An Experienced Team with Extensive Cannabis and Franchise Industry Expertise
Chief Executive Officer
Andrew Bowden guides the strategic direction of the company and is the main point of contact with the board of directors, management team, and operations.
Seeing the positive effects cannabis had on his mother’s battle with breast cancer, Bowden invested heavily in Item 9 Labs Corp. in 2018. He joined as a board member a few months later and was appointed to CEO in 2019. Since his appointment to CEO, Item 9 Labs Corp. has seen strong, steady performance with sequential quarter-over-quarter growth. Bowden’s goals are to give the same opportunities his mother had to others who need help and to assist entrepreneurs in entering cannabis.
Bowden’s decade in fundraising and partnering efforts has led to a successful career focused on multi-tier investment strategies in real estate, technology and sustainable sectors. A disruptor at heart, his career experience includes developing Net Zero Building projects that produced as much energy as they consumed in a year. While in commercial real estate, he was drawn to the franchise model when he saw the value of franchised businesses first-hand and knew the cannabis industry would benefit from the systems and support a franchise provides.
He received his Bachelor’s degree in aviation education in 2012 from South Dakota State University.
Jeffrey I. Rassás
Chief Strategy Officer
Jeffery Rassás is charged with guiding the strategic growth of Item 9 Labs Corp. through mergers & acquisitions, funding and public markets.
Rassás is a 25-plus year veteran of early- to middle-stage companies with extensive business management experience in strategic planning, funding, leading, and performing pivotal turnarounds for private and public ventures, across a variety of industries. He previously served as CEO of Airware Holdings Inc., CEO at YCNG and YouChange, and CEO of Global Alerts – a holding company for Earth911.com and Pets911.com.
Prior to these executive-level posts, Rassás was Co-chairman and CEO of ImproveNet, Inc., which he acquired through a merger in 2002, and later sold to IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI). In addition, Rassás served as founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of EBIZ Enterprises, a publicly traded Linux solutions provider.
He received an electrical engineering degree in 1983 from DeVry University and studied computer science at Arizona State University. Rassás earned his private pilot license for rotocraft in 2016.
Chief Financial Officer
Bobby Mikkelsen manages the financial actions of Item 9 Labs Corp., including guiding internal & external financial reporting and financial planning as well as evaluating the Company's financial strengths and weaknesses and proposing corrective actions.
Most recently, he was a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the State of Arizona and led his own firm, Mikkelsen CPA, LLC which focused on providing accounting, tax, and CFO Solutions to a client base that was diverse in both size and industry – working with small non-profits, large government agencies, and medium sized business, including those in health care, mental health, and pharmaceutical industries. Prior to this, Mikkelsen spent more than a decade with Henry & Horne, LLP in Arizona. Moving up the ranks quickly from an Auditor to Audit Manager, he utilized his analytical thinking and problem-solving skills to implement effective and efficient changes to the audit process as well as add value to the clients he served.
Mikkelsen is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He received his Bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2004 from the Eller College of Business, University of Arizona.
Chief Operating Officer
Chris Wolven provides the leadership necessary to ensure that Item 9 Labs Corp. has the proper operational controls, administrative and reporting procedures, people, and systems in place to effectively scale while ensuring financial strength and operating efficiency.
Prior to entering cannabis in 2019 with Item 9 Labs, Wolven’s 24-year restaurant career earned him world-class skills in analysis, strategy, and management. As a Regional Brand Chef with Fox Restaurant Concepts, he worked in a multi-unit, operational role while planning and executing successful, scaled business models, meanwhile efficiently navigating the heavily regulated restaurant industry by adhering to health department and OSHA regulations and cash management procedures. Wolven was responsible for operations and food development for seven of the 15 brands—1,000 employees in over 10 locations—where he oversaw creative development, financial planning, and operational wellbeing, along with system building and implementation.
During his tenure with Fox Restaurant Concepts, Wolven helped open over 60 restaurants across 13 states, generating over $50 million in annual revenue. His data analysis and strategic planning led ambitious teams to successfully write and implement some of the best business models in the restaurant industry.
Chief Franchise Officer
Mike Weinberger leads all franchise-related areas of Unity Rd., while overseeing day-to-day operations of the franchise.
A culture creator and growth driver with around 20 years in franchising, his experience has been focused on growing emerging concepts into nationally recognized brands. Weinberger has been instilling his franchise knowledge into the cannabis space since 2018 and paved the path for bringing the franchise business model to cannabis – offering creative solutions to something many thought couldn’t be done. His tenacity has opened the doors to cannabis entrepreneurship through the Unity Rd. franchise opportunity.
Weinberger’s previous experience as CEO of Maui Wowi, 500+ franchise units worldwide, provides a comprehensive understanding of scalability and best practices that are required to implement the company’s operations in new states and markets. He was with Maui Wowi for eight years and led the franchise’s successful sale to Kahala Brands.
He is also the founder and principal of Becheart Consulting, which specializes in aiding emerging franchise concepts. He graduated from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2004. Trained as an attorney, his practice areas include franchise and real estate law with a focus on providing legal support to start-ups and small business owners.
Mike Keskey leads Item 9 Labs Corp.’s legal team as well as its Human Resources department.
Prior to joining the Company, Keskey was an associate in the antitrust practice group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York, where he counseled corporations in industries including financial services, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and consumer products. At Skadden, Keskey had to regularly interface with Fortune 500 companies as well as government agencies as he helped his clients navigate the ever-changing antitrust landscape in the U.S. From negotiating billion-dollar merger documents to defending depositions against the Department of Justice, Keskey’s wide variety of experience positions him well to ensure Item 9 Labs Corp. is protecting itself as well as its brands and entering into high-quality deals.
Keskey received his Juris Doctor degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2016, where he was an En Banc Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review. Prior to attending Law School, Keskey earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012.
Doug Bowden is responsible for leading Item 9 Labs Corp.’s Board of Directors, and keeping the Board focused on strategic matters as well as high governance standards.
Bowden’s 30-plus-year career is marked by extensive experience with multi-tier investment strategies in real estate, software, and sustainable sectors. Most recently, he co-founded a real estate company centered on buying and remodeling luxury condos in Colorado and Arizona where he gained experience in real estate acquisition, design, project and construction management, leasing, finance and sales.
Bowden started his career in the electronics industry, working in a successful family-run business, which he purchased with his brother and ran for nearly 20 years before selling the business in 2009. This tech company's success was based on signal processing and monitoring—providing hardware and software for broadcasters during the high-definition revolution.
Bowden studied business at the University of South Dakota.
As an independent director, Lawrence X. Taylor guides Item 9 Labs Corp. on strategic initiatives and ensures the Company is functioning in the best interest of shareholders.
Taylor brings a diverse perspective to the boardroom, combining deep financial expertise, strategy, and governance to deliver thoughtful questions and insights that help drive informed decisions. As a C-level executive, advisor, and board member with more than 30 years of business experience, he has guided organizations through complex restructurings, acquisitions, corporate development activities and capital transactions totaling more than $15 billion. He possesses an extensive knowledge of finance, strategy and operations and has developed strategic, financial, operating and turnaround strategies across multiple industries including casino gaming, hospitality, manufacturing, aviation, real estate, and retail operations.
Taylor currently serves on the boards of Barrie House Coffee and CLP Holdings III, LLC. His previous professional board experience includes serving as a board member and a Board Leadership Fellow for the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) for the Arizona Chapter, as a volunteer board director coach for the Private Directors Association (PDA) and as a volunteer Board Director Coach for the Women on Boards 2020. He has also been recognized as a “Director to Watch 2020” by the Private Company Director Magazine.
Lawrence holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Louisiana Tech University.
Eric C. Kutscher
As an independent director, Eric C. Kutscher, Pharm. D., M.B.A., F.A.S.H.P., guides Item 9 Labs Corp. on strategic initiatives and ensures the Company is functioning in the best interest of shareholders.
Kutscher has 25-plus years of experience leading high-performing teams and is a thought leader in the delivery of patient-centered healthcare, research, academia, and leadership. He started his career in academic psychiatry and pharmacology and progressed to full clinical professor positions at three universities. In 2013, Kutscher retired from his academic role to pursue healthcare executive opportunities and consulting. He has consulted with well-known companies such as SpotRx/MedAvail, MeMD, UAMC, UArizona/SinfroniaRx, TribalEM/Tribal Health, San Carlos Apache Healthcare, Pill Nurse, Walgreens, Connections Health Solutions, and various legal firms. Kutscher is currently the Senior Director for Clinical Operations and Pharmacy Services for Arizona Oncology Associates, the largest privately held Oncology practice in the state of Arizona, where he was hired to provide change leadership.
Kutscher received his Pharmacy Doctorate (PharmD) from the University of Iowa and completed his Psychopharmacology residency at The University of Missouri – Kansas City and Western Missouri Mental Health Center where he was the chief resident. He received his MBA focused on Entrepreneurial Leadership from the University of Sioux Falls and completed an Advanced Executive Leadership Certificate Program at the University of Arizona. He was awarded fellowship status by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists for his career achievements. Additionally, Kutscher is certified in crisis management, FEMA emergency incidence response/ command, revenue cycle management and holds a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification.
As an independent director, Shane Evans guides Item 9 Labs Corp. on strategic initiatives and ensures the Company is functioning in the best interest of shareholders.
Evans has been heavily involved in the health and wellness sector for more than two decades. She co-founded Massage Heights in 2004 and began franchising the concept in 2005. Under her leadership, the spa franchise grew to more than 120 retreats throughout North America. Today, she continues to support Massage Heights as Vice Chairwoman on the Board of Directors.
Evans is also the Co-owner of several Massage Heights retail locations; Co-owner of the supply chain, Summit Franchise Supply, LLC; Co-owner of The Gents Place, an ultra-premium men's grooming franchise brand; and is on the Board of Directors of the Massage Heights Family Fund, a 501c3 crisis fund for team members in need. She has also been a dedicated member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) alongside Bowden since 2015, serves on the International Franchise Association's (IFA) Franchise Relations Committee and is an active member of the Franchisor Forum. Evans has been recognized as one of the franchise industry's top female founders and has been featured in several national business media outlets as well as franchise trade publications.