Pond Technologies Holdings Inc (CVE:POND) (OTCMKTS:IOGIF) CEO Steve Martin shares details about the Cantech Investment Conference and provides an update on the company’s acquisition of Regenurex. One takeaway from the conference is that more and more investors are focused on sustainable technologies, which is good news for Pond because its algae production process fits evolving market tastes. Martin also emphasizes algae’s value as an ingredient in health and wellness food products. He discusses Pond’s recent deal to acquire Regenurex Health Corporation, a health and wellness company that produces antioxidant products. The deal allows Pond to use its algae in antioxidant products, while utilizing Regenurex’s product knowledge and existing channels.
Fraser Toms: Hey gang. We’re here with Steve Martin, who is the CEO of Pond Technologies Holdings Inc., trading on the TSX Venture under the ticker POND. Steve, how’s it going?
Steve Martin: It’s going very well, other than being on the ice planet of Hoth today, and I’m dressed appropriately for it, for shoveling and moving snow.
Fraser Toms: Oh, yeah, today I had like 2.5 feet of snow in my driveway, it was a mess, which prevented a lot of people, potentially, from coming to Cantech, where you guys have your booth on display.
Steve Martin: We do.
Fraser Toms: So how’s that been so far?
Steve Martin: Well it seems like quite a few people made it there, you know, I think it’s an important enough event, and people want some exposure to the kind of technologies and the opportunities that are around. We’re been a great show for us; we had many past investors and many possible future investors, as well.
Fraser Toms: So who do you find approaching you in the booth the most? Is it more on the institutional side or just regular retail-style investors, or…
Steve Martin: I think we garner enough interest in what we’re doing because of the sort of triple sustainability. We’re able to take industrial waste and turn it into something of high value that also meets other sustainability requirements, like sustainable proteins. I think there’s enough interest that everybody comes to see us. We have a lot of Millennials; Millennials seem to be really enthralled with what we’re doing. But as well, traditional investors who are looking for sort of the next thing. And sustainability challenges seems to be what everybody is focusing on.
Fraser Toms: Yeah, and I mean, actually we should just – let’s do a quick, brief overview of Pond again. I know a lot of viewers are familiar with your company, but just to recap for those who aren’t, you guys grow –
Steve Martin: We grow micro-algae off of the untreated emissions from large final emitters. Or basically any source of industrial pollution. So you think about it, oddly, pollution is actually the food for algae, and the algae that we grow has remarkable value in the market as a sustainable protein. If people in the morning, you know, start their day with a nice greens drink, likely they’re having spirulina, which is algae.
Additionally, there are other derived products that you can have from it – one of them is in my hand, Regenurex. It’s an astaxanthin product, prevents swelling and a pile of other things. It’s actually tremendous if you’ve got a sore back from shoveling the snow.
Fraser Toms: [laughter] Yeah. Do you mind if I take a picture?
Steve Martin: Yeah, sure.
Fraser Toms: Okay, Regenurex, and the – so, the main ingredient here is an algae?
Steve Martin: The main ingredient here is an algae-derived material called astaxanthin. It’s the most powerful antioxidant known, and it’s not just a little bit more power, it’s like 300 times more powerful than anything else. So if we’re concerned about oxidative damage to our body, this is the stuff that does it the best, and it is also what makes salmon the lovely pinky-orange colour that it is; comes from that algae, yeah.
Fraser Toms: Really?
Steve Martin: And it’s very challenging to grow algae. We just purchased this company, we’re completing the acquisition over the next couple of days; the definitive agreement has been signed. They have production facilities out in BC and very proprietary extraction technology, which gives us an advantage in the market. So our growth technology combined with their extraction technology and the lovely product gives us a really good opportunity at vertical integration.
Fraser Toms: And that’s the kind of thing that you would just take as sort of a health kind of a – you don’t need to have something wrong with you.
Steve Martin: No, you don’t, but it’s actually an unusual sort of product, because many of the sort of health foods we take – like, you take Vitamin C every day; truthfully, Vitamin C is preventing scurvy, so you don’t kind of notice the absence of scurvy. If I had scurvy, I’d take it.
This is a little bit different, because this a wellness product that actually does something; you will feel a difference. It fights all three causes of inflammation. It actually has some remarkable, sort of anecdotal, but the literature seems to point to it: it does things like help prevent sunburn. It prevents the oxidative damage due to exposure to the sun in real time. People report that it helps with sleep, but if you’re concerned about oxidative damage, oxidants in general, people take Vitamin E. Well, take one of these or 300 Vitamin E capsules, your choice.
Fraser Toms: What’s sort of the price point of something like that?
Steve Martin: It depends. This is a 4 mg product; this one runs about $30 for the 60, I think there’s 60 in this one. We also have a 12 mg product that would be sort of new to the marketplace, and one of the real advantages of this is, it’s not an unknown product. There are other manufacturers, but they all typically have a fishy smell to them, and it has to do with the extraction technology.
Our extraction technology, a wet extraction technology, doesn’t provide that fishy smell. So my wife, who’s a vegetarian, she doesn’t like the other ones, but these ones are fine.
Fraser Toms: Huh, that’s very interesting. So you guys are cleaning all the pollution on planet earth and then giving people wondering antioxidant –
Steve Martin: And food, and fish meal. We are trying to be a virtuous company, you know, affecting a virtuous circle.
Fraser Toms: Sure. So last that I heard when you were working with, was it Stelco? I don’t remember.
Steve Martin: Yeah. We’re building a full-scale, we’re building a plant that will be growing this material, largely astaxanthin or related products, at Markham District Energy, which is a small combined heat and power plant owned by the city of Markham up in Markham, Ontario. But we’re also building a large-scale algae facility at Stelco, in their Lake Erie Steelworks, and there we’ll be growing sort of more bulk algae products: spirulina, the one I mentioned earlier, for probably targeted mostly for agriculture and animal feeds.
But additionally there’s another interesting product that comes out of there as well, and that’s food colorants. People are becoming more and more concerned about where they’re coming from, and synthetic ones are sort of pooh-poohed, and rightfully so, I would say. The only source of blue food colorant that’s allowed is from algae and we’ll be growing that at Stelco as well. It’s called phycocyanin. All sorts of great names in algae; astaxanthin, phycocyanin, lots of other ones.
Fraser Toms: No, it amazing you’re able to find extra use cases for, sort of, I guess, the core business.
Steve Martin: The extra uses have very high value. Phycocyanin is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per tonne.
Fraser Toms: Wow, okay. So you mentioned the buildout of the Stelco – what’s the time frame on that where it would be up and running?
Steve Martin: We’re doing the first – it’s a stage, with any large infrastructure project it’s a stage thing. The first stage is to seed bioreactor, the initial bioreactor that grows the algae for the other bioreactors; we’re installing our third generation bioreactor right now on our test site, and that work should be completed over the next sort of 30 days, and then we’ll start the shakeout, you know, where the production values end up being, and then we’ll continue on to the full buildout at Stelco.
Fraser Toms: Okay, so is this the kind of thing where, looking really, really long term, the Stelco project being quite large, is that sort of almost like going to become a proof of concept for the company moving forward where you can say, look, this works on large scales, and we’re going to –
Steve Martin: Well, I mean, we’re convinced; I think it’s beyond proof of concept. I mean, we have sort of the body of knowledge that says yes, we can do this. It will be the first large-scale commercial plant. So to the extent that it proves to the market that this is a viable option, and shows the way forward, I would say that, upon completion of the first project, then, you know, the world is your oyster, right? Just repeat until wealthy.
Fraser Toms: Okay, great. Well, looking ahead in the year, is there any milestones you want to touch on that investors might be able to look for?
Steve Martin: Lots of them, but I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about them.
Fraser Toms: Okay, I understand. Well, that’s great, Steve, thanks for joining us, and enjoy the rest of Cantech.
Steve Martin: Well, thank you very much for having me.
Fraser Toms: No problem.
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