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Q&A With StockPal – iCandy Interactive (ASX:ICI)

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Q&A with StockPal - Kin Wai Lau, Chairman of iCandy Interactive (ASX:ICI)

Watch Kin Wai Lau, Chairman of iCandy Interactive (ASX:ICI) and Jared Sim, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of StockPal in this engaging Q&A with the following questions:

0:11 – What is your business about?
1:06 – How did your company cope with the COVID-19 pandemic?
1:57 – How does the company make money?
2:54 – Who are your target customers?
3:44 – What is your firm’s competitive advantage?
5:25 – How are you currently engaging with your investors?

Visit iCandy’s website to learn more about their story: https://www.icandy.io/

Email editor@stockpal.asia if you are or represent a listed-company and is keen to be in our interviews.

Want to be on the list next time this company raises capital? Open an account with Fresh Equities and start exploring capital raises – freshequities.com

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Communication Services

ActivePort (ASX:ATV) – Karim Nejaim

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The CEO Mindset - Karim Nejaim, CEO of ActivePort (ASX:ATV)

Karim Nejaim is the CEO of ActivePort (ASX:ATV), an Australian company that provides a software-defined networking tool and open SD-WAN, to help companies run their technology their way and facilitate global connectivity.

What’s your journey in becoming a Chief Executive Officer?
I have been around Software development, IT and Telecommunication for over 25 years. I joined the SingTel Group at Optus as a mid-level network engineer in 1999 and finished up in 2014 as Group Vice President for Optus before moving to Telstra as Executive Director of Product Engineering. The move into executive roles came naturally as my focus was always on the big picture and customer outcomes. My personal mantra is that great technology isn’t great until a customer says it is, and it’s this customer obsession that brought me into my role as CEO for ActivePort. I saw an opportunity to run a company that is focused on simplifying networking and the use of technology and where we can positively disrupt in a market by talking less about the technology itself and more about solving customer business problems.

Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercializing?
ActivePort is all about making it as easy as possible to connect globally. Our CTO, Mark Middleton, has created software that makes the very complicated job of building networks globally, managing legacy and new technology, injecting cloud services and automating, all from one screen. ActivePort’s SD-WAN 2.0 gives enterprises, telecoms providers and resellers access to the latest generation of hardware agnostic SD-WANs, where you can connect, configure and activate the edge in minutes with complete independence from big vendor applications, hardware and proprietary licensing. We’re focusing on rolling this out globally and are collaborating with Console Connect by PCCW Global to extend the availability of our SD-WAN solution worldwide.

What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
The most exciting thing about running ActivePort is that we are giving control back into the hands of customers. Nothing beats the delight of customers during our software demos which is typically accompanied with comments like “oh, wow, we can do that!?!”. Secondly, the enjoyment of speaking to customer in places like South America, Asia and the US and discovering the ways our whole network orchestration and SD-WAN is suitable for lots of different markets. Also, as a leader of a young company it is fantastic to see the buzz and energy in our team when we land new deals or receive feedback from customers.

How do you measure success?
There is no way around it – heading into an IPO and in the first couple of years we have to prove our value in the market and that will be driven by business success and, largely, revenue growth. We are very focused on escalating revenue growth from our monthly, re-occurring software licensing and the company is geared for growth on the back of the monthly re-occurring licensing.

The precursor to any business success is ensuring that we are delivering value to customers and helping them solve their business problems, whether that be helping them increase revenue, decrease costs or balancing growth. The greatest “lead indicator” I can think of is customers telling you that they love your product. It is important to remember that great engineering is not great engineering until a customer tells you it is!

Lastly, I want ActivePort to be regarded as an employer of choice. Without the people in ActivePort there is no ActivePort. Our company is not just about software; it is about the people that are making the ActivePort journey a personal one for them.

What do you think is the most important quality of being a CEO of a listed company?
There are a large number of skills required to sit in the CEO chair – strategy and vision, innovation, the management of competing priorities, growing the people and the company. The most important for me comes back to people and a simple “mantra”: Hire the best people, give them space to do their thing, and listen to them. There are very, very few CEOs (and I would argue none) who are experts in all aspects of a business – listen to your people and then make the call.

What is your favourite book?
I love non-fiction books about major events in people’s lives, the way people think about the past and the future. To pick a few: Thomas Friedman’s “Thank you for being late” which is about the massive growth in technology and where it may be taking us. Craig Challen and Richard Harris’s “Against all odds” is another favourite with its balance of heroism, compassion and the science required to save the group of schoolboys from the Tham Luang cave. My favourite fiction book is Shantaram by David Roberts.

What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia & Australia?
ActivePort is setting out to make global connectivity easier, faster and better – for less. We are going to disrupt in several areas and we are doing it for one primary reason: To help the world connect and make it simple. That’s why, instead of adding yet another solution for each business challenge and juggle the integration, ActivePort offers whole network orchestration, SD-WAN, real-time provisioning and firewall, all from a single screen. 



How can people connect with you?
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karimnejaim/
ActivePort’s Website: https://www.activeport.com.au/

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Communication Services

CM8 looks to be at the forefront of conversational commerce

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CM8 looks to be at the forefront of conversational commerce

If you though the art of conversation was, at times, difficult to grasp, then conversational commerce may have your head spinning.

However, there is nothing really to be afraid of.

Conversational commerce has been around since 2015, when by Chris Messina, the inventor of the hashtag, mentioned it in a short post on the Medium website.

It is a simple concept really.

Conversational commerce is about putting the conversation back into the customer experience.

The catch is, this is done via messaging services and technological means.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a conversation with your customers if they walk into your bricks and mortar store, however you should consider a tech function that also makes it easy for customers to relate to who you are what you are selling.

We now live in an era where communication is a technological experience, so it makes sense that conversational commerce is at the forefront of commercial thinking.

The increased use of messaging services have been proven to coincide with or improve the sales process as it enables customers to interact with businesses via chatting conversations instead of direct calls.

Customers generally interact via messaging and chat apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or WeChat.

ASX listed Crowd Media (ASX: CM8) is a tech-based, vertically integrated social commerce business selling unique state-of-the-art products and services that are integral to the lives of its customers.

The company recently made a big play in the conversational commerce space, when it took a  strategic stake in Forever Holdings Ltd, a London based voice-and-visual Interactive Digital Media company.

This was a touchstone development for CM8 as it supported both the thinking around the conversation commerce science and the vehicle that will eventually culminate in the product that the company believes is the Holy Grail of influencer marketing.

Crowd Media has long been considered a pioneer in influencer and social media marketing, leveraging influencers on a global basis with its own in-house products.

It’s a strategy that has evolved from a mobile  technology and media company to a global social media house where campaigns can be executed with local market knowledge and cultural expertise.

It is now looking to utilise influencer marketing within the conversation commerce experience.

In essence, conversational commerce is emerging as the future of e-commerce.

CM8 has accelerated its push into that field via the beta launch of its first ‘’talking head’’ 12 months ahead of schedule is an important and pivotal development for the company.

This will help customers select the appropriate products from the www.MDComplete.eu brand.

Click here to view an example of how it works.

Crowd’s AI-driven Chatbot technology is unique in that it combines answers from both AI and real humans answering questions.

Crowd has also entered into two new partnerships in order to accelerate its stated Horizon 3 strategy, that has resulted in the instigation of a more focused business aimed at penetrating high value markets with more predictability around monetisation as it orchestrates a direct to consumer sales model.

The to acquire an 8% interest in Forever Holdings Ltd is consistent with the strategy outlined in 2019 as it serves to facilitate a platform that enables conversational commerce between follower and influencer, augmented with a digital visual “talking head” experience.

The 3-year binding Heads of Agreement (HOA) with UneeQ Limited for the creation of ‘Digital Ambassadors’ is designed to help power conversation commerce activity and influencer marketing.

UneeQ has created an AI-driven platform that is currently used across customer support and sales throughout a number of industries and the companies will collaborate to develop methods and technologies on the creation of ‘Digital Ambassadors’ to help power e-commerce and #conversationcommerce activity, as well as influencer marketing which includes the launch of Crowd’s first “talking head”.

Further to this, Crowd executed a binding HOA to form a joint venture with Israeli based VFR Assets and Holdings Ltd (www.Zoe01.com) for the creation of a platform which will allow the scalable creation of the “talking head” visuals which will power the next wave of conversational commerce and digital influencer one-to-one interactions.

The platform will allow Crowd to roll out many “talking heads” in days and at a fraction of the cost of current platforms.

The beta product will be showcased to prospective Crowd Direct brand partners, highlighting the commercial application of conversational commerce across multilingual markets.

This opens unlimited commercial opportunities across entertainment, sport, influencer marketing, health and educational fields.

“We believe conversational commerce is the future of e-commerce and are excited to have executed these various initiatives that bring forward the reality of one-to-one conversations between influencers and their respective followers,” CM8 CEO Domenic Carosa said.

“It takes us that much closer to our stated goal of actually changing the way products and services are sold via digital influencers.

“Our beta version was launched 12 months ahead of schedule and showcases our core AI-driven Chatbot technology and that of our partners.

“By launching this beta version, we can undergo the next level of testing, build on our artificial intelligence and data pools, and advance the technology to extend its commercial capabilities across different products, services and interactions.”

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After strong growth in 2020, Vonex looks forward to FY21

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After strong growth in 2020, Vonex looks forward to FY21

2020 has been a stand-out year for Vonex (ASX: VN8), as it positions itself as the telco of choice for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Vonex has several platforms to help SMEs communicate with their customers and connect with the community.

  • Industry-leading ONdesk software, a cloud-based program for businesses to manage all their mobile and landline calls for game changing efficiencies, scalability and customer experiences, no matter how small or large their business is.
  • Reliable NBN and fibre packages.
  • Affordable mobile packages with data and reliability to “keep you always on”.

The company has a target audience of over 2.37 million SMEs in Australia, with a goal to connect them simply, efficiently and affordably.

This year, Vonex has delivered strong growth on the back of its platforms, generating predominantly recurring revenue and has continued to develop, deliver and license advanced communications technologies.

The recurring revenue base the company is building is impressive, and the current market cap of less than $30M suggests substantial upside.

This market cap looks particularly small when looking at ASX peers such as Spirit Telecom Ltd (ASX: ST1)$191M market cap, and Uniti Group (ASX: UWL) $766M, which highlights the company’s growth potential.

Unfolding acquisition strategy

2020 has been punctuated by an acquisition strategy that has delivered the 2SG Wholesale telecommunications and data wholesaling business, which supplies network and communications solutions to telco retailers across Australia.

The acquisition has transformed the company and it is now looking at further acquisitions that will expand its operations.

The 2SG acquisition has been paramount in Vonex’s growth this year and has effectively changed its relationship with major suppliers.

Before the acquisition, third party wholesalers supplied either the NBN, Mobile or Landline services to Vonex.

Vonex has now flipped the switch and is able to purchase these services via 2SG.

The advantages of this include:

  • Improved purchasing power, which benefits both the Vonex end customer and Company profitability
  • Increase in visibility for network troubleshooting and customer support
  • Speed to market with new products and services has created a competitive advantage.

Pac Partners analyst Mark Yarwood said of the transaction at the time, “The recent 2SG transaction highlights management’s appetite and ability to acquire smaller telco companies which we see as rich in opportunities.

“2SG was an asset rich purchase given its relationships with Tier-1 carriers, 100+ wholesale customers, along with direct access into NBN, offering the ability to cross-sell with the potential to build out a direct NBN presence.”

Integration of 2SG has brought a new dimension to Vonex’s business along with 150+ new wholesale customers, and has allowed Vonex to expand its offering to SME customers with new products, including fleet mobile, mobile broadband and NBN with 4G backup.

Notably, prior to acquisition 2SG had negotiated an agreement to supply business grade mobile broadband to ASX 300 company, Data#3 (ASX: DTL).

2SG’s multi-year investment in a sophisticated network environment is now also contributing to a meaningful relationship with Optus Wholesale, helping to build traffic on the Optus network by quickly deploying complex solutions for a broad base of customers.

Direct carrier relationships are valuable in facilitating better support, rates, control of customer internet and cost of supply.

There is strong customer demand for 2SG’s secure, business-grade wireless broadband, especially as demand for work-from-services dramatically increased in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strong numbers

VN8’s June quarter update featured the strongest operational and financial quarter that the company has delivered since listing on the ASX in 2018.

One of the key takeaways was the 88% increase in annualised recurring revenue during fiscal 2020: this now stands at $16.4 million.

Vonex finished the first half of the year with $3.7m in total contract value (TCV) of new customer sales — 65 per cent up year on year. It has shrunk its net loss from $2.79 million last year to $596,000 in FY20, ending June 30.

Revenue grew 67 per cent, from $9.2 million to $15.4 million, while underlying earnings before tax returned to the black, to $25,237 from $454,332 in the red in FY19, and $4.8 million cash at bank. Annualised recurring revenue grew 89 per cent to $16.4 million.

In a letter to shareholders, Vonex non-executive chairman Nicholas Ong said its achievements during the year were incredible considering the challenges faced by many businesses in the wake of COVID-19, particularly highlighting its June quarter as its “best quarter since becoming a listed company”.

“We have continued to accelerate our growth and generate revenue that is largely recurring, which provides a strong foundation to build on in the years ahead,” Ong said. “As we commence FY21, we are excited to build on our strongest quarter to date, and I’m confident the strategies and targets we have in place will drive Vonex to hit new milestones as we continue to execute on a range of growth initiatives.”

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