THE INSPIRATION SPIRATION ISSUE
CSE YEAR IN REVIEW With insight on the Canadian Securities Exchange’s vision for 2020
FEATURES & INTERVIEWS HeyBryan Media New Wave Esports Versus Systems BevCanna Enterprises AMPD Ventures
DI-Why Call in the Experts? s? WITH STAR POWER AND INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY, LANCE MONTGOMERY AND THE HEYBRYAN MEDIA TEAM ARE FILLING MAJOR GAPS IN THE HOME MAINTENANCE INDUSTRY
JAN 19-20, 2020
Visit us at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference Jan 19-20, 2020
in this issue
INSPIRATION LETTER FROM THE EDITOR | 04 By James Black
F E AT U R E E M M A AN DRE W S
B RYA N B A E U M L E R
HEYBRYAN MEDIA | 06 Learn how HeyBryan Media is leveraging the star power of Bryan Baeumler and innovative technology to become a genuine disruptor in the home maintenance industry.
AN THON Y B ROW N
T R U M B U L L FIS H E R
CSE YEAR END M ARCE LLO LE ON E
DA N IE L M IT R E
LAN CE M ON TG OM E RY
M AT T H E W P IE R C E
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As the page turns on another year and decade, Canadian Securities Exchange CEO Richard Carleton reviews the many milestones achieved during the previous year, and provides an outlook on what’s to come in 2020. | 26
PUBLISHER Sparx Publishing Group Inc. 525 Seymour Street Vancouver, BC Canada V6B 3H7 For advertising rates and placements, please contact (604) 488-1097 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW WAVE ESPORTS | 12 When it comes to esports investments, it pays to be at the top of your game. See how New Wave Esports is riding a wave of success in this rapidly expanding space.
AMPD VENTURES | 18 In the esports industry, every millisecond counts. Learn how AMPD Ventures is waging war against computing latency, and seeing big wins on the digital playing field.
VERSUS SYSTEMS | 15 By giving consumers the power of choice (and offering rewards), Versus Systems’ innovative platform is taking advertising engagement to a whole new level.
BEVCANNA ENTERPRISES | 21 As Cannabis 2.0 takes hold in Canada, BevCanna Enterprises is building brands and companies in an entirely new consumer product category.
GROUP PUBLISHER Hamish Khamisa EDITOR-IN-CHIEF James Black EDITOR Peter Murray DESIGNER Elisabeth Choi WRITERS Uttara Choudhury Patrick Graham Giles Gwinnett Angela Harmantas Andrew Kessel PHOTOGRAPHERS Mario Motti Matt Watson
“For us, there’s an opportunity to take the strengths of Canada’s capital markets and those of the CSE abroad, and everyone benefits.” RICHARD CARLETON, CSE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION Published by Sparx Publishing Group on behalf of the Canadian Securities Exchange. To receive your complimentary subscription, please visit blog.thecse. com/public-entrepreneurmagazine and complete the contact form. To read more about the companies mentioned in this issue, visit blog.thecse.com or proactiveinvestors.com
PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 3
Letter From the Editor At the Exchange for Entrepreneurs, we are in a unique position to witness firsthand the impact that both capital and communications can have on the growth prospects of a company. Indeed, in today’s digital era, capital may help build companies, but audiences help companies expand. Whether it is pitching a brand-new business line or even an entirely new industry, the success of any new enterprise relies on more than just the product or service they deliver. Public entrepreneurs also have to be able to access an audience who are keen to give them their attention as well as their capital. To that end, 2019 was a year in which the Canadian Securities Exchange invested heavily in the expansion of our communications infrastructure. By creating and delivering content that spans a variety of online and offline channels, we have created a unique capital markets content ecosystem that connects audiences with inspiring stories of entrepreneurship.
ON THE WEB
CELEBRATING 15 YEARS AS A RECOGNIZED STOCK EXCHANGE In this special 50th episode of #HashtagFinance, CSE CEO Richard Carleton celebrates the CSE’s 15-year anniversary as a recognized exchange, and shares how it felt to ring the bell at the very first Market Open at the CSE Media Centre. Tune in now: blog.thecse.com
NEW LISTINGS FEED FEATURE The CSE is happy to introduce the listings feed, a brand new feature of our website. Users can now easily organize listed securities by industry, currency, and more, and export essential information with the click of a button. Try out this new feature now: thecse.com/listings
An example of one of our investments has been the #HashtagFinance podcast. Launched in April 2019, we’ve released at least two shows a week featuring leaders of publicly traded companies and thought leaders in finance. Now over 80 episodes in, there are a few themes we’ve observed about public entrepreneurship from the guests of the podcast thus far. One of the most interesting observations was that many of the personalities featured are serial business builders. In other words, entrepreneurship is what they do, whether they’re cultivating cannabis opportunities, exploring for new mineral deposits or scoring wins on the esports playing field. Another important observation is that optimism is infectious. Despite a year that’s been fraught with challenging market conditions, especially in the cannabis space, our podcast guests have been almost unfailingly positive, encouraging their fellow entrepreneurs to reach for the opportunities ahead by trusting the solid foundation of work that is being laid in the present. Finally, the podcast has helped reinforce the fact that, regardless of industry, company size, or strategy, everyone’s entrepreneurial journey is unique. There is no set playbook for how to be an entrepreneur, which means there are countless opportunities for those who have the drive, courage, creativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit. In the new year, the Public Entrepreneur ecosystem will continue to evolve and profile inspirational stories from across the capital markets spectrum. It will also be easier to follow along with more of our content available in the places that audiences enjoy the stories best. Be sure to follow the #HashtagFinance podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Google Play as well as CSE TV, our YouTube channel, and the CSE blog. We look forward to many more inspiring discoveries in 2020. Enjoy the issue! LET’S GET SOCIAL
FOLLOW US ON James Black, Editor-in-Chief email@example.com blog.thecse.com
4 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
WWW.CSELAW.CA 416.519.6886 100 Bass Pro Mills Drive, Vaughan, Ontario, L4K 1X5
FEATU R E
HeyBryan Media HOME MAINTENANCE SHOULD BE EASY, SAFE AND A FEW APP-CLICKS AWAY By Uttara Choudhury
6 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
eyBryan Media (CSE:HEY) has its sights set on becoming to the home maintenance industry what Uber Technologies is to the transportation industry – a genuine disrupter. In 2018, technologist and entrepreneur Lance Montgomery created the HeyBryan app, which seamlessly pairs homeowners and tradespeople. In short, the handyman app gives harried homeowners instant access to reliable experts in their postal code who can handle everything from electrical repairs to plumbing, and more. Every expert undergoes a background check to ensure a safe experience. Montgomery, who has a strong track record of taking companies public, has done a good job of propelling HeyBryan’s user base, the company recently announcing average monthly customer growth of some 115% since the beginning of 2019. Having contractor and TV personality Bryan Baeumler playing a key role in the business has certainly helped to drive that growth. Public Entrepreneur caught up with Montgomery recently to talk about how he is creating a carpe diem moment for the company by tapping Canada’s $50 billion home maintenance market, while eyeing the even larger US market. CAN YOU SHARE THE STORY ABOUT HOW HEYBRYAN MEDIA STARTED?
HeyBryan started from a personal experience, as do most successful startups. One day, I came home and the dishwasher was broken. I did what everyone does and googled “dishwasher repair Vancouver” and got served with paid ads. Frustrated, I tried Craigslist and wasn’t comfortable with what I found. I didn’t feel confident about who would come, and what I would be charged. Are they vetted? Will they even show up? These are things homeowners deal with every day; it’s the small tasks that we all need done and it’s hard to find help. So, I decided to research the space and really didn’t find anything that worked in Canada. That’s how HeyBryan Media was born. TELL US ABOUT YOUR MARKETPLACE APP AND WHAT IT DOES.
HeyBryan connects homeowners to home maintenance experts in your area, on your schedule. All experts are vetted and verified. It’s really an end-to-end solution that brings the connection together. Everything happens in-app – scheduling, payment, chat, ratings, reviews and rescheduling. On the expert side, we provide the opportunity to work when you want and where you want. They set their own rates and get paid fast through the app, with money deposited in their account. We bring the business to them and allow both sides of the marketplace to rate and review each other. This gives us great data on the quality of the work, and where experts rank in our system.
LANCE MONTGOMERY Technologist & entrepreneur
BRYAN BAEUMLER Contractor & TV personality
COMPANY HeyBryan Media Inc.
CSE SYMBOL HEY
LISTING DATE October 1, 2019
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE THE COMPANY TO DEVELOP THE APP AND LINE UP RELIABLE EXPERTS?
The app started slowly with just our CTO and me working on it in our spare time. But as we raised money, we were able to get additional support to speed up the process. To go live in PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 7
“We are adding technology to a very
outdated industry and bringing value to both the homeowner and the experts — this is highly innovative.” — Montgomery
8 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
Vancouver, we did a 30-day recruitment, so all in all it was 12 months from idea to first city launch.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A COMPANY LIKE HEYBRYAN WITH AN AGING CANADIAN POPULATION?
TYPICALLY, DOES THE TRADESPERSON VETTING PROCESS TAKE A LOT OF TIME?
Peoples’ homes are their biggest asset and research shows that people are staying in their homes longer and home maintenance is a massive market. As the population ages, it’s important to have a trusted solution for this demographic so they can get help around the house with no worry.
We partnered with Certn, an AI-based company that does ID/criminal and background checks in real time. We then have our customer success team onboard them, so it’s fairly quick. We currently have around 600 experts on the platform. WHAT ARE YOUR KEY MARKETS AND HOW DO YOU EXPECT THEM TO SHAPE UP?
We are currently live in Vancouver and Toronto with plans to expand across Canada in 2020. Our marketing efforts are showing growth in both markets and the focus is now on repeat customers, referrals and new customer acquisition, but the growth is solid. Future plans call for entering the United States.
IS THE HEYBRYAN APP THE NUMBER ONE APP FOR AVERTING DIY (DO IT YOURSELF) MISHAPS?
Yes, with a trusted brand like Bryan Baeumler, we feel we are number one. There’s always competition, but we share the same values as Bryan and want to be the go-to home maintenance solution. We focus on the small tasks, so we are not looking to get into large renos, but if you maintain your home properly, you can avert larger disasters. Take a car – if you maintain it, the car will last longer, and you can avoid the engine blowing up. TALK TO US ABOUT THE BUSINESS MODEL FOR THE COMPANY.
WHAT ARE THE HALLMARKS OF AN INNOVATIVE COMPANY AND DOES HEYBRYAN FIT THE BILL?
I think innovation is solving or disrupting an industry. This small task space has been painted with a negative brush and our goal is to change this perception. We are adding technology to a very outdated industry and bringing value to both the homeowner and the experts — this is highly innovative.
Everything is done in-house, and we have a full team looking after technology, creative, design, development, data, marketing, sales, and customer service. Everything has been built in-house, which allows us to grow and scale as well as pivot when needed. The revenue model is two-sided. We take 20% of every completed task from the expert and a 7.5% trust and support fee from the customer. The customer fee takes care of our
PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 9
“Surround yourself with the
right people in the right roles and allow them to shine. We have built an amazing team and I couldn’t be prouder.” — Montgomery
hard costs such as insurance/payment processing fees. All in, our margin is 27.5%. HEYBRYAN IS ALREADY DISRUPTING THE HOME MAINTENANCE INDUSTRY, BUT DO YOU HAVE PLANS FOR NEW PRODUCTS?
Yes, we are exploring many avenues both in strategic partnerships and complementary new revenue streams. The opportunities in the gig economy are endless and we’re excited about the future of the overall company.
YOU WERE SUCCESSFUL IN GETTING BRYAN BAEUMLER TO SIGN ON AS THE NAME BRAND AND FACE OF YOUR COMPANY. HOW DOES THE CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT HELP KEEP MARKETING COSTS IN CHECK?
Securing a celebrity endorsement was a massive win. Trying to build brand awareness and consumer confidence is expensive and time-consuming. Bryan brought that reputation, as well as awareness and trust. We can leverage Bryan’s following and his massive reach allows us to spend money in other areas to evolve and grow the business. YOU HAVE THE ENTREPRENEURIAL DNA TO TAKE YOUR IDEA AND BUILD IT INTO A BUSINESS. WHAT IS ONE OF THE IMPORTANT LESSONS THAT YOU’VE LEARNT?
Be patient and don’t try to rush to market with a sub-par product. Do your research, plan and always expect delays. The other major thing I learnt was how critical it is to have the right people in the right roles. Surround yourself with the right people in the right roles and allow them to shine. We have built an amazing team and I couldn’t be prouder.
MORE CONTENT ON THE #HASHTAGFINANCE PODCAST Bryan Baeumler and Lance Montgomery on Averting DIY Disasters with HeyBryan – episode available on blog.thecse.com/pe-podcasts 10 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR CONTENT MARKETING, IS “GOOD ENOUGH” REALLY GOOD ENOUGH? CONTENT THAT APPEARS HALF-BAKED JUST DOESN’T CUT IT ANYMORE.
Whether it’s getting the attention of investors or growing your business, you need content marketing support that can help your brand look and perform its best online. Trust us to help your content get the attention it deserves.
WHEN YOU’VE DECIDED THAT GOOD ENOUGH IS NO LONGER GOOD ENOUGH, CONTACT US, WE’RE HERE TO HELP.
Find us online at: sparxpg.com
NEW WAVE ESPORTS Esports investments are the latest thing and this CEO is at the top of his game By Andrew Kessel
sports 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/ 12 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
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.
DANIEL MITRE Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner
TRUMBULL FISHER President & Managing Partner
COMPANY Daniel Mitre
New Wave Esports Corp.
CSE SYMBOL NWES
LISTING DATE October 28, 2019
" We're unlike a traditional invest-
ment 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. — MITRE
PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 13
Fourthly, we target technology and tools, which are 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
" 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. — MITRE
14 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
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.
MORE CONTENT ON THE #HASHTAGFINANCE PODCAST
Daniel Mitre on How Old School Gaming has Inﬂuenced the New Wave of Esports – episode available on blog.thecse.com/pe-podcasts
CLEVER TECHNOLOGY INCREASES ADVERTISING ENGAGEMENT TO EXTRAORDINARY LEVELS By Giles Gwinnett
ersus Systems (CSE:VS) is disrupting the conventional advertising landscape with an innovative choice/reward model. The company’s main focus is the esports sector, where game developers use its WINFINITE platform to create competitions that provide players the chance to win a variety of attractive prizes. The platform can be accessed via mobile, console, PC games and streaming media, and thanks to that reach some half a million prizes have been awarded already. WINFINITE is used for games in the US and Canada right now, with a UK launch slated for December. Plans call for making it available in continental Europe in the first half of 2020, and in China around mid-year. In August of 2019, Versus struck a licensing deal with hardware giant HP that will see its technology used in a variety of HP products and services. Public Entrepreneur caught up with Versus Chief Executive Officer Matthew Pierce last month to learn more about the company and its considerable potential. HOW IS THE ADVERTISING LANDSCAPE CHANGING AND HOW DOES VERSUS FIT INTO THAT?
I think media is changing but that advertising is changing more slowly. People in general don’t care for old systems of advertising, or paid ads. We measure videos not by whether they were watched but by how many seconds they were watched before someone hits X to escape. People don’t care for banner ads or interstitials or preroll or any of those kinds of things.
And as content, as media, as games, as shows and all those things become more interactive, and more choice-based and more tailored to the viewer or the player, so too does the advertising. The advertising needs to be just as thoughtful. And for us, the marriage of choice and reward, which is to say that when you get to choose what you want to play for or you get to choose what you’re trying to win, it introduces the idea of earning it, so it no longer feels like an ad, but rather a prize. It feels like something you’ve earned and that makes all the difference. CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW WINFINITE WORKS AND HOW YOU CAME UP WITH THE IDEA?
MATTHEW PIERCE Chief Executive Officer COMPANY Versus Systems Inc. CSE SYMBOL VS LISTING DATE November 28, 2015 WEBSITE versussystems.com
In any Versus-enabled content, whether it’s a show, a fitness app or a video game, when you enter into the experience, when you’re about to load up the game or when you’re about to watch your show, there’s a menu that asks what you want to play for. You can choose anything from downloadable content in a video game to trips, to apparel, to food, to electronics. There’s a huge number of things that we’ve given away, from tickets to BlizzCon to hats and shirts. Users see a win condition that says, “If you do this then you will get this, or if you do that then you will be entered into a sweepstakes to get that.” People try to win the race or crush the right amount of candy and then you get sent a message saying that you either won it or you didn’t. If you didn’t, you try again or try to win something else. It doesn’t interrupt the show or the game. It’s there to enhance the experience. PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 15
The company came out of an incubator whose limited partners included a large software development firm, a large law firm, and people with strong media backgrounds. The idea was to create something that’s in a really thorny regulatory space that is also difficult to achieve technically. People love winning things and people love earning things. How can we make that real? We’ve been filing IP on it for years now. We’ve been granted patents covering how to do it and how to do it at scale. IS IT FAIR TO SAY YOU’RE FOCUSED MAINLY ON THE GAMING SPACE?
We very much like the gaming side of things. We also like things that look like games. Games are already made such that there’s what we call a “win condition,” and the win condition is very clear inside of a game – save this town, crush this candy, find the loot. That’s a really rich environment for us. But I also keep bringing up fitness because fitness looks a lot like a game as you try to run a certain distance or achieve specific goals. WHAT SORT OF FEEDBACK DO YOU GET FROM PLAYERS? 16 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
Ninety seven percent of players interviewed that have used the platform say it makes the game more fun. And that is not true of most advertising, right? We did a huge survey with UCLA last year to talk about user behaviour and how people interact with media and it confirmed that people don’t care for ads. But 97% of people who play for rewards say rewards make the game more engaging. Once introduced to prizes, people play more and there’s not an ad unit anywhere that makes people consume the content more frequently. HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY FROM THIS?
The business model works in classic advertising fashion, which is that the brands that want to reach these players pay to place their products inside of the content, the difference being that our engagement rates are minutes rather than seconds, and the transaction rates are measured in whole percents, rather than hundredths of a percent. We are much, much, much more effective with respect to getting people to do something. Do they go into the store, or do they go to the website? It’s much more effective when you
love “ People winning things
and people love earning things. How can we make that real? — PIERCE
“97% of players
interviewed that have used the platform say it makes the game more fun. And that is not true of most advertising, right? — PIERCE
introduce these ideas of choice and reward. The brands pay for that because it’s just a more effective ad unit. We split the revenue with the content owner, so in the case of HP we’re in all the HP Omen computers and we split the revenue with HP. When we are in a game we split the revenue with the game developer and the publisher. So, we make our revenue on a transactions basis. Every time someone makes an attempt to win a prize, the company who put up that prize pays for that engagement. YOU’VE STRUCK A NUMBER OF PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS. IS THERE ONE DEAL YOU ARE PARTICULARLY PROUD OF?
The HP deal is massive. HP is a US$50 billion company and we have a multi-year deal. They are well known for being safe and secure, and conservative and thoughtful and the idea that they would partner with us, I think, suggests that we’ve worked very hard to be a credible, trustworthy, thoughtful, capable company. HP sells tens of millions of computers a year and they’re one of the most highly respected hardware manufacturers on earth. They have access to not just gamers, but to anything you can do on a computer that you want to encourage or incentivize. We can put rewards around things other than games. The platform also works extremely well for fitness apps and certain business applications.
Unlike ads, earned rewards engage players and consumers
Consumers want opt-in and choice. Brands want ROI. Old ads don’t deliver.
agree that adding rewards makes games more fun
“Winning real rewards” is #1 contributor to players’ interest in games
People frequently or always avoid ads entirely*
How ads score on a scale of 0 (I hate it) to 10 (I love it)*
would be more likely to watch live TV / media if hey had the ability to win rewards
Always watch ads all the way through*
In 2018 losses from online ad fraud**
of Versus users agree that adding WINFINITE by Versus rewards makes games more fun
of women would play games more if they could win real-world rewards for in-game achievements
*UCLA MEMES SURVEY AUGUST 2018 **https://www.mediapost.com/ publications/article/328730/ advertisers-lose-billions-ofdollars-to-ad-fraud.html With UCLA Anderson School’s MEMES Center, Versus Systems conducted joint market research of 88,000 participants, across dozens of demographics
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO POTENTIAL INVESTORS ABOUT THE GROUP’S FUTURE TARGETS?
Now’s a great time. You start talking about tens of millions of machines from the HP deal and then you also start talking about the opportunities that we’ve got when we grow into some of these other markets, particularly in Asia. You have access to a lot of people playing a lot of games or a lot of people engaging with these apps. And they want to win. It’s perfect for us. PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 17
AMPD VENTURES Meeting the need for digital speed when every millisecond counts
Internet of Things
By Patrick Graham
MPD Ventures (CSE:AMPD) Chief Executive Officer Anthony Brown has declared war on computing latency. For the digital layman, latency is deterioration in the speed (measured in milliseconds) at which a signal arrives, gets processed and is sent back to the requesting computer. The lower the latency, the faster the processing time. Latency is a big deal with online gamers. Any lag, jitter or other performance issue with a video game can ruin the player experience. For professional gamers, latency is a livelihood issue because money is at stake – a lag or glitch means rival players are able to move and react faster to score more points. “Those milliseconds can add up,” Brown says. “The more interactive an application is – like any esport where they’re continually pressing buttons and moving and doing things, and you’re in communication between the client and the server – the more it counts. Even though you’re dealing with milliseconds, the resulting impact on the application can be quite noticeable.” Brown has been confronting the latency problem since his days two decades ago when he co-founded the Seven Group, providing high-performance computing for banks and engineering firms and then working with the likes of Disney Interactive on video games. Brown’s passion eventually morphed into AMPD Technologies, which he co-founded in 2015. Besides video games and esports, AMPD helps other companies bring their dreams to life through data visualization, video rendering, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality, and high-level academic research. Brown and his management team listed AMPD Technologies’ AMPD Ventures unit on the Canadian
18 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
Securities Exchange in October, to both raise capital and increase AMPD’s profile. The move secured the company $3 million in AI/Machine new funding. Learning To minimize latency in our increasingly connected digital world, AMPD develops and employs a method called edge computing, which entails placing nodes, which is where the data and content resides, as close as possible to the end-user. Brown says edge computing represents the fourth stage of the digital revolution, which started with cable television and then the Internet, followed by the cloud. “It’s the next generation of digital infrastructure. It’s the next Internet, if you like,” he explains. The cloud is the matrix of “virtual” machines spread out across the globe that Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others maintain to store vast sums of data and perform distributed computing. It might be the heart and soul of e-commerce and video streaming, but the cloud is also seriously flawed. Remember, it’s partly about distance. For one, sending and requesting data from the cloud adds to the latency lag. Because of this, the cloud and its distributed computing architecture servers can’t adequately handle the emerging data-heavy technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality that need high-performing computing to function properly. “What we do is hardware-switched, hardware-firewalled, array-based storage. That means that the storage is separate
Animation & VFX
It's the next generation of digital infrastructure. It's the next Internet, if you like. — BROWN
Cyber Security Blockchain
ANTHONY BROWN Chief Executive Ofﬁcer
COMPANY AMPD Ventures Inc.
CSE SYMBOL AMPD
LISTING DATE October 24, 2019
WEBSITE ampd.tech PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 19
from the servers and all the servers can access it directly at superfast speeds. And then we put that at the edge, in the urban centre where the data is being used. So that last-mile latency is mitigated as well,” explains Brown. The company recently opened its first data centre in Vancouver, not far from its headquarters. Besides offering clients high-performance computing solutions, the centre is designed to capture the heat generated by the servers and distribute it to the building, and produce clean drinking water via the condensing systems in the air conditioners. AMPD is currently onboarding clients and expects to max out the data centre’s capacity before too long. Halfway through November, the company announced its first client, Bardel Entertainment, which works on the popular cartoon series Rick and Morty. In a deal expected to generate more than $1.2 million in revenue over three years, Bardel will utilize the AMPD Remote Render Service that enables studios to access thousands of cores of processing power without having to build their own costly data centres. When rendering for animated content, two-dimensional or three-dimensional images are generated for the screen from a computer, using huge amounts of processing power. Importantly, the render service is not hooked up to the Internet but rather connected via direct fibre access to AMPD’s servers in the company’s data centre. That means minimal latency issues by avoiding the cloud.
“ To be able to handle the load of all those
super cool applications coming down the pipe that people can't even use yet is what we are gearing up for. — BROWN
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AMPD has also started a partnership with Myesports Ventures, which runs the online gaming stadiums where players compete in esport tournaments with live audiences. Myesports currently has one live stadium and three more planned in 2020, and has tapped AMPD to supply the computing infrastructure for players and onsite gaming hosting. In addition to supplying the backbone for players at the stadium, AMPD will be able to let players access the platform from home, giving people in the local area an ability to play an esport with the same low latency experience as esports athletes competing in the stadium itself. AMPD also is involved with the Digital Technology Supercluster Learning Factory project, a consortium financed by the Canadian government to provide digital solutions for the manufacturing industry. The project will leverage AMPD’s high-performance computing platform to create digital twins of production lines for advanced aircraft parts. The project goes live in December for both simulation and virtual reality visualization. “Eventually we’ll hit critical mass where we just need to proliferate and get ahead of the curve to be able to build out as many data centres and as many high-performance computing nodes as we can,” Brown concludes. “To be able to handle the load of all those super cool applications coming down the pipe that people can’t even use yet is what we are gearing up for.” MORE CONTENT ON THE #HASHTAGFINANCE PODCAST Anthony Brown on the Cloud Technology Powering "Rick and Morty" – episode available on blog.thecse.com/pe-podcasts
Building a brand in a nascent category as Cannabis 2.0 takes hold in Canada By Angela Harmantas
ow do you build a brand – and a company – in a completely new consumer product category? It’s a question that Vancouver-based BevCanna Enterprises (CSE:BEV) is addressing as it prepares to launch a premium line of CBD- and THC-infused beverages in Canada, just months after the federal government legalized the sale of cannabis edibles and drinks. The team behind BevCanna includes beverage and bottling experts who played integral roles with iconic brand portfolios such as Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Vega, the plant-based drink. Led by Chief Executive Officer Marcello Leone, Chief Brand and Innovation Manager Don Chisholm, and Chief Commercialization Officer Emma Andrews, BevCanna’s management is full of entrepreneurial minds with deep expertise coming together to create a vision for a nascent category. “There isn’t really a rulebook ahead of us, but we have a lot of intel and insights and inspirations from our past industries that we can apply to this space,” Andrews explains. A nutritionist by training, Andrews built an impressive career in the health and wellness space, most notably with Vega. She was drawn to the cannabis space after working in the natural products industry helping to build emerging companies in disruptive categories, and felt an organic transition to the cannabis business. As Andrews herself will tell you, she’s a longtime cannabis consumer with knowledge of the entire value chain and various form factors. But it was the emerging beverages category that attracted her interest – and her extensive expertise.
Marcello Leone and Emma Andrews
PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 21
isn’t really a “ There rulebook ahead of us,
but we have a lot of intel and insights and inspirations from our past industries that we can apply to this space. — ANDREWS
MARCELLO LEONE Chief Executive Ofﬁcer
EMMA ANDREWS Chief Commercialization Ofﬁcer
COMPANY BevCanna Enterprises Inc.
CSE SYMBOL BEV
LISTING DATE June 25, 2019
WEBSITE bevcanna.com 22 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
“I’m all about making sure cannabis experiences are accessible,” she says. “Beverages offer the best of both worlds – it’s a very approachable product category for new consumers and something that is easily adopted into our day-to-day routine because we’re used to consuming them.” Part of Andrews’ job is keeping her finger on the pulse of consumer trends. Understanding consumer needs, desires, and drivers helps the company shape its products and manage the go-to-market strategy. It can be a challenging task for any consumer packaged goods company launching new products, but when the category is almost entirely new to users, statistics and hard facts are difficult to come by. With that in mind, BevCanna commissioned an independent research group to survey over 2,000 adults of legal drinking age in the US and Canada on their interests and preferences in current and potential cannabis products. The study found that more Canadians are aware of THC-based cannabis products, with smokable or otherwise combustible forms of cannabis currently the most common methods of consumption. But it was CBD-based beverages that had the highest future purchase intent – 70% among consumers. The study also found that consumers across all regions see CBD-infused beverages as contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Among 25 product concepts, the top performing ones included ready-to-drink spring water-based beverages, which consumers see as complementary to their quality of life and contributing to their well-being. The survey also noted that while Canadian consumers would consider THC beverages as a means to relax and unwind, they tend to associate THC with consumption occasions such as hanging out with friends or social gatherings. “New consumers and lower tolerance consumers are both big markets for us,” Andrews says. “Part of that is because of the potency limitations in Canada being 10mg THC, so for someone with a really high tolerance it’s probably cost prohibitive for a regular user to exclusively consume cannabis beverages to get the outcome they are seeking. But it will be beneficial for a new consumer or a lower tolerance consumer, or the social drinker who might have a few beverages just to relax and unwind, and that’s exactly what THCinfused beverages can offer.” BevCanna’s first brand, Anarchist Mountain Beverages, was inspired by the site of its bottling operations on Anarchist Mountain. Products will include a range of THC-dominant, ready-to-drink beverages, shots, and powdered drink mixes, with a flavour nod to the plants found throughout the Pacific Northwest. BevCanna’s second cannabis-infused beverage brand to hit the market in Canada is called Grüv
Beverages, featuring iced tea with a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC. BevCanna also intends to launch a third brand mid-2020 called LEV, a CBD-dominant mixture of fruit flavours with an alkaline spring water base. But the products are only one component of building a brand. To be successful, the company has to create repeat consumers. Andrews contemplates the challenge ahead as the novelty of seeing infused beverages on shelves wears off. “Formulation is important,” she says. “I think it impacts how someone builds a lifestyle habit around consuming these beverages. We want to put PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 23
can come down to “ Innovation things like sustainability in the
form factors or packaging. For us, it’s about finding opportunities that lead to a better consumer experience or a better legacy for our planet. — ANDREWS
out products that have a wide appeal and don’t seem too gimmicky.” Grüv’s iced teas are familiar taste profiles in easyto-drink bottles. Potency, too, is important. Grüv has 5mg THC and 5mg CBD. “You can sip these while gardening or hanging out with friends so it’s very easy to fit into your lifestyle and not have it be this one-off indulgence,” notes Andrews. BevCanna is looking at 2020 to roll out multiple products and brands. Each province must approve the beverages for sale, and the company is already talking to regulators in BC and Ontario. “For us it’s all about planning throughout 2020 to make sure we get the right consumer awareness and retail adoption,” Andrews explains. “There’s a number of different stage gates we have to pass through in order to become a national brand. The larger provinces are our initial focus and then national rollout as time goes on.” The rollout is also taking place amidst what some investors would term a challenging time for the cannabis industry. Just over one year after the legalization of flower and cultivation, sales figures and returns have been dismal for most companies. Will it be the same for edibles and beverages? Andrews looks at the two segments very differently. “The first wave was set around flower, which is still easy to procure illicitly. There’s a lot of competitiveness for that product category.” 24 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
There are some key differences between the first and second waves, according to Andrews. “Derivative products are processed, bottled and manufactured – it’s a much more complex production, so I don’t anticipate that there will be as much competition,” she says. “Buyers will look to the legal market because there’s a much wider selection of products than they’ve ever been able to experience before. The product selection is going to be unlike anyone’s ever seen.” On the profit side, BevCanna has multiple revenue streams, including house brands and white label bottling, a joint venture to bring multistate cannabis vape brand Bloom to Canada, a 130 acre outdoor cultivation site, plus an active push for additional joint ventures, licensing, and acquisitions of technology and brands. Andrews envisions both the house brands and white label business being a global play down the road. BevCanna is in the process of obtaining EU GMP certification which is on their radar for mid to late 2020. Additionally, BevCanna is entering the California market with their house brands as well as white label services come early 2020. However the industry takes shape, BevCanna appears set to become a key player in Cannabis 2.0. The task at hand for the company is to retain its own identity while growing into a major brand in the infused beverages market. “I think the word that really captures the essence of what we’re doing is ‘innovation’,” Andrews says. “A lot of what the cannabis business is doing is pushing at the periphery and forging a new path, but it can be subtle instead of aggressive. Innovation can come down to things like sustainability in the form factors or packaging. For us, it’s about finding opportunities that lead to a better consumer experience or a better legacy for our planet.”
MORE CONTENT ON THE #HASHTAGFINANCE PODCAST Emma Andrews on Bringing a Cannabis Beverage Brand to Life – episode available on blog.thecse.com/pe-podcasts
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e CSE Year in Review By Peter Murray
SE issuers felt the market tap on the brakes in 2019, as investors finally took a breather following years of growing financings, soaring market caps and record trading activity. The numbers for the year through November were still solid, mind you, as details below make clear, and new trends are emerging as the market continues its endless search for the best ways to deploy capital. Look no further than the CSE Composite Index for an accurate barometer of the marketâ€™s mood. Thousands of variables influence its closing value each day, but mixed corporate performance in the cannabis sector and seasonal tax-loss selling are probably the two biggest factors behind the benchmark shedding some 39% compared to the beginning of 2019. Then again, report strong earnings or other robust news and youâ€™ll still see your share price head north in a hurry, as multiple issuers have recently found to their delight. The market is doing what it is supposed to do â€“ reward the companies farther along the development curve with higher valuations. More than one analyst is suggesting there is plenty of opportunity to be had in the current environment, and weâ€™ll find out if thatâ€™s the case as we progress through 2020. But key to the future is the year weâ€™re about to wrap up and some important developments upcoming at the CSE to make the issuer experience even better. The return of the initial public offering, or IPO, is definitely an important theme. Through the first 11 months of 2019, 30 companies listed on the CSE through initial public offerings. That compares to just eight on all exchanges in Canada combined in 2016. And a double-digit list of IPO applications to the CSE is making its way through the approvals process, so there are more to come.
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We felt the time was right to set different standards for the larger companies – easier in some ways and stricter in others, but all embracing the CSE’s philosophy of thinking like an entrepreneur and helping companies position themselves for capital markets success. I think everyone is going to like what we debut in the next month or so. — CARLETON
A shift in regulatory guidance encouraging companies to list by means of an IPO deserves a good deal of credit for the trend. And IPO issuers enjoy many benefits unique to their listing path, including greater control over share structure and having their documentation reviewed by both the CSE and the provincial securities commission in their jurisdiction of registration. That extra layer of regulatory approval doesn’t hurt when it comes time to approach potential investors for new capital. Speaking of financing activity, it is slower so far in 2019 compared to the record pace of 2018, but still healthy by any measure. Year-to-date, CSE issuers have raised a total of $2.8 billion, as compared to $5 billion for the same January-to-November period in 2018. Another trend showing up is the increasing presence of convertible debt as a percentage of total funds raised, and institutional investors stepping up to the plate to buy these new instruments. Volume and value traded numbers remained strong on balance, which is important when the capital raising environment tightens. Year-to-date at the end of November, trading volume was down 33%, but the value of trade was higher by 8.1%, the latter number climbing to a record $20.5 billion. “Although the US and Canadian cannabis sectors are having their challenges attracting capital under the present market conditions, we have seen an important revival in the gold exploration sector, and an
increasing investor focus on the business of esports,” notes Richard Carleton, the CSE’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are also seeing the arrival of cannabis and hemp companies from overseas for the first time; a response to the outreach efforts we’ve made over the last few years.” The CSE began visits and events in Israel, for example, a little over two years ago. The country has a world class “start-up culture,” but lacks the investment infrastructure to back companies in the cannabis space. And the results are starting to come through. In the second half of 2019, the CSE welcomed its first Israeli issuers – three over six weeks, as a matter of fact. And the outreach to the business community in Israel will continue, now that multiple issuers have joined the exchange and can attest to the ease of working with the CSE and the benefits of a Canadian public listing. Similarly, a memorandum of understanding with the Jamaica Stock Exchange, home to public companies with some $14 billion in total market capitalization, will see the two exchanges explore opportunities to cross-list companies and share expertise. “The business community is so connected now that when you cannot meet a need inside your own borders, there is often an accessible solution somewhere else in the world. And because of technology, you, your stakeholders and your broader audience can realistically take advantage of it,” says Carleton.
PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 4•2019 | 27
ON THE WEB
ESP ORTS EVENT THROW BACK
THROWBACK TO CSE PRESENTS: ESPORTS IN THE CAPITAL MARKETS Though we’re focused on our 2020 vision for esports, we’re also looking back at CSE Presents: esports in the Capital Markets, which took place in June. This event featured some great team players and insights into how capital markets and esports interact on the playing field. See highlights: facebook.com/ CanadianSecuritiesExchange
PA SSP O R T TO C ANADA’S CA NNAB IS S EC TOR
PASSPORT TO CANADA’S CANNABIS SECTOR GOES TO MJBIZCON LAS VEGAS Together, the CSE, MNP LLP, Aird & Berlis LLP, and MGO | ELLO make up the Passport to Canada’s Cannabis Sector. Tune in to this special #HashtagFinance podcast to learn about the alliance’s goals for MJBizCon Las Vegas 2019: blog.thecse.com/pe-podcasts
YOU TU BE VIDEO
CSE 2019 CLIENT APPRECIATION EVENT Thanks to everyone who attended the CSE 2019 Client Appreciation Event! Hosted at the Vancouver Club, it was an afternoon of food, fun, and live music as CSE clients, partners, and supporters celebrated the many milestones achieved by the CSE in 2019. Check out highlights from the event: youtube.com/CSETV
28 | THE INSPIRATION ISSUE
The CSE celebrated its 15th anniversary in September and while each year has been important in bringing us to where we stand today, it’s really been in the past five years that we’ve established ourselves as a growth and opportunity leader among global exchanges for small- to mid-cap companies. — CARLETON
“For us, there’s an opportunity to take the strengths of Canada’s capital markets and those of the CSE abroad, and everyone benefits.” A development that issuers at home and abroad should find particularly interesting is the CSE’s plan to create a senior tier for issuers meeting certain criteria. “As the average size of CSE issuers increases and transactions become more complex, we are readying a senior tier to acknowledge that due diligence required by us on a $500,000 mining property option, for example, is not the same as for a $1 billion cannabis acquisition involving multiple business lines and operations in several states,” Carleton explains. “We felt the time was right to set different standards for the larger companies – easier in some ways and stricter in others, but all embracing the CSE’s philosophy of thinking like an entrepreneur and helping companies position themselves for capital markets success. I think everyone is going to like what we debut in the next month or so.” That sentiment certainly applies to the CSE’s new head office, which the exchange’s Toronto team moved into in the first quarter of 2019. It’s on the highest office floor in all of Canada, and home to a new media centre that opened in September. Market Opens and a professional podcast studio
are just some of the media centre features created to help CSE issuers broaden their networks by leveraging the reach and brand of the exchange. Before too long, the CSE brand will also embrace a new clearing and settlement platform. Third-party testing with multiple brokerages continues to prove that this groundbreaking system for tokenized securities will not only shorten the clearing process, thus reducing industry capital commitments, but also make dividends and other entitlements easier to distribute. “The CSE celebrated its 15th anniversary in September and while each year has been important in bringing us to where we stand today, it’s really been in the past five years that we’ve established ourselves as a growth and opportunity leader among global exchanges for small- to mid-cap companies,” concludes Carleton. “And it all traces back to our culture of thinking like the entrepreneurs who list with us. Being efficient, doing things right, and always looking for better ways to serve the needs of our customers is in our corporate DNA. It’s why you’ll always see us growing and evolving. It’s why we’ll always be a top choice for growth companies who want efficient access to public capital and valuation. We are extremely proud to offer that choice.”
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Public Entrepreneur is proud to feature stories about the many facets of entrepreneurship in the capital markets, including coverage on the...
Published on Jan 9, 2020
Public Entrepreneur is proud to feature stories about the many facets of entrepreneurship in the capital markets, including coverage on the...