two snus manufacturers (Gotlandssnus and The Art Factory) and Haypp Group, which is the world’s largest online seller of smokeless tobacco and nicotine pouches. The same network ultimately led me to Felix Sundström, CEO of SpectrumLeaf. Felix and I then started Voon Innovation in 2020.
When did you start using and working with Snus?
Northerner.com sold typical Scandinavian souvenirs, gifts, food and crafts. Snus, a smokeless tobacco pouch that you place under your upper lip quickly became the bestselling category. My original idea was to open several similar stores in other countries and link them together to become a big online seller of typical country goods. I opened another one in the UK and one in Russia where I lived for almost a year. Northerner was the only one selling snus online at the start of 1998. But when competition increased around 2004, I had to focus on Snus to stay competitive. As a result, I removed all other products except Snus in 2008 and sold the other stores. I started using Snus in 2010 when I became a shareholder of the two snus manufacturers to better understand and help with product development. I still love the energy kick I get from using nicotine, especially the first pouch in morning. I use exclusively nicotine pouches and Voon.
“I started using Snus in 2010 when I became a shareholder of the two snus manufacturers to better understand and help with product development.
What is your experience with Cannabis?
Like many Swedish people that have travelled a lot in their youth I’ve come across marijuana. I tested it in Southeast Asia when I was 19. After that I didn’t use until I lived in California when it became legal in 2016. At some point after this I also tried CBD after recommendations from friends and got hooked due to that it doesn’t give any psychoactive experience the way marijuana does. When it comes to marijuana, will it ever become legal in Sweden? Well, it actually is if medically prescribed. Today, almost 1000 people use it regularly for medical reasons. I believe that number will continue to grow if you look at the trend in many other countries. In the US for example, you have 19 states where recreational use is legal and additional 18 states where medical use is legal. In Germany, there are discussions about legalisation for recreational. Do I want it to become legal for recreational use in Sweden? I don’t know, but if it can help people for medical reason, I think it might be a good thing.
“Do I want it to become legal for recreational use in Sweden? I don’t know, but if it can help people for medical reason, I think it might be a good thing.”
How and why did the concept of infusing CBD into a pouch first come about?
Some people within my network contacted me at the same time Cannabis became legal in California and wanted to develop a Cannabis snus. I started researching and learned the difference between CBD, THC (which is the psychoactive marijuana people know) and many other different cannabinoids. There weren’t that many smokeless CBD products on the market at that time. Upon further research, I realized it was more complicated to make CBD snus compared to nicotine snus since CBD is extracted from hemp oil which is not water soluble like nicotine. I then became interested in the idea of creating a fast-acting smokeless Cannabis product with high body uptake (bioavailability). Just like snus has been beneficial for people that don’t want to or can smoke, Cannabis snus can be as good alternative for the same reason. It must be possible to do, was my thought at that time and after meeting Felix Sundström in the autumn of 2019, the idea turned into a new business journey.
What is the potential of a CBD infused pouch in your opinion?
Half of all snus users in Sweden have tried tobacco and nicotine free snus – that is over 0,5 million people which is a lot. It’s helping people in Sweden to lower their consumption of nicotine or quit all together. Then you have all the people that currently consume CBD in other ways and are looking for other CBD products with high bioavailability. I believe there is a huge potential if the products flavor meets people demand combined with a good bioavailability of the CBD. Flavor is very important since there is no similar active component like nicotine.
How do you currently use Voon pouches?
I use it several times per day when I don’t want the uplifting effect and the occasional anxiety I get from nicotine – especially at social gatherings, during workouts or before bedtime. Some days I use more than five pouches and some only one pouch before bedtime.
“Some days I use more than five pouches and some only one pouch before bedtime.”
Why and who should try Voon?
Voon is for people that want to lower their consumption of snus that contain nicotine. If they get the same uplifting energizing effect from nicotine as I do, Voon can be particularly helpful before bedtime. Voon is also for people looking for smokeless CBD alternatives.
Inspired and innovated in Sweden, Voon white CBD pouches are smokeless, vegan and contains neither tobacco nor nicotine. While the pouches are slim in size, they each pack 25mg of THC-free hemp CBD and leverages a uniquely developed nanotechnology to maximize absorption. Every can of Voon offers 15 pouches and is available in 4 tasty flavours of Pink Grape, Snazzy Tangerine, Wintergreen and Spear Mint.