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Thinking North: Diversification and Trends

Thinking North: Diversification and Trends

On June 20 2019, I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker for the eighth time at the Thinking North event.  It was sponsored by Stockhouse, First Republic Capital, Ensign Capital Inc., Bantr Inc., DealMaker, FTMIG, CSE and Small Cap Power.

The event held in Toronto was attended by close to 150 people representing both investors, new companies and other interested persons.

Companies were given the opportunity to present on their operations.

Danielle Fernandes, Founder/CEO, Bantr Inc. https://bantrinc.com/ , and part of the of the Thinking North team, presented the introduction for myself and for each of the companies.

As part of the introduction to my speech, Danielle kindly mentioned my involvement in homeless charity, a cause of which I am very passionate about.  I also have plans in the works to start a global charity to help children who have fallen victim to abuse.  This was a good forum to increase awareness of the situation of those who really need our help.

For my keynote speech, I spoke about diversification in your stock portfolio, focusing on the cannabis, esports and 5G sectors.  Below are some of the key points.

Billionaire investor Mark Cuban stated, “All that asset management, diversification, that’s for idiots. You can’t diversify enough to know what you’re doing.”(1)  He kept a lot of money in cash and did his homework.  When the timing was right, he invested in mortgage backed securities when the value was crushed and made a lot of money based on understanding that trend.

Taking a look at the cannabis industry, we’re in the middle of a North American “green rush” with billions of dollars in cannabis sales up for the picking with Canada being the leader as far as legalization.  When the legalization was passed, it opened up a whole range of possibilities for companies that already had a jump on things like Canopy Growth and other companies that were or are in the starting phases.

However, for diversification purposes, don’t look only at the Canadian markets, where companies could capture up to $6.5 billion in recreational sales by 2020, according to CIBC World Markets(2), but take a look at the US and other global markets as well, where things are expanding.

For example, as of January 2019, in the US, 33 states had legalized medical marijuana and 10 states had legalized recreational marijuana, according to Business Insider(3), including California, the United States’ biggest marijuana market. So it is moving, maybe a bit slower than what investors would like, but it’s likely just a matter of time.

The European market is expanding as well, as is South America and Africa and all of these markets are worth looking at.

Keep in mind that, while yes, the Canadian market, as previously stated, is projected at $6.5 billion in 2020, the global cannabis market is thought to be worth USD$150 billion today. And this number will likely only toke up. Barclays, in their European Consumer Staples Report in September 2018, suggests that this figure could increase to USD$272 billion by 2028.(4)

As far as esports, although it seems that esports are a fairly new trend, that’s not quite true.  The first official video game competition was held at Stanford University on October 19, 1972.  It was a Spacewar competition, a game that came out in 1962.(5)

In the past few years, esports has exploded into a massively lucrative industry.  Video-gaming has become a huge money-making spectator sport projected to generate over $1 billion in 2019.(6) That’s impressive growth considering that in 2017, the valuation was $655 million.(7)   Global esports viewers are expected to top 453.8 million worldwide in 2019.(8)

5G has recently come storming onto the scene.  According to Trevor Noah from The Daily Show – It’s literally a game-changer for everything.  You can have cities where everything can communicate.  Doctors can perform surgeries from the other side of the world.  Driverless cars, smart homes, lightening fast technology that will connect everything.

You might think that 5G is a little bit faster than 4G and certainly faster than 3G.  Trevor Noah timed it out – He states, “To download a film in 3G it would take 26 hours, on 4G you’d be waiting 6 minutes and on 5G about 3.8 seconds.  You could download an entire movie in 3 seconds.”

If you wish you had invested in e-commerce, video streaming, or smartphones early on, and are now looking for an emerging trend, then you might want to consider cannabis or emerging technologies like 5G, esports.  Just keep in mind that when investing, it’s always wise to consult your professional advisor and to diversify so that you are not dependent on only one or two industries.


Companies who presented at the Thinking North event were:



Darren Carrigan, CEO



Anahit brings together Canadian expertise in cannabis cultivation, extraction and product formulations.  They have a strongly established footprint in Canada, Colombia, Greece and Jamaica.  International distribution spans the Canadian, South American and European markets.

Anahit has partnered with the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Guelph to carry out research and development.  As well, they have partnered with the Toronto Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology for product research and development.

The company is making plans to go public later this year.


SideDrawer:  A fast, mobile approach to organizing your estate! Your assets are spread across multiple providers, banks, or investments firms, and your family or trusted advisors may not know where they’re all kept. SideDrawer’s camera-based mobile app speeds up the entry process, significantly reducing the time needed to capture your critical information. SideDrawer’s estate organizing tool is the first step in a proper estate and financial plan.


Bay Talent Group

Allan Hartley, CEO



Bay Talent Group is a global staffing company that stands apart as an innovator in the recruitment industry.  The company’s main objectives are:

  • Acquisition and operation of successful executive search, staffing and consulting firms that specialize in a wide range of professional services
  • Staying ahead of employment trends
  • Exploration of new technologies to maximize and optimize recruitment
  • Cultivation of new professional relationships and nurturing of established connections

Under their umbrella they have the following divisions:


PTC Recruiting: a nearly three-decade old company, is a division of Bay Talent Group, focused on accounting, finance and administrative staffing. 


Provision Staffing: a top ranked company at the forefront of IT staffing


Maze Recruiting:        specializes in the placement of IT, Finance and Administrative professionals for project needs and full-time requirements


Bay Talent Group is currently expanding to encompass more companies presenting them with a growing list of candidates.


Bay Talent Group is planning to list on the TSX-V later this year.


VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Corp. (CSE: VSBY)

Jay Hutton, Co-Founder/CEO



VSBLTY is a leading digital display and software company that transforms retail spaces and venues.  Through Interactive Touch, FacalAnalyticsTM, and Advanced Object Recognition, VSBLTY uses proprietary and ground-breaking displays, cameras and software to solve the problems of the burgeoning Digital Display and Security Innovation Technology Markets.


Investment highlights include:

  • World leader in the development and application of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Weapon recognition
  • Transforming the retail industry encouraging engagement through Proactive Digital Displays
  • Highly notable management with a globally recognized highly experienced management team.

VSBLTY solutions include VSBLTY VisionCaptor™, VSBLTY DataCaptor™ and VSBLTY Vector™.


In addition to the above three companies, Yasmin Bakhtiari, CEO of Job-O, www.job-o.com, gave a summary of the Job-O app.  Ms. Bakhtiari touted the Job-O app as a solution targeted at millennial job searchers who are interested in short-term employment or working within the ‘gig’ economy. The app seeks to match up job seekers with prospective employers, allowing the flexibility to search for and accept the jobs “they want” in suitable locations.


Thinking North occasionally gives the platform to a selected organization that relies on fund-raising to maintain their operations, to present on their endeavours.  At this event, the organization was The Party For People With Special Needs (PPSN) www.ppsn.world, a political party headed by Hilton Milan, Party Leader.  Mr. Milan explained how the Party is dedicated to empowering people to reinvent themselves.  He further went on to say that 77% of people with disabilities in Canada live in poverty.  Part of the mission of the PPSN is to advocate for better access and education including but not limited to health, wellness and life style.



Dr. Kal Kotecha








(5)    Dave Consolazio (October 2018) : The History of Esports https://www.hotspawn.com/the-history-of-esports/


(6)    Hilary Russ (February 2019) : Global esports revenues to top $1 billion in 2019: report : https://www.reuters.com/article/us-videogames-outlook/global-esports-revenues-to-top-1-billion-in-2019-report-idUSKCN1Q11XY


(7)    Matt Perez (February 2018, Forbes) : Report:  Esports to grow substantially and near billion dollar revenues in 2019 : https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattperez/2018/02/21/report-esports-to-grow-substantially-and-near-a-billion-dollar-revenues-in-2018/#527ccc4e2b01


(8)    Jurre Pannekeet (February 2019) : Global Esports Economy Will Top $1 Billion for the First Time in 2019 : https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/newzoo-global-esports-economy-will-top-1-billion-for-the-first-time-in-2019/




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