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ISSUE 3

Mitchell Scott & James Davison The Very Good Food Company

THE ISSUE

We salute innovators who have conquered a challenging year

•

2020


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in this issue

INSPIRATION INTERVIEWS

12

THE VERY GOOD FOOD COMPANY The name says it all for this group taking veggie-based meat alternatives to a delicious new level

16

PLANET 13 HOLDINGS Doing things “Vegas style” fuels the growth at this one-of-a-kind cannabis company

20

TAAT LIFESTYLE & WELLNESS Helping smokers kick the habit by embracing the cigarette experience

4  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE


contents

06 08 09 10 38

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR LISTEN UP

PUBLISHER Sparx Publishing Group Inc.

TECHIE TALKS

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NEW KIDS IN TOWN

For advertising rates and placements, please contact (604) 488-1097 or advertising@sparxpg.com

SPOTLIGHT ON JB & BEAR

PROFILES

GROUP PUBLISHER Hamish Khamisa

26

BEE VECTORING TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL Delivering patented organic pesticides with some help from the hive

30

JUSHI HOLDINGS Timing is everything, and this expert cannabis team knows just when to pounce

34

RED LIGHT HOLLAND Proving the potential of recreational psilocybin begins with choosing the right market

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF James Black EDITORS Peter Murray Sheri Radford ART DIRECTOR Elisabeth Choi DESIGNER Nicole Yeh WRITERS Uttara Choudhury Patrick Graham Giles Gwinnett Angela Harmantas Jon Hopkins Peter Murray Sheri Radford

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/publicentrepreneur-magazine 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 3•2020 | 5


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Spend enough time around entrepreneurs and one thing is readily apparent: They are incredibly resilient. This year has tested that resilience like never before. Amongst the many, many stories of hardship, there are also stories of individuals, communities and countries overcoming the challenges of the “new normal,” which serve as inspiration that navigating this new reality is possible. With the end of 2020 in sight, it is an opportune time to reflect on some inspirational developments at the Exchange for Entrepreneurs. For example, despite being mired in a global pandemic, the Canadian Securities Exchange has posted phenomenal financing and trading activity. We have attracted most of the IPOs completed on Canadian stock exchanges this year and have seen over $3 billion in capital raised by companies across a diverse range of sectors. If there is truly cause for optimism amidst all of 2020’s difficult news, it is that smart capital sees opportunity on the horizon. What is it, exactly, that is inspiring investors to put capital to work? The companies featured in this issue of Public Entrepreneur offer up a glimpse. To start, what people ingest is poised to see significant change in the coming years – a trend that companies like The Very Good Food Company, Red Light Holland, Jushi Holdings and Taat Lifestyle & Wellness are positioning themselves to cater to. Further upstream to the production of natural sources of food is a fascinating area that Bee Vectoring Technologies is attempting to commercialize. Alternatively, at the distribution end of the supply chain, Planet 13 Holdings sees opportunities to connect trending products to consumers at scale. With well over 600 listed securities now trading, the Canadian Securities Exchange has stories of entrepreneurial pursuits in ready supply. To help navigate the growing variety of sectors and opportunities, the CSE has also been working hard during the pandemic to create bestin-class content, such as the recently concluded Mining Over Canada series, to inspire and inform stakeholders from across the capital markets. I encourage all readers to also explore and subscribe to CSE TV and our #HashtagFinance podcast for more dynamic coverage of inspiring entrepreneurs. Finally, to our loyal audience, I want to say thank you for continuing to support our content efforts by reading, listening, watching and sharing the stories we bring to light. Even though how and where we work may have changed, why we do this is still just as inspiring and exciting as ever. Here’s looking forward to brighter days ahead. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay connected. FOLLOW US ON

James Black Editor-in-Chief james.black@thecse.com

blog.thecse.com

ON THE WEB EVENT RECAP

NEW VIDEO SERIES

MINING OVER CANADA The CSE spent six inspiring weeks exploring all aspects of Canadian mining. We spoke to some of the biggest names in this groundbreaking industry, covering everything from environmental regulation to regional influences to Indigenous engagement. Check out the complete Mining Over Canada playlist on our YouTube channel: youtube.com/CSETV

HEALTH TECH THURSDAYS The CSE is thrilled to announce a brand-new series on CSE TV: Health Tech Thursdays. Covering topics such as telemedicine and chronic care, this new series showcases innovative health tech companies and the entrepreneurs who are leading them. Watch it all on our YouTube channel: youtube.com/CSETV

6  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE


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LISTEN UP

Food for thought from some of our recent #HashtagFinance podcast guests

C21 INVESTMENTS INC. (CSE:CXXI)

“Fortunately, the cannabis sector – as a lot of people know – has been somewhat insulated from the dramatic effects of COVID. It’s an industry that’s still doing quite alright.” EPISODE 157 SKY PINNICK, CMO

SUMMA SILVER CORP. (CSE:SSVR)

I think we’re going to have a very, very busy few years. Going forward, I think the catalyst, first and foremost, is more drill results… And then just continue to drill from there. EPISODE 156

GALEN MCNAMARA, CEO

FIRST GROWTH FUNDS LTD. (CSE:FGFL)

“We have a strong portfolio currently sitting in North America – both public and private companies. We see the CSE as a great opportunity to access the public markets.” EPISODE 154

ANOOSH MANZOORI, CEO

BETTERLIFE PHARMA INC. (CSE:BETR)

HASHTAG

“Interferon Alfa-2B has antiviral activities and it could be specific against [COVID-19]… Attacking this virus requires a cocktail of weapons. Direct attack like Remdesivir…and also indirect attack like our drug.”

FINANCE Presented by Canadian Securities Exchange

Find the CSE’s #HashtagFinance podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher and YouTube.

8  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE

EPISODE 140

DR. AHMAD DOROUDIAN, CEO


TECHIE TALKS Join us for Tech Tuesdays, our popular webinar series that shines a spotlight on technology entrepreneurs and trends. Each week highlights a different cutting-edge tech topic, from food to mining to transportation, and shares insights from both public and private companies. Here are just a few of the innovative companies – and their ingenious technology – featured on recent Tech Tuesdays.

PREDICTMEDIX INC. (CSE:PMED) uses artificial intelligence to improve healthcare testing. Their goal is to make it faster and less invasive to detect impairment, infectious disease and mental illness. Their contactless screenings use facial, thermal, video and audio recognition technologies to quickly determine when an individual is impaired by alcohol or cannabis, infected with a disease such as COVID-19, or suffering from the early stages of a mental illness such as depression or dementia.

ON THE WEB

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WATCH VIDEOS ON IGTV Have you checked out the CSE’s full-length videos on IGTV yet? You’ll find all the latest IGTV videos – including exclusive Instagram Live discussions, #HashtagFinance podcast episodes and recent interviews – on our Instagram: @canadianexchange

CELEBRATIONS

METAMATERIAL INC. (CSE:MMAT) makes metamaterials,

which are complex materials that manipulate light and other forms of energy in amazing ways. Their products can be used to defog or de-ice, block harmful ultraviolet radiation, make solar panels and optical displays work better, and improve medical technology such as MRI and blood glucose monitoring. VSBLTY GROUPE TECHNOLOGIES CORP. (CSE:VSBY) is using

artificial intelligence and machine learning to transform the retail and security sectors. Their software can collect data in real time and provide targeted interactive content. The software can also be used to enhance public safety in crowds by detecting weapons and persons of interest using biometric or facial recognition. It can even detect emotions.

VIRTUAL MARKET OPENS We may not be able to gather in person at the CSE Media Centre right now, but that’s just forced us to get creative! Some of our newest companies have visited us virtually to celebrate the start of the day’s trading session. Watch these virtual Market Opens on our YouTube channel: youtube.com/CSETV

NEWLOX GOLD VENTURES CORP. (CSE:LUX) has developed

an environmentally positive process to produce gold. Their innovative processing techniques allow them to take the artisanal tailings (waste) left behind from more than a century of inefficient small-scale mining in Latin America, remove the contamination, and recover the precious metals.

Watch replays of previous Tech Tuesdays on our YouTube channel: youtube.com/CSETV

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 9


NEW KIDS IN TOWN

Recently, we launched a new YouTube series: Newly Listed on the CSE. It features quick but informative interviews with leaders from recent additions to the Exchange for Entrepreneurs. Here are some of the fascinating companies we’d like you to meet. PRISMO METALS INC. (CSE:PRIZ) is a growth-stage exploration company focused on acquiring and developing high-grade silver and gold projects in Mexico. They target underexplored districts proven to produce top-tier assets.

PLANTX LIFE INC. (CSE:VEGA) is a one-stop-

HAVN LIFE SCIENCES INC. (CSE:HAVN) is a

shop e-commerce hub for everything plantbased, from pre-made meals to groceries to indoor plants. The website also features a searchable database of plant-based recipes. The company views the plantbased lifestyle as a way of connecting to nature – and to each other – while also improving the future of our planet.

biotechnology company in the rapidly growing field of psychedelic medicine. They focus on extracting psychoactive compounds from plants and fungi in a standardized manner and also on developing natural healthcare products from nonregulated compounds. They aim to unlock human potential using evidence-based research.

MORE CONTENT ON CSE TV Watch replays of Newly Listed on the CSE on our YouTube channel: youtube.com/CSETV

10  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE

CHRISTINA LAKE CANNABIS CORP. (CSE:CLC) produces sun-

grown cannabis flower, oil cannabinoids, and hemp-based extracts and derivatives, using no pesticides. The company’s production facility sits on a 32acre property in one of Canada’s hottest regions, with lots of fullspectrum sunshine and very little rain, making it perfectly suited for outdoor cultivation.

AXIOM CAPITAL ADVISORS INC. (CSE:ACA) is a

boutique consulting firm that forms subsidiaries and sells a minority interest to companies wishing to raise funds from investors who want to use their registered funds, such as RRSPs and TFSAs. Their practical approach to business involves accessing legal, accounting and business experts.


Your source for must-listen conversations with business leaders and influencers in the capital markets.

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FINANCE Presented by Canadian Securities Exchange

Produced by the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE), this Public Entrepreneur podcast helps you stay on top of trending topics in the capital markets.

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COMPANY INTERVIEW

THE VERY GOOD FOOD COMPANY The name says it all for this group taking veggiebased meat alternatives to a delicious new level By Peter Murray

Best Sellers: The Very Good Burger, Smokin' Burger, The Very British Bangers, Taco Stuff'er, Smokin' Bangers

12  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE


I

nvestors in The Very Good Food Company (CSE:VERY) know a great opportunity when they see one. The stock keeps climbing to new all-time highs, at time of writing sitting some 340% above its debut price in June of this year. The Very Good Food Company has come to market just as plant-based foods are a hot topic, but this is no trend-follower. This is a leader, which the company’s product line (and a taste of some of those products) makes abundantly clear. Lifelong vegetarian Mitchell Scott co-founded The Very Good Food Company in 2016, his marketing skills perfectly complementing the culinary talent of fellow co-founder James Davison. The rest, as they say, is history. Scott spoke to Public Entrepreneur from his office in Victoria about the secrets to The Very Good Food Company’s success. There have been plant-based meats on the market for many years, but you seem to be stepping it up a notch, with different product formulations and looks, and a wide product range. Walk us through the genesis of the company and its culture.

We got started in the summer of 2016. My business partner, James, was a classically trained French chef from England. He moved to Vancouver and began working in a plant-based restaurant, and that’s when he got turned on to the plant-based movement. He ended up moving to Denman Island, also on the West Coast, and went vegan around the same time. When he got to Denman he realized there were not really any restaurants, so there was nowhere for him to cook. He decided to get entrepreneurial and start making his own meat alternatives. A lot of the products on the market at the time were over-processed and full of fillers and other ingredients he wasn’t comfortable with. He wanted to make something with great ingredients – beans, vegetables, herbs and spices. The first two products were veggie burgers and English breakfast sausages. He took them to the local farmers market and sold out in the first hour. That summer, he and his wife spent the week making the products in the kitchen and then going to the market and selling out. That’s when I got to try the product, at a family barbecue, actually, as we are distantly related.

I had grown up vegetarian and eaten a lot of not-so-great veggie burgers over the years, and I was just blown away by the quality. My background was in business development and marketing, and I was ready for something new, so we teamed up. Talk about the consumer landscape for your products. Vegetarians are obvious customers, but are you also trying to bring in non-vegetarians?

Vegetarians and vegans are our core customers. There traditionally have not been a lot of good vegetarian options, so when people find something they like they stay with it and share it with their friends. Since day one, we have wanted to appeal to a broader audience, and that was one reason for the butcher shop angle, where you would expect to see an assortment of meats. We want products to be approachable. Not some strange vegan product, but a burger, a sausage, some pepperoni. We try to make the products similar to meat products in look, taste, flavour and texture so they can appeal to a broad range of people. What are your personal favorites in the product line? Where should someone start if they are new to your brand?

My personal favourite is adzuki bean pepperoni. Our taco stuffer is super popular – it is like a lightly spiced ground round. Those are my two favourites.

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 13


Mitchell Scott and James Davison

James Davison Co-Founder

Mitchell Scott Co-Founder

Company

The Very Good Food Company Inc.

CSE Symbol VERY

Listing date June 16, 2020

Website

verygoodbutchers.com

As for the broader product range, we have six or seven in grocery stores because we make them on a larger scale, and these are two types of burgers, two types of sausage, the taco stuffer, pepperoni, and we are just launching a hot dog. In total, we have 15 or so, and the others are smaller runs and available at our shop or online. Those would be ones like steak, ribs and a holiday season item called Stuffed Beast. More labour is required for those, and we haven’t had a chance to scale up yet. Tell us about your supply chain. How healthy and local are the ingredients that go into your products?

We try to source as locally as possible, so all of our produce is coming from farms on Vancouver Island and BC’s Fraser Valley. For beans, we are going to the Prairies, so about 95% of our inputs are Canadian. In terms of what’s in the products, it is primarily beans, veggies, herbs and spices, 14  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE

with a bit of wheat flour to bind it all together. Of those veggies, we are looking at onions, beets, celery, mushrooms, leeks – nothing super exotic. You had strong revenue growth in the most recent quarter and a solid gross margin. A lot of your overall expenses are operating costs rather than product costs. Talk to us about costs and margins going forward.

Operating costs are fairly high because our production process is still quite manual. We used to roll sausages and press burgers by hand, for example, but now we have machines to help with that. Once we move to full-scale production we’ll have a line that outputs 10 or 20 times what a manual line does now. We are hoping to have larger-scale production up and running in early February. Until then, we’ve got our Victoria production facility, where we’ve upped production to 5,000 kilograms per week, from


This market is really just getting started. It is not just a trend. — Scott 2,000 in the summer. The next big production step will cost a few million to get up and running. The big cost is equipment, but we can get that financed and pay it off over a five-year term. How about three to five years out? Where do you see The Very Good Food Company?

Our major focus in the next one to two years is the North American market. We want to continue rolling out e-commerce and wholesale grocery store supply. And our butcher shop and restaurant we see as a flagship store concept, so perhaps set them up in Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles – we’ll hopefully make money from them, but they are more brandbased marketing tools. After North America we want to be in Europe, with a similar concept of setting up a flagship store and then local e-commerce and wholesale. And it would be the Asia Pacific region after that, so Australia and Asia. Those are some big goals. One senses from your answers that there is still plenty of room for this industry to grow.

This market is really just getting started. It is not just a trend. All of the producers in the industry are running full out. Companies that have been around for 15 or 20 years are still experiencing double-digit or triple-digit growth. Beyond Meat was the first pure-play meat alternative company to IPO, and we were the second. I think you will see more public company opportunities. But the market is growing at such a rate that there is still tons of upside potential for everyone.

The Very Good Butchers on Taking Plant-Based Eating Public – episode available on blog.thecse.com/pe-podcasts

Peter Murray oversees a national editorial and broadcasting team as President of Proactive Canada. He spent several years managing the English news desk at Nikkei’s head office in Tokyo and has worked with research teams at Asian and European investment banks. Peter is based in Vancouver.

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 15

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MORE CONTENT ON THE #HASHTAGFINANCE PODCAST


COMPANY INTERVIEW

16  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE


PLANET 13 HOLDINGS Doing things “Vegas style” fuels the growth at this one-of-a-kind cannabis company By Patrick Graham

M

edia coverage of the cannabis sector these days would lead you to think that nobody in the industry makes any money, yet nothing could be further from the truth. There are many profitable companies out there, and others a stone’s throw away. One of those companies is Las Vegas– based Planet 13 Holdings (CSE:PLTH), whose retail footprint is truly beyond compare. But more on that in just a moment. What makes Planet 13 successful in its Nevada home market is simple: vertical integration and high visibility. This means the company can grow its own cannabis and make its own products for the wholesale, medical and retail markets. It sells its popular brands at its wholly owned store in Las Vegas, as well as at dispensaries owned by others. The company currently has three cultivation sites, plus three production facilities to make edibles and other products. But its biggest claim to fame is the SuperStore dispensary, the Planet 13 Cannabis Entertainment Complex located not far from the famous Las Vegas Strip.

At 112,000 square feet, the SuperStore is the biggest cannabis store in the world, attracting 1 million visitors and generating US$63 million in revenue in 2019. That represents about one in 10 cannabis sales in the state. Plans call for opening a second Las Vegas dispensary, as well as for launching Planet 13’s first retail location in California, in the first half of 2021. Although the COVID-19 pandemic cut into SuperStore sales during springtime, the top line has since enjoyed a steady rebound. For the third quarter, which ended September 30, revenue is expected to be $22.8 million, representing a 110% increase over the previous quarter. Public Entrepreneur discussed the state of operations, effects from COVID-19 and growth plans with Planet 13 Co-Chief Executive Officer Bob Groesbeck. Operating the largest cannabis retail store in the world, Planet 13 is a barometer on how the cannabis market is doing. Talk to us about retail sales and cultivation.

Business has been fantastic despite COVID-19 reducing tourist traffic to Las

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 17


Our biggest success to date is the Las Vegas SuperStore. We set out to build something unique – a truly special customer experience. And we’ve created a piece of Las Vegas. — Groesbeck

Vegas. We pre-released our third-quarter revenue number, and it is the highest in our company’s history. Growth this quarter reflects improvements at the SuperStore, which drove a higher ticket; improvement in our delivery services, which increased our share of local cannabis revenue; and growth on the wholesale side of the business. How did the COVID-19 lockdown affect sales, and what have you seen since?

It had a dramatic effect on our business in Q2. Nevada shut all dispensaries and required delivery-only sales. This forced us to adapt and improve our business, which, again, has really driven growth for us and enabled the market share gain in Q3. Las Vegas is still feeling the effects of COVID, and you can see it in the tourist traffic, which is less than 40% of what it usually is this time of year. It makes what we’ve done in Q3 all the more impressive. We sell primarily to tourists and were somehow able to grow revenue despite visitor numbers being way down. Why and how did you get into the cannabis business?

Larry [Larry Scheffler, Planet 13 Co-CEO] and I met when we were both members of the Henderson City

Bob Groesbeck

Co-Chief Executive Officer Larry Scheffler

Co-Chief Executive Officer Company

Planet 13 Holdings Inc. CSE Symbol

PLTH

Listing date

June 21, 2018 Website

planet13holdings.com

18  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE

Council in the mid-1990s. We continued that relationship in business after we left the City Council. We were intrigued when we heard in late 2013 that Nevada was going to allow medical marijuana facilities to open. We immediately recognized how much of a transformational event this was and decided quickly that we wanted to be involved. And, as longtime residents of southern Nevada, we wanted to do it “Vegas style” – an over-the-top cannabis experience. What has been Planet 13’s biggest success and its biggest regret?

Our biggest success to date is the Las Vegas SuperStore. We set out to build something unique – a truly special customer experience. And we’ve created a piece of Las Vegas. What Steve Wynn did for the club experience, we’ve done for the cannabis experience. As for regrets, it is really just delays on some regulatory things. We would love to already have our cannabis consumption lounges open. What are the biggest obstacles to opening and running a dispensary, especially one on the scale of the SuperStore?

For us, it was primarily obtaining a licence and finding a location where a dispensary like the Planet 13 SuperStore could thrive. We operate a different dispensary that is completely experience-based. As a result, we require a larger dispensary that has parking and easy access from tourist hot spots. To give you an example, we looked at over 100 locations before finding our new location in Santa Ana, California. How important has vertical integration been to your success?

Planet 13 is a vertically integrated business, but it’s really important to understand that we create a oneof-a-kind customer experience. At the SuperStore we combine entertainment, customer service and best-in-class choice and product quality. While we are a retailer first, having in-house production and our own products contributes a great deal to our success. We routinely have different products in Nevada’s 10 top-selling SKUs.


How does the company plan to grow? Will it be M&A, organic growth or a mix of the two?

It will be both. We will continue expanding in Nevada organically, opening another store and expanding delivery and wholesale. We will also be opening the store in Santa Ana. Outside of that, we are actively looking at M&A to expand into other tier-one cities where SuperStores could do well. Those are some big plans. Briefly review the balance sheet for us – is the cash already there to support the expansion?

We are in a strong financial position. We’ve done three financings in the last couple of months and have approximately $60 million in cash on the balance sheet and essentially no debt. We’ve historically been cash-flow positive so are set for accretive growth. What are the objectives for the next 12 months and the strategy for achieving them?

We’ve laid out a clear roadmap for investors. We are opening our next SuperStore in Santa Ana and over the next couple of years would like to have SuperStores in major cities and tourist locations

across the US. We’re talking places such as Chicago, Boston, Phoenix and also Orlando, if Florida shifts to recreational legalization. As a final question, what would be your best advice for companies seeking to enter the cannabis industry?

It is the same as any other business. Focus on figuring out what the customer wants and then give it to them.

MORE CONTENT ON THE #HASHTAGFINANCE PODCAST Bob Groesbeck on the Vegas Retail Rollercoaster of 2020 – episode available on blog.thecse.com/pe-podcasts

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 19

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Since the 1990s, Patrick Graham has worked for the Associated Press, Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal as a reporter, editor and manager. He helped launch and oversee WSJ.com’s Wealth Adviser vertical to provide exclusive content for wealth managers, financial advisors and financial planners. Graham today specializes in investing, personal finance and retirement coverage.


COMPANY INTERVIEW

TAAT LIFESTYLE & WELLNESS Helping smokers kick the habit by embracing the cigarette experience By Jon Hopkins

T

he world of smoking has undergone quite a transformation over the past couple of decades, with cigarettes, cigars and pipes giving partial way to vaping and other next-generation products that more closely align with positive health and lifestyle values. Few people are positioned better than Setti Coscarella to understand this change and assess whether it is here to stay. So firm is his belief in the segment’s potential that he left cigarette industry titan Philip Morris International (PMI) earlier this year to join young start-up Taat Lifestyle & Wellness (CSE:TAAT) as Chief Executive Officer. Coscarella was a top strategist for reduced-risk products (RRPs) at the tobacco giant, where his insight led to initiatives that collectively yielded a fivefold increase in RRP leads and purchases. Taat is focused on hemp-based products, so it should come as no surprise that the group’s Beyond

20  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE

Tobacco cigarettes feature CBD and CBG, both of which are known to provide a wide range of health benefits. The cigarettes contain no tobacco or nicotine, making them ideal as a tobacco replacement or cessation tool. Public Entrepreneur caught up with Taat’s new boss a few months into the job to find out more. The first question was obvious. You have just moved from the world’s biggest tobacco company to a start-up. Was this a big leap of faith or a no-brainer?

In a lot of ways, this might be considered a leap of faith, as there were the combined risks of giving up the stability and prestige of working at PMI and replacing that role with a position at a brand new company. If one’s modus operandi is to just collect a salary and grow within the parameters of a corporate


Setti Coscarella

Chief Executive Officer

Company

Taat Lifestyle & Wellness Ltd.

CSE Symbol TAAT

Listing date June 22, 2020

Website

taatusa.com

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 21


think most people can understand it doesn’t make “ Isense to try to leave nicotine behind by continuing nicotine intake using a different method. As for the format, it matters far more than you think. — Coscarella environment, then a move like this would definitely be a leap of faith. I don’t feel that way about it, though, and there are two reasons. The first is that I see greater potential in Taat as an alternative to traditional cigarettes than I do in any of the alternatives brought to market by Big Tobacco. PMI has spent US$7.2 billion producing smoke-free products, but how much market share has that earned them? It’s then arguably a leap of faith to stay on the Big Tobacco side, since it assumes their alternatives will become and remain profitable. That brings us to the second reason, which is that a leap of faith is very different from a calculated risk. As an entrepreneur and investment banker by trade, calculated risks are something I’m very familiar with. When you take smaller risks, you position yourself for smaller rewards, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I’ve become very comfortable taking educated and balanced risks when making business decisions. What is the advantage of Taat’s Beyond Tobacco cigarettes over other non-nicotine products?

I love this question because it highlights an interesting discrepancy in the category of alternative products to tobacco cigarettes. Tobacco-free products such as gums, patches, lozenges and vapes all have two things in common. The first is that they generally contain nicotine, and the second is that they’re in a completely different format to what a tobacco smoker is conditioned to using. I think most people can understand it doesn’t make sense to try to leave nicotine behind by

continuing nicotine intake using a different method. As for the format, it matters far more than you think. If nicotine was the only thing smokers craved, then things like gums and patches would work much better. The fact that smokers frequently abandon these alternatives to return to tobacco cigarettes suggests they crave the sensory and motor elements of smoking, which none of those alternatives can provide. Taat is built around an objective of mimicking those elements: the stick format, tobacco-like smell and taste, the crackling sound from combustion and the ability to flick ashes off the stick as the product burns. You can’t do that with a vape device, and you certainly can’t do that with gum or a patch. Part of that is the patent-pending refinement technique we use for the Beyond Tobacco base material, which creates a taste and smell resembling tobacco. While others sell difference, we sell similarity, and for a transition such as giving up tobacco, similarity is priceless. You are targeting the launch of Beyond Tobacco cigarettes in the fourth quarter of 2020. How wide will the launch be?

We’ll be launching in the state of Ohio, which

MORE CONTENT ON THE #HASHTAGFINANCE PODCAST Setti Coscarella on the Better Way to Smoke – episode available on blog.thecse.com/pe-podcasts

22  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE


puts us into a market of about 11.7 million people, with 22.5% of Ohio adults being cigarette smokers, based on 2016 data. We are not concentrating on any particular part of Ohio. The big three cities of Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland are spread out geographically, which will allow us to examine regional trends during the launch, to better shape our expansion strategies. Our near-term intent is to expand our footprint outward to other states and organically build traction that way. Does the company have international ambitions?

Most definitely. And this isn’t just because other countries represent more smokers who might be interested in switching to Taat. It’s also because there are unique opportunities in international markets. For example, not many people know how expensive cigarettes are in Australia. Try nearly $50 per pack. We also mentioned in October how the recent US$5 million private placement led by a prominent Hong Kong financier could help to expedite our entry into Asian markets. But our current focus is on maximizing our launch in Ohio, as I believe that will build far more sustainable momentum than moving to expand internationally right away. Can you give us an idea of the size of the market the company is aiming at?

Globally, about 1.3 billion people use tobacco, according to the World Health Organization. In 2018, the tobacco market at a worldwide level was valued at approximately US$814 billion. Naturally, not every tobacco user necessarily wants to switch to a nicotine-free and tobacco-free product such as Taat, but there are enough tobacco smokers who have had enough of nicotine and want or have attempted to quit. One figure I believe reflects this in the United States is 2018 data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that says 55.1% of adult smokers had attempted to quit in the past year, though only 7.5% succeeded. Therefore, if I had to answer this question in one sentence: hundreds of millions of people, and hundreds of billions of dollars. What can investors expect from Taat in the future?

Putting myself in the investor’s shoes for a moment, a start-up in the tobacco industry offering an analogue product such as Taat should present a clearly defined plan for commercializing it in a way that makes it a credible competitor to incumbent tobacco products. Further, I would expect visibility into how Taat is made and what the supply chain is like. Finally, I would expect transparency regarding the company’s progress, whether good or bad, both during the launch phase as well as during any expansion.

others sell difference, “ While we sell similarity, and for a transition such as giving up tobacco, similarity is priceless. — Coscarella

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 23

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Hopkins is North America (and UK) News Editor for Proactive. Based in the London suburbs, he is a seasoned financial journalist with over 25 years working for newswires and websites. He was Markets Editor at AFX before the firm’s acquisition by Thomson Corp and subsequent takeover of Reuters. He moved on from Reuters in 2012 to become News Editor for thisismoney.co.uk, the Daily Mail online financial news website, before joining Proactive in 2016.


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BEE VECTORING TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL Delivering patented organic pesticides with some help from the hive By Uttara Choudhury

S

warms of mechanical drones are used in modern agriculture, but Bee Vectoring Technologies International (CSE:BEE) is wonderfully old school. The Ontario-based agritech company has successfully drafted some of nature’s little helpers – an army of commercially reared bees – to deliver organic pesticides to crops. The company’s natural precision agriculture system relies on bees carrying BVT’s patented biological fungicide – Vectorite with CR-7 – from commercial hives to crops. The breakthrough is getting a lot of attention, as it could help farmers reduce, or even eliminate, the need for chemical spraying. The intellectual property and creativity driving BVT’s business has been in development for nearly two decades, but it’s since 2016 that the company has really ramped up testing and field trials. Currently, BVT has over 65 patents and 35 patents pending in agriculture-dominant countries around the world. With its patent-rich endeavour, BVT is now eyeing the global US$240 billion crop protection and fertilizer market with

26  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE

its targeted pest and disease management solutions. But how does it all work? Its genius is its simplicity. Inside the hive, bumblebees or honeybees walk through a tiny tray, picking up Vectorite with CR-7 powder on their legs as they exit their hives to travel out into the fields. The Vectorite carries a refined form of Clonostachys rosea (CR-7), a fungus that feeds on other types of fungi that damage crops. The powder naturally drops on plants’ blooms as the bees fly around the field pollinating the crop. The BVT trays are changed during the bloom period and accurately dispense portions of Vectorite with CR-7 that are just the right size for a bee to carry. The company says “multiple biocontrols” can be added to each tray at the same time in a process called stacking. “BVT is commercializing a system to harness the natural pollination process of bees to deliver safe, biological plant-treatment products to crops to help them fight pests and diseases, producing higher yields for farmers while reducing the use of synthetic chemical pesticides,”

Ashish Malik Chief Executive Officer Company Bee Vectoring Technologies International Inc. CSE Symbol BEE Listing date August 21, 2020 Website beevt.com


COMPANY PROFILE

The BVT technology of precision vectoring is harmless to bees and allows minute amounts of naturally derived pesticides (biologicals) to be delivered directly to the blooms by the bees

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 27


Set-up of a BVT honeybee dispenser system

says Bee Vectoring Technologies Chief Executive Officer Ashish Malik. “We have demonstrated that yield increases of as much as 30%, and reductions in chemical fungicides of up to 98%, are possible with our unique and patented natural precision agriculture technology.” When absorbed, BVT’s Vectorite with CR-7 enables a plant to block disease such as botrytis (grey mould) in strawberries, which is the most widespread strawberry disease in California. According to some estimates, BVT’s solution saves strawberry farmers over $4,000 per acre. Bees still contribute to one-third of the food we consume by pollinating crops. “There are about 3 million beehive colonies that are used in commercial agriculture today, quite a staggering number when you further consider that each beehive can contain 20,000 bees,” says Malik, an engineer with an MBA

BVT Europe Office: Agri and Co Innovation Center, located in Saint-Aubin, Fribourg, Switzerland

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from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. In August 2019, BVT became the only company to have US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval for a bee-delivered fungicide. The company also received a “residue tolerance exemption” from the EPA, which confirms that products with CR-7 are safe for human consumption. Unlike many chemical pesticides, there is no requirement to test crops for residual CR-7. “This underscores the safety of CR-7 for human consumption. It also gives growers an economic advantage since they don’t run the risk of their crop being rejected,” says Malik. The Canadian company has an ambitious US blueprint, so it’s not surprising that Malik resides in Davis, California, near the US agricultural research nerve centre of Sacramento. “Davis is home to the University of California, Davis, which is one of the leading universities in agricultural sciences worldwide, and the greater Sacramento area is one of the larger innovation hubs for agritech companies,” says Malik. “It is a great location from which to build out our US footprint. We have opportunities across the US – from the Southeast, to the Pacific Northwest, California, Michigan, New Jersey, New England and the Midwest.” BVT sees its biotech as a solution for berry, almond, stone fruit, tomato and pepper growers. In


BVT’S UNIQUE NATURAL PRECISION AGRICULTURE TECHNOLOGY IS A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE TO THE INEFFICIENT PRACTICE OF SPRAYING CROPS GLOBALLY. — MALIK fact, in its first growing season selling commercially in the US, it has garnered customers from growing regions that cover over 80% of US blueberry acreage. “Currently, we are focusing on the berry crops. Blueberry growers in the Southeast represented about 75% of our invoiced sales in 2020,” says Malik. The BVT boss says that as he looks to the 2021 season, he sees continued growth in the Southeast and new revenue in Michigan and the Pacific Northwest from berry growers. “From this base we will expand onto additional crops such as tree fruits and nuts (stone fruit, almonds), and indoor vegetables (tomatoes, peppers) in the medium to longer term,” says Malik. California requires its own approval beyond the EPA process and represents the largest market opportunity for BVT, with 1.4 million acres of almond farms pollinated by bees. “We are in the final stages of the regulatory approval process in California and Switzerland. In addition, we have started the process for Mexico,” says Malik. BVT is opening new revenue streams by way of third-party product in-licensing, having successfully rounded out Phase 2 evaluations and a proof-of-concept field trial with two biological insecticides in North America. Field trials

MORE CONTENT ON CSE TV

Above left: BVT commercial bumblebee hives on-site at a strawberry field. Above right: BVT team in the lab and research space of the Agri and Co Innovation Center

Uttara Choudhury is a Senior Journalist at Proactive and has reported on financial markets, foreign policy and business from North America, Asia and Europe. She has worked for Agency France Presse, Forbes India, Business Standard and the Financial Times in London. Uttara is a contributing author of “Bazaar at Work: Women Who Write Their Own Rules,” published by Harper’s Bazaar.

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 29

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The CSE's Barrington Miller chats with CEO Ashish Malik about how the company has pioneered a natural precision agriculture system – episode available on youtube.com/CSETV

in Europe with a third biological insecticide, in addition to a biological fungicide, are in progress and expected to be completed by late fall. “Extending BVT’s product line through in-licensing of third-party biological products is one of the key innovation projects for BVT. It enables us to open new revenue streams by increasing our addressable market,” says Malik. “These products have the potential to not only deliver additional revenue but also extend BVT’s reach geographically and into new crops.” BVT hopes to eliminate an unhealthy reliance on synthetic pesticides, and that would be great for the environment. “Having a safe, environment-friendly and affordable food supply system is something we should all care about,” says Malik. Malik began caring a lot about how food is grown when he was starting a family. “I became passionate about this after my wife and I started our family. I thought about my children’s well-being and joined the agriculture industry back in 2003,” says Malik. “Bee vectoring is an all-natural approach that advances sustainable agriculture. BVT’s unique natural precision agriculture technology is a viable alternative to the inefficient practice of spraying crops globally.”


COMPANY PROFILE

JUSHI HOLDINGS Timing is everything, and this expert cannabis team knows just when to pounce By Giles Gwinnett

J

im Cacioppo and his team at Jushi Holdings (CSE:JUSH) definitely know the meaning of patience, as they exercised plenty of it before setting up a new company to enter the legal cannabis industry. They watched as executives of all shapes and sizes rushed in during the early days of regulatory change, some quickly enjoying success, and others ending up on the ropes after making an endless trail of mistakes. The future Jushi management circle gathered know-how and bided their time. That discipline is paying off hugely now. Jushi is a multistate cannabis and hemp operator, and while the company may only have been founded in 2018, it is already gaining solid traction in its target markets and is exceedingly well positioned for long-term growth. Cannabis is a complex industry in which most companies contend with a wide variety of regulatory environments. That’s especially true in the United States, given the patchwork of state-bystate regulations across the country. But to the Jushi team, the size of the pie available for successful operators to share in the United

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States makes the regulatory navigation worth it. “Everything else pales in comparison to the size of the US,” says Cacioppo, Jushi’s ambitious Chief Executive Officer, who is convinced the company’s strategy will make it one of the top global cannabis players within just a few years. Cacioppo was a successful early investor in the cannabis space and became an expert in identifying distressed assets through his work in private equity. He saw what he calls a “gaping” opportunity to create a great company that had the right mix of management, financial resources and skills. Cacioppo teamed up with fellow financial and cannabis industry hands Erich Mauff, Jon Barack and Denis Arsenault to prove his point. The combination of their personal networks, business experience and some early cash from their own pockets got Jushi off to a good start. It is now a vertically integrated cannabis juggernaut, operating in several US states, with cultivation, processing and retail assets under its corporate umbrella. “Most people who win licences don’t have money, don’t have sophistication, don’t have the resources or the skills to operate these kinds of


ventures,” explains Cacioppo, who says the sector is still littered with distressed players, even after the cull of recent years. “They just won licences, so they’re undercapitalized from day one. “You could see the trends in our favour: the scale, the lack of good management teams and the opportunity to purchase companies rather inexpensively,” continues Cacioppo about the industry’s early days. Jushi cleverly set about buying assets and licences where there were barriers to entry. It targeted growing, populated areas, with limited-licence medical markets and/or where legalized adult use had yet to arrive. The team added to its depth in June 2019 with the acquisition of The Clinic, a Colorado business that brought new and proprietary information on cannabis cultivation, extraction and brand development. The group now has over 70 product formulations under its Lab brand, as well as a new line of hempbased CBD products called Nira. Its 11 cannabis dispensaries all feature Jushi’s BEYOND / HELLO brand above the door. Jushi has three core markets: Virginia, with a limited medical licence; Pennsylvania, Jushi’s largest market and home to a well-established medical cannabis

Beyond / Hello store opening in Santa Barbara

Jim Cacioppo CEO, Chairman and Founder Erich Mauff President, Board Member and Founder Company Jushi Holdings Inc. CSE Symbol JUSH Listing date December 9, 2019 Website jushico.com

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 31


could see the trends in “ You our favour: the scale, the

Jim Cacioppo

lack of good management teams and the opportunity to purchase companies rather inexpensively. — Cacioppo

environment; plus Illinois and its strong adult-use market. Illinois and Pennsylvania are expected to account for 77% of group revenue in 2021. In three other markets, Jushi has established operations and is looking to scale up. These are Ohio (developing a medical program), Nevada (large adult-use market) and California. The last of these, of course, is the biggest cannabis market in the US and also home to a long list of very distressed assets. In Illinois, Jushi aims to double the number of retail outlets it operates to four by early Q1 2021. Experts say the state’s adult-use market is growing rapidly and could reach US$3 billion in value. In Pennsylvania, which could account for up to US$110 million in revenue in 2021, the aim is to grow its dispensary count to 15, from eight at present, with the already increased capacity at its 90,000-square-foot facility for cultivation and processing. Virginia, where Jushi is one of only two public companies licensed to operate, will be the jurisdiction of highest growth in percentage terms, as Jushi currently does not have any stores there but is planning to build six. “We have three great states that give us growth in-house for several years, so we don’t need to do any acquisitions, and we have the capital to build up the businesses,” says Cacioppo. The company closed a $30 million financing in the latter part of

Erich Mauff, Jim Cacioppo and Ryan Cook in the Grow

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October, adding to a cash balance that was already around the $50 million mark. COVID-19 has brought challenges, of course, including the adoption of strict social distancing rules. On the other hand, the cannabis sector was declared an essential service, and Cacioppo believes there have been other positives, such as increasing demand, an influx of new consumers, and a newfound respect and validation for the cannabis industry.


A quick look at Jushi’s financials shows how well things are working. Preliminary third-quarter results announced in early October contained expectations for revenue of $24 million, which would be 61% above the prior quarter, while fourth-quarter revenue is anticipated at the high end of the previously announced range of $25 million to $30 million. Jushi also expects to report positive adjusted EBITDA in the fourth quarter. Forecast revenue for 2021 has been revised upward to between $205 million and $255 million, from $200 million to $250 million, while adjusted EBITDA is expected to be between $40 million and $50 million. Beacon Securities recently initiated coverage of Jushi with a buy rating, describing the company as a “hidden gem.” Its analysts noted that both New Jersey and Arizona were set to vote on adult-use legalization measures, with the New Jersey vote in particular holding the potential to have a domino effect on other markets, including New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. “Illinois has seen legal-market cannabis sales quadruple to a $1.2 billion annualized run rate after its adult-use market opened in January. Pennsylvania may be one of the ‘dominos’ that

have three great states that “ We give us growth in-house for several years, so we don’t need to do any acquisitions, and we have the capital to build up the businesses. — Cacioppo falls if neighboring New Jersey approves adult-use legalization next month,” notes Beacon. With Jushi shares having traded as high as 300% above their March 2020 lows, the patient work of Cacioppo and his Jushi teammates is clearly being recognized. And with more positive regulatory change on the horizon in the United States, Jushi seems to be in that sweet spot with the right strategy at the right time.

MORE CONTENT ON CSE TV Erich Mauff, Founder and President of Jushi, sat down with Jay Rosenthal to talk about the company’s origins – episode available on youtube.com/CSETV

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 33

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Giles Gwinnett is a UK-based journalist who has been with Proactive for 10 years, and on its North American coverage team for five. Prior to that he worked for several years at regional newspapers and for a news agency. He has written about a wide variety of business and other topics in his career, including the arts, crime and politics.


COMPANY PROFILE

RED LIGHT HOLLAND Proving the potential of recreational psilocybin begins with choosing the right market By Angela Harmantas

Todd Shapiro

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O

ne of the more interesting smalla lower concentration of psilocybin than their cap market developments of 2020 mushroom brethren but still enough to produce is increasing investor comfort with a psychedelic experience. the psychedelics industry. While making very clear that medical claims The year has seen multiple psychedelics cannot be made at this point and highlighting companies IPO on exchanges in Canada and that substantial research is still being done to the US, and M&A activity is ramping up, too. prove certain beliefs, Chief Executive Officer Momentum in the sector is being driven by legTodd Shapiro tells Public Entrepreneur that he islation in Canada opening the door for end-ofthinks psilocybin has the potential to “change life patients to use psychedelics as a therapeutic the world” for people suffering from depression option, while in the US, the Food and Drug and mental health disorders. “For me, the opAdministration designated psilocybin portunity was never about a trend,” as a “breakthrough treatment” Shapiro explains during a recent for mental health disorders. interview. “It’s about making The industry clearly has a difference with a longFor me, the plenty of runway headterm plan. And it’s about ing into next year. empathy, compassion opportunity was never Most of the puband providing access.” about a trend, it’s about Shapiro, a former licly listed compamaking a difference with nies in the segment Toronto media personality, began to focus on therapeutic a long-term plan. And it’s applications, working explore the world of about empathy, compassion psilocybin through on research and development of psychedelconversations with guests and providing access. ic-based treatments for on his SiriusXM radio promood and anxiety disorders. gram. Sensing opportunity, — Shapiro Canada’s Red Light Holland he assembled a team of investors (CSE:TRIP), however, has found its and advisors containing some truly niche in the recreational part of the market by boldface names: Bruce Linton, Terry Booth, Brad selling small doses of psilocybin to adult conLamb and even comedian Russell Peters, who sumers seeking to experience the psychedelic serves as the brand’s chief creative officer. effect without a prescription. In the process, it The group decided to explore the opportunity has set itself on a clear path to revenue, which is to sell psilocybin as a recreational product in a an immediate point of differentiation compared legal market and settled on selling truffles in the to most peers. Netherlands. It raised nearly $4 million before The Toronto-based firm is the first publicgoing public on the CSE in May 2020. ly traded company that has a legal psilocybin At this point, it’s fair to ask – aren’t magic product on store shelves and online (in the mushrooms illegal? The answer lies in the comNetherlands). Its iMicrodose pack is a collection position of the fungi. In the Netherlands, where of “magic truffles” – a type of fungi that contains iMicrodose recently debuted in smartshops

Todd Shapiro Co-Founder, CEO & Director Hans Derix President

Company Red Light Holland Corp. CSE Symbol TRIP

Listing date May 28, 2020 Website redlighttruffles.com

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 35


We like the idea of learning who our customers are and expanding from there with education, information and responsible use initiatives. — Shapiro across the country, magic mushrooms themselves are illegal, but truffles – a network of interconnected filaments that branch out from the mushroom below ground – are legal to buy and consume. The pursuit of the recreational market as opposed to medicinal psilocybin is a huge part of what differentiates Red Light Holland. “We would love to be a part of helping to prove how psilocybin can help human beings, be it supporting studies or trials,” Shapiro says. “I think that the medical side is extraordinarily important, but why are we limiting the potential of responsible adult use? When we do that, we are limiting a lot of adults who have access to information, education and early trial data as well as anecdotal research. I don’t think we should do that for people who want to try this responsibly.” Echoes of the cannabis sector’s growth trajectory ring through Red Light Holland’s story. Early acceptance of medicinal marijuana paved the way for the recreational market and, eventually, legalization. Shapiro is hoping that Red Light Holland can blaze a path to tolerance of recreational psilocybin. “Magic mushrooms

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have been used for generations for a wide variety of purposes,” Shapiro notes. “Red Light Holland wants to offer it to people who want it in legal jurisdictions, much like we saw in the cannabis market.” That’s not to say that the company isn’t exploring possible therapeutic applications as well. Its scientific division, Scarlette Lillie Science and Innovation, recently secured a relationship with US-based Jinfiniti Precision Medicine to explore potential roles that psilocybin and truffles can play for age-related and psychiatric disorders. Red Light Holland may not take the lead on clinical trials, but it wants to carefully look into how it can support the science by perhaps teaming up with people who could potentially get involved in trials in some capacity. “If we can learn more about the truffle itself, that would be our goal,” Shapiro says. “Maybe there’s a CBDlike element to the truffle that we don’t know about yet.” The therapeutic psilocybin market is poised to reach a value of nearly US$6.7 billion by 2027, according to Data Bridge Market Research, making it an attractive proposition for investors. While the recreational market is obviously much smaller in value, Shapiro hopes to find a new consumer – a young professional, a firefighter or a modern couple who just put their kids to bed. “I want iMicrodose packs powered by Red Light Holland to be consumed by the Ketel One drinker, someone who loves a glass of wine, essentially an adult who wouldn’t necessarily walk into a smartshop but would rather order legally


from an easy-to-use e-commerce store. I want to help expand the market,” says Shapiro. There are signs that other countries will soon follow the Dutch lead of legalizing truffles, or at least relax the relevant laws. In Brazil there are no laws against the sale, distribution or use of magic mushrooms. Jamaica has long been a destination of choice for psychedelic retreats, and Bulgaria is on the radar. For now, though, Shapiro appears to have Red Light Holland firmly focused on its namesake country. “A lot of the issues at cannabis companies came about because they thought there was a bigger market than there actually was, and then they wound up expanding too quickly,” Shapiro says. “We like the idea of learning who our customers are and expanding from there with education, information and responsible use initiatives.”

iMicrodose debuted in Amsterdam in September, retailing for €25 per pack. Distribution quickly spread to Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Den Bosch, as well as online. Shapiro and his team hope to have iMicrodose in as many smartshops as possible over the next year while growing brand recognition. Red Light Holland is blazing a trail in the psychedelics sector as the first psychedelics company with a legally available product to list on a major exchange, and it fills Shapiro with pride. “It helps legitimize what so many pioneers and advocates have pushed for, because we’ve gone through the regulatory bodies,” he says. “It’s not something that we’re doing underground. If you’re in the Netherlands, you can order iMicrodose packs online right now. Let’s end the stigma together.”

MORE CONTENT ON CSE TV Todd Shapiro highlights Red Light Holland’s focus on producing, growing and selling a premium brand of magic truffles to the recreational market in the Netherlands – episode available on youtube.com/CSETV

PUBLIC ENTREPRENEUR ISSUE 3•2020 | 37

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Harmantas is a Senior Financial Journalist with Proactive. She has nearly 10 years’ experience covering the equity markets in North America, with a particular focus on junior resource stocks. Angela has reported from multiple countries, including Canada, the US, Australia, Brazil, Ghana and South Africa. Prior to joining Proactive, she worked in investor relations and led the foreign direct investment program in Canada for the Swedish government. She currently resides in Toronto.


SPOTLIGHT ON JB & BEAR

The hosts of After Market answer 10 burning questions By Sheri Radford

Join JB (James Black, right, the CSE’s VP of Listings Development) and Bear (Barrington Miller, left, the CSE’s Director of Client Listed Services) each week for the After Market video podcast on CSE TV. They welcome special guests to discuss the social and business topics impacting our world today. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, but always entertaining.

What’s your favourite topic to discuss on After Market? Bear (Barrington Miller): Food! It always comes back to food, always. And sports. JB (James Black): I like the show because it lets us talk about things that impact our business but aren’t our business: social issues and the broader business world. Which celebrity would you love to interview in 2021? Bear: Kanye West. He knows something that we don’t, and I kind of want to hear it. And ET, the Hip Hop Preacher. If you feel down about yourself, this guy just punches you in the belly, picks you up, gives you a kick in the pants, and you are out the door, making stuff happen. JB: In no particular order: Action Bronson, Dan Bilzerian and RZA. I think Action Bronson is the ultimate entrepreneur. What’s the best movie or TV show about business that you’ve ever seen? JB: The Apprentice, season 1, or The Wire. The Wire because the whole construct of “holding your corner” is analogous to every aspect of business, and The Apprentice because there are a lot of lessons learned in that. 38  |  THE INSPIRATION ISSUE

Bear: Wall Street, that defining moment when Michael Douglas says, “Greed is good.” The other movie is a holiday classic in my house: Trading Places. What’s your favourite book that you haven’t actually read? JB: I love the book Good to Great, but I’ve only ever listened to the audio version. Bear: I have started Don Quixote four times, and each time I’m getting a little further. I have to finish it. I don’t know why. What’s the first place you want to visit in the post-pandemic world? JB: I want to take my oldest son to a football game in Buffalo. It’s one of the great experiences, tailgating at Orchard Park.

my brother took a commission, because he was a player. My first real job was in high school, as a gopher for a bond-trading firm on Bay Street. JB: I was a newspaper delivery guy, and I had over 50 houses on my route. I started that job when I was 12 or 13, and I had it all through high school. Woke up every day at 5:30 in the morning, so there were no late nights for me in high school. It kept me on the straight and narrow. What was the first thing you saved up your own money to buy? JB: The first PlayStation. Bear: G.I. Joe Cobra Rattler. When I got it, it was so rewarding, because I worked to get it. What piece of financial advice will you give your children? Bear: Know the value of a dollar. When my kids were little, I’d always tell them the cost of things: This hockey stick cost this much. My son is employed at a grocery store, making minimum wage, working five to 10 hours a week. So, two weeks of work to buy this one hockey stick.

What’s been most surprising about working from home?

JB: Save early, save often. Understand needs versus wants. And don’t underestimate the psychological burden of debt. Know what to be in debt for – basically a house and your primary transportation, if needed.

Bear: How much I like it.

Who’s your hero?

JB: How much of a commodity internet bandwidth is.

JB: My wife. She holds it all together.

What was your first job?

Bear: During COVID, anybody who’s managing, and dealing with it, and trying to go forward. And kudos to parents who have little kids! They’re the real heroes.

Bear: Somewhere warm, with a beach. I don’t care if it’s Miami, Jamaica, Hawaii – I want shorts, I want sun, I want water.

Bear: My first off-the-books job was as a ball boy for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues football team. I got $5 a game, of which


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Profile for Canadian Securities Exchange

Public Entrepreneur Issue 3 • 2020  

Public Entrepreneur features stories about business leaders and entrepreneurs shaping the capital markets. 2020 has tested their resilience...

Public Entrepreneur Issue 3 • 2020  

Public Entrepreneur features stories about business leaders and entrepreneurs shaping the capital markets. 2020 has tested their resilience...

Profile for thecse