After stepping down last summer from his executive role at the Gatineau cannabis company he helped found, Adam Miron decided to take a bit of time to figure out his next move.
Seven years of building local pot producer Hexo into a billion-dollar enterprise didn’t come without its share of sweat and tears. For most entrepreneurs, such an experience would be a once-in-a-lifetime pursuit.
But Miron isn’t most entrepreneurs. A month into his “retirement,” he was back on the front lines of another business sector that’s gradually finding its feet in Canada: cryptocurrency.
Last August, Miron joined Ottawa-based fintech startup Brane Capital as chairman of its board of directors. Since then he’s been on a mission that sounds a lot like the one he led at Hexo: finding funding and carving out a market niche for a young company in a nascent industry.
“I love taking a great idea, filling the room with people smarter than (me) and just working relentlessly to bring it to life,” he says. “And that's what we’re doing.”
Launched in 2017, Brane Capital has spent the past three years developing patented technology to protect digital assets such as bitcoin. The firm’s goal is to become a leading third-party custodian of bitcoin and other cryptocurrency, holding digital money for major banks and keeping it secure from hackers and other bad actors.
“They know they have to get in on this at some point in time,” Miron says of Canada’s big financial institutions. “It drives them crazy that there’s a big piece of the economy that they’re not making a penny of profit off of. As this demand (for digital currency) continues to grow, the demand for proper, secured and, most importantly, insured custody will only increase. We’re ready to go.”
Former premier on board
Besides Miron, the company has welcomed a number of other notable names to its board and C-suite. Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty and veteran Ottawa business lawyer Brian McIntomny have joined Miron as company directors, while longtime Bay Street executive Paul Rowland, whose resume includes stints as a senior manager at Accenture and Ernst & Young, is the firm’s chief financial officer.
The industry is in its infancy, but Miron believes Brane Capital could soon become a multimillion-dollar company as cryptocurrency moves further into the mainstream – a step he believes is inevitable.
“Digital assets already represent a significant portion of the world economy, and it’s only growing,” says Miron.
“The question is how do we keep it safe and how do banks start to participate in this component of the economy? And that’s sort of where we see ourselves.”
The brainchild of local entrepreneur Patrick McLaughlin, a former business analyst at the House of Commons, Brane Capital has spent more than $3 million on developing its technology so far, money it raised through private placements and family-and-friends financing rounds.
The company has filed more than 20 provisional patents based on that R&D, and Miron says it’s a few weeks away from finalizing another $1.5-million round of funding to help it pursue paying customers.
Initially, he explains, Brane Capital will likely target smaller financial institutions that might see an early move into cryptocurrency as a way of standing out from the competition.
But down the road, he expects the Big Six banks to come calling, and he says the company will be prepared to pounce when they do.
“This company has the opportunity to be incredibly lucrative,” he says.
Now at five full-time employees, Brane Capital is already looking ahead to a potential series-A round as early as next year. Less than a year removed from his experience with Hexo, Miron says he’s strapped in and ready for another wild ride.
“It gives a young guy like me a chance to really make a difference in something new,” he says. “Pioneers, explorers, whatever you want to call it – we’re just having fun.”