Tag Archives: Andrew Kessel

NexTech AR Solutions: Evan Gappelberg’s latest venture is a big bet on the future of augmented reality

Imagine you are shopping online for a new couch. You find one you like, but it is hard to know if the colour quite matches the rest of your furniture, and the retailer’s website only has a 2D photo of it from the front.

Now imagine being able to view and rotate the couch in full 3D and use your phone to project a volumetric image that you can place, pinch, zoom and walk around, right into your living room.

That’s one example of how augmented reality is changing the way people shop, and shopping is just one of four verticals NexTech AR Solutions (CSE:NTAR) is pursuing in the sector.

Chief Executive Officer Evan Gappelberg calls it “ARitizing,” and his company has done it to everything from furniture to firearms to human holograms.

A self-described crazy entrepreneur looking for the next trillion-dollar megatrend, idea or industry, Gappelberg prides himself on identifying the next big thing. He has invested in dozens of successful ventures and led companies in the software and cannabis spaces, and three years ago he found his latest muse, augmented reality.

Augmented reality is a new concept to most people. Tell us how NexTech AR was formed and why you became interested in the industry.

I spent 30 years on Wall Street, and on Wall Street you always have to identify the hot stock in the hot sector. In the 1990s, it was the internet. Then energy and real estate took centre stage in the early 2000s. And then in 2008 the iPhone kicked off a paradigm shift, with mobile phones creating an entire new industry and stock sector called social media. Then, in 2015, everything switched to cannabis investing. Now and in the 2020s, technology, and specifically AR, AI and IoT, will create new billion-dollar companies seemingly overnight.

To be a successful investor I have followed the flow of money, which has made me kind of a generalist. If oil and gas is a hot sector, I do a ton of industry research and I become an expert in everything to do with oil and gas. Same for technology, healthcare, social media, etc. I research industries as I get deeper into them, and I start to understand how they work, which makes investing life interesting since I’m always learning something new.

I identified cannabis as the next big wave in 2011. It took a few years, but I brought in seed capital for a cannabis company that went public in Canada in 2016, and in 18 months it went up by 40 times. It was about identifying the trend and getting in before the big wave, then riding the wave, although to avoid a round trip you need to be able to see if the sector you are in is about to go through growing pains or get disrupted. Most of my investments are not buy and hold, although I did take a gaming company called Take-Two Interactive Software public in the 1990s, and today it has a $15 billion market cap. That was one I should have held.

Not to say I haven’t had my fair share of mistakes, but I do have a solid track record of picking industries that really have the potential to be grand-slam-home-run investments.

That brings us to augmented reality. I was introduced to AR in late 2017, and as soon as I saw it I knew that it was going to be the next big thing.

To take advantage of the coming AR megatrend, I founded NexTech AR Solutions in January 2018. Our first product was ARitize, which is an app that went live in 2018. It’s a white label AR app that we are having a lot of success with. It can create AR experiences and allow us to demo augmented reality to our enterprise clients. So that is how we got started.

As CEO and Founder of NexTech, I put my money where my mouth is by investing in my own company. I have invested millions in NexTech, and currently I take 100% of my salary in stock, plus I have made four purchases of the company’s shares this year alone. The only reason to do that is because I think the company is going to be worth a lot more over the following 12 to 24 months.

How does your technology augment a user’s reality?

We were first to market with a webAR e-commerce solution, which we launched in early 2019. It allows customers, on any web browser without requiring an app, to just click on a web icon and view a 3D model in augmented reality. And if they are on a mobile device, the product shows up as an AR digital twin.

We recently signed up an eyewear company, Clearly.ca, and are ARitizing seven different styles of glasses for them. We’ve created a special 3D/AR advertising platform where you can put your face up to your phone or up to your computer screen, and the glasses will appear on your face, so you can try them on virtually before you buy.

It sounds as if the possibilities are endless. What does the business model for such an evolving technology look like?

It’s a SaaS business model. You can download the ARitize360 app for free, and then after that you pay for usage. It can cost as little as $40 to $99 for an AR scan, and the goal is to get it down to $10 to $20 per scan. If we can do that, we expect to see mass adoption.

The cost has to do with human touch-up, as the less interaction there is with the asset, the cheaper it is. We are currently the only company that has virtually zero human interaction, so nobody needs to touch it.

Businesses can then use those assets on our 3D/AR ad network, which launched this year.

Most medium-sized businesses are spending $50,000 a month on ads, and we have proven that 3D ads generate a 300% increase in conversions. We have done testing on an e-commerce site we own, vacuumcleanermarket.com, and the 3D ads we ran brought a 300% jump in sales.

And if you can grow something 300% by switching to our ad network, you are going to do it. We get a percentage of those dollars, so it’s less about how much money we make on the 3D asset itself and more about how companies use that asset to drive sales for their business.

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting companies in different ways. What has it meant for NexTech so far?

Well, we had a platform called ARitize University, which has morphed into our recently acquired InfernoAR virtual events and video conferencing platform, which is surging right now.

InfernoAR is the only platform that offers virtual video conferences with augmented reality. So, if you’re watching a presentation and there’s a product on the screen, by using our ARitize app you can take your phone and scan a QR code, which literally pulls out of the screen whatever product it is you’re viewing and places it in the room with you. We see this as transformative new technology.

InfernoAR is booming. Because so much has been shut down by COVID-19, governments, businesses, universities, healthcare providers, really everyone is looking for a way to communicate remotely, and we have the only immersive platform driven by our AR that allows you to create human holograms or to have 3D/AR product views, all built into this video conferencing platform.

It’s funny watching people try it for the first time, because they will literally press their nose against the screen of their computer to get a closer look. I literally see them move all the way in, because they cannot believe what they are seeing.

We recently doubled our sales force, as we continue to sign up new customers, and we expect to double it again this year. Because we are in the fastest growing market sector, which is the technology sector enabling the work-from-home and shop-from-home paradigm shift, our business really has the potential to explode and grow exponentially, similar to the way that Zoom has grown recently. Zoom just reported that revenue grew 169% for their last quarter, while we reported 169% growth for last month alone, so similarities do exist.

You clearly have unique products that fit the times. How are sales going?

We had record revenue and record gross profit in the month of May. We saw $1.3 million in revenue and $800,000 in gross profit, which is a 169% increase year over year on the revenue side and a 290% increase on the profit side.

We are firing on all cylinders right now. Virtual events, augmented reality, e-commerce – they’ve never been stronger. And we see that trend continuing. June should be better than May, and July better than June. We are projecting $15 million to $20 million in revenue in 2020, and possibly double that in 2021, up from $6 million in 2019.

It goes without saying that a company such as NexTech is constantly evolving. What’s on your radar for the next little while?

There are a few things on the horizon. First is to continue to succeed with our virtual video conference platform and build up our sales force.

We also have our 3D/AR ad network that is starting to gain traction and show sales wins, so we are going to have to build a team around that and allow it to scale.

Lastly, we are looking at acquisitions. We have made four acquisitions since we went public, and we continue to look for more.

There are some exciting opportunities out there in the world of augmented reality. There are a lot of little start-ups that would fit right in with NexTech and help us to push our technology forward without having to spend time and money on development costs.

This story was featured in the Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Learn more about NexTech AR Solutions
at https://www.nextechar.com/.

InnoCan Pharma: Better delivery of CBD to the body holds the potential to lower costs and broaden treatment options

CBD is advertised as providing relief for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other benefits. Its popularity reflects, in part, that it is positioned as non-psychoactive while still providing access to many aspects of the cannabis plant that are good for human health.

The challenge is to create a more precise and efficient method for delivering CBD into a patient’s body, preferably allowing for synergistic effects and/or controlled release.

InnoCan Pharma (CSE:INNO), based in the Israeli tech hub of Herzliya, has found what might be the golden ticket for CBD-integrated pharmaceutical technology in the form of a method to inject CBD into the body.

InnoCan and Ramot, Tel Aviv University’s business engagement centre supporting scientific discovery, are collaborating on a revolutionary exosome-based technology that targets both central nervous system indications and COVID-19 coronavirus symptoms, as CBD-loaded exosomes have the potential to provide anti-inflammatory properties to help infected lung cells recover. Public Entrepreneur spoke with InnoCan Chief Executive Officer Iris Bincovich recently about this project and other exciting directions the company’s technologies are taking.

Tell us about your personal background and how InnoCan came to be.

My background is in healthcare, working in the international pharmaceutical and cosmetic and medical device arena, and I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the Israel Institute of Technology.

I have experience developing strategies and building brands in the dermatology space, and I have worked and communicated with top pharmaceutical companies and cosmetic companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Estée Lauder and L’Oréal.

InnoCan Pharma was established by Yoram Drucker, an Israeli serial intrapreneur with experience founding companies in the field of stem cells; Ron Mayron, former CEO of Teva Israel, Teva Pharmaceutical being one of the most important generic drug producers in the world; plus Nir Avram, who was on the pharmaceutical innovation team at Perrigo and holds a number of patents, not to mention more than 30 years of experience developing topicals. We bring worldwide experience in healthcare and nearly 20 years of international marketing, business development and sales experience. I have led and managed hundreds of successful international transactions in the OTC cosmetics and dermatology sector.

InnoCan gives me an opportunity to utilize my experience, take my knowledge in the healthcare markets and combine it all into a company that today is active in three different segments.

We are involved in several pharma projects with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and with Tel Aviv University to better administer cannabinoids into the body with innovative delivery platforms and potential to treat several diseases.

We have also developed a line of over-the-counter topicals, Relief & Go, targeting a variety of skin conditions associated with issues like pain relief. Our pain relief spray provides a fast-action muscle relaxant and pain relief. It contains an analgesic blend of active ingredients, with isolated CBD to provide temporary relief of muscle and joint pain.

And we developed a line of CBD-integrated derma cosmetics, SHIR, whose formulations feature a tailored blend of active ingredients and technologies.

Let’s talk about the technology itself.  How is the company using exosomes and CBD?

We are developing a new platform that delivers cannabinoids in an improved way into the body. Our latest project is a collaboration targeting the COVID-19 virus with Tel Aviv University and Professor Daniel Offen, who heads the Neuroscience Laboratory at the Felsenstein Medical Research Center.

Exosomes have the ability to target damaged cells like a targeted missile, improve regeneration and assist in their recovery. Together with Professor Offen, an experienced researcher on cell and gene therapy in neurodegenerative diseases, we are looking to develop new technology that might be applicable to several indications.

Professor Offen is a co-founder of several biotechnology companies developing therapies for neurological disorders. One of them, BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, developed cell treatment for ALS patients and is now in Phase III clinical trials.

Along with Professor Shulamit Levenberg of Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, he previously utilized loaded exosomes administered by intra-nasal spray into rats with severe spinal cord injuries. The results were dramatic. Within a few weeks, the rats began to walk again.

With COVID-19, most people die from a secondary infection and lung or multi-organ failure. CBD is highly anti-inflammatory, and CBD-loaded exosomes, which we refer to as CLX, may hold the potential to provide anti-inflammatory properties and assist in the recovery of infected lung cells.

The lungs are the organ most affected by COVID-19, so the CLX are expected to be administered by inhalation.

How far along in the development process are you?

We are in the preclinical stage, which we estimate will take nine to 12 months. We will begin production of exosomes loaded with CBD and then do in-vitro proof of concept in several models.  From there, we will do animal proof-of-concept models and then safety testing.

InnoCan’s strategy is to combine R&D with commercial experience. Professor Offen has more than 20 years of experience working with stem cells and exosomes, and he has already established companies developing therapies for neurological diseases.

How do these different delivery methods compare to taking CBD oil orally?

We are developing a unique technology with Professor Barenholz from the Hebrew University to enable the injection of CBD into the body. When you take cannabinoids orally, about 80% of it is destroyed by enzymes of the liver. Patients overload to achieve a therapeutic level.  More than that, the dose is not controlled systematically. In each case, a drop of oil is put below the tongue and it might take some time from administration until therapeutic effect is achieved. Size and therapeutic effect can differ from one drop to the next. We are proposing a much more controlled and effective delivery system.

CBD is an oil molecule that normally cannot be easily injected into the body. But once isolated inside a capsule, such as a liposome, it could be injected. Liposomes are small vesicles that could entrap a substance inside.

Imagine a child with epilepsy – which there is already an FDA-approved CBD drug for – having a seizure; today he needs to be under close care, to be given the medicine, it will take a few minutes until the effect begins, and so on. InnoCan’s approach could be different. We are looking at a solution where the child will have a smartwatch connected to a pump with injectable CBD-loaded liposome. Then, instead of the child having a seizure, maybe falling to the floor and needing someone to administer CBD, the watch will sense the seizure and instruct the pump to inject a specific amount of CBD into the body. Precise delivery of CBD immediately could assist in relieving the seizure.

And this is just one application. For an epilepsy seizure, the CBD would be released immediately, but the liposomes can also be multi-layered to prolong the release of the CBD. We are developing a platform for several potential indications.

For example, for people suffering from chronic pain, we may be able to offer an injection once a week, and over time one could have a consistent release of CBD into the body.

Professor Barenholz has already developed a liposome-based breast cancer drug, named Doxil, that was licensed by Johnson & Johnson. We are working with people who have done this before and are connected to the commercial side. This is the value-driven proposition of the company.

Do you have any other products headed for commercialization?

We have our over-the-counter topicals, patent pending products that combine CBD and other active ingredients targeting skin conditions, pain relief, as well as for itchiness.

We also have a line of premium cosmetic products for women. Those products are now being produced by two manufacturers: one in New Jersey for the US market, and one in Portugal for Asia and Europe. Sales will start in the second half of 2020.

Eventually, the world will open up again, and there are lots of plans for the future, including additional distribution contracts for the topicals.

In Canada, we are in dialogue with several companies to enable local distribution. We need to collaborate with a local licensed producer in order for them to manufacture, distribute and sell our topicals to the different provinces. And I can say that we are in the screening process of who is going to be our local partner there.

This story was featured in the Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Learn more about InnoCan Pharma
at https://innocanpharma.com/.

Cerro de Pasco Resources: A new generation breathes life into an old mine with benefits that reach far and wide

Cerro de Pasco is a centuries-old community nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, but after nearly 400 years, a local mine that once brought prosperity must rethink a path forward in alliance with the nearly 50,000 people who now live there.

What began as an underground operation became an open pit at the centre of a growing population of miners and their families. Outdated mining technology resulted in inefficient yields. Tailings and stockpiles grew, and contaminated dust and water crept into surrounding areas.

There’s a huge economic opportunity in the tailings and stockpile at the site, though, not to mention known in-situ resources, 11,000 hectares of concessions, and unexplored areas.

But Cerro de Pasco Resources (CSE:CDPR) wants to do more than make money.

Chief Executive Officer Guy Goulet and Executive Chairman Steven Zadka have a vision that, if everything goes right, will see parts of the population relocate away from certain areas to new locations with clean drinking water, heat in their homes, and well-paying jobs – for the benefit of all stakeholders.

The company bought the mineral rights to the tailings and stockpile in 2012 and in November, inked a deal to acquire the mine itself and all accompanying infrastructure. Public Entrepreneur caught up with Goulet and Zadka as they began transitioning the company into production, initiating a multi-decade plan to revitalize a mine and restore a city.

Tell me about your background in the mining industry and how Cerro de Pasco came to be.

Zadka: In 2011, through my capacity as an investment banker, I came across the opportunity to buy the mineral rights on the tailings and stockpile in Cerro de Pasco and decided to jump on it.

Guy was running a company called Maya Gold & Silver in the early 2010s, and I was one of the bankers. He closed a very difficult client of mine and had incredible energy, so I said, “This guy knows how to do things.” He left that company in 2017 and I reached out.

Goulet: I was working in Morocco, and Steven approached me while I was on my way out, following the restart of a silver mine there.

We teamed up to accelerate the development of the project and list the company on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

I’m also attracted to pro-environmental projects. In 2000, I co-founded H2O Innovation, which is the largest water treatment company in Canada as of today.

What are we looking at here in terms of metals? What’s the game plan on the mining side?

Zadka: I knew that there was silver, lead, and zinc. And I discovered that there was also copper and gold in the tailings. The grades are pretty good, both because they’re old and they come from one of the richest mines in the world.

You’ve got material, metals literally sitting on top of the ground, which is much less expensive than traditional exploration.

We’re buying two subsidiaries that are producing and permitted. For 2019, we estimate their revenues were about $120 million combined.

Permitted capacity is about 20,000 tonnes per day on sulfides and right now, it’s doing 7,000 tonnes a day, and once we bring these tailings into production, the annual revenue starts getting into the $250 million to $300 million range.

With all the resources we have and what we’re acquiring, we have a 17 year mine life. But the reality is that the mine is going to go for much longer because there’s 11,000 hectares of concessions and areas that are largely unexplored.

Goulet: Post-acquisition combined, Cerro de Pasco will be the largest holder of silver in one single site. There is a need to increase the current production capacity up to its permitted level of 20,000 tonnes per day.  We estimate this will require about $35 million of capital. Once production levels are up, cash flow will start to generate rapidly.

We’re in the process of raising the capital required for the first phase, which is $65 million USD.

You’ve called Cerro de Pasco a resource management company. What does that mean?

Zadka: A traditional mining company is only focused on extracting metals from the ground. That’s what mining is; it’s going into the ground, digging up dirt, and putting the waste somewhere.

We call ourselves a resource management company because we plan to do more than just mining. There are some aspects of mining at Cerro, but there’s other aspects involved.

For one, we’re reprocessing the materials that are sitting on top of the ground, which is not theoretically mining. There’s also storage of waste.

If you can return clean water to the environment, you’re managing a resource. If you can turn your waste into building products, or turn pyrite into heat to generate hot water, you’re managing a resource.

With that in mind, how is resource management going to help the people of Cerro de Pasco?

Zadka: We’ve been completely open and transparent with the community and the local government. We’ve told them the truth, and the truth is that this is a mess that can be turned into an opportunity with some reorganization, planning, and support from the local authorities and community.

The government acknowledges that Cerro de Pasco is laden with lead, and they have a plan to relocate sections of the city 30 kilometres away from the mine. What they need in order to do that, amongst other important factors, is support from the most important economic driver in town. That’s us.

Peru has a program called “Obras por Impuestos,” or taxes for works, that enables a company to use taxes generated from operations to fund infrastructure projects for the benefit of society. You can fund roads, sewer lines, hospitals, and schools.  One of our main objectives is to do just that.

We also want to take it a step further. None of the cities in the Andes Mountains have heat, and it’s freezing every night. We have so much pyrite, which produces heat on its own, that we can harness to produce hot water and we could pump that hot water through the city.

Goulet: We want to do more water treatment systems and educate the young people to wash their hands before they eat. We want them to play in parks where we’re going to renew the topsoil.

I come from Thetford Mines in Quebec, which was the world capital of asbestos. You know what I was doing as a kid? I was going with my bike and playing in the dumps. In Cerro de Pasco, we want to avoid that.

There is a problem of contamination in Cerro de Pasco, but just as important is the problem of poverty. That mine used to employ 7,000 people.  Some 1,200 work there now in some capacity. In an area that is 4,400 metres high, what else is there to do for work besides mining?

Let’s recall that the problem of contamination is not mainly due to mining activities. The old city is located on a geological natural accident: a massive intrusion of lead, zinc, copper, silver, and gold. A “mine” is what it’s called today! And the population has been living from that operation over the past 400 years.

We want to help solve that problem of poverty and restore prosperity in the community.

The company is listed in North America, but what does your management team look like in Peru?

Zadka: I’m based in New York, and Guy’s based in Canada, but the heart of the management team is in Lima and Cerro de Pasco.

We employ several Spanish speaking expat VPs, who are specialists in different areas like mining, geology, metallurgy, environment, health, and safety.

Everybody that works with us has a very special drive, and I don’t think you find that at other mining companies because this isn’t only about making money. Here, we’re trying to make a difference.

Goulet: We’re going to spend $58 million over the next four years on HSEC (Health, Environmental, Social and Communities). We have a social license, which is essentially a vote of confidence from a key component of the population that agrees with our business plan. That’s an important asset in Peru. We received positive signals from the Minister of Energy and Mines, the local government, and the President himself.

Can an environmental restoration project like this also be profitable?

Zadka: There are multiple benefits to the local population and the environment, but at the end of the day we believe this is a very compelling investment.

Not surprisingly, investors are cautious about tailings and stockpiles because they tend to be a finite resource. They would not normally offer the opportunity to find something above and beyond expectation that could make the stock go up by 10 times overnight.

However, Cerro de Pasco not only has 170 million tonnes of reserves in the tailings and stockpiles, but also 140 million tonnes of material in the ground and 11,000 hectares of concessions in one of the most prolific mining districts in the world, which has never been properly explored.

We’re talking about almost 1.6 billion ounces of silver equivalent.  That would be the biggest amount of silver in one location on the entire planet. Nobody else has that.

What does the long-term picture look like?

Seventeen years from now, a large portion of the population won’t be living in Cerro de Pasco anymore. They’ll no longer be affected by the hazards of the area.  They’ll have access to clean water and live in proper homes.

There are still two approaches to mining. There are companies that try to skirt ESG-related issues, and there are those that see the opportunity to deal with these issues head on.

We aspire to be a leading example of why you shouldn’t run away from these problems. If you’re innovative and you’re willing to go the extra mile, you’re going to have a much better impact on the outcome. Cerro de Pasco needs that outcome.

This story was featured in the Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Learn more about Cerro de Pasco Resources Inc. at https://pascoresources.com/.

New Wave Esports: Esports investments are the latest thing and this CEO is at the top of his game

Esports in North America is undergoing a metamorphosis. Video games like Fortnite and Overwatch have taken the world by storm, viewership at tournaments is bigger than ever and capital is flowing into the industry from sources that had never considered it before.

New Wave Esports (CSE:NWES) provides the spark for organizations looking for oxygen in the space, whether it’s esports teams, platforms, tournament organizers or technology innovators. If you have a great moneymaking idea in this industry, New Wave Esports is the type of company you turn to for the capital to make your dream a reality.

And it has not taken long for the company’s investments to begin paying off. In July, Lazarus Esports, a competitive team in which New Wave owns a minority stake, took home US$3.5 million at the Fortnite World Cup.

At the helm is Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mitre, who perfectly fits the profile of an esports CEO. He’s fresh-faced – young enough to have spent his whole life growing up around video games, but old enough to remember carrying a roll of quarters to the arcade. With a beard, gauges in his ears and a sleeve of tattoos down each arm, he looks the part.

New Wave Esports went public in October and Public Entrepreneur caught up with Mitre in the midst of a road show to talk about where his company, and the industry as a whole, goes from here.

Tell me about your background in the gaming industry and how New Wave Esports came to be.

I’ve been in gaming for over 17 years. I started off testing video games way back in the early 2000s, where I learned the fundamentals of game development and gained an understanding of what motivates players to keep coming back.

I went on to do community management, and eventually started doing global marketing campaigns. I’ve worked at Electronic Arts (EA), THQ, Sega, Sierra Online, and various music and toy companies.

The past five years I’ve been at EA, and I got to work on the Battlefield franchise, as well as some other competitive titles like FIFA, Madden, NBA Live, and Need for Speed. And esports has always been a common thread in the sustain/retention models of those games, so I’m able to bring my gaming network and my expertise to New Wave Esports.

Then, I met with Trumbull Fisher. He’s a 15-year finance industry expert who’s raised capital across Canada for industries like cannabis and mining, and he brings capital markets experience as New Wave Esports’ president. Between my gaming and his finance, we bring the investment vehicle that is New Wave Esports.

How does your investment process work?

We set up the company in two pillars, the first of which is the acquisition arm. We’re looking for companies that we can fold into the New Wave Esports family. They benefit from the performance of our shares as well as the ancillary services we provide, and their revenues are directly turned into our revenues.

The second pillar is the traditional holdings arm. We’ve built a phenomenal portfolio of minority investments, and as we go forward, I expect to see a shift in our investment approach toward majority stake investment.

We‘re unlike a traditional investment group that just puts in a bunch of money and checks in every quarter. We place investment capital and take stock options in companies, and we sweeten the deal with financial advisory services and new revenue streams.

We facilitate new sponsorships for teams and collaborations with big franchises like Fortnite or Battlefield, as examples, and that’s where teams thrive.

What do you look for when considering a potential investment?

We look at the esports industry in four verticals. The first one is teams and organizations – that’s Lazarus.

We also look at tournament organizers, whether an event is in your local hometown or a big arena – that’s Even Matchup Gaming.

The third is platforms and networks. This is anywhere gamers congregate online, such as online tournaments or an esports gambling platform – that’s PlayLine.

Fourthly, we target technology and tools, which is really the backbone of the industry. A lot of this is behind the scenes, including data insight and business intelligence for esports companies to better know their audience or build a better experience for gamers coming in – that’s Thunderbolt CDG.

We look at the esports industry as an ecosystem. First and foremost, we look for ethical teams that share the same vision as us. Secondly, we ask if these companies are led by executives that have run businesses before, and if not, how we can help. Thirdly, we consider whether these companies are positioned to thrive in a space that may be saturated or may not have any competition.

Speaking of Lazarus, congratulations are in order after the team won $3.5 million at the Fortnite World Cup this summer. What was your involvement there?

Lazarus is owned and operated by an organization called Tiidal. We came in and invested a sizeable chunk into Lazarus in March.

Not many people knew about Lazarus before the Fortnite World Cup, but the tournament came around and Lazarus took second in the duos and fourth in the singles, which led to that $3.5 million revenue into Tiidal. That put Lazarus on the map as one of the highest grossing esports teams in the world.

I was at the airport and I got a call from one of our advisors who said, “Dude, Lazarus just took home $3.5 million! Their athletes are like rock stars now!” I love calls like that.

Why did you decide to take New Wave Esports public?

We see the public vehicle as an opportunity for the esports community as well as other investors and brokers to invest in the industry. We are the first esports investment company to be traded publicly on the Canadian Securities Exchange, and we wear that with a badge of pride.

We went live on October 28, and so far it has been phenomenal. This generates exposure for us and opens up new opportunities worldwide. Not only are we listed on the CSE, but we also just listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Germany, where we know esports is massive.

How do you see esports evolving in North America?

The esports industry is still very much growing in North America. Asia is 20 years ahead of us, so we look to them as an opportunity to replicate those tried and true models. That’s why we opened up the New Wave Esports Asia department.

But with North America as an economic stronghold, everyone’s looking to see what we do to push esports forward. You’ve got celebrities like Will Smith putting sizeable money into a team called Gen G, and Drake took an ownership stake in gaming group 100 Thieves.

It’s just starting in North America, so the revenue multipliers have yet to hit. So, if you’re at the ground level, you’ll see that coming through.

Look, gaming has been around for 40 years, and it’s always been entertaining to watch someone play who’s better than us. I remember swarms of people at arcades watching someone play Street Fighter, and that’s why Twitch exists today.

As a video game player, how does it feel to be running your own esports company?

If you were going to tell 15-year-old Dan that he would have a career built on video games and ultimately become the CEO of an esports company, he’d be saying, “Get out of here, that’s insane.”

Back in the 90s, video games were still kind of for nerds. You didn’t have Internet connectivity, a mass audience and mobile games that make gaming accessible to everybody.

It’s phenomenal to see gaming grow, and it has created a community that I absolutely identify with. I’ve been able to build a sustainable life from it, and this is an opportunity for me as a CEO to grow the video game industry.

This story was featured in the Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Learn more about New Wave Esports at https://newwaveesports.com/.