Blender Bites Limited (CSE:BITE) Joins the CSE for a Virtual Market Open

The CSE warmly welcomed Blender Bites Limited (CSE:BITE) for a virtual Market Open on September 23, 2021.

Blender Bites is a Canadian food company that sells pre-portioned “easy smoothie” products that are organic, vegan, non-GMO, gluten free, soy free, and with no added sugars. Sustainability is at the forefront of their company, with minimal plastic packaging and a focus on plant-based ingredients. Blender Bites products are distributed nationally across Canada and are currently sold in over 800 stores, with a launch planned to enter the United States marketplace.

Founder & CEO Chelsie Hodge, Director of Sales and Marketing Jessica Evans, and other members of the incredible Blender Bites team kicked off the day’s trading at the virtual Market Open.

For more details about the CSE, including information on other Market Opens, please visit the CSE website or follow us on social media.

Gage Growth: The steady hand wins the race in this company’s playbook

When it comes to cannabis in the state of Michigan, Gage Growth (CSE:GAGE) is the name an increasing number of consumers are turning to. Still a young company, having been in operation for just over 18 months, Gage has nonetheless amassed one of the largest asset portfolios in the state. Experience at the leadership level is key to this success.

Gage’s Chief Executive Officer, Fabian Monaco, is a former lawyer and investment banker who was actively involved in the evolution of the cannabis industry. He was a key member of the team that transacted the first cannabis acquisition, Tweed (now known as Canopy Growth)’s purchase of Bedrocan, and also the first-ever cannabis IPO. Also on the team is cannabis impresario Bruce Linton, who serves as Chairman. Another big name is TerrAscend’s Executive Chairman Jason Wild, who has a large stake in the company.

What is it about Gage that attracts some of the most successful executives in the cannabis industry? For one, Gage is on track to be Michigan’s number one operator by the end of 2021, with 14 facilities either in operation or planned. Its first set of financial statements as a public company showed a big quarter-over-quarter jump in revenue, and a corresponding increase in its profit margin.

Clearly, the decision to start things off in Michigan was a good one.

“One of our founders is from Michigan and the other founder has a strong connection to Michigan through family,” says Monaco. “The biggest reason we chose the state, though, is that it had the second-largest medical cardholder system behind California for many years. Their caregiver program was introduced in 2008, and thanks to that, individuals have been going to dispensaries for over a decade.”

Monaco goes on to explain that close to 75% of the population in Michigan is of age to consume, and that after December 1, 2019, which was the first day of adult-use sales in the state, cannabis commerce skyrocketed. Michigan was outside the top 10 states by revenue at the time, but quickly vaulted to sixth, just behind Illinois. Today, it surpasses Illinois consistently and ranks third.

“It’s been playing out pretty much as we thought it would,” says Monaco.

In a market that size, there is bound to be healthy competition. But Gage has established some important points of differentiation and leverages them to the fullest.

“We really focus on every part of the value chain of the business, from seed to smoke,” says Monaco. “We’re constantly hunting, looking for new cultivars to bring to the table for patients and for consumers. A lot of producers out there – especially some of the publicly traded ones – don’t really grow a lot of varieties, and we pride ourselves on having 40, 50, sometimes even 60 different flavours within our retail locations for people to choose from.”

Monaco says that post-production processes are just as important, and that Gage hang-dries its product, trims it, and packages it. “We have this fun, bright, engaging packaging as well for our flower that people enjoy, and we manage most sales through our own retail channels.“

In addition to having identified a prime jurisdiction in which to operate, Gage also knows who it’s targeting to buy its products.

“In general, we’re going after the former medical user – a refined consumer, someone who has been consuming the product for many, many years,” Monaco explains. “We have a really wide variety of customers.”

The Gage business strategy calls for vertical integration and establishing operations strongly in a single state before taking its proven model and applying it in other states.

“We’re going to focus on one market for the better part of 2021, although we do anticipate doing something outside of Michigan near the end of the year,” Monaco says. “We’re trying to follow that Trulieve (Trulieve Cannabis; CSE:TRUL) model where you execute really well in one state and use that as a springboard to enter other states. Once we feel comfortable with where we’re at, especially as we approach the end of the year, you’ll see us branch out into other states.”

With expansion seemingly just around the corner, the question of where Gage will decide to go next is an obvious one. Monaco believes there is “phenomenal” opportunity throughout the United States and his team has already assessed several states this year. He says there is a lot to like. Plans call for focusing on some of the larger markets with Gage’s first few acquisitions. Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, California and Pennsylvania are all in the running.

“You’ll probably see us make a move into one of the larger states pretty soon,” says Monaco.

Looking out over the next two or three years, Monaco says Gage is strongly positioned to take advantage of a wide range of opportunities that present themselves as the industry evolves.

“We have a solid cash balance to execute our plans in Michigan and didn’t really take on any harsh payment obligations, in terms of sale leasebacks or debt, over the past couple of years,” Monaco explains. “Now we have the opportunity to tap into some of the lower cost of capital opportunities that cannabis companies are seeing these days. Because our cultivation assets are unencumbered, and we own our retail locations, it really affords us the opportunity to go after some debt to fuel growth without having to dilute shareholders.”

From an earnings perspective, Monaco believes Gage can both increase revenue and expand margins rapidly, because Gage products so frequently sell out.

As for the higher goals, Gage is probably not all that far from achieving some of them already, though the walk before you run mindset remains firmly in place.

“Personally, I’d love to be number one in Michigan, our home base, and then a top player in two or three other states. I think it’s important to remain focused in Michigan before we branch out. We’ll look to be one of the top three in each respective state we go to within the next 24 to 36 months.”

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Gage Growth at http://www.gageusa.com

Billy Goat Brands Ltd. (CSE:GOAT) Joins the CSE for a Virtual Market Open

The CSE warmly welcomed Billy Goat Brands Ltd. (CSE:GOAT) for a virtual Market Open on September 20, 2021. 

Billy Goat Brands is an ESG-focused investment issuer that invests in high-potential companies operating in the blue economy, functional foods, plant-based proteins, and nutraceutical markets. In addition to their capital investments, they provide strategic assistance, network connections, and support to help companies grow faster.

CEO Tony Harris and other members of the incredible Billy Goat Brands team kicked off the day’s trading at the virtual Market Open. 

For more details about the CSE, including information on other Market Opens, please visit the CSE website or follow us on social media.

The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (CSE:TGOD) Joins the CSE for a Virtual Market Open

The CSE warmly welcomed The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (CSE:TGOD) for a virtual Market Open on September 17, 2021. 

The Green Organic Dutchman is a premium certified organically grown cannabis company focused on the health and wellness market. They are committed to producing products responsibly, with less waste and impact on the environment. In Canada, they sell dried flower and oil, and they recently launched a series of next‐generation cannabis products, including hash, vapes, organic teas, and dissolvable powders.

CEO Sean Bovingdon and other members of the incredible TGOD team kicked off the day’s trading at the virtual Market Open. 

For more details about the CSE, including information on other Market Opens, please visit the CSE website or follow us on social media.

Verano Holdings: A 14-state footprint and coveted brands set this Chicago-based cannabis company apart

Verano Holdings (CSE:VRNO) Chief Executive Officer George Archos has connected the dots of opportunity to create one of the biggest cannabis companies in the US. Based in Chicago, the vertically integrated, multi-state operator was valued at around $3 billion when it went public in February of this year. 

The 42-year-old serial entrepreneur, who also co-founded the Wildberry Pancakes & Café chain, was inspired to start Verano after seeing the potential of medical cannabis.

“I looked at the medical marijuana opportunity that came up in my home state of Illinois and saw it was a strong challenge. I also saw that it offered the benefit of helping people. I had an uncle that had multiple sclerosis and I think that he could have benefited from it when he was suffering,” says Archos.

“We applied for a license in 2014 and were selling product a year later. We started off small with less than 10 employees and we scaled over the years as the markets grew.”

From its roots in Chicago, Verano has evolved into a broad-based powerhouse with a 14-state footprint. It has cultivation, production and dispensary licenses across several states, lending it multiple revenue streams.

Verano has 28 retail locations under the Zen Leaf banner and 50 additional operating dispensaries, with plans to open around 10 more this year. It also has 340 active dispensary wholesale partnerships.

Verano was doing well before the pandemic and its strong growth shows no sign of slowing down. For the first quarter ended March 31, Verano revenue soared 117% to US$143.3 million compared to the first quarter a year earlier.

“Verano has massive upside over the next few years and for the long term as a cannabis green wave continues to sweep across the country,” says Archos. 

“We are seeing more daily-use consumers, besides more and more medical patients coming online every single day. Sales have been strong this year and we anticipate good sales in the back half of the year as well.”

The Verano boss chalks up being able to execute well on mergers and acquisitions to going public earlier this year. 

“Going public has given us access to capital, which has allowed us to transact on the M&A front. We have built on some very strong acquisitions to the Verano platform, which has given us access to markets like Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania,” says Archos. 

“It’s really helped us deepen our footprint and bring some high-quality operators to the Verano family.”

In February, Verano closed a key merger with Florida-based Alternative Medical Enterprises that gave it access to 34 active retail locations in Florida, with more planned by the end of 2021, and one retail location in Phoenix. It also boosted the company’s cultivation facilities to 220,000 square feet in Florida and 30,000 square feet in Arizona, with expansion of an additional 60,000 square feet currently underway.

The company has also engaged in significant M&A activity in Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio, increasing assets such as dispensary locations and grower/processor sites.

Verano has completed the acquisitions of Territory Dispensary, Emerald Dispensary and The Local Joint, giving the company the third-largest retail footprint in Arizona, with six active storefronts and two cultivation facilities. 

Verano has also expanded its dispensary footprint through M&A with TerraVida in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and acquired three dispensaries in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area through the Healing Center.  

“M&A has been a part of our story and we will continue down that path when we find assets and people that make sense for Verano. We like to transact so we do see more M&A in our future,” says Archos

“We are well funded for expansion of M&A activities so we’re in a very good position.”

Verano had $111.6 million in cash and equivalents as of March 31, and recently completed a $100 million upsizing of its credit facility to $130 million, for total liquidity of roughly $241.6 million.

“Given both its strong cash position, and strong free cash generation, the company is well positioned to fund both organic (supported by in excess of $100 million in CAPEX in 2021) and acquisition driven growth,” said ATB Capital Markets. 

Significantly, Verano’s cash flow from operations for the first quarter was $42 million, and free cash flow totaled $4 million.

Through its 10 cultivation and production facilities, Verano produces a suite of artisanal cannabis products sold under its portfolio of brands: Avexia, Verano, Encore and MÜV. These are positioned as premium brands, so the company enjoys premium pricing and higher margins.

“When Verano started off, we positioned ourselves as a premium producer, that’s just how we built our facilities,” says Archos.

“That’s how we marketed our products, and it goes into the hand trimming and level of detail that we put into every jar, and every product that we put onto the shelves.” 

By blending cannabinoids (THC and CBD), the firm’s Avexia Medical Cannabis brand has a portfolio of balms and lotions for pain relief, an Epsom salt soak, and a line of micro-dose tablets. Separately, the Verano brand has handy “swift lift” pre-rolls, refined vapes, and concentrates, while Encore Edibles produces handcrafted chocolates, mints, gummies, hard candies and caramels.

Meanwhile, MÜV has received multiple patents for its award-winning products that provide high-quality, reliable medical cannabis for patients.  

“We consistently add cultivation as markets scale, so we are constantly under construction in almost every market, adding flower capacity and manufacturing capacity because every market is growing,” says Archos.

“Verano sometimes is as much of a construction company as we are a cannabis company.”

Verano has opened three Zen Leaf dispensaries in New Jersey, where the expansion of its 120,000 square feet cultivation facility is underway in anticipation of the onset of adult-use sales in the state.

“Being profitable and cash flow positive was important to us, so we have been very good stewards of our capital,” Archos concludes. “We have deployed funds where we thought we could get the quickest return on investment.”

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Verano Holdings at https://verano.com/

Timothy Ko on Treating Addiction with DMT and Psychedelics | The CSE Podcast Ep3-S2

CSE’s Barrington Miller catches up with Timothy Ko, CEO of Entheon Biomedical Corp. (CSE:ENBI) to discuss how his company is pursuing R&D of DMT-based products to safely treat addiction. Timothy provides an update on what the company has accomplished in the year since they’ve been public and upcoming plans for clinical trials.

Here’s an overview of what Barrington and Timothy cover in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

0:00 – Catching up with Timothy Ko and Entheon Biomedical
2:30 – What has happened since they listed on the CSE – Canadian Securities Exchange
4:12 – Personalization through genetics
6:20 – The genetics test kit
8:30 – Pathway for clinical trials
9:55 – What’s coming next for investors

About Entheon Biomedical Corp.
Entheon is a biotechnology research and development company committed to developing and commercializing a portfolio of safe and effective Dimethyltryptamine based psychedelic therapeutic products (“DMT Products”) for the purposes of treating addiction and substance use disorders. Subject to obtaining all requisite regulatory approvals and permits, Entheon intends to generate revenue through the sale of its DMT Products to physicians, clinics and licensed psychiatrists in the United States, certain countries in the European Union and throughout Canada.  

Learn more about Entheon Biomedical Corp. at Entheon Biomedical Corp. | CSE – Canadian Securities Exchange (thecse.com)

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Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine: The Cannabis Issue – Now Live!

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine (formerly Public Entrepreneur magazine), your source for in-depth stories of entrepreneurs from a wealth of different industries.

As the Exchange for Entrepreneurs, we thrive on change. It is fitting, then, that we unveil an important change of our own to carry us into the future: the update of this publication’s name to Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine.

This new name for our magazine is a reflection that our company identity, and the trailblazing entrepreneurs whose stories are featured within these pages, are synonymous with innovation, agility, and evolution. These traits are particularly evident within the cannabis industry.

In this issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, we shine a spotlight on five CSE-listed cannabis companies who have set themselves apart in the space and continue to make change with a combination of strong branding and meticulous strategy. Plus, we provide an exclusive behind the scenes look at the Cannabis Investor Series. Read on to learn more about the opportunities and challenges ahead for the industry as global acceptance of cannabis continues to rise.

The CSE-listed companies featured in this issue include:

Check out the Cannabis Issue of Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine here:

Fantasy 360 Technologies Inc. (CSE:VRAR) Joins the CSE for a Virtual Market Open

The CSE warmly welcomed Fantasy 360 Technologies Inc. (CSE:VRAR) for a virtual Market Open on September 8, 2021. 

Fantasy 360 Technologies (doing business as Immersive Tech) is an industry-leading Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) entertainment and attractions manufacturer. With the global release of its flagship hyper-immersive multiplayer VR attraction UNCONTAINED, Fantasy 360 Technologies blends amusement park engineering and video game development into the world’s first immersive entertainment platform. 

CEO Tim Bieber and other members of the incredible Fantasy 360 Technologies team kicked off the day’s trading at the virtual Market Open. 

For more details about the CSE, including information on other Market Opens, please visit the CSE website or follow us on social media.

Telecure Technologies Inc. (CSE:TELE) Joins the CSE for a Virtual Market Open

The CSE warmly welcomed Telecure Technologies Inc. (CSE:TELE) for a virtual Market Open on August 31, 2021. 

Telecure is a health information technology company that provides complete telemedicine and telehealth services for the betterment of patients, and offers doctors tools to better manage their clients. They are focused on innovative approaches to improve efficiency, productivity, and revenue for healthcare providers, and to digitize healthcare services to increase accessibility, convenience, and affordability for patients. 

Director & COO Josh Rosenberg and other members of the Telecure team kicked off the day’s trading at the virtual Market Open. 

For more details about the CSE, including information on other Market Opens, please visit the CSE website or follow us on social media.

Johnson Joseph on Building a “Dating App” for Lending in China | The CSE Podcast Ep2-S2

CSE’s Barrington Miller chats with Johnson Joseph, CEO of Peak Fintech Group Inc. (CSE:PKK) to discuss how his company is building an ecosystem where small and medium businesses (“SMEs”) can easily connect with lending financial institutions to more efficiently access credit.

Here’s an overview of what Barrington and Johnson cover in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

0:00 – Introducing Johnson Joseph and Peak Fintech Group
1:13 – Matching small businesses with the right lending opportunities
3:35 – The surprising use-case for their lending platform
5:12 – The technology at the core of Peak’s business
7:28 – The problem that SMEs have accessing credit
8:00 – From “lending hub” to “business hub”
11:38 – Using analytics and AI for lending decision making and ensuring privacy
14:40 – Doing business in China OVER 10 YEARS
19:21 – What’s coming next for investors
21:44 – Dumplings!

About Peak Fintech Group Inc.
Peak Fintech Group Inc. is the parent company of a group of innovative financial technology (Fintech) subsidiaries operating primarily in the commercial lending industry. Peak’s subsidiaries bring together lending financial institutions and businesses to create the Cubeler Business Hub, an ecosystem where analytics and artificial intelligence are used to facilitate transactions among members of the ecosystem.

Learn more about Peak Fintech Group Inc. at Peak Fintech Group Inc. | CSE – Canadian Securities Exchange (thecse.com)

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