What is Mark going to invest in next?
Current Taxi. This Kelowna-based firm is operating a small but growing fleet of Tesla taxis in Kelowna and Victoria. Mark is Chair of the Advisory Board and is helping guide the company with their business models and financing strategy. MBA Inc. is negotiating a convertible loan to the firm to help it purchase more Teslas.
Probably me. I have never started a product or services company from scratch based on my own vision. I’m working on that vision and when I get it nailed down, I will launch. Stay tuned…
What is MBA currently invested in and why?
“Daiya makes dairy-free eating a joy. From the ooey gooey goodness of a grilled cheese to the rich and creamy taste of fruit-kissed yogurt, all our products taste great. And that makes you feel great.”
We had personal experience of children and adults who are both lactose and soya intolerant and had never been able to enjoy a cheese pizza or a grilled cheese sandwich. We knew the founder and some of the board members who were all trustworthy and credible with successes in their past. We made a 27X return when this firm was sold.
NEXE makes the first Keurig-compatible single serve coffee pod made from readily renewable materials and is 100 percent compostable. The innovative use of readily renewable materials combined with a dynamic design maintains the taste and integrity of the coffee. We provide a rich, great tasting, fully compostable product that will satisfy the consumer’s desire to brew a single-serve hot beverage in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.
Mark met NEXE’s founder, Darren Footz, when his start-up was a tenant in a Discovery Parks building. This firm has figured out how to make fully compostable Keurig style coffee cups, is working on the same for Nespresso cups. NEXE has raised significant capital and went public on the TSX-V in December 2020.
“Just BioFiber is an innovative building materials company that has developed a patented, sustainable, modular block, building system, which combines environmental benefits with structural integrity and competitive cost in the global market.”
We see the potential to fundamentally change the way many buildings are constructed using these blocks that absorb CO2, offer high R values, have structural capacity for walls that are several storeys tall, are all but fire proof and promote local agriculture by requiring local sources of industrial hemp that can be decorticated for the blocks. This company may be purchased soon by a private fund.
“Until MuscleSound, the ability to measure muscle health on a complete, immediate and non-invasive manner did not exist. MuscleSound brings this technology to markets including sports/fitness, healthcare, military, animal health and much more.”
We know the founder from his previous connections as a director of a Vancouver-based copper exploration firm. MuscleSound, based in Denver, has the technology that creates a ‘health index’ that measure glycogen in human muscles in real time. This has extensive applications in health and sports at all levels.
“Omega Azul Seafood is based in La Paz, Mexico, and sells sushi-grade Kanpachi Yellowtail to 15 different cities in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.”
One of the founders is a personal friend with extensive food and restaurant experience. Omega Azul has a sophisticated fish farm in La Paz, Mexico and they are growing an exceptional fish, Kanpachi, that is a small tuna for both raw (sushi) and cooked applications. Top level chefs and restaurants are starting to use it as the company also opens up the Asian market. Sustainability is a prime requisite of this company.
“Optigo Networks offers an elegant networking solution designed specifically for modern intelligent buildings. Optigo Connect™ building network solution offers the perfect balance of security, reach, simplicity and bandwidth using low-power and low-profile products.”
Again, Mark met the founder, Ping Yao, when this firm was a startup in a Discovery Parks building. Optigo just announced this: “January 14, 2020 Vancouver, BC – The General Services Administration (GSA) is one of the largest lessors/lessees in the United States, with over 376 million square feet of property owned and leased for the US government. These are critical facilities that serve the US public at the local, state, and national levels. Now, Canadian tech company Optigo Networks is helping the GSA maintain the building networks behind those properties.”
“PHEMI Systems Corporation is a big data warehouse company that lets organizations easily access and mine any variety of data at any volume to drive insights that lower costs, improve outcomes, and allow better decisions faster.”
We invested in the original iteration of PHEMI because of our belief in big data and its role for democratizing health care and the very successful track record of the founders in previous ventures. The firm has pivoted in product and personnel more than once in what is perhaps the most challenging field of technology. We remain convinced that the fundamental technological advantages this firm has created will eventually provide a significant return to investors.
“Terramera is replacing conventional chemical pesticides with high performance plant based products for agriculture, the pest control industry and consumer use.”
Mark offered very early advice to the founder, Karn Manhas, before this firm was formally created so he received some founders shares before investing further. Karn originally responded to a personal bet that he could not create a ‘green’ technology to effectively kill bed bugs. He won his bet. This firm of more than 100 people has now created a large suite of intellectual property to advance many fields of agriculture by replacing chemically based pesticides with green environmentally safe products as well as simultaneously improving yield with fertilization. Precision farming. The firm recently closed an investment round of $46 million and is a leader in the BC Super Cluster.
“XBiotech is a fully integrated global biosciences company dedicated to pioneering the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutic antibodies based on its True Human™ proprietary technology.”
Mark met the founder, John Simard, when this firm started in Vancouver. It moved to Europe then to Austin Texas before going public on the Nasdaq giving MBA Inc. a 34X return. Its fundamental technology is in monoclonal human antibodies – “True Human antibodies”. We exited our investment when the company went public. Its shares fell back but have now rebounded to exceed the IPO price. This is yet another instance of betting on the jockey – John Simard is a prime example.