FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2020
ChargerQuest expands its EV charging network in British Columbia bringing public charging to the Kelowna International Airport region.
Kelowna, BC – Canada's EV charging Network, ChargerQuest, installs four (4) smart EV chargers at the doorway to one of BC's busiest airports - Located at the beautiful Four Points By Sheraton Kelowna visitors can re- energize their vehicles in the hotel's secure underground parkade. Simply scan, pay, and plug in while enjoying the incredible amenities at the property.
“We moved to ChargerQuest for their reliable customer service, as well guests appreciate the ease of operation and state-of-the-art technology” - Jason Guyitt, General Manager, Four Points by Sheraton Kelowna Airport
" We are so excited to add this remarkable property to the ChargerQuest EV charging network. The Four Points By Sheraton Kelowna Airport exemplifies every criteria EV owners look for when choosing a destination to plug-in their vehicle, stay the night, dine and travel. ” - ChargerQuest Team
ChargerQuest (CQ) is Canada's Electric
Vehicle Charging Network. CQ owns and operates smart EV charging infrastructure hosted at premier real estate properties, local businesses, parking places and high- traffic hubs. CQ leverages the most innovative charging technology, placing electric vehicle charging stations everywhere YOU want to be.
To learn more, please visit: chargerquest.com
On Thursday, August 27, Pycap portfolio company Be-hive began work on a pilot project at Naru Izakaya restaurant to monitor the environmental conditions of its food storage units. Naru Izakaya is a Japanese restaurant serving sushi and other dishes. Because of the temperamental nature of the raw fish used in sushi, being able to monitor how it is stored is critical to ensure customers are served healthy and fresh food.
Be-hive's solution provides real-time temperature and humidity monitoring inside coolers and freezers to prevent food spoilage and maintain food safety standards. In addition its' wireless sensors & Sensa Lync AI software platform will help monitor any fluctuations that happen in temperature or humidity levels and alert the staff before spoilage happens so appropriate actions can be taken in a timely manner.
On average Naru Izakaya stores $40,000 per month of food ingredients including raw meat, fish, and vegetables. With Sensa Lync monitoring in place, the restaurant can now digitally monitor its products 24x7. The system will also allow restaurant owner & staff to remotely monitor data from their homes during the times the restaurant is closed.
Globe & Mail Article features Pycap CEO Stuart Browne for Insights on Exporting SaaS amidst COVID-19
Software companies tap into export advantage amid COVID-19 restrictions
The COVID-19 pandemic hit at the worst time of year for Toronto-based agricultural technology startup Ukko Agro Inc.
Winter and early spring are when farmers make key decisions about what resources they need to plant, grow and harvest their crops in the coming months. It’s also an essential time for Ukko Agro to sell its digital tools that help farmers optimize pesticide, water and fertilizer usage to operate more sustainably.
“Agriculture is a high touch-point industry. A lot of farmers expect you to come to their fields, spend some time, explain what you do and then sign up,” says Ketan Kaushish, co-founder and chief executive officer of Ukko Agro, which has clients across North America and parts of Europe, specifically Belgium and Sweden.
With international travel complicated by the coronavirus and many farmers unwilling to take in-person meetings amid the pandemic, Ukko Agro – alongside many businesses – has been forced to shift its sales strategy online.
While online selling often isn’t the same as being there in person, businesses like Ukko Agro benefit from providing software that can be easily exported to new and existing customers around the world.
“The advantage is you don’t have to deal with export issues of physical product delays at borders, or stopped shipments,” says Stuart Browne, an instructor in the MBA and Master of Finance programs at York University’s Schulich School of Business.
Although many companies are spending less due to the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, Mr. Browne says there are more opportunities for Canadian software businesses at home and abroad given the global shift toward doing business online.
“They don’t have any borders, which means anyone can access them for the most part,” says Mr. Browne, who is also CEO of Pycap Venture Partners, a Toronto-based venture capital and corporate finance firm. “What good entrepreneurs should be doing is going into the market and finding problems and creating solutions,” both now during the pandemic and in general economic times.
Toronto-based Act Analytics Corp., which offers an environmental, social and governance (ESG) portfolio analytics platform for registered investment advisers in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia, has seen its sales strategy interrupted by the inability to pitch its product in person at conferences and other events.
However, the company is taking advantage of more businesses operating online during the pandemic, as well as the growing interest in sustainable investing.
“People have used the recent market volatility as an acid test for ESG investing – and sustainability has never been more discussed in light of COVID and the Black Lives Matter movement,” says Act Analytics co-founder and managing partner Mike Unwin. “On the marketing and sales side of things, a new virtual world and a new focus on IT infrastructure have played into the hands of many SaaS [software as a service] and e-commerce companies like ours.”
Not having to cross borders with a physical product “is a huge advantage for us being exporters of cloud-based software,” Mr. Unwin says. “There’s no limit to the places we’re getting interest from. It’s truly global.” He says the interest is coming from places such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong and mainland China.
Mr. Unwin has also noticed increased interest from existing and potential clients around the online customer experience, including the ease of use of the company’s analytics tools. Act Analytics is working on expanding its digital presence, including marketing, distribution networks and partnership opportunities.
“We’ve seen a lot of people coming into our environment, purchasing and trying the product,” he says. “People are having to rely more on their technology …. I think, generally, people are more comfortable interacting and doing commerce over the internet, which is favourable to us.”
Still, Mr. Unwin is looking forward to the day when his team can meet clients in person again as part of their operations.
“We’d like to meet the people we do business with,” he says. “Once the world opens up again we can do more of that … I think there’s little substitute for meeting someone in person and generating a genuine relationship. I think that’s still something that people crave. It helps them become comfortable with a new business partner.”
When the pandemic is over and business returns to relative normal, Ukko Agro’s Mr. Kaushish expects to find a balance between selling his software in-person and online.
“We have to figure out [the right mix] between using digital tools and meeting farmers in-person,” he says. “It might take some time for farmers to use digital tools to get acquainted with and purchase new products, but it will eventually happen.”
In the meantime, Ukko Agro is hoping to capitalize on the growing interest companies have in using online products to run their business. The company is building up its online sales tools and both improving and expanding its products to help reach new international markets.
“[The pandemic environment] has shown us that we don’t need to be on the ground to enter new markets,” Mr. Kaushish says, adding that his company is having discussions with companies in Brazil and Argentina. It also has its sights on potential customers in other parts of Europe.
“The mindset is changing [around using technology], and hopefully we see the positive effect in the long term,” he adds. “If everything goes online, nothing stops us from working in South America and [elsewhere in] Europe … I believe companies that build simple and reliable technology-based products will be the ones that win in this new world.”
Pycap Venture Partners, a venture capital and corporate finance advisory firm acquired equity in the technology company Be-Hive Inc.
In the last four months, Pycap has been providing financing expertise and value creating solutions to Be-Hive, and together, both firms have significantly increased the value of Be-Hive and built up significant traction for the company.
Due to the success of Be-Hive and the traction it had attained, Pycap officially added Be-Hive to its venture capital portfolio.
Be-Hive is a Canadian Internet of Things (IoT) platform company based in Toronto that monitors and tracks environmental conditions and assets for Manufacturing, Warehousing, Food Services, Commercial Spaces and Agricultural applications.
Sensa Lync is Be-Hive’s flagship brand that offers cutting edge technology to connect wireless sensors, mobile applications and cloud-based web portals.
“We are thrilled to work with the Pycap team and look forward to a long-term partnership as we grow together. With ongoing support from Pycap, we are well positioned for long term sustainable growth in the Canadian and global markets”. Vikram Nabar, Founder and CEO of Be-Hive.
“Be-Hive’s technology has great potential as it addresses many concerns of food security while providing enormous value in multiple other industries. Moreover, Vikram has proven to be a resilient entrepreneur in guiding his company through the pandemic and beyond” Stuart Browne, CEO of Pycap.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Harvard University's summer school Venture Capital and Private Equity class hosted Pycap CEO Stuart Browne as a panelist and judge for a startup tech pitch event.
The Harvard class saw presentations from companies in the fintech, proptech, and petech industries with technologies in artificial intelligence, internet of things, and big data.
At the event Stuart represented his VC firm Pycap as well as Canada, providing insight in how the venture capital landscape differs from that of the US.
Pycap Venture Partners had the pleasure of attending Startup Network’s annual Unicorn Cup, the largest global pitch competition. Pycap was invited to the 2020 competition to sit on the international judging panel. A culmination of finalists from Startup Network’s Unicorn Battles, start-ups competed locally in person in late 2019 and early 2020, and in light of the pandemic, some local competitions pivoted to an online format starting in March 2020.
Winners of the local Unicorn Battles progressed through to the finals, The Unicorn Cup, competing against start-ups from across the globe. The event streamed live in 67 countries with thousands of viewers tuning in.
The Unicorn Cup took place over three days in three time zones to accommodate judges in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Representing Pycap, senior consultant and strategy manager Kristen Ferkranus joined the Unicorn Cup judging panel on the American Day.
Each day, the 51 finalists had 5 minutes to pitch their offering and company, as well as field questions from the judging panel. The purpose of the pitch was to convince the judges in the viability of the idea and the strength of the team. As a rule of the competition, direct investments were not solicited from the judging panel and finances were not discussed. The start-ups were encouraged to integrate feedback from the Q&A sessions and make modifications to their pitch before presenting to the next group of judges the following day in the new time zone.
Start-ups ranged from medical devices, to sustainable textile manufacturing to AI driven insurance providers. Judges were asked to rate each pitch from one through five, with a score of five being the most worthwhile for investment. The winner of the American Day who received the highest rating for the day was the start-up Biosolvit. Hailing from Brazil, Biosolvit created a technology to absorb oil spills and other derivates and is the only product that allows for the reuse of the spilled oil.
Totalling the votes from the Asian, European and American days, the following companies took home third, second and first place in the Unicorn Cup Finals:
Third Place: H3 Dynamics
Originating in Singapore, H3 Dynamics offers autonomous expert safety inspections and performance monitoring of dangerous and complex structures or sites through AI processing on cloud, using raw data collected by sensors and cameras on cellphones, aerial drones, and ground or marine robots.
Second Place: Biosolvit
First Place: Submer NextGen Datacenters
Founded in Spain, Submer developed a highly efficient, ultra-dense and eco-friendly, computing immersion cooling technology that saves 50% of this electricity, 85% of the real estate, and it can be placed anywhere, even without the expensive buildings.
Stuart Browne, CEO of Pycap Venture Partners, was nominated for the 2019-2020 Schulich School of Business John Peace Part-Time Faculty Teaching Award.
The John Peace Part-Time Faculty Teaching Award was established in honour of John Peace, a part-time instructor at the Schulich School of Business between 1986 and 1996. John had a small law practice in downtown Toronto, focusing on real estate law. He also taught business law and real estate courses at Schulich.
In the nomination letter for Stuart Browne submitted by Chris Carder and Moren Levesque, Co-directors of Entrepreneurial Studies, we learn that in addition to his excellent teaching, Stuart also donates much of his time volunteering for Schulich events, as a judge for Schulich Startup Night Competition, as a coach and mentor at Schulich’s Startup Founders and as a panelist for CDC events. They write, “And last but not least, when Schulich was looking to help small and medium sized businesses during COVID-19, he worked quickly to help us design and launch the Schulich Pycap COVID-19 Business Support Centre. The launch is helping hundreds of small businesses and created placements for 15 students/graduates.”
CEO of Pycap Venture Partners, Stuart Browne, was invited to judge the Unicorn Battle Startup Competition.
Judged based on investability, the competition included 10 unique startups, each with their own unique idea. It was a pleasure to learn about the innovative solutions that entrepreneurs within the technology space have constructed to solve modern problems throughout the industry.
Unicorn Battles are hosted by Startup.Network in collaboration with Silicon Valley Syndicate Club, Network.VC, and Crowd.Inc. The startup competition is the largest global pitch competition with numerous unicorn battles occurring throughout the world. The winners from each country will then compete to decide a global winner!
Battles are hosted online for entrepreneurs to receive valuable advice, expert recommendations, and raise money. Venture capital investors have the unique opportunity to find profitable investments.
We wanted to congratulate the winner of the battle - Firesight Analytics (intelligent connected auto insurance) who created a machine learning based software that provides deep analytics for the purpose of pricing and understanding risk.
We wanted to thank the Startup.Network team for inviting us to judge the competition and allowing us to learn more about the cutting-edge technology that is being introduced into the modern technology landscape. We look forward to assisting and judging in their competitions in the future!
Toronto Star article on the Nordstar LBO Bid for Torstar features Pycap CEO Stuart Browne for Insight & Commentary
Chair disputes claim that a higher bid was tabled for Torstar — and industry observers look at what’s next for the publisher
By Josh Rubin Business Reporter
At first glance, a pair of conservative-leaning entrepreneurs might seem like unlikely guardians of the progressive values of the Toronto Star.
But that’s just what Jordan Bitove and Paul Rivett say they are, after being anointed the preferred bidders for Torstar, the newspaper’s publisher, last weekend.
Barring an unforeseen twist, the company will be theirs, thanks to lock-in provisions in their latest 74-cent-a-share bid, submitted last Saturday through NordStar Capital, that prevent rival bids from being considered by the two main shareholders.
But questions are now arising about a second proposal to buy Torstar that became public late last week, from surprise bidder Canadian Modern Media Holdings (CMMH).
The second group of suitors say they were prepared to offer much more for Torstar, with investment banker Neil Selfe, a member of the bidding team, claiming they were ready to go as high as 80 cents per share — higher than NordStar’s 74 cents. He has publicly asked why Torstar’s owners would lock into a lower bid “if (they) were focused on maximizing shareholder value.”
Selfe’s claim has set off a public debate over who submitted what bid when: Both Torstar’s chair and NordStar say no firm bid was ever tabled for 80 cents.
Meanwhile, some industry observers say there might be another reason the NordStar bid was locked in 48 hours before this past Monday’s deadline: Sometimes, it’s not all about the money.
Torstar chairman John Honderich flatly disputes Selfe’s claim that CMMH made a firm superior offer. He says that Selfe’s group began with a proposal for 72 cents a share, plus contingent value rights (CVRs) that could be worth as much as 50 cents a share, and that they hadn’t improved the cash portion of the offer before the revamped NordStar bid came in, despite being given the opportunity.
“There was no 80-cent offer on the table when we made our decision. All we had was an offer for 72 cents and CVRs. We went back to Selfe twice on Saturday to urge him to increase the cash component of his bid. He didn’t. Only after the improved offer from NordStar became public did he then take a pen, scratch out 72 and put in 80, and then send it to us,” Honderich said.
By that point, the voting trust and Fairfax had already signed hard lock-ups guaranteeing their support for the improved NordStar bid, Honderich said.
Former Ontario premier David Peterson, who’s part of the NordStar bid, said in an emailed statement that the CMMH bid couldn’t have been better because it was never made official.
“There was no other binding offer on the table. A non-binding proposal is not a superior offer. A binding offer includes a legal commitment with financing. Unlike NordStar, CMMH group never made a binding offer and never publicly disclosed a source of financing,” said Peterson.
A source, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said CMMH asked Torstar for an assessment of the value of the contingent value rights — which can mean extra money for shareholders if a specified milestone is met in the future — before considering a raised bid, but the group did not receive one. The source added that the only thing missing to make the CMMH bid legally binding was a “signature page” which was being held in escrow pending the value rights assessment.
Multiple sources have confirmed to the Star that CMMH’s bid was being financed by Canadian Western Bank, an Alberta-based business bank. Selfe declined to comment for this story, citing nondisclosure agreements.
Whether or not the owners of Torstar could have gotten a higher bid from CMMH — and whether that bid would actually be successfully financed — may never be known. But observers note that, as with any sale, money isn’t the only consideration.
Sources say the five families who have long controlled Torstar’s A-class shares were concerned that the new owners maintain the Star’s progressive values, in particular the Atkinson Principles which have guided the Star’s journalism for decades.
Torstar is more than a corporate entity, it is also one of the largest publishers in the country. If the decision to sell considered both principles and cold, hard cash, that’s fine with journalism industry watchers like Tim Currie, head of the journalism program at the University of King’s College in Halifax.
“It’s pretty clear that the legacy of the Atkinson Principles are very important to the families, and it certainly seems from the outside as though that’s a reason why they may have left some money on the table,” said Currie.
Not that the bottom line isn’t a factor, acknowledged James Compton, an associate professor at Western University’s Faculty of Information and Media Studies.
“Has Torstar been concerned with making money? Of course. But they’ve invested money in journalism, and like any good news organization, had a core set of values. … In their case, that’s the Atkinson Principles,” said Compton, a former journalist who specializes in studying the Canadian media industry.
Keeping up those progressive values and journalism also make solid business sense, argues Allan Thompson, director of Carleton University’s journalism program.
“I think the Star has enormous value as a brand … and that brand is as a progressive voice which invests in journalism,” said Thompson, a former Star reporter. “It’s not just the political perspective, it’s the fact they’ve been willing to invest in good journalism.”
That has meant, Compton said, that the Star has partly avoided the fate of many American media organizations which have cut staff to the bone after getting taken over by hedge funds and private equity firms. That trend is something Compton said has also loomed as a danger in Canada, where the majority of Postmedia shares are controlled by U.S.-based hedge fund Chatham Asset Management. (Last week, Chatham also won a bankruptcy court auction for the McClatchy newspaper chain in the U.S.).
The prospect of the Star falling into similar hands is something Compton worries about. In many cases, the debt loads assumed by new owners after takeovers have been crippling to newsrooms.
“This is a problem across North America. Value is being extracted and not put back into the newsrooms. Value is being extracted to make the debt payments. The business model is stripping assets, cutting costs and making debt payments,” said Compton.
The fact that NordStar’s bid financing comes from Canso Investment Counsel — also Postmedia’s largest debt holder — has stoked fears that NordStar plans to eventually sell the Star to Postmedia. That fear has been articulated by, among others, former Ontario finance minister Greg Sorbara, who’s part of the CMMH bid team.
NordStar has previously said through a spokesperson that it intends to pay back a “significant” amount of its Canso loan when the deal closes, and that the financing doesn’t mean there’s a merger coming.
“Let us be absolutely clear: The financing arrangements for the NordStar bid are not, in anyway whatsoever, connected directly or indirectly with any other media company,” a NordStar spokesperson said in late May, after Canso’s involvement became public.
Private equity executive Stuart Browne doesn’t think NordStar bought Torstar to merge the Star with Postmedia.
“I don’t see any evidence that there’s a consolidation play here. As long as they keep making their debt payments, there’s nothing that Canso could do,” said Browne, CEO of Pycap Venture Partners and a lecturer at York University’s Schulich School of Business.
Instead, said Browne, NordStar likely intends to boost the Star’s efforts to attract more digital subscribers, while selling some non-core assets, such as its stake in digital community discussion board VerticalScope.
It’s also not a coincidence, Browne argued, that the deal is happening during a global pandemic.
“The industry has been in distress anyway, and then COVID hit, so I think they saw value at these prices,” said Browne, adding that there could be some cost-cutting to reduce the company’s losses.
The NordStar team did not comment on their long-term plans for Torstar when approached for this story, but after news of their then-63-cent bid became public in late May, Bitove and Rivett said they planned to boost the Star’s digital offerings and said they weren’t planning big cuts.
“Our focus is on the Star’s journalism and digital transformation. And you need capital to support that,” said Bitove at the time. A report published in the Globe and Mail said Bitove and Rivett were seeking up to $100 million from the sale of non-core assets, but Bitove said there’s no exact number.
“You can’t grow revenue on the back of cuts. We don’t subscribe to cutting. But that said, we support management and we support (Torstar CEO) John Boynton and the team. So there’s no current focus on that. Our current focus is that we’re excited to bring new potential revenue sources and partners to the business and find ways to grow, not cut,” added Rivett.
While the Star doesn’t have the digital subscription base of U.S. outlets such as The New York Times or The Washington Post, there’s still hope for subscription growth, which could stem the losses Torstar has suffered over the last few years, University of King’s College’s Currie argued. Just because people have been used to getting news online for free doesn’t mean they won’t ever pay for it.
“As an industry, we made a huge mistake three decades ago in not monetizing online readership. But people used to get their music online for free. Now, they’re paying. Not as much as they should be, if you ask a lot of artists, but they’re paying,” said Currie.
Kelowna, BC – The Okanagan Valley is getting more public EV charging stations courtesy of ChargerQuest. In collaboration with the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, two (2) SMART EV charging stations are now available in mid-town Kelowna just off Harvey Ave/ Highway 97 at 1655 Powick Rd. Located at an incredible destination that is close to everything Kelowna has to offer, the Fairfield Inn Kelowna is an ideal place to stay, dine, shop and play.
“Despite COVID-19’s unprecedented impact on the hospitality industry as a whole, the incredible team at Fairfield Inn Kelowna was open to the CQ opportunity, adding an incredible amenity for their guests and the broader community. It is this type of leadership that inspires change and accelerates business and emission-free travel.” Christopher Misch - CEO, ChargerQuest “I've been pondering the idea of getting an EV charging station for our hotel for some time; however, the cost and maintenance were a deterring factor for us. With the increasing demand for stations and efforts to support a green initiative, I knew we would have to make a decision soon. Low and behold, Chris from Green Dot reached out with a great service. They took care of the installation and logistics - super easy. Now we are proud to display these charging stations at our hotel and provide our green friendly guests with a well-needed service! Thanks Chris!” – Cedric Younge - General Manager, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Kelowna ChargerQuest is a leader in providing turnkey EV charging solutions for our host location partners. Our talented team works with hotels, parking authorities, municipalities, tourist destinations, and qualified commercial properties - offering EV charging as an amenity to your customers and team. ChargerQuest is Canada’s leader in deploying SMART EV charging stations everywhere YOU want to go. ChargerQuest plans to deploy up to 250 public EV charging stations across Canada. Chargerquest.com