All posts by Proactive Investors

Victory Square Technologies is giving tech entrepreneurs a sporting chance

Young entrepreneurs are typically long on ideas, short on business experience and lack capital resources.

Incubator fund Victory Square Technologies (CNSX:VST) is a potential answer to their prayers.

Victory Square not only invests in innovative entrepreneurs, but provides them with a network of mentors, distribution partners, education programs, access to over 80 accelerators globally, and various other resources.

“We believe tech has become commoditized, which makes distribution and acquisition so important,” says Victory Square chief executive officer Shafin Tejani.

The Canadian company might be better known to some investors as Fantasy 6 Sports, which listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange in May 2016.

Change in busines model occasioned a change of name

In June of this year it changed its name to formally reflect the switch in business model to a venture builder that creates, funds and empowers entrepreneurs predominantly focused on blockchain technology, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, personalized health, gaming and film.

“Our vision is to continue to build a profitable portfolio of technology companies by giving them access to our resources that help accelerate growth,” says Tejani.

The genesis of Victory Square goes back further than 2016, however.

In 2007, Tejani founded Victory Square Labs, and built a successful track record funding seed-stage tech companies with exceptional entrepreneurs and high growth potential.

Successes included BTL Group; Tantalus Labs; V2 Games; a Film Fund deal with Unified Pictures; and partnerships with Launch Academy, Foxwoods Casino, BC Diabetes, and others.

“Given our record of successful results, we decided to create a public portfolio to scale faster. The first company the public vehicle targeted was Fantasy 6 Sports due to its high growth potential and the fact that sports and mobile gaming is global, it transcends geography, language, culture, etc.,” Tejani explains.

The fantasy sports company was, if you like, the advance guard for the rest of the Victory Square army.

“The entrepreneurs, IP [intellectual property], experience, talent, customers and partnerships that we established in these diverse verticals laid the solid foundation for the current and future portfolio of companies in Victory Square Technologies,” Tejani says.

The management team has broad experience in depth

Key to the company’s business proposition is the management team, which has a broad range of experience that matches the company’s areas of specialization.

The team includes former executives in professional sports, entertainment, video, media and film, along with leaders in technology, immersive sports, casinos, horse racing and gaming.

Tejani has successfully launched more than 40 start-ups in 21 countries, employing hundreds of people and generating more than US$100 million in annual revenues.

He’s been there, done it, and he’s not only bought the T-shirt but probably knows the people who designed it and the creators of the technology they used to produce it.

The executive team includes seasoned entrepreneurs and FansUnite co-founders Darius Eghdami and Duncan McIntyre, a chartered accountant and lawyer respectively, who focus on corporate development and operations.

Director Howard Blank has been an executive of the gaming and entertainment sector for more than 30 years, most recently serving as vice president of Media, Entertainment and Responsible Gaming for the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation.

Fellow director Tom Mayenknecht’s career spans journalism, television, professional tennis, executive management leadership with both the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association, and the start-up of what is now Rogers Arena. He’s probably not the guy to challenge to a game of tennis at the office party.

Peter Smyrniotis, another director, is described as a “technologist”, as well as an entrepreneur and commercialization and growth professional based in Vancouver.

Tejani is adding to the depth of the team as his portfolio grows and expects to announce some pedigree additions in the near term.

The team also leans heavily on thought leaders at the companies it funds, both privately and through the company. The expertise these executives bring has proven invaluable in analyzing business opportunities.

The first moves were into film funding and personalized health technologies

Since its metamorphosis into an incubator fund in June, the company has made two major moves.

The first was to acquire a 40% interest in Unified Film Fund II, an entity that will be producing three major films in 2017 and 2018.

Two of the three could garner worldwide distribution right receipts of around US$14.4 million given estimates projected by talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and other sources.

Victory Square acquired its stake in the fund by issuing five million shares at an assumed price of $0.85, so essentially the stake cost C$4.25 million.

Shortly after strengthening its presence in the film and entertainment arena, it created a new venture, Victory Square Health, to oversee companies in its portfolio working on personalized health technologies.

Victory Square Health’s initial mission will be focused on management and prevention of the modern scourge that is diabetes.

Victory Square Health will make some introductions and provide technical development capabilities to its chosen projects.

Tejani believes personalized health is the future of medicine and that the team and partnerships Victory Square Health has established will allow it to be at the forefront of the rapidly growing health tech industry. Through strategic resources and technical development capabilities, Victory Square Health will use its relationships with seasoned industry experts, including Dr Bruce McManus and Dr Pieter Cullis, institutions such as the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, and organizations such as BC Diabetes with leading endocrinologist Dr Tom Elliott.

Forget Silicon Valley … British Columbia is awash with technology companies

Some might expect Tejani to be carrying out this sort of activity in California’s Silicon Valley, but in fact British Columbia is awash with technology companies.

“British Columbia is a great place to build a tech company,” Tejani asserts.

“There is exceptional talent in B.C. and Canada as well as strong government support through funding and tax credits. B.C. has become a great place to build a tech company and Victory Square is looking to fill the gap by helping to fund promising early-stage companies.”

So, there are plenty of great candidates to go under Victory Square’s microscope, and better still, they won’t be expecting California-style levels of financial backing.

“We take great pride in being based out of Canada, and British Columbia specifically. Both the federal and provincial governments have made it a goal to continue to foster innovation, which can be clearly seen by the provision of integral grants and credits,” says Tejani.

“Victory Square has fostered relationships with these bodies to utilize financial opportunities and continue innovation…we have a ton of support from the provincial government and other groups like the BCTIA and the Vancouver Economic Commission.”

Victory Square’s current market capitalisation is around C$37 million and the group is focused on building businesses with positive cash flow and exponential growth potential.

It’s always difficult placing a value on incubator funds until a sale or spin-off comes along

Which brings us to the subject of valuing Victory Square.

It is the nature of incubators that they fly below the radar for long periods, investing money for little return until they cash in, perhaps through a trade sale or stock market flotation.

It’s at that point that the value is crystallized; otherwise, analysts must make their best guess at the worth of the portfolio, based on values of similar companies.

Having said that, the company is not plowing its cash into money pits.

“We build businesses that generate positive cash flow and continue to grow,” Tejani declares.

If 2017 is earmarked as the year the company scales up, then next year should be the one where it strides toward profitability, powered by revenue from its film investments and personalized health initiatives. Tejani is motivated to find liquidity events along the way that will allow companies in the portfolio to find new funding sources and grow their investor bases.

Few can deny that tech, leisure and healthcare are markets with massive growth potential.

“Tech is exponential and our first goal is to build or acquire businesses we can continue to scale. These profitable companies provide us with the option to take them to the public markets, or exit to a larger player. For example, a healthcare company we have funded will have the potential to be acquired by bigger players in the pharmaceutical space.”

In the meantime, it is just a matter of sitting tight and trusting the skills and judgement of a team that collectively has more than 100 years of award-winning entrepreneurial experience.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on August 23, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Victory Square Technologies at http://www.victorysquare.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/technology/victory-square-technologies-inc.

Subscribe Technologies helps small businesses with some big computing challenges

SaaS tools, malware, platform integration – businesses in today’s world need to stay on top of a dizzying array of technologies, all of which develop new functionality at such a pace it makes you wonder how small enterprises can possibly keep up. Subscribe Technologies (CNSX:SAAS) is fully aware of that challenge and has an answer in the form of a cost-effective services suite that covers pretty much every digital need a small- to medium-sized firm could have.

Subscribe Technologies is headed by public markets veteran Paul Dickson, a perfect fit given his background in software development spanning some 30 years. Dickson believes that Software-as-a-Service is just getting underway and that all software programs will soon run independently of our personal computer hardware, residing and functioning in the increasingly pervasive “cloud”.

“It ties in perfectly with all of the AI (Artificial Intelligence) advancements taking place, where SAAS applications are being developed with AI in the back end that ups the ability to analyze client data,” Dickson explains. “Nobody is going to run software on their computers locally in the near future. It is all going to be in the cloud.”

Established as a company less than a year ago (December 2016), Subscribe Technologies already has a set of product offerings ranging from accounting and sales software to a security platform for analyzing websites and an alternative to the famous Dropbox filing sharing service that Dickson says comes with fewer restrictions for users.

And that concept is the key to understanding how Subscribe Technologies intends to prosper over time. The idea is not to take on Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) or Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) on their home turf, but to offer alternative software to businesses and businesspeople who find that incumbent products don’t fit the bill for them, often because they are too restrictive. Maintaining high functionality at a reasonable cost is the other pillar of the strategy.

As reflected in the company’s name, the cost side of the equation from a customer perspective involves subscribing to use the software and paying a monthly fee. Dickson says that because the targeted customer base is small- to medium-sized entities the monthly cost starts around $10.00, thus hardly requiring a potential user to engage in a make-or-break decision from a financial commitment standpoint.

Working with the company’s chief engineer in Victoria, British Columbia, and supported by a team of software developers in India, Dickson has developed, or acquired and refined, a number of products that were made available for subscription in the past few months.

The first to hit the market was bContact.com, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform featuring both accounting and sales functionality.

“bContact.com is a fully integrated SaaS platform that performs invoicing, collections, reporting, billing and other functions so customers can essentially run their entire small business from any web browser,” Dickson says. “bContact.com is really the ultimate tool for managing your entire business back-end.”

The aforementioned Dropbox alternative comes in the form of a product named FileQ.com.

“With FileQ we wanted to offer a service that had fewer restrictions, as some of the most popular file sharing systems force users to sign up in order to access certain features,” says Dickson. “FileQ allows the user to share files freely with anyone and even plays video files with its integrated media player. Instead of paying a flat fee each month, the uploader of the files pays according to how much storage they require.”

The service most recently debuted is SiteSafe.io, which helps system administrators reduce the chance of having their website infected with malicious code. “SiteSafe is something we came up with to address issues that individual websites are having, as the hacking going on is relentless these days,” states Dickson. “It is definitely good practice to scan your own website for malware, or if you host other websites then you should scan the client websites.”

Sitesafe looks for viruses, worms, trojans and other malware, liaising with a third-party database that is constantly updated to both detect and eliminate programs designed to steal information, interfere with website performance, or worse. In the spirit of keeping things affordable, SiteSafe can be accessed to monitor a site for a monthly price of between $5.95 and $19.95.

Subscribe has other product offerings available as well, and Dickson says that there are more on the way. From a valuation standpoint, the company aims over time to build a reasonable base of recurring revenue and, eventually, profit. But given the value ascribed to some software programs these days, there is also the possibility that a Subscribe product gets hot and hits it out of the park.

As the products available to date have only just been introduced, marketing efforts have thus far been modest, and Subscribe is currently formulating a full-fledged marketing program that will utilize both keyword advertising and affiliate marketing, the latter enabling customers to earn money by referring others to use Subscribe services.

“Pretty much every SaaS company now has a referral program that pays people credits or cash for helping to obtain registered users,” Dickson explains. “The cost of acquisition can be high with online ads, where you are paying and hoping that people click. These days you do some of that, but also recruit others to market your product.”

One can’t deny that Subscribe has positioned itself to go after a huge market. Forecasts for the future size of the SaaS space begin in the tens of billions of dollars and run into the hundreds of billions. To settle on a particular number would be to miss the point – business spending on SaaS is big and getting bigger, and Subscribe need only capture a small piece to make a big difference to its bottom line.

“All we are trying to do is pick up a portion of the people who don’t want to use Dropbox, Salesforce, and the like,” says Dickson. “There is a great deal of business out there, and because there are others in the space capitalizing on this opportunity as well, that’s why we are establishing Subscribe as a multi-faceted SaaS company. In the months ahead, you’ll be seeing us meet a lot of our user targets and bringing new products to market.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on August 28, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Deveron UAS at http://www.subscribetech.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/technology/subscribe-technologies-inc.

Torino Power Solutions nears turning point with unique approach for better power grid efficiency

There are more than a few companies worldwide selling equipment to monitor the transmission lines that deliver power to our offices and homes, but none has products like Torino Power Solutions (CNSX:TPS). It should come as little surprise, then, that Torino CEO Rav Mlait speaks excitedly about the company’s outlook, fully understanding, as he does, the clever technology that makes its products so unique.

Before getting to that technology, however, a revealing story about the electricity we use every day is in order.

Power transmission is not nearly as efficient as the general public might think. From the time electricity leaves a power plant to the time it reaches its end user, it is common for somewhere between 6% and 15% of the power to be lost, and many estimates reach even higher. The losses occur for a variety of reasons.

One of these is that the company managing the transmission system needs to make sure its power lines don’t run too hot. Not only can excessive heat damage equipment along the transmission pathway, but when lines get too hot they can damage power lines that are very expensive to install and maintain.

So, how do many electrical utilities gauge the temperature of their lines to optimize the amount of power flowing through at any given time? Would you believe by referring to historical weather pattern charts and ambient temperature readings?

Despite the imprecision inherent in such an approach, Mlait confirms that the practice is common. Now, what if the utility were able to know what the temperature actually was along different sections of a long transmission system such that it did not have to underutilize its infrastructure?

That’s the issue that Torino addresses. And with over $10 million spent on R&D, plus patents in place, the time to push for widespread adoption of the company’s solution is at hand.

Torino’s “Powerline Monitoring System” is a combination of a hollow aluminum sensor placed on a power line, combined with a nearby “interrogator” that reads microwaves bouncing back from the sensor. The sensor expands and contracts according to the heat of the line, and an algorithm in the interrogator converts the signal to a temperature reading that is then relayed to the utility in real time.

“As populations grow and distributed connection resources such as wind and solar gain prominence, it is putting the existing electrical infrastructure under more strain and causing wear and tear,” Mlait explains. “Part of the solution is better data, and it all ties into the industrial Internet of Things concept whereby real-time information enables system administrators to make better decisions.”

Torino is not the only company to conclude that there must be a better solution for monitoring line temperatures, but it is the only one with a passive sensor. Mlait says that all competing line sensors require power sources, in the form either of batteries or the power lines themselves. “So, if a power line goes down, their sensors can go down with it. Ours won’t, and that is part of our competitive advantage.”

Another advantage comes in the form of economics. Torino will deploy a system, which is comprised of three sensors and one interrogator, for between US$40,000 and US$50,000, or approximately half the cost of its rivals’ installations.

“Having more data from more lines, and thus a richer data set, is a better way for utilities to manage their assets and conduct dynamic line ratings,” explains Mlait. “That is one of the reasons we priced our technology where we did, so that utilities can deploy more sensors for the same cost.”

Mlait claims that utilities can quite easily recover up-front costs within 12 months, enabling the return on investment to stack up quickly.

Consistent with the early stage of the product roll-out, Torino’s solution is being used by a single utility at present. Tri-State Generation and Distribution Association installed the system on a trial basis last year in eastern Colorado. In what can only be taken as a good sign, it added to the trial in June of 2017 by moving a second system to a more critical location in western Colorado.

“Utilities are conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies, and understandably so,” says Mlait. “They want to really examine new equipment before deploying it extensively throughout their expensive infrastructure.”

Mlait says that he and his team are in discussions with a number of utilities both in North America and overseas, and while nothing has been finalized, observers shouldn’t be too surprised if additional installations make news before long.

Another component of the marketing strategy is to potentially ally with distribution partners with reach into markets that Torino has yet to develop. “We are a relatively small company, so the idea of partnering with a large distributor is pretty significant,” Mlait says.

Word is definitely getting out because Torino has started developing new products based on feedback from potential users. The company recently initiated development of a system for distribution lines, which are the smaller power lines operating inside urban areas. Urban power lines often heat up and sag, causing a host of challenges such as power outages and clearance issues, so a robust solution in this environment would be most welcome.

The other development program announced recently involves underground sensors. Mlait says that potential clients have asked if products are possible for applications such as subways and other underground infrastructure.

“People in cities such as New York, London and Toronto know that there are significant down times associated with underground systems, largely owing to deterioration of aging lines,” says Mlait. “We have heard about the need to better monitor these cables as they continue to deteriorate and are looking to provide a solution down the road.”

With a cost/benefit ratio that makes sense and a need within a crucial industry that cannot be denied, the potential clearly exists for Torino’s sensors to gain broad acceptance. Installation of a mere 100 systems could bring in over C$5 million on the top line, and there is the possibility for ongoing revenue streams from installations as well.

“It is not too often that you see new technology in this industry. We have something that is unique and some highly respected companies have suggested to us that we might have a game-changer on our hands,” according to Mlait. “From an investment standpoint, we have an advanced product starting to make headway, but a pretty small market cap. Throw in our ability to develop new products as well and we feel very positive about our future.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on August 29, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Torino Power Solutions Inc. at http://www.torinopower.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/technology/torino-power-solutions-inc.

Deveron UAS’s drones helping agricultural efficiency to reach new heights

Deveron UAS helps agricultural efficiency reach new heights with a data-gathering drone fleet.

New trends in technology are penetrating every conceivable part of our daily lives, and the food on our table is no exception.  What many shoppers might not know, however, is that technology is now making a difference right at the very source of our food – the farmer’s field.

The agricultural sector is experiencing a rapid digital revolution, with some farms these days run more like high-tech outdoor factories.

Right place, right time…

Deveron UAS Corp (CSE:DVR), an enterprise drone data provider targeting agriculture, would thus seem to be at the right place at the right time.

This use of drones, or for the uninitiated, unmanned aerial vehicles, is a nascent industry, yet one where the potential rewards are enormous, explains Deveron’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer David MacMillan.  Put simply, the company’s pilots ‘fly’ farmers’ fields, mainly over mass crops like corn and soybeans, and provide follow-up analysis to help increase yields and reduce costs.

Services include thermal imaging, data analysis and drainage identification – in other words, Deveron’s technology is able to tell a farmer what is going on in his field, something that is oftentimes difficult to determine by working strictly at ground level.

Macmillan says that in discussing Deveron with potential users, the emphasis must be on explaining the advantages of this new type of analysis, rather than trying to tell people that they’ve been farming the wrong way their whole lives.

“Essentially, we’re trying to enable decision makers in agriculture to make more efficient choices,” he says.

For farmers eager to embrace the concept, Deveron is one of just a handful of entities with a permit to fly drones across Canada.  There are 15 pilots available as and when needed in eight of the country’s 10 provinces (having started in Ontario with just two).

MacMillan explains that it makes more sense for farmers to hire Deveron than to buy their own drones at great expense, particularly if field analysis is needed only a couple of times each year (as is often the case).  The fact that farmers need to make key decisions on a variety of crop planning issues every year is a strong selling point, both for farmers who might use the service, as well as to investors considering whether to back Deveron with an equity purchase.

A strong recurring revenue model…

“Our hope is to continue to show the investing public that there is a strong recurring revenue model here,” MacMillan says.  “Corn grows every year and the farmers need the data every year to make informed decisions.”

Currently, the group is targeting large agricultural operations as customers – those which might manage a million acres or more –  as well as smaller outfits.  At this point, it is all about encouraging a network to develop.

While it is still early days, Deveron is already seeing engagement expand as bigger players increasingly sell its services ‘downstream’ to their customers.  At present, there are around 30 such partnerships with big farm managers.

Recent collaborations include the retail division of GROWMARK Inc., vegetable producer Bonduelle North America and major farming services and grain retailer Thompsons Ltd.  Everyone gains in the network, explains MacMillan, as the large entities get Deveron’s services at a discount, and then in turn make some money when they sell it down the line.

“There are 400mln acres of farmland in North America so it’s a huge addressable market,” adds MacMillan.  Some 88mln of those are in Deveron’s home Canadian market.

What could that translate into in dollars and cents? At Deveron’s standard $3 an acre charge, 2-3 flights a year over 400mln acres, and an assumed adoption rate of 20-30%, that’s a potential annual market of $700mln, reckons MacMillan, and likely to increase in the future.

First mover advantage…

For now, though, revenue and earnings are less important to the group than consolidating its first mover advantage by investing and scaling up the business.

MacMillan’s background is in public venture capital and he came to research drones three or four years ago after looking to invest in new technology which could be supported by Canadian companies.  Rather than obsessing over the ‘flying robot’ concept, he was interested in how data collected by the vehicles could be used intelligently, and agriculture was a good place to start.

“Historically, network plays end up having very high IRRs (internal rates of return) for the first people in the space,” he explains.  Behind all that, the idea that by 2050, with a global population of 10bln people, the earth’s food security may be an issue if agricultural yields don’t increase only added to the drive to establish the company, he says.

Business partner and co-founder Norm Lamothe is himself a farmer and manages 500 acres of land, so is ideally placed to know what famers need and want.

If valuation is any guide, it would seem this combination has the company heading in the right direction.  From around $2mln in 2016, Deveron is now worth nearer to $8mln, and recently raised $2mln, says MacMillan.  The idea now is to continue to grow organically, scale up the business and gain credibility via more collaborations and partnerships.

Canada is the focus for the time being, but to increase the amount of drone flights possible (they can’t fly fields in the snow) developing more of a presence south of the border is appealing, says MacMillan.

There is also the possibility of news flow over the next year around further partnerships, new revenue streams, and intellectual property value related to the company’s analytics technologies.

The seeds now planted, careful nurturing of Deveron’s business has the potential to yield robust returns for shareholders in the years ahead.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on August 15, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Deveron UAS at http://www.deveronuas.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/cleantech/deveron-uas-corp.

Tower One Wireless the one North American microcap tapping int’l cellular tower build-out

Often in the investment world, a long-term business trend is easy to identify, but finding the right stock to buy to take advantage of that trend is anything but.  Fortunately, the choice is simple for microcap investors looking to hitch a ride on the rapidly expanding need for cellular network capacity by owning shares in a cellular tower company, as there is only one such stock in North America: Tower One Wireless (CNSX:TO).

Fortunately, too, the basics of the business are easy to understand.  In many regions, mobile network operators don’t own the towers to which their antennas are fixed, but rather lease space on them.  This approach essentially enables a carrier to share tower costs with other carriers serving the same area.

For a tower company, then, owing the structure that wireless carriers need today, next year and into the foreseeable future can be a stable, and lucrative, proposition.

“What makes this business interesting is that a tower costs between $50,000 and $70,000 to erect, but the monthly lease payments come in at $1,000 to $1,500, and that is just for one mobile network operator,” explains Alejandro Ochoa, Tower One Wireless Chief Executive Officer.  “We sign 10-year lease contracts, with a 10-year option, but companies in the tower sector are valued highly because in essence use of the towers is perpetual.  And if we add a second or third carrier to use the tower, there is no marginal cost to us.”

Reflecting the Colombian-born Ochoa’s 18 years of investment banking experience in Latin America, Tower One Wireless is focusing its early building efforts in Argentina and Colombia, with Argentina expected to account for about 80% of activity.

“Argentina went through some challenging times, but now the country has elected a new president and is back in business,” Ochoa says.  “There will be demand for 10,000 new towers in Argentina.”

Ochoa tells an impressive story of competing with a large pool of rivals for the Argentine business before winning a spot on a shortlist of 15 companies, and finally being among the four companies awarded the right to build towers.  “We all got awarded the same number of towers, which is 100 to begin with,” he says.

So far, the company has 20 towers up, and anticipates having the first 100 hundred built sometime around the end of 2017.  The early exercise of warrants combined with a $5mln credit line will see the company through that planned construction.

Key to understanding the risk side of the equation is that Tower One Wireless never builds a tower hoping that a carrier will need it.  “We don’t build towers on a spec basis, but rather on a build-to-suit basis,” Ochoa emphasizes.  “Every tower I build has a guaranteed tenant.  My relationship with other carriers is my chance to add a second or third carrier to that tower.”

Once a site is agreed and permitted, construction takes 60-120 days, and some 30 days later payments begin to come in from the first carrier on the tower.  It is thus an easy business to model, and Ochoa’s model suggests very good returns indeed.

“With 100 towers we should have an EBITDA margin around 72%,” Ochoa says, adding that the company won’t see everyday expenses increase as it expands its tower pool further.  “The majority of the work is outsourced, so I can move from 100 towers to 500 towers and manage it with the same 15-person team I have today.”

Ochoa describes his team of accountants and other professionals as hailing from major wireless companies and tower builders, including a legal unit entirely from telecommunications giant Telefonica.

Ochoa has some interesting comments when asked why he chose to list the company on the public markets.  “When you sit across from the wireless carriers and they ask what makes you better than your 15 competitors with many times the capital you have, it is that I am not structured to sell my towers back to American Tower (NYSE:AMT).  Every other company out there is modeled to build their towers and sell them as their natural exit.  By being public, my investors have the embedded option of getting in and out of the company as they please.”

He also talks about the dynamics of capital in South America, where among his banking achievements is leading the team that listed Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) on Colombia’s stock exchange.  Institutional investors in Colombia and other Latin American countries must observe foreign investment limits dictating that a substantial portion of any equity allocation ends up in domestic stocks.  In some cases, this means a fund has fewer than 100 issuers to choose from.

Ochoa would one day like to provide them an additional choice.

“Canada has been very proactive in Latin America and is a market where investors understand the region through mining and oil and gas involvement,” Ochoa states.  “The potential to access capital by listing in another market is also a reason we decided to go public.”

The company Ochoa mentions absorbing other networks, American Tower, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and sports a market capitalization of some US$60bln.  In 2017, it has outperformed the S&P 500 average at a triple-digit pace.

Putting Tower One Wireless and its C$13mln market cap next to American Tower makes for a lopsided comparison to be sure, but it illustrates the potential for value expansion as the former’s tower network builds out.  It also shows that demand for towers is nothing if not healthy.

“I think looking at our company today makes sense because with the 100 towers we should finish over the next six months we’ll have positive operating cash flow,” Ochoa concludes.  “On a discounted cash flow basis, every dollar you invest in a tower is worth three dollars the day you finish building.  Our company is well-managed and the business is simple.  And we are the only publicly listed entry point into the tower market at the microcap level.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on August 31, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Tower One Wireless at http://www.toweronewireless.com// and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/technology/tower-one-wireless-corp.

Alternate Health to gain from the growing market of medical marijuana

The waves of legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Canada and now California have sparked a ‘Green Rush’ in the cannabis industry, but Alternate Health (CSE:AHG) CEO Dr Jamison Feramisco reminds investors not to forget about the market potential of the medical side of the business.

“The key to leadership in medicinal cannabis is constant innovation in the scientific research that puts the patient’s needs first,” says Feramisco. “Alternate Health takes a value-added approach, investing in the clinical studies and patented technology that turns cannabinoids, like CBD, into real medicine.”

The diversified healthcare company – which has patent rights for CBD delivery systems for sublingual tablets and transdermal patches and offers education programmes, electronic medical records (EMR) software and toxicology laboratory analysis – started trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange in January. Two months later it joined the US markets on the OTC bulletin board.

Feramisco brings experience in delivering profitability, strategic mergers and acquisitions and innovation in healthcare as the co-founder and president of Texas-based Apri Health – a healthcare data analytics company, formerly known as Transfuse Solutions. Feramisco is a graduate of the University of Texas at Southwestern Medical School with a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry.

Alternate Health stands to gain from the growing market of medical marijuana.

There are about 40,000 patients with prescriptions for medical marijuana in Canada, according to Health Canada. Over the next 10 years, the number of these patients is expected to grow to more than 450,000.

The group’s Alternate Health Media division offers education programmes for training healthcare professionals and physicians in the use of cannabis to treat medical conditions.

The Cannabidiol Certification Programs have been approved by the American Medical Association (AMA) and address all facets for the use of marijuana’s two active chemicals that have medical applications – cannabinol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

CBD and THC are considered useful substances to manage pain, and are also prescribed by some physicians for conditions including glaucoma, epilepsy and anxiety.

In January, the company announced the first continuing medical education course for practitioners on the endocannabinoid system, the body’s reaction to CBDs.

The video-based course, accredited through the University of Louisville and approved by the AMA, provides an overview of the endocannabinoid system and the role it plays in the different functions of the human body.

“Doctors and medical professionals have been waiting for a proper medical education program to provide details for this emerging medicine,” says Feramisco. “This program is the culmination of many years of investigation and research, coupled with a substantial investment in production to create a quality and highly necessary education program for doctors and healthcare practitioners.”

Cannabis tablets as an alternative to traditional smoking

Alternate Health has acquired the commercial rights to patents for developing and manufacturing sublingual tablets that include CBDs and/or THC.

The sublingual tablets can be rapidly absorbed into the body in less than three minutes. The company said it recognised the need for a more efficient way to use medical cannabis than the traditional smoking and ingestion methods.

Sentar Pharmaceuticals in March granted Alternate Health an exclusive 10-year agreement for global nutraceutical license rights to its patented sublingual delivery systems to administer CBD and THC in tablet form.

The company paid Sentar 850,000 common shares for the renewable license agreement.

The California marijuana Industry is estimated to grow to $25bn per year and is set to eclipse $50bn by 2026, Alternate Health said, citing USA Today.

“Alternate Health is uniquely positioned for licensing their manufacturing pharmaceutical grade delivery systems of CBD and THC healing products in this fast-growing new marketplace,” says Feramisco.

“Alternate Health facilitates the development of organic, safe and healthy medicines through our patented delivery systems to patients around the world, and the California market represents a significant starting point for us.”

Leader in electronic medical records software

Alternate Health describes itself as a leader in software applications and processing systems to the medical industry.

Its Alternate Health Technology business includes VIP Patient, electronic medical record (EMR) software that allows doctors to register patients and document their diagnosis and generate insurance recoveries with up-to-date billing codes.

The CanaCard Patient Management System tracks patient data and prescriptions while ensuring regulatory guidelines and financial transparency. It is a complete EMR, managing controlled substances like medical marijuana with an interface between patient, doctor and licensed provider.

“Alternate Health’s proprietary EMR systems give doctors, patients and producers the tools to manage prescriptions and dosages in a safe and transparent way,” says Feramisco. “This software is a key asset in the management of Alternate’s CBD delivery systems, while providing us with valuable feedback and clinical data.”

Alternate expands its labs division

The group also has an independent clinical lab in San Antonio, Texas, under the banner of its Alternate Health Labs business, which specialises in toxicology and blood testing services.

The lab receives and assesses the blood and urine of patients from across the United States and then supplies the results to physicians so they can diagnose and treat diseases and medical conditions.

In March, the company agreed a deal to expand the business through the acquisition of a 20% stake in Clover Trail Capital, a Texas-based investment company.

Clover Trail, which owns a 40% holding in Sun Clinical Laboratories, has investments in labs that conduct toxicology and blood studies for hospitals, private insurance groups and clinics.

Feramisco said: “It is an excellent opportunity for us to grow and increase the effectiveness of Alternate Health Labs, already a leading source of revenue for us and a key part of our strategy to fundamentally advance patient care.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on May 11, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Alternate Health at http://alternatehealth.ca/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/life-sciences/alternate-health-corp.

iAnthus Capital bordering on big things

The movement to legalise cannabis in a majority of US states is drawing interest from an expanding list of companies, as entrepreneurs sense opportunity in a market where growth is virtually guaranteed.

Currently, 29 US states have legalised the use of full-strength medical cannabis, with eight of those states allowing recreational use of the drug as well.

In all, 43 states allow some degree of cannabis use, meaning 93% of Americans live in a state that allows consumption.

According to the latest industry data, direct legal cannabis sales totalled US$7bln in the US in 2016 and by 2020 will reach around US$22bln.

However, although this looks like a good opportunity for businesses, the fact that cannabis is still illegal on a federal basis in the US makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to finance their operations.

This is where Canadian Securities Exchange-listed iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc (CNE:IAN, OTCQB:ITHUF) has stepped in.

“You have a strange anomaly in the US where cannabis is legal at the state level and illegal at the federal level,” says Hadley Ford, chief executive of iAnthus Capital.

“Citibank and Bank of America aren’t making any loans to cannabis operators, and the Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanleys of the world aren’t taking anyone public.”

iAnthus, however, raises capital in Canada, where cannabis is legal for medical use at both the federal and provincial levels, and puts the cash to work in the US market.

That market is growing at a compound annual rate of over 30% so the returns on investment have the potential to be significant.

iAnthus, which has raised over C$50mln since its founding, has been putting money to work in Colorado, Vermont, New Mexico and Massachusetts, and is also in discussions pertaining to other high-growth markets.

TGS deal

In early February, iAnthus announced a strategic partnership with The Green Solution (TGS), a big player in the US cannabis industry.

TGS operates 12 dispensaries and integrated cultivation and processing facilities in the state of Colorado and has generated over US$150mln of cumulative revenue since its inception in 2010.

“The chance for us to work with TGS on strategic opportunities is very exciting,” said Ford. “TGS is a leader in cannabis and we look forward to seeing what we are able to do by working closely together.”

As part of the strategic relationship, TGS will provide iAnthus with retail expertise and advice on investments in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Mexico and Colorado.

iAnthus is providing a US$7.5mln credit facility to TGS which will be used to fund the build out of additional store locations. The facility runs for one year and carries an interest rate of 14% during the first four months, escalating to 23% thereafter.

To finance the credit facility, and also to provide cash for general corporate and working capital purposes, iAnthus closed a bought deal private placement at the end of February which raised gross proceeds of C$20mln. The deal was structured as a convertible debenture with an 8% coupon and convertible into common shares at a price of C$3.10 per share.

The stock, which also started trading on the OTCQB in early April, is currently changing hands for around US$2.00.

“If you are an investor, there are very few industries where you can pretty much have guaranteed top-line growth of 30% for the foreseeable future,” Ford points out. “There are not many ways for the public to play that opportunity. We believe iAnthus provides an easy way for investors to invest in multiple operators across high-growth states in the US.”

Ford says the group has put over US$19.1mln to work to date, and he thinks the opportunities for investors “look outstanding.”

Massachusetts interest

Aside from being excited about working with TGS in Colorado, Massachusetts is also high on Ford’s radar.

At the start of March, iAnthus said construction had begun on a state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation and processing facility for affiliate Mayflower Medicinals, Inc., a Massachusetts non-profit and cannabis dispensary licence holder.

The 36,000 square foot facility in Holliston is expected to have annual production capacity of 8,700 pounds, with the ability to supply over US$35mln of medical and retail sales. The company has spent US$2.1mln of the approximately US$10mln it will need to build out the cultivation, processing and store locations. “We have the necessary cash on our balance sheet today to complete the project,” notes Ford.

Ford calls Massachusetts the “Colorado of the East, but with less competition.” Mayflower has been awarded two of its three licences by the state, including one of the three dispensaries currently approved to open in Boston. A Boston ordinance provides that no other dispensaries can be opened within a half-mile of any dispensary currently approved by the City.

Ford believes that operations in Massachusetts should start generating revenue in the fourth quarter of this year.

Political risk limited

The election in November last year which made Donald Trump US President included referendums in a number of states on legalising cannabis in one form or another.

Even so, some people question the heightened political risks to the US cannabis industry caused by Trump’s presence in the White House.

Ford, however, plays down such fears, seeing no material change with Trump in power from the environment under President Barack Obama. “Obama could have decriminalized cannabis. He didn’t,” notes Ford.

Ford says the real issue is not one of politics, but of economics, with states like Colorado seeing a big tax boost and the cannabis industry serving as an important jobs provider.

“Nothing is going to stop the forward motion of the industry at this point,” Ford explains. “It doesn’t make sense politically, doesn’t make sense economically, and there just aren’t the federal resources available to roll back the progress that has been made in 29 states.”

iAnthus reported a small loss last year, but as it puts its capital to work it should ultimately see the business turn very cash generative. “When I look at some of the opportunities we have in the pipeline, the future looks very rosy from our perspective,” Ford concludes.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on May 11, 2017 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about iAnthus Capital at http://www.ianthuscapital.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/life-sciences/ianthus-capital-holdings-inc.

Drone Delivery Canada readies proprietary drone fleet to speed delivery to rural communities

For Canada’s remote communities the reality of receiving packages from automated delivery drones is a lot closer than many might think.

Commercial deliveries are set to begin at some point in late 2017 with Toronto-listed Drone Delivery Canada (CSE:FLT) taking to the air.

Ontario-based DDC will be among the first ever commercial operations once it secures final approvals from Transport Canada in the second half of next year.

Chief Executive Officer Tony Di Benedetto sees rural Canada as an ideal proving ground for its scalable drone-based business model.

He points out there are over 1,800 isolated communities strewn over a sparsely populated landscape. It is not only a sizable market opportunity for DDC, but it also represents an opportunity for the Canadian authorities to better connect areas that are otherwise off the grid.

For investors, meanwhile, DDC presents a low-priced option on what is predicted to be a very substantial technology industry.

Broker Macquarie estimates the size of the entire private drone industry (which could include agricultural applications, infrastructure inspection, surveillance and surveying as well as parcel delivery) will expand ten-fold to around US$60 billion by 2020.

As an early mover DDC is not as recognisable as the likes of Amazon or Ratuken – customer-facing online retailers that have both been working on drones.

But when DDC’s technology is deployed in late 2017 it will be established as a revenue generating pioneer.

What exactly is Drone Delivery Canada

There are two elements to DDC’s technology.  A proprietary operating system – which will route, track and manage fleets of delivery drones – is perhaps the most significant element; the company’s intellectual property.

The Company has also, by necessity, developed its own drones, though Di Benedetto says that as more advanced third-party drones become available the company will be open to using those.

“We’ve had to develop our own prototypes to commence flying, because they simply don’t exist, you can’t go on the market and go buy delivery drones, they’re not there,” he says.

“Eventually, over time I’m sure people are going to create delivery drones and we’re not locked in to the ‘airframe’ design.

“Our logic is transportable. So if a better airframe emerges in six months we can essentially take our logic and transpose it and now we have a different vehicle for our fleet.

“It is no different than a traditional courier today – they have trucks and cars, and they switch between brands, sizes and specs.”

DDC’s drones can presently carry between 7lbs and 10lbs at a time over a 200km operating range.

They have been tested and, subject to regulatory approval, are ready to go.

Progress toward initial delivery operations through late 2017 will be the key catalyst for investors in the coming months as DDC works to prove the commercial concept.

It recently secured licences to test the technology, and is now awaiting full flight status from Transport Canada, anticipated in third or fourth quarter.

Scalability will be key

The scale of early operations will be driven by the sentiments of two key stakeholders, the Canadian regulator and the initial appetite of customers.

“We will slowly ramp ourselves up, it is about taking proper steps at first,” Di Benedetto explains.

“We’re working with a variety of different clients; we have quite a big roster of clients that we’re engaged with.

“Our clients are large organisations with substantial locations and requirements. We’re not delivering for ‘Joel’s pizza shop’ … they [our clients] are very large corporate and government organisations.”

As the delivery system is proven and confidence builds the company expects it will be able to scale up quickly with drones embedded into its clients’ existing operations.

The drones will be deployed on location for DDC’s clients, which reduces the need for ‘bricks-and-mortar’ type capital spending and as such Di Benedetto says it is “very, very scalable”.

“It is an incredibly elastic model,” he adds.

“It is a high-earning, recurring revenue business. The business operationally produces a lot of cash.”

“Clients would contract us for ‘x’ amount of deliveries per month, and it is a recurring revenue stream from then on. There’s a setup charge and integration fees to get the technology enabled in the client’s environment.

“Once it is installed and integrated we then oversee the operation of the fleet. We are essentially ground control for the client.”

Once it is sufficiently large in terms of client orders, DDC will have the option to contract third-party manufacturing for the drones. This would be another important milestone in the development process.

It is quite clear that DDC is presented with a very significant market opportunity.

It is an early mover with a disruptive technology that could transform the transport and logistics business.

The big question, however, is how quickly and effectively the small-cap company can seize the initial opportunity?

There’s still a long road for it to navigate, and it all starts with final regulatory approval.

Investors will want to watch out for progress towards this pivotal regulatory milestone, as well as any commentary from the company on its commercial tie-ups and contracts.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on Nov 28, 2016 and featured in The CSE Quarterly.

Learn more about Drone Delivery Canada at http://www.dronedeliverycanada.com/ and on the CSE website at http://thecse.com/en/listings/technology/drone-delivery-canada-corp.