Cannvas MedTech: Knowledge is king in the cannabis world too, says chief of Cannvas MedTech

“We really want to be the Google of cannabis data,” is how Chief Executive Officer Shawn Moniz sums up the mission of Cannvas MedTech (CSE:MTEC), a Toronto-based startup that specializes in educating the public about marijuana.

Having watched from the sidelines as Canadian companies sprung up to offer marijuana and its associated hardware, such as vaporizers, Moniz chose the less-travelled road of education when he launched his own cannabis company.

“The benefit of being a digital reference library of cannabis is that we can go into any country and people can learn about the different uses and a safe way of using cannabis if they so choose,” he says. “We are not dependent on any type of legislation or political maneuvering because it’s education, and education has no borders.”

Cannvas MedTech went public in July on the Canadian Securities Exchange as well as the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

“We wanted to carve a little niche for us,” Moniz says. “We found there were a whole bunch of people growing … and on the other side, everyone was getting into devices, vaporizers and oil vaporizers. But we thought we don’t really want to go into those two spaces.”

Moniz decided instead to offer straight talk about cannabis after spending five years building platforms for big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Bayer – which tended to put patients first in discussions about drugs.

He was concerned that the information being disseminated about cannabis reflected the interests of the licensed producers funding it. “We saw very biased information,” he says. “There was a need that no one was willing to plug.”

“So, I said hey, why don’t we just do what I did in the digital pharma space and bring that patient-centric approach to the cannabis industry,” he adds.

At the core of Cannvas MedTech’s business is its website Cannvas.Me, which provides online cannabis courses for free. Cannvas.Me offers the chance to read about cannabis’ medical applications in materials put out by physicians along with an online cannabis course, marijuana product reviews and a cannabis strain matcher that determines which variety is suitable for a specific ailment. The goal is to reach 100,000 users of the platform by the year’s close.

As more marijuana buyers explore Cannvas MedTech’s web site, they will provide data that will power the analytical side of Cannvas’s business, which has the lofty goal of providing the equivalent of census data for the cannabis industry.

Indeed, layered just below its education platform is Cannvas Data, which uses algorithms to pull apart the research on cannabis trends and find new data that might be of use.  Via its connections to other cannabis companies, academics, doctors, and governments as well as its own web site, Cannvas management is set to ramp up its data collection around the world.

As Cannvas MedTech’s business takes off, the idea is that its data will become more tailored to the marketing needs of cannabis companies and the research needs of governments, physicians and academics. Its management will be able to tell, for example, how the consumer tastes of a 25-year-old construction worker in Ontario compare to his or her counterpart in Australia. They might also be able to determine the extent to which patients at military bases are taking cannabis to address their cases of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“People educating themselves about cannabis is where we win. There’s a lack of awareness and a lack of education and the data is key to that,” notes Moniz.  

Partnerships are pivotal to the company’s ability to gather information. In one of its most prominent tie-ups to date, the company recently signed a revenue sharing agreement for Cannvas.me with the Vancouver-based e-commerce platform Namaste Technologies, which runs medical cannabis patient portal Namaste MD that has a reach extending to 20 countries and boasts a database of 1.5 million users.

Namaste has developed the country’s first cannabis telemedicine app, available on iPhone and Android devices, which allows patients to connect to doctors or nurse practitioners for consultations within minutes.

“The data is really going to set us apart within the industry. The Cannvas.me platform on a global basis will collect all of that data and feed it back into the industry,” reports Moniz.

Cannvas Connect, meanwhile, is the third branch of the business as it offers a secured network to allow for the sharing of Cannvas’s data with, say, Health Canada or the company’s other partners in academic and medical circles.

“Cannvas Data and Cannvas Connect, that’s where we have partnerships with academics and research facilities and we’re trying to do partnerships with the government in Canada,” points out Moniz. “We have analysts here providing insights and trends within the community and global markets.”

While 80% of the business is focused on Canada, the remainder is global and Moniz reports that Cannvas is already reaching out to clinics in Australia and Germany to introduce its software so Australians and Germans can have information on medical cannabis at the doctor’s office. Its management also recently travelled to Hong Kong and Japan and hosted presentations there. “In most parts of Asia, you can’t buy cannabis or legally obtain it,” says Moniz. “But playing on that education format opens up a lot of doors for us.”

The company’s goal is to have software in at least 100 clinics within the next year.

Keen to remain independent from the clutch of licensed marijuana producers who control the industry, Moniz and his management team opted to take Cannvas public instead of approaching companies for money. “We wanted to remain non-biased so the only way to do that is to make sure we got funding agnostic of any licensed producer,” he says.

Since its launch last September, Cannvas has built up a staff of 19 with offices in Vancouver and Toronto. As Cannvas widens its global reach by introducing its software in clinics around the world, it aims to become the international authority on the cannabis sector. Information will drive the company forward, along with the industry itself, Moniz believes.

“From a marketing perspective, it’s very important for the cannabis sector to know who their market is,” says Moniz. “Right now, everyone is just blasting out the same message to everyone whether you’re a medicinal or a recreational user. It’s one message fits all.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on August 31, 2018 and featured in The Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Learn more about Cannvas MedTech at https://www.cannvasmedtech.com/ and on the CSE website at https://thecse.com/en/listings/life-sciences/cannvas-medtech-inc.

One World Lithium: Explosive demand for energy storage stokes future for One World Lithium

Energy storage sounds very much like a prosaic industry, but it is poised for a boom.  One World Lithium (CSE:OWLI) hopes to be part of the explosive growth.

Tim Brock, a consultant to One World Lithium, or OWL, believes that a junior company with an eye on eventual production must strive to be a low-cost producer with a long-term supply contract.  “One World Lithium has the potential to do this,” he said.

OWL has reason to be excited, given the particulars of its Salar del Diablo property in the State of California Baja Norte, Mexico.  The project covers a large closed basin that provides a compelling exploration setting for the presence of lithium in brines. The Salar del Diablo project has the potential to be a low-cost producer, one reason being that it sits about 35km from San Felipe, a cost-efficient regional service center with a deep-water port that could ship lithium carbonate to customers in Asia and the rest of the world, Brock explained.

One World Lithium has an option to acquire up to a 90% interest from the New Energy Discovery Group.  The company currently has a 60% working interest and on completion of the initial drilling program will have earned an additional 20% working interest with an option to purchase an additional 10% on receipt of a bankable feasibility study.

OWL expects to have an OTCQB listing in September as well as to be interlisted on the Frankfurt Exchange.

Lithium has multiple industrial applications, including lithium-ion batteries, heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease lubricants, plus as an additive for iron, steel and aluminum.  All told, this creates demand greater than current world supply.

Demand for lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, storage, and mobile devices by manufacturers in Asia, Europe and North America, has mixed with supply trends to drive lithium prices significantly higher.

The price of lithium is up 870% since 2005, and 177% in the last year alone.

In addition, countries are beginning to set dates after which all vehicles sold must be non-internal combustion.

Brock believes several trends will influence the energy storage industry through 2025.

Demand for lithium carbonate will more than double to 600,000 tonnes by 2025 from 270,000 tonnes in 2018.  Meanwhile, supply should rise to between 500,000 and 700,000 tonnes in 2025, compared with about 200,000 tonnes at present.

Lithium supplies currently dominated by Albemarle Corp., SQM and FMC Corp. “may be challenged as more independent production of lithium comes on line,” Brock notes. 

All of this is keeping the energy storage industry on the boil. 

The Salar Property is slated for drill-testing in late October 2018.  Plans call for 4,000m of drilling at 11 drill site locations to intersect possible lithium bearing aquifers. The pre-drilling results from geochemical, geophysical and geological work defined over 60 sq. km of potential lithium in brine aquifers (formations). The Salar is approximately 8,000 feet deep, which gives the potential for stacking of more than one aquifer going to depth.

There are five geological conditions that must be present in order to successfully explore for a lithium-in-brine deposit.  These are a closed basin, meaning that no fluids can escape; presence of hot springs; a volcanic source of lithium; faults to transport the lithium to the Salar; and a regional heat source.  The Salar del Diablo meets all of these necessary conditions. As a comparison, these conditions are also present at the Salar de Atacama, which is a similar size to the Salar del Diablo.

OWL has been in discussions with potential buyers as well as offers to joint venture future exploration but elected to drill the property on its own.

The market is watching in anticipation as the Salar del Diablo project is one of the largest lithium-in-brine prospects to be drilled in 2018.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on August 29, 2018 and featured in The Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Learn more about One World Lithium. at https://oneworldlithium.com/ and on the CSE website at https://thecse.com/en/listings/mining/one-world-lithium-inc.

Pacific Rim Cobalt: Cobalt and nickel covered with one prized Indonesian asset

Cobalt and nickel covered with one prized Indonesian asset

Energy storage is a technology crucial to our future, and for good reason. Affordable storage is “the missing link” between intermittent renewable power, such as solar and wind, and 24/7 reliability, according to McKinsey and Company.

Ranjeet Sundher, Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Rim Cobalt (CNSX:BOLT; OTCMKTS:PCRCF), which is developing a cobalt asset in Indonesia, says a major form of energy storage includes lithium-ion batteries, and one of the metals they rely on heavily is cobalt.

“Global demand for renewable power is fueling a massive shift from traditional energy supply chain economics, and the most widely used power source for portable applications is cobalt-reliant lithium-ion batteries,” said Sundher.

“Pacific Rim leverages the global shift to renewable energy and the electric vehicle revolution by capitalizing on two elements: cobalt and nickel. Cobalt and nickel are both essential to lithium-ion batteries.”

The mining industry veteran says lithium-ion batteries can be used to smooth the flow of power. They can be integrated into electricity systems so that if a main source of power fails, it provides a backup, improving reliability.

Despite Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeting in July that he wants cobalt out of his next-generation batteries, cutting the base metal can create safety and performance issues. For now, the supremacy of cobalt in the growing electric car market is unassailable.

“Cobalt is necessary for any lithium-ion battery with a high energy density. Essentially, any high-performance battery requires cobalt. As most of these batteries are for vehicles and phones, performance is a necessity. Therefore, you cannot get rid of cobalt,” said Sundher.

Sundher, who previously founded Indogold Exploration, a Jakarta-based mining service firm, is creating a carpe diem moment for Pacific Rim Cobalt by developing a cobalt and nickel asset in Indonesia. The Cyclops Cobalt-Nickel Project, recently renamed for its proximity to the Cyclops mountain range, is situated on the north coast of Papua Province. The project covers 5,000 hectares with nine prospects, five of them drill-tested with known cobalt-nickel mineralization.

Nearly 66% of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country torn by a long-running civil war. This turmoil means that mining cobalt is often dangerous and subject to supply disruptions that can result in spiraling prices. Some companies call the cobalt mined in the Congo the “blood diamond of batteries” owing to harsh mining conditions and use of child labour.

In contrast, Pacific Rim Cobalt’s Cyclops Project has excellent logistics and infrastructure. Located 15 kilometres from the Sentani Airport, the project’s tidewater location offers strategic access to China, the largest battery metals market in the world.

“We have a solid growth story in the right place,” said Sundher. “We are developing our flagship cobalt asset in Indonesia. We were fortunate to pick an asset that already had a tremendous amount of work done on it making it much easier to leverage. There have been over 850 drill holes done on our property, which allows us to talk to potential offtake partners much earlier than we normally would.”

The Canadian company has a production permit, environmental permit and sealed road access 12 months of the year to the project. “This means we can work on development without any seasonal delays,” said Sundher.  “We are currently beginning to drill 150 holes totaling 5,000 metres on our Cyclops Project and aim to make our historic estimate of 37 million metric tons at 0.11% cobalt compliant.”

The goal of the program is to establish a maiden compliant resource on the project as well as to identify target locations for extraction of mini bulk samples required for metallurgical and process testing.

With a historic estimate of 37 million metric tons grading 0.11% cobalt and 1.31% nickel at a 0.8% nickel cut-off grade, Cyclops contains significant cobalt and nickel mineralization as well as excellent infrastructure for year-round development activities.

Sundher makes clear that China is a focus of the company’s strategy for eventual supply.  “A key factor and strength of our development going forward is our proximity to China. Indonesia faces China. China is a big investor into Indonesia and they are a big consumer of cobalt,” said Sundher.

Indeed, China’s fast-growing battery industry accounts for 80% of cobalt usage. Beijing is locking down supply chains and gobbling up as much cobalt as it can.

Pacific Rim Cobalt has signed a preliminary offtake agreement with Beijing Easpring Material Technology Co. to purchase nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate from the Cyclops project for five years from the start of commercial production. 

“This is a major milestone for us. Beijing Easpring supplies five of the world’s top six battery manufacturers. They are incredibly sophisticated and dedicated to the electric revolution. Our business model is China-facing,” said Sundher.

It’s no secret that global battery makers have been searching for ways to reduce cobalt in their batteries to cut costs.  Next year, China’s largest lithium-ion battery maker, Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., plans to begin producing next-generation nickel-rich batteries, called NCM 811, which are cheaper to make and have longer lifespans.

Pacific Rim Cobalt is positioned to roll with these changes in battery composition, though, as it has both cobalt and nickel in its arsenal.

“The NCM 811 chemistry does reduce the amount of cobalt, but it replaces it with nickel. We are a cobalt and nickel company, so the switch does not affect us as much as other companies,” said Sundher.

“Our preliminary offtake partner, Beijing Easpring, is one of the leaders of 811 chemistry, and it is not anticipated to be the leading battery chemistry for a number of years,” said Sundher.

“It’s Day 1 in our company and I firmly believe that any investor who is interested in cobalt and understands the cobalt supply chain should have a close look at what we are doing.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on September 10, 2018 and featured in The Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Learn more about Pacific Rim Cobalt at https://pacificrimcobalt.com/ and on the CSE website at https://thecse.com/en/listings/mining/pacific-rim-cobalt-corp.

Public Entrepreneur Magazine – The Inspiration Issue – Now Live!

Over the inaugural year of the Public Entrepreneur Magazine, we’ve featured stories on a variety of topics including women leaders in the cannabis industry, predictions on the future of blockchain, and companies involved in battery metal exploration. Despite the diversity of industries and endeavours, companies featured across all four of these issues share one common ingredient: an inspired entrepreneur.

This issue of the magazine features interviews from a diverse range of entrepreneurs with different backgrounds in their industry. They share with us their insight, advice, inspiration, and goals for the upcoming year.

CSE-listed companies featured in this issue include:

Also featured in this issue is a Year In Review for the CSE, with 2018 considered to be its most transformational year.

Check out the latest issue of Public Entrepreneur magazine below.

 

(Trouble accessing the publication below? CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE ISSUE)

CellCube Energy Storage Systems: Smoothing the path between renewable energy and its end-user

Smoothing the path between renewable energy and its end-user

The path toward clean energy has proved to be a bumpy one. Misconceptions about the viability and reliability of renewable energy sources have sometimes hindered progress.

CellCube Energy Storage Systems Inc. (CSE:CUBE; OTCQB CECBF; Frankfurt 01X) has heard all the questions and concerns. How does solar power work when the sun goes down? How do you utilize wind power on a not-so-breezy day? The company has found that the missing link between clean, renewable energy and intermittency is in energy storage.

Despite the confusion about just how clean energy works, CellCube Chief Executive Officer Mike Neylan believes that a societal transition from fossil fuels to cleaner or renewable sources is well underway.

“The fundamental need for large-scale energy storage is driven by the increased integration of renewable energy into the electricity grid,” says Neylan.

Neylan, with over 20 years of corporate experience under his belt, has a blend of energy know-how and the financial experience to back it up. Formerly, he was a private equity portfolio manager with alternative investment manager Sprott Inc. and oversaw an investment fund focused on physical power trading when he was the chief operating officer of Aquilon Power Corp.

Renewable energy generation has been increasing, spurred on by the rapid growth in solar and wind power generation, according to a study by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Solar power generation has increased by 31% compared with 2015 while wind power generation is up by 16%, as per the study.  A total of US$19 billion worth of public investment was put into renewables in 2016. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance research, storage markets are estimated to reach 40GW by 2030 and are expected to spend over $100 billion in the ramp-up phase over the same period.

“Climate change is driving decarbonization and the increase of renewable sources powering the electricity grid,” says Neylan. “Consumers are looking for cleaner sources of energy with the same duration and reliability that they’re accustomed to having. Clean energy sources backed up by a long duration energy storage system fit the bill.”

Most commodities have always been able to be stored, like water in a reservoir or grain in a silo. Until relatively recently, there was little technical capacity for storing grid-scale electricity except through pumped hydro projects – which are expensive and have geographical constraints. Production would have to always meet demand to avoid waste and ensure a reliable and balanced grid.

CellCube stores energy by way of a vanadium redox flow battery, a brainchild of NASA in the 1970s.

Named after Vanadis, the Norse goddess of beauty, vanadium is a silvery, ductile metal known for its brilliant colors and for making steel stronger. Vanadium salts are non-flammable and non-explosive, increasing safety and battery life.

CellCube’s vanadium redox flow batteries provide 100% useable energy without impacting product life – there is no capacity degradation. The energy storage system comes as a containerized solution with scalable multi-unit modules that can provide grid-scale rated power and between four to eight hours of energy storage.

A battery’s cycle starts when the battery is fully charged and ends once it has been discharged, or all the stored energy has been used up, and then it’s recharged again.

Unlike other technologies on the market, CellCube’s energy storage system doesn’t suffer from cycling dependency and has a much longer lifespan – lasting more than 20,000 cycles. The battery is ideal for long-term renewable energy projects with a lifespan matching that of conventional power generation assets at 30+ years.

If there is ever a service interruption, CellCube receives an alert so that they can respond promptly and keep the energy flowing while reducing the cost of wasted energy. The battery can be looked after around-the-clock or be monitored remotely.

In the past, electricity storage was limited to small electrical-chemical batteries like lead acid or nickel-cadmium batteries. Lithium-ion batteries grew in popularity but were better suited for short-term storage. Vanadium batteries are better equipped for large-scale stationary energy storage, according to CellCube.

The Toronto-based company has original units that have been operating for nearly 10 years, or 11,000 battery cycles. In total, there are 130 installations in 24 countries, including units in the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa and famously frigid Siberia.

Its adaptiveness to weather extremes also sets the battery apart from the competition.

While some parts of the world look toward clean energy, other parts are still in the dark. CellCube has the capacity to bring electrification to future generations in rural areas.

Excess renewable energy can be stored and then fed into a microgrid, or an electricity grid separate from the mainframe grid. A diesel generator, less expensive than gasoline but a nonrenewable form of energy, can be used to charge the CellCube, but a shift to clean energy may lead to more autonomy for distant communities.

“If you dovetail it with solar or wind, then you have a cheap, clean, renewable source of energy driving the power but used in conjunction with storage, you have a much more efficient system completely independent from the grid,” says Neylan. “So, it allows communities that are isolated in any particular way to really assume control for their own power generation systems and to do so on an economic basis and on a clean basis.”

CellCube is looking to pave the rough road to renewable energy by providing consumers in all locations and climates with cleaner energy they can depend on to power their lives in rain or shine.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on August 31, 2018 and featured in The Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Learn more about CellCube Energy Storage Systems. at https://www.cellcubeenergystorage.com/ and on the CSE website at https://thecse.com/en/listings/mining/cellcube-energy-storage-systems-inc.

NEX Exchange welcomes its first dual-listed Canadian stock

NEX Exchange, a NEX Group business which operates a regulated, UK stock exchange for small and medium companies, announces today that Auxico Resources Canada Inc. (“Auxico”) has been admitted to trading on the NEX Exchange Growth Market.  

Auxico was founded in 2014 and is involved in the acquisition, exploration and development of precious (gold and silver) and base metals (coltan) in Colombia and Mexico.  Its main operation is the 100% interest in the Mexican Zamora Silver-Gold Property, which has high grade silver and gold reserves.

Auxico’s primary listing is on the Canadian Securities Exchange and this is the first Canadian company to become dual-listed on NEX Exchange using the fast-track procedure which NEX Exchange has established across various stock exchanges around the world.

NEX Exchange provides access to capital and liquidity and the Growth Market is the market for early stage, entrepreneurial companies seeking access to growth capital.

NEX Exchange already has a number of mining companies on its markets and gaining a dual-listing broadens the range of potential investors for Auxico at a time when the company is looking to expand and attract investors globally.

As well as the Canadian Securities Exchange, companies listed on the following markets are eligible to apply for a fast-track admissions process on NEX Exchange:

  • AIM Market and Main Market – London Stock Exchange
  • Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)
  • NASDAQ US
  • TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV)

Patrick Birley, Chief Executive of NEX Exchange said: “We are delighted to welcome Auxico Resources as our first dual quoted stock with the Canadian Securities Exchange. We have long admired the approach of the CSE and hope that by working together we can offer dual quoted companies greater access to a wide range of investors.”

Richard Carleton, CEO of the Canadian Securities Exchange, said: “We congratulate the team at Auxico Resources for taking advantage of the fast-track procedure we have developed with our colleagues at the NEX Exchange.  The listing will open new opportunities for capital raising and secondary market liquidity in the UK for Auxico. We hope that Auxico will be the first of many CSE issuers to join the NEX Exchange”.

Pierre Gauthier, Chairman & CEO of Auxico, said: “The dual listing of Auxico’s common shares on the NEX Exchange will provide our Company with access to the capital markets of London, one of the largest financial markets in the world. Access to growth capital from London, through the NEX Exchange, will help Auxico to advance its business plans in Colombia and Mexico, where we have access to significant opportunities in the mining sector. In addition, a NEX Exchange listing makes sense for our Company as a significant portion of our common shares are already held by residents of the UK.”

Guy Miller of Peterhouse Capital Limited, corporate adviser to Auxico, said: “This is an exciting transaction for NEX Exchange and for us as corporate adviser and believe that Auxico’s quote will open opportunities for UK based investors to be able to invest seamlessly into this Canadian listed company, and set a precedent for further Canadian companies to follow”.

NEX Exchange A NEX Group business. NEX Exchange helps its members reach investors and raise capital. As well as financial institutions and large corporates, entrepreneurs use NEX to manage their biggest financial challenges. Whether choosing to offer equity or debt products, once admitted onto our stock exchange, small and medium-sized companies have easier access to investors. Admission is straightforward and we fully support the transition to a public market environment. For the small and the ambitious, NEX Exchange is more than a source of capital – we are the platform for growth. And for investors, we offer simple access to a diverse range of dynamic companies.
For more information, go to nexexchange.com

NEX Group plc offers customers better ways to execute trades and manage risk. Our products and services underpin the entire trade lifecycle pre-, during and post-execution. Our electronic trading platforms are industry standards. Customers use our lifecycle management and information services to optimise portfolios, control risk and reduce costs. We partner with emerging technology companies to bring greater efficiency, transparency and scale to the world’s capital markets. NEX is headquartered in London with offices worldwide. NEX. Empowering markets.

Year-end 2018 interview with Richard Carleton

Last month, CEO of the Canadian Securities Exchange, Richard Carleton, sat down with Peter Murray of Kiyoi Communications to discuss the record-breaking year for the CSE in 2018.

From major milestone achievements, to trends and updates in listings to where the CSE is looking next in 2019, scroll down to read the full transcript of this interview.

For ease of navigation, a list of hyperlinked topics is included below.

  1. Standout achievements in 2018
  2. Increased size of listed companies
  3. US cannabis companies choosing to list on the CSE
  4. Status on listings outside of cannabis
  5. Growth of institutional investment
  6. Managing margin eligibility of CSE-listed securities
  7. Updates on blockchain-enabled clearing & settlement
  8. Moving to a new office
  9. Focus on the future
PM: As we approach the end of 2018, the CSE is positioned to report another year of records in trading volume, trading value, financings, and other metrics illustrating the exchange’s success. What achievements stand out in your mind, and why are they important to your vision for where the CSE is going?

RC: Clearly, standout events have been taking place over the last few months, with the number of very large US-based cannabis issuers that have joined the CSE. It is companies such as Curaleaf, Harvest Health, Acreage, Green Brands, and more to come over the next few months. We are seeing the most rapid expansion of market capitalization and impact on the exchange since our inception.

I will say that the opportunity to work with management teams who are representing, in some respects, the pinnacle of US business is one that the CSE really values. Finance professionals and advisors are involved from bulge-bracket US brokers. And there are experts highly experienced in consumer products and the consumer packaging industry from companies such as Procter & Gamble.

The opportunity to work with people of this calibre is validation of the proposition that the CSE has been working to build and illustrates that we are headed in the right direction.

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PM: Cannabis continues to be a big driver of the growth being experienced by the CSE. In 2018, the sector brought several of the largest financings to ever take place on the exchange, and some of the issuers have market caps that place them well beyond the microcap category. Does the increasing size of the average listed company present any new opportunities or challenges?

 

RC: I don’t know that the increasing size presents any unique challenges. Certainly, what it means is that, given the size of the financings and the overall enterprise value of these companies, we are seeing, for the first time, significant institutional participation. This is a very important development, because last year and in the early part of this year the money was principally coming out of the retail space or Canadian accredited investors through private placement financings.

What we are seeing now is institutions from Europe, the United States, Canada and Asia participating in these financings. And this really is the first time we have had this community involved with the Canadian Securities Exchange.

We are being exposed to advisors in the United States who are beginning to understand that the Canadian public equity markets are in fact a viable alternative for US companies looking for growth capital. We’ve had conversations with a number of these professionals about taking what we have learned from the capitalization efforts in the US cannabis space and applying that to companies from other sectors that perhaps have not been that well served by the venture capital and private equity models that are the principal source of growth capital for early stage US companies.

That is a thesis we have had for a number of years and I think the cannabis industry is bringing the capabilities of our market to light. And not just of the Canadian Securities Exchange, but really the whole ecosystem that we represent, be it the investment dealers or the law firms that work with these issuers. We really do hope to leverage the relationships that we have built in the cannabis space to bring a whole new category of companies into the Canadian public equity markets.

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PM: The CSE remains the best choice for companies in the cannabis sector looking to list in Canada, especially those with assets in the United States. What will be the approach to protecting the CSE’s lead in cannabis listings if the US chooses to make cannabis legal on a federal level, thus opening the door to cannabis companies listing on US exchanges?

 

RC: We have been asked this question quite frequently over the last little while, and I think the answer falls somewhere along the following lines. In my experience in the exchange business in Canada, people have always looked at market share of trading for inter-listed companies between Canada and the United States and tried to think about how to change that dynamic. How do we increase market share?  How do we increase order flow from the United States?

The simple fact of the matter is that the percentage of market share is almost exactly the same as the percentage of the country of residence of the shareholders.

To illustrate, if a company has 50% of its shareholders resident in Canada and 50% in the United States, the market share of trading if the company is listed on both a Canadian and US exchange is about 50/50. There is not a lot you can do about that because of regulations that make it difficult for dealers in the United States to route client order flow to Canada, and Canadian dealers to route order flow to the United States.

There is a little bit of a closed shop operating. What we will have to do is look at which companies have a predominantly Canadian shareholder base and convince them to retain their Canadian listing as and when regulations are further loosened in the United States and cannabis is removed from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.

One of the other things we are going to be looking to do is develop some index products early in 2019 around the US cannabis space. We are the only location globally where you see as heavy a concentration of US cannabis issuers, so we are the logical place for that index to be calculated and disseminated.

Obviously, what we would like to see is exchange traded fund products developed off that index, so that people are able to not just purchase the equities of individual companies but diversify across the entire sector with an exchange traded fund product. That is another way in which we hope to increase the stickiness, if you will, of the relationships we develop with these issuers.

And last, but not least, we want to continue to build deep relationships with the management teams of these companies and put ourselves in that situation kind of like Nasdaq back in the day, when Microsoft and Cisco and Intel and Apple and all of those companies didn’t qualify for the New York Stock Exchange. And when they did, and the New York Stock Exchange knocked on their door and said, “Hey, Mr. Gates, it’s time to move up to the Big Board,” Bill Gates said, “No thanks, we are very well served by our present exchange relationship.”  So, that is the kind of brand loyalty we would like to build with these management teams and service them well into the future regardless of how the regulatory landscape changes.

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PM: How about other industry sectors on the exchange?

 

RC: It is interesting because the cannabis space has obviously had the headlines, but we have in fact seen a significant number – and in absolute numbers almost a record – of mining companies get onto the exchange and receive funding this year.

My sense is that some of the profits from trading in the cannabis space over the last couple of years are being applied to the mining sector. Notwithstanding the fact that there is a drag on the mining sector right now because of the low price of most of the commodities, we are seeing mining companies get funded and come onto the exchange at a higher rate than in many years. And as I say, it gets a little bit lost in the shuffle of all the cannabis news, but they are getting funded in quite considerable numbers at this point.

In tech, we are seeing some struggles in the crypto space and that seems to have put a chill on the entire blockchain sector, which was red hot just a year ago. But we are also seeing a number of technology stories get funded. We would like to see more and that is one of the great focuses of our efforts with the new business relationships we are developing in the United States. Having a pipeline of companies in the tech sector from the US come public here would be very interesting for investors.

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PM: The amount of capital being raised by companies on the exchange continues to skyrocket – it looks as if the final number for 2018 is going to settle somewhere around $5 billion. You can’t reach this level without funds playing a big part. Can you comment on the changing role of institutional investors in the CSE marketplace?

 

RC: As I mentioned, we are seeing great institutional participation in financing transactions as they get larger and larger. And one headline from the Curaleaf financing, which was approximately $520 million, was that there was something like a hundred institutions, as I understand it, on the investor list. We know that institutions have increasingly participated in the space as the year has progressed. Large institutions from all over the world are beginning to participate in this space, and as I mentioned we want to work with these people, ensure they have a good experience, and that they are prepared to back CSE listed stories again in the future.

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PM: Marginability is an important issue for many large investors and the CSE has been working to achieve some changes in the way this is managed. Why is this issue important and what can you tell us about where the discussion is headed?

 

RC: The marginability issue has a number of different components to it, but you can essentially look at things in two ways. If the shares of a company are not margin-eligible, it means an investor cannot hold the shares in a margin account, and the dealer cannot lend them money to purchase the shares. Instead, the investor must use cash to purchase them.

Many higher priced securities are margin-eligible. With these securities, an investor doesn’t have to use most, or all, of the money in their account to make a purchase and can instead borrow from their broker.

The other way this impacts issuers is that the dealer is required to post capital with the clearing house against the possibility of failure on the other side of the trade. And that is what people mean when they refer to T+2: the transaction is only finally settled after two days plus the day of the trade, when it clears with securities and cash changing hands.

The dealers are required to post capital against the potential of that trade failing – in effect one side not showing up with the stock or cash to settle it.

For margin-eligible securities, they don’t have to post the full amount. The idea is that it is not volatile, there is lots of value there, the likelihood of failure is low, and if there was a default you could sell the shares to get the money.

For companies that aren’t margin-eligible, the dealers have to post 135% of the trade value with the clearing house. To be eligible, a stock has to trade at a price higher than $3.00, so there is a relatively small number of stocks trading on the CSE that qualify.

We are looking to help dealers free up capital in two ways. One is being able to provide customer service in their margin accounts. And the second way is to reduce the capital posted at the clearing house in the two-day settlement cycle.

We are working with regulators to remedy this situation as quickly as we can. And we have reason to believe that we have made a good deal of progress. When change takes place, it certainly should increase the liquidity of the stocks. It will certainly make them less expensive for people to trade. And it should bring even more participation in CSE names.

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PM: What can you tell us about the blockchain-enabled clearing and settlement facility you have been working on?

 

RC: We are in the late stages of quality assurance on the new system. We have been working with our developer to make some changes on the robustness of the system. And this is really in anticipation of questions and comments we would receive from the users and from the regulators.

We hope to get the system up in our external test environment so that dealers and some other interested parties can begin testing in their own environments before Christmas. And at that point we will be working closely with them to understand what our timelines are from an implementation perspective. We have to respect the amount of work the dealers will have to do to integrate their existing cash management systems and client reporting systems into our clearing settlement facility. We’re hopeful that the effort will not be too lengthy and we’re pleased that there is a relatively small number of vendors who provide the services. So, it’s not a case where 125 dealers suddenly have to make changes, but one where a small number of vendors have to make changes that will then be extended to the entire industry.

Dealers continue to be extremely eager to get their hands on it. They understand the business case and the client service benefits, as well as the number of companies that would like to use security tokens as a means of securing capital. We continue to be very excited about this facility and it is going to be one of the things on the agenda for 2019.

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PM: The exchange’s Toronto team is relocating to a new space early in 2019 — First Canadian Place. Insofar as you can comment, how well is the exchange doing as a business, and how does this provide you with new and/or better resources to make the organization even stronger?

 

RC: We are a private company, so our financials are not available publicly. I will say, and this should come as no surprise to anybody, that with the volume of trading and listings we’ve had this year, as well as continued strong performance from our market information businesses, the exchange is on very solid financial footing.

We will be moving to new premises early in the New Year. This was really brought on by the anticipated growth in our staffing levels, particularly in the listings regulation area. It is important that we continue to maintain high service levels for our issuers and deploy our regulatory responsibilities as an exchange.

At this point, it is a pretty tight fit for the team at our present location. As well, and I think this is one of the important incentives for us to move to new premises, we really want to provide a better listings and presentation experience for our issuers. Everybody expects a bell-ringing or market-opening ceremony with a proper backdrop. The new First Canadian Place location will give the space and a spectacular backdrop to have exactly that kind of experience for the issuers. We really want to be able to step up our game with providing companies a memorable experience on their first day of trading, or whenever they have the opportunity to visit the exchange and have their listing recognized by us and the rest of the community. We are all really excited about moving into the new premises, probably at some point toward the end of January.

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PM: As we head into 2019, what can issuers and investors anticipate from the CSE?  And looking further into the future, how is the CSE positioning itself to keep momentum going into 2020 and beyond?

 

RC: We covered the outlook in some detail already, but I’ll elaborate on a few items. The blockchain initiative will be a significant focus for the organization as we move into 2019. And it will take much of the year before it is ready. That will give us a great platform to track new and interesting securities in the marketplace.

I also mentioned new index products with a cannabis focus. Again, we are the most logical source in the world to provide those sorts of index products. And clearly our motivation there is to provide those indices as an underlying interest for ETF products. My sense from traveling in the US recently is that we have many more companies of significant size, business operations and profits who will be looking to come into the Canadian market to fund further growth and provide liquidity for their early stage investors.

Over and above that, we will be building out the CSE team. We plan to pay particular attention to the continuous disclosure program for existing companies. As we attract issuers with larger and more complex business operations, we need to do more work with them to ensure they stay on top of their continuous disclosure requirements under the Ontario Securities Act.

We hope that we can realize improvements to margin eligibility for stocks early in 2019 and we believe that would further improve liquidity in the marketplace.

We will continue to build relationships with markets around the world. As I think is well known at this point, we have a close working relationship with the OTC Markets Group in the United States. CSE issuers have had a very positive experience working with them in building liquidity, adding to the shareholder base, and as a platform for fundraising activities in the US. And we are looking to build partnerships in the UK, in Australia and the European Union to provide similar managed relationships with marketplaces in those jurisdictions.

Having a dual-listing or an over-the-counter arrangement really does help the ability of companies to raise funds in those marketplaces. And given the existence of sophisticated arbitrage trading, it can help to build an even better liquidity profile.

Building relationships with more international companies choosing to access Canadian markets for capital to expand their businesses is also an important agenda item. I visited Israel twice this year and we expect to see the first Israeli companies list toward the end of this year or early in 2019. We will see a healthy cohort of companies from Israel – some of them are in technology, some are in the cannabis space. We want to see people in different markets around the world look to Canada and our world-leading position in small-cap finance to help them secure growth capital.

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Gianni Kovacevic: One-on-one with the realistic environmentalist

Sharp. Focused. Radical. Three words that describe Gianni Kovacevic.

He’s also passionate about the energy industry in a way that is unparalleled. In 2016, he published My Electrician Drives a Porsche and drove across the U.S. to promote it on the world’s first zero-emission book tour.

Public Entrepreneur recently sat down with him to chat about the energy industry and his latest venture, CopperBank Resources Corp. (CSE:CBK), a company that is engaged in the acquisition and development of mineral properties.

Who is Gianni Kovacevic and what drives you to be so passionate about the energy industry?

I’m an investor. Within that, I’m a curious investor, and I want to look at investing in the future and all that it entails. I’ve been captivated by the energy space. Effectively, I look at it like technology now. It’s moving forward at a faster pace than most people will appreciate and recognize.

I’m Croatian. My brother and I have been fascinated by the scientist Nikola Tesla, a Serbian born in Croatia, who invented the modern way in which we create and transfer electricity. That spawned our studies – we both went to BCIT and took electrical studies and I’ve followed it like a Harlequin Romance ever since.

What it taught us was that fairytales at the time are now becoming commercially viable when it comes to the electrification of transportation, solar power, wind power and the integration of that. It will be led by the consumer, in my opinion.

What is the future of batteries, and related to that, and how does that shape the future for companies in the battery metals sub-sector?

When it comes to understanding energy, there are three silos: 1. The generation, or creation, of energy, so the creation of electrical energy. 2. The movement of energy. There are three ways to move energy from point A to point B, you can do it with a pipeline, with a ship or a railroad or you can do it with electrical cables. 3. The utilization of energy and that’s where we can look at batteries.

The lithium-ion battery has gotten a lot of press. It’s good for devices, tools, transportation. When you get to the larger, commercial-scale batteries, you’re talking about vanadium-redox or iron-salt batteries. They’re huge – the size of a building – with very simple and abundant ingredients.

So what’s the glue of every system I just went through? Copper. Electricity demands copper.

You are executive chairman of CopperBank.  Tell us about that company and what excites you about its future.

CopperBank is a unique company. It’s a company built by investors, for investors. We appreciate that the future of energy will be copper. We look at investing in junior mining as the highest of high-risk industries.

Our strategy is to acquire projects that have had a significant amount of capital already invested. When the copper price is low, they are un-economic, when the copper price rises, there’s optionality. Our portfolio has growth, optionality and development potential. We can enhance the value – even in a lower-priced copper environment – to offer investors not just the optionality play, but also accretive growth.

We specifically like copper because as a commodity, it will have strong CAGR demand growth. Unlike the oil and gas industry, copper mining has a window where in the next three to four years we have no major copper mines coming online. That’s big news.

You label yourself a realistic environmentalist. What does that mean?

It’s recognizing that about two billion people in the world don’t live like we do. Eventually, they will have access to running water and electricity. There’s nothing that can prevent that. It’s how we do it in the most proactive way possible. All of these things will be led by the consumer. As much as you want to adjust or pivot the behaviour of people, you can’t do this.

What impact will technology have on emerging markets, and particularly on commodities in emerging markets?

You have to look at the per capita usage of commodities. We currently have 7.5 billion people in the world and we’re probably going to climb to about 9 billion. As these developing nations become more developed, the trend is (and we’ve seen this many times) that birth rates fall. So eventually we will go into decline, but that’s an issue for 2050 and beyond. When you look at the per capita consumption of commodities in the next 10, 20, 30 years that’s where I think – as an investor – there are going to be winners and there are going to be losers.

As we pivot to a low-carbon society, things like thermal coal and crude oil will no longer be growth businesses. We’ll see other commodities become the blue ribbon champions – things like copper because it will continue to grow. We will pivot. That amplitude will increase.

What commodity investment opportunities can you not ignore today?

What Tesla has done with its supercharger network. Effectively, they have disrupted the entire incumbent energy system. You can now drive an electric car anywhere in the developed world, due to their super charger network, and it only took Tesla about three years to achieve that.  Think of the gravity of what they have developed in a very short time.  Royal Dutch Shell by comparison, is a $300 billion company that sells 6 million barrels of oil every day through their 44,000 forecourts. Shell is an energy distribution business and good part of their market cap is attributed to selling transportation fuels. That is no longer a growth business.

What have I missed? What else should we have talked about?

The consumer. The consumer will eventually guide the way. The gentrification, urbanization and behaviour of the millennial generation is profoundly different than the generations before. Where is the largest millennial population in the world? It’s in China. There are 415 million millennials and over 100 million have graduated from university. Those educated, urban Chinese want no part of factory jobs anymore. The European/American millennial is saying they don’t want to live in the suburbs of cities anymore. They are more than happy to live in the gentrified area of Kansas City in a condo, and they don’t have a car nor do they want one — they don’t even have a drivers licence, so they are never going to be the customer of Big Auto or Big Oil.

So if one aggregates any 100 of these people. Many don’t have a drivers licence, and if they do it’s for something like a car sharing service like Car2Go. They don’t want ownership, they want access. Or, they will use a service like Uber. So how does this reverberate into what we’re talking about? If we aggregate 30 or 40 of these young people, they require one car, car-sharing, or an uber driver.

When you look at the consumer, guess what? They all used to buy a car. No longer. These types of consumers, that count in the hundreds of millions, are never going to be the future customer of VW, GM or Toyota. If the Big 3 automakers each sell around 10 million cars a year, I will suggest to you that in the future, their car sales will stop climbing. And I believe car sales in general will actually start to fall. Additionally, a good portion of those cars become more fuel efficient and for professional drivers increasingly so they will buy electric. It’s all about cost, not price – the total cost of ownership, not to mention the governmental pressures that are forcing industry to provide zero emission transportation.

We’ll see technology companies getting in the game: Tesla, Apple, Dyson, you name it. There’s a cool factor, green factor, price factor. It’s going to disrupt the whole business model. It’s all been turned on its head. And then you look at one other thing.

I also think it’s always important to think about the Ernest Hemingway quote when you think about car companies: “How’d you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on September 8, 2018 and featured in The Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Learn more about Copperbank Resources Corp. at http://copperbankcorp.com and on the CSE website at https://thecse.com/en/listings/mining/copperbank-resources-corp.

Crossing the Pond: CSE-listed Auxico Resources Canada becomes first dual-listed Canadian stock on UK’s NEX Exchange

Earlier this year, Auxico Resources Canada Inc. (CSE:AUAG) became the first Canadian security to be dual-listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange and the NEX Exchange in the United Kingdom. Auxico Resources is the first Canadian company to become dual-listed on the NEX Exchange using the fast track procedure, which the London-based exchange has established to help expedite access to its market from companies listed elsewhere around the globe.

NEX Exchange, a NEX Group business, operates a regulated stock exchange in the U.K., with a particular focus on entrepreneurial and growth-stage companies.

Patrick Birley, Chief Executive of NEX Exchange said: “We are delighted to welcome Auxico Resources as our first dual quoted stock with the Canadian Securities Exchange. We have long admired the approach of the CSE and hope that by working together we can offer dual quoted companies greater access to a wide range of investors.”

With this new listing milestone, the CSE continues to grow its international reach. Several securities listed on the CSE also trade on markets in Europe (Frankfurt Exchange) and in the U.S. (OTC Markets).

Richard Carleton, CEO of the CSE, said of the announcement: “We congratulate the team at Auxico Resources for taking advantage of the fast-track procedure we have developed with our colleagues at the NEX Exchange. The listing will open new opportunities for capital raising and secondary market liquidity in the U.K. for Auxico. We hope that Auxico will be the first of many CSE issuers to join the NEX Exchange.”

According to the NEX Exchange’s fast-tracking admissions process, companies already admitted to CSE are eligible to use their accelerated admissions process to join the NEX Exchange Growth Market.

The access granted to CSE-listed firms to this streamlined process is a further recognition of the CSE as a qualified market with international stature and puts the CSE in strong company with some the largest and well-known stock exchanges across the world who also have qualified for access to the NEX Exchange’s fast-track admission process.

Hear from the CSE’s Senior VP of Market Development, Rob Cook, explain more about how companies from outside of Canada are also choosing to list on the CSE in the video clip below.

The World According to Victory Square: Global tech making a difference on multiple fronts

Technology is changing the lives of every living thing on our planet and at a speed difficult to grasp.  Then there is the question of direction – where is the tech world taking us, and to what end?

To begin understanding these issues, it helps to have insight from someone who lives and breathes technology, but at the same time is not so consumed by it that they lose touch with everyday realities.  Someone driven by the outcome of their efforts for human beings, rather than the pursuit of technology for its own sake.

Shafin Diamond Tejani, CEO of Victory Square Technologies (CSE:VST), is firmly in the former group.  With a vision for his company built around clear opinions on future trends, he speaks sincerely about both increasing shareholder value and the positive influence he and his team can have on local communities…and those not so local.  At the end of the day, Tejani believes the benefits are there for all of us to share.

Public Entrepreneur visited Victory Square headquarters in Vancouver recently for an in-depth discussion of Tejani’s philosophies and thoughts on where technology is headed.  Investors and entrepreneurs alike could learn much from one of the city’s leading lights in technology investing and helping entrepreneurs realize their business and personal goals.

Victory Square invests in companies that are shaping the future, and that means you have some precise views on where technology, and the world in general, is going.  Can you share that outlook with us?  What are you focused on and what do you see for the future that some people might not?

Human nature is very predictable, and history is very cyclical.  If you look at the past few decades you see very clear patterns.  Our focus recently has been on new emerging technologies, which are disrupting established technology and creating completely new industries.  We are seeing things like decentralization, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and virtual and augmented reality being the next big movements.

I started my first company during the early dotcom boom of the mid-1990s.  The Internet and the Web democratized access to information and connected people from all over the world.  We have seen that impact every walk of our lives on a global scale, and it accelerated further with the explosion of mobile phones and smartphones.  We can now say that humankind is almost entirely connected.

Humans generally want to do the same things.  On the Internet they want to access information, purchase things, play games and watch movies.  They also use social media to connect and communicate with one another.  But for the last 25 years, most of these activities have taken place on centralized servers.  Facebook allows you and I to communicate but it’s a centralized platform.  We input the information, but they own that input, and they monetize it to third-party advertisers without us getting a cut of the money.

The impact of global platforms like Google, Twitter, and Facebook leads to problems ranging from the threat of government-ordered censorship to more subtle, algorithmic biases in the curation of material that users consume. These platforms which host and inform our connected public perspectives are unelected, unaccountable, and often difficult to oversee or audit.

We are now living through a new movement to create technologies and services to address these issues. Decentralized technologies that are open source, enabling peer-to-peer interactions in lieu of mediated centralized platforms are the remedy to our current global landscape.

In a centralized system, everything is kept in the same place and can be hacked.  In a decentralized network there may still be a Facebook that can create the network, but we all own our own information and we all participate and benefit from how successful that network becomes.  People will want to do the same things, but the underlying architecture is going to be different.

From an innovation standpoint, Victory Square focuses on things we know.  We like verticals that are commercial and virtually recession-proof.  Sports betting is a good example.

Let’s vector in a little closer.  How do you choose companies to invest in based on your broader view for the future of the world?

Given that we begin by focusing on verticals we know well, the next thing we do is identify a large customer with a pain point.  Then we look at some 80 accelerators we have relationships with around the world to see what problems talented people are trying to solve.  We can bring teams to Canada to evaluate them if they are overseas.  The evaluation will take place over anywhere from three to six months, and by bringing entrepreneurs to Canada there are a number of programs we can take advantage of that help to mitigate our risk.

We focus on verticals that we have a strong track record and experience in, identify a large customer in that vertical, look wide globally to find the best talent, bring it to Canada to give it all of the advantages of being based in Canada, and then we are able to evaluate the tech and the team as they validate with that large customer we have brought them to.

Tech has been commoditized, so it’s your ability to have an operator who can execute efficiently.  Execution becomes the real key.  We look for strong teams and leaders who have built a product that customers are willing to pay for.  And given that commoditization, you need differentiating factors – someone who can speak well and articulate what they are really doing, and then there is that work ethic and hustle that we also look for in an operator.

Give us an example of an investment and the impact it stands to have on the future.

There are 19 companies in our portfolio doing exceptional things.  One of those is FansUnite, which was founded by an accountant and a lawyer who are very passionate about sports betting.  We acquired the company about 18 months ago for $2 million, worked with them to build a unique product, and they just oversubscribed a financing of $4.45 million at a pre-money valuation of $13 million.  FansUnite is aiming to go public in early 2019.

In the sports betting industry, all bettors are generally betting against the house.  You are trusting the house to manage the lines appropriately, trusting them to put the player funds in escrow, and then to pay you out accordingly when the time comes.  Paying exorbitant fees and trusting a centralized third party with your funds was what led to FansUnite incorporating blockchain into their business.

A main pain point is that the house is using a third party to process payments, which means they must charge a fee, and it can be as high as 10%.  That means if you bet $100, only $90 is actually going into the pool, so you have to win 54% of the time just to break even.  They realized that decentralization and blockchain could address this and built their own protocol and currency. FansUnite will become one of the first companies to build the infrastructure that allows any operator to build a blockchain based sports betting application on the protocol.  FansUnite is building the first decentralized application which will be a low-margin sportsbook, taking the fees per bet down to an industry low 1% margin for the book.  There are many other efficiency benefits as FansUnite aims to change the landscape of the sports betting industry.

Your company materials suggest giving back to the community is important to Victory Square.  How does investing in things that make the world a better place fit into the structure of a capitalist enterprise?

My family is from East Africa, and in the early 1970s there was a military coup and we ended up in Canada.  We basically won the lottery by landing in Canada, where we had access to good education, stable government, safety and security.  The advantage we had in Canada and the thankfulness is tied into a responsibility I have always felt, and it has trickled down to our portfolio companies in the form of something we call TKM: Time, Knowledge and Money.

There are some in our team who might not have financial resources to give, but they have time and knowledge.  A graphic designer might donate design services to a philanthropic organization in need of that skill.  Lawyers or accountants can provide legal advice or business planning for charities.

Our focus at Victory Square is on vulnerable children and making sure they have the basics, which means access to nutritious food, education, safe environments, love and support.  We found that not only do we have the time and capacity to do it as a capitalist enterprise, but if often benefits us because it aligns us with the interests of other socially minded entrepreneurs.  There is no negative impact – it is only positive.

There is no typical day for you, but how about a typical week or month?  Give us a look inside the world of a manager at the top of an investment organization.  What are your biggest challenges and how do you keep on top of all the moving parts?

I am fortunate to have an amazing team and we divide and conquer.  If we take September as an example, we are hosting a conference in London called the World Blockchain Forum, where investors, thought leaders and emerging tech companies from all over the world will be gathering, including some of our own.  We’ll be connecting with investors and accessing deal flow in the UK.

Right after that we head to Asia, where we have some portfolio companies.  We will be stopping in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and then we end in Singapore.

Thankfully, Asia is a day ahead because we come straight back to Vancouver for conferences, one of which is Cambridge House’s Extraordinary Future, which we sponsor and are actively involved in, and then the AR/VR Global Summit.  At the end of September, we are in Malta for the Malta Blockchain Summit.

Portfolio companies are global, events we host and speak at are global, our talent pool and investors are global, so we are spread out.  And alongside all of that, we are managing our portfolio companies and day to day responsibilities, so we have to ensure we have a really organized team, but also a really deep and hard-working team so we can successfully execute on everything.

And there are also lots of activities we run on the philanthropic side – educational programs, food drives, golf tournaments, galas and other events.  That initiative is important to us and we have a team that makes sure we devote appropriate time.

Victory Square must have a shareholder group a little different than that of the average public company.  Can you discuss the type of investor that backs you?

We attract a wide variety because we are in many different verticals.  We have exposure to artificial intelligence and machine learning, to VR/AR and blockchain, as well as mobile games and film.  They fall into three categories: institutional investors who have a longer vision, retail investors who don’t fully understand the sector but want exposure, and then there is a big group of investors who support our portfolio companies from the global crypto community.  Given that tech is borderless, we are seeing investor interest from all over the world.

If you could convey just one lesson to a talented, budding entrepreneur, what would you tell them?

There are lots of things I think are key, but forced to make a shortlist, I’d offer an analogy.  If we needed to go to Florida we could get in a car and start driving, but we might not have enough food or money or gas.  We might eventually make it to Florida, but it would not be the most efficient way.

A well considered plan is one of the biggest things.  You need a roadmap for where you want to go.  But you also have to realize that the direction you initially started out on might not work, so you have to be flexible and adjust.  The entrepreneurial journey does not always look like a hockey-stick curve.  It can be very volatile, and having that plan enables you to be better prepared to face the challenges and difficult periods and be persistent and determined to get past it, rather than become frazzled and quitting early.

You also need the right attributes, such as strong work ethic, leadership skills, passion and determination.  If you put enough smart people together with a good idea or opportunity, you are going to figure it out.

This story was originally published at www.proactiveinvestors.com on September 19, 2018 and featured in The Public Entrepreneur magazine.

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