Meet the Family Leading the Charge in Contemporary CBD Technology

Is this the chillest fam of all time?

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Family-run businesses are no joke. It’s not like you can just up and quit your family when things start getting tense. We spoke with Phiton and Mimi Nguyen, the brother-sister duo leading the way in CBD innovation. We discussed their background and what led them into the CBD industry, how they find running a family business and, of course, learned more about their advances within the CBD industry as a result of their development of the QWIN device. The QWIN has been gaining increased traction for its ability to help with sleeping, pain relief and improving anxiety symptoms among many other things.

To avoid any dangers from the recent vaping controversies across the United States, we encourage you to do your research and buy directly from authorized and verified CBD retailers. According to QWIN's website, "Scientific research is now exploring the medicinal effects of cannabinoids in our bodies and is confirming its mental and physical health benefits. Through technology and design, we are excited to use our state-of-the-art nebulizer to deliver these cannabinoids and naturally restore balance to the mind and body."

ONE37pm: Phiton, can you tell us a bit about how you and your family got started in the CBD industry? 

Nguyen: Our family’s journey to CBD started years ago with a larger health awakening. Both my sister Mimi and our mother battled with cancer, and their experiences brought health to the forefront of consciousness. We became aware of our habits and what we consume in ways we hadn't been before and began to actively seek alternatives to the commonly accepted yet noxious prescription aids that mask rather than heal pain. It became a family effort, which brought us closer together than ever, and was an important lesson in the role that emotional support plays in mental well-being, and that mental well-being play in physical health. 

At the time, the cannabis industry was medicalizing around us in California and new resources were rapidly becoming available. We began experimenting with products and found the effects of cannabidiol in particular to be profound. My frustrations with the limited options of consuming CBD led me to experiment with new methods of delivery that didn’t rely on the old mechanism of combustion, which is widely used yet damaging to CBD compounds and therefore diminishes the health benefits reaped. Mimi began researching the ingredients in our favorite products, which led her to experiment with higher quality CBD formulations. In addition to ourselves, we found willing volunteers in our friends, who tested our products through an experimentation process that would ultimately lead to the development of QWIN. 

Interest in our experiments generated organically through word of mouth, and demand for us to create a product was too strong for us to not try. What we hadn’t realized was that our initial frustrations with products on the market were broadly felt and created major gaps in the industry. By the time we began considering CBD from a business standpoint and not just a personal one, it had already become a full-time job for us.

How much of a role does your family play in running the business?

Nguyen: QWIN has been an unusually collaborative venture for us. My mother, a first-generation immigrant from Vietnam, has a career in the music industry that extends well beyond her time as a parent. You can see the unique manifestation of her business instincts in my sister’s and my pursuits, which largely led us down different paths until recently. My projects focused on innovating the technical aspects of products with more user-centric design, simplifying their functionality while creating a classier user experience. My sister Mimi went into the film business while pursuing innovations in wellness as a passion project.

Our paths converged with QWIN, which engaged our individual passions in a common purpose. Throughout our personal experimentation with CBD, we noticed a theme of narrow branding: the products were geared towards young, masculine users and were unwelcoming on an entry-level basis. Mimi was the one to suggest I design a more universal device. Her largest contribution was, and continues to be, feminizing QWIN around these industry hurdles and centering the brand on wellness regimens that appeal to all ages, spanning all purposes. Our mother acts as a business adviser, lending her critique and wisdom to the brand. 

Being family, our roles are often intertwined and hard to disentangle—but necessarily so. We each represent the qualities that different consumers look for in a CBD product, and I believe that is reflected in the user’s experience of QWIN. QWIN started as the unintended byproduct of a collaborative family effort and has strengthened with that structure into a collaborative business effort.

What is it like working with your family? 

Nguyen: Chaos! But deeply rewarding in ways that other professional relationships are not. Like other families, we have a hard-wired pecking order that doesn’t easily translate into a working relationship. I think QWIN has been successful as a family business because we didn’t attempt to translate our preexisting dynamics as a family into a professional dynamic. Rather, the challenge was in avoiding the pitfalls of reverting to old family habits and relations, and instead finding a way to integrate individual working styles cultivated throughout our separate careers in business into a new professional system.

It has not been a clean, linear trajectory to success. Working together was a process of compartmentalizing the normal functions of a family from the operations of business over the course of several years, but that endeavor has elevated our levels of trust in each other and fostered a sense of camaraderie that I imagine most families and most businesses wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.

The QWIN is clearly a technical and well-thought-out product. Can you break down how it actually works? 

Nguyen: It’s actually not as complicated as most people would think. I like to explain it with the analogy of making a pot of tea: You have a heating element, fire, which is powered by the stove. The tea kettle acts as a container to heat your water in, and as the temperature rises, the pot emits evaporated water, which is the steam that whistles and signals the water is heated. 

With QWIN, instead of fire, your heating element is a little ceramic coil implanted within each CBD capsule. The device holding your capsule is a battery that acts as the stove, powering your heat. The capsule is like your tea kettle, holding CBD oil, which will become vapor once heated. When you take a puff on QWIN, it’s like turning the stove on: The heating mechanism activates, transforming the CBD into a vapor that you inhale to the lungs. We chose an electronic inhaler system as the method of consuming CBD because of its efficiency: It delivers cannabidiol directly to the bloodstream, making the set-in period instantaneous, and increases the spectrum of compounds your body actually absorbs from a product. Much of the benefits of CBD are lost when it is consumed through the digestive tract, which can’t adequately break down compounds in order to absorb them.

Was it difficult to develop? What challenges did you face? 

Nguyen: The development process was very challenging and took nearly two years to complete. The primary difficulty was engineering a system that delivers compounds to a body that can’t easily break them down, while also keeping the cost low for users. Most companies in the industry don’t undertake these challenges all at once and instead specialize in one aspect of the business: building the hardware, formulating the oil, selling the end product. The car industry, for example, has manufacturers that make cars and oil companies that produce the gasoline they will run on. In this analogy, QWIN is reconceptualizing both the way traditional engines work and the fuel they work with. So to get the performance quality we were aiming for, we had to custom make approximately 95 percent of the conventional components in a vaporizer and restructure the chemical composition of CBD oil.

Some of the aspects we wanted to innovate simply didn’t exist yet—such as powerful but compact batteries, which were either too big in size or too little in capacity for our specifications. We also made our own chipset for the device, because available ones on the market didn’t meet the level of reliability or allow for the customization we wanted users to have. 

As for the challenge of reformulating CBD to maximize its bioavailability for the human body, we developed a whole new process called MicroFusion to reduce the size of CBD particles and fuse full-spectrum oil with flavoring. We prototyped version after version of these proprietary parts, testing them together, and tweaking the functionality and formula until it was fine-tuned to our standards.

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What makes QWIN different from other CBD vaporizers on the market? 


1. The performance of QWIN is one of a kind in the CBD market due to the module’s ability to fully optimize CBD for the flavor and vapor performance. This results in effects that you can feel immediately.

2. Our formula tastes amazing and is extremely smooth.

3. Through our design and recycling program, we actively try to reduce our environmental footprint. We see a lot of products that are one-time use disposable items that are extremely wasteful for both the environment and the user. Our battery is rechargeable, the packaging is minimal, we don’t include micro-USB cables because every household has them—this helps us keep costs down to the consumer. Through our recycling program, users can redeem a free capsule by sending us back their old ones for us to recycle.

What do you think the future holds for the CBD industry? 

Nguyen: We think CBD is going to continue to normalize and eventually become part of everyday life for people, similar to the way we use daily multivitamins. We already see the mainstream acceptance CBD has gained with managing the problems associated with modern society—lack of sleep, dependency on pharmaceutical drugs, post-traumatic stress, inflammation, general anxiety—all these real issues that people break the bank just trying to gain some relief from.

Unfortunately, as the industry grows rapidly, it will also crowd the market and become increasingly disorienting for regular consumers to navigate. The available CBD products are not yet subject to the kind of standards and regulatory scrutiny that guide other, more established markets. There is no guarantee that each brand will self-regulate and hold their products to the higher standard consumers would like them to, or that they’ll make clear and transparent distinctions on the user’s behalf. There is a difference, for example, between CBD oil and hemp oil. There are also various spectrums of CBD compounds contained in any given product, which result in very different effects on the body.

We’d like to think that most companies aim to inform their consumers, but the reality is that some will capitalize on these gray areas and exploit their users’ lack of knowledge. For that reason, we invite industry regulation sooner rather than later and view the future of a CBD market, which includes oversight as better for both companies in their product development and for consumers in their journey toward a more honest, healthful existence.

Check this out for more information on QWIN.

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