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Delivering AR, the Right Way…and in a Fun Way

Dave Jackson Dave Jackson, Stockhouse
0 Comments| January 18, 2021

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(Click image to play video)

It’s been a good past 12 months in the technology sector, with year-to-year growth metrics pushing the 14% mark. And one part of the tech space is estimated to top $180 billion by 2025.

This is the future of the world of Augmented Reality or AR. And prepare to have your mind blown away by its potential for investors.

Welcome to ImagineAR Inc. (CSE.IP, OTC:IPNFF, Forum) – an authorized Microsoft Co-Sell Partner – for its ImagineAR Enterprise Platform and their dynamic entrepreneur at the helm of this innovative company, CEO and President Alen Paul Silverrstieen.

In this fun, fast-paced and highly informative video podcast, Stockhouse Media’s Dave Jackson was joined Alen Paul to take a deep dive into ImagineAR’s game-changing technology, the Company’s first-mover status in this exploding space, and the opportunities AR offers investors today and tomorrow.

TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

SH: For investors that might not be that familiar with yourself and ImagineAR, can you give us a quick rundown of yourself and the company...and what about the “Float Like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee” anecdote? Sounds intriguing!?

APS: We'll start with the boxing story and work our way forward from there. So back in the day, one of my previous ventures was a prepaid phone card company. I was one of the original founders of the prepaid phone card industry in North America. And prior to that business, I actually owned the robe that Muhammad Ali wore for the Zaire fight against George Foreman, it was an absolutely beautiful piece, was able to track it down. The story has been told for quite a while, but it one of those stories where I found in a garbage bag and I had met that someone in some place in New York City. And then after buying it, I had to sell it to pay my bills. Eventually I sold it Shelly Finkel, who ended up being my partner and the biggest investor in my phone card company GTS. Shelly Finkel is a renowned boxing manager and promoter in the Boxing Hall of Fame.

So, after I sold it to him, he eventually became my partner in the phone card company. And with him, we just grew the business together and took it to NASDAQ. So, it was a cool piece of memorabilia. And if you look at the market today and what's going on with baseball cards and memorabilia, I almost think sometimes I wish I had it today because the price would be outrageous and crazy. And the market is getting bigger as we move forward.

ImagineAR is an augmented reality mobile platform. We've created this platform over the last three and a half years and is the most advanced AR platform available in the world where anyone without any technical background whatsoever can create an augmented reality mobile interaction, either at a GPS location or by pointing the phone at an image literally in two minutes without any technical background. We have built this company over many years; invested a significant amount of money into building this platform. And finally, with the unfortunate event of COVID happening in current today, it has sped up the acceptance and the need for mobile AR as an engagement activation tool for many businesses, sports teams, and such. So, it truly is the Field of Dreams kind of story, where we spent three years building this platform. And now with the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic, mobile AR has become a huge opportunity for many retailers and sports teams and entertainment to utilize as a new digital channel.

SH: Can you explain to our investor audience the difference between Augmented and Virtual Reality and how mobile AR technology has become the real-game changer in the computer-generated platform space?

APS: That's well-said and a good point. So virtual reality is really been focused on the gaming industry and the education market where you put a headset on and its occlusion to the real world, right? It covers your eyes. You can't look around, you don't move around, and you're immersed in the “world”. And that's why it's been very successful in the worlds of gaming. It's also getting very big now coming in entertainment and into virtual conferences where people using VR.

AR allows anyone with a mobile phone to experience it globally. And there are over 5 billion mobile phones around the world to engage and look at digital information overlaid through their phone, as you're looking at the real world. And that’s so cool and exciting. It makes AR social and it's instantly shareable in social media. You can even record it, and everyone's got a mobile phone. If we look back to the real tipping point of AR, it was Pokémon Go in 2016 where you saw everyone running around with their phones. And that was the key moment when AR became mainstream. And today that mobile app has done over $3.5 billion. So, it demonstrates the real value of it. We've taken AR much further and deeper in the world of fan engagement in sports, into business. And with the growth of mobile combined with AR, it is a mainstay as we go forward into 2021 and beyond.

SH: Goldman Sachs has reported that global combined sales of AR and VR products could top $180 billion by 2025. As the AR sector gains more and more traction internationally, how do you see ImagineAR as a first mover within the current marketplace status quo, and if so, how do you create a competitive advantage for the Company moving forward?

APS: That's a five-part question right there. It is. That could be the whole podcast just on that one question. The market is exploding. Even Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, was quoted that he believed AR will be as big as the mobile phone. And so, you're seeing an enormous commitment by Apple but also many vendors in the world. We started building this AR platform years ago; we have been building and fine-tuning our technology platform. Additionally, we acquired a patent portfolio that is really applicable to the growth of AR and gives ImagineAR tremendous amount of value and assets within the company. But as AR continues to grow in the mobile industry, you're seeing, because of the pandemic, sports teams like Valencia CF - one of the largest sports teams, football, soccer teams in the world, 7 million fans around the world select us for fan engagement. AR is great for sports fans to enjoy fan engagement activation.

You now are seeing retailers looking to reach out to consumers. We just delivered a historical walking tour project with Streetsville in Mississauga, where people can take an AR historical walking tour through Streetsville and also receive coupons and promotions from retailers. We have built the platform that allows anyone to take advantage of leveraging mobile phone engagement and activation at physical locations but also in homes. And that's where we've positioned ourselves to be a leader in this industry.

As we go forward, we're also getting into live streaming AR activation; the ability to be the second screen immersion. There isn't anyone who's listening or watching this video who doesn't watch TV or Netflix and have the mobile phone sitting in their hand. It's now become an addendum attached to our body. So, how cool is it while I'm watching a live concert or sporting event, I can point my phone’s camera at either a QR code or logo (WebAR) and enjoy an AR activation to purchase specific merchandise, to get a digital reward or sign up for something online. That's where we're going with augmented reality and ImagineAR has all these pieces integrated in the architecture.

SH: The Company has definitely benefited from the changes brought about by the COVID stay-at-home economy. Can you walk us through how ImagineAR has seized these opportunities?

APS: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, we've done some simple promos just to test out our platform. We launched a special big promotion with the Broward Education Foundation. They wanted to do a special virtual AR graduation with students due to Covid. So back in May 2020, we actually placed the superintendent of the schools in all Broward Country Homes via AR. We green screen videotaped him and "dropped him" into everybody's physical house so they can get their own pictures and videos to commemorate their own graduation. What really made that take off is we also worked with the musical superstar Flo Rida. He performed a TikTok 15 second dance that was also dropped in everyone's homes. So, we're focused on that kind of entertaining engagement. I don't know if you're aware of our Santa AR activation this past Christmas. We dropped Santa into everyone's home around the globe, so families could enjoy a video or photo of Santa because they couldn't go to mall safely, or they weren't sure how to get those annual pictures they wanted. Now we look to integrate AR with streaming live events, into people's homes, with offers to purchase merchandise. Or as I said, second screen immersion, while you're watching your favorite sports team, point the phone at the screen and get an AR activation. We believe this adoption, due to COVID, has sped up enormously and we're positioned to ready to take advantage of it and generate significant recurring revenue with our clients and other opportunities with consumers, as well.

SH: So cool. And as a matter of fact, we did have a little bit of fun with Santa. My second day, we did, I showed my two daughters on my smartphone. We had a little bit of a, a little bit of fun with it. So, it was an outstanding thing.

APS: I didn't know that. So, there you go. We thought it was cool too. I got emails from Mexico, India, Brazil, and Asia. It really took off, and it even got covered in the Guardian newspaper. We had some great coverage and good publicity. And for us it was a good gift to give back too, right? The ability for anyone to enjoy AR with Santa and also teach people about AR. So, I'm glad to hear you had fun with it. Thanks so much for that!

SH: Please tell us about your new three-year agreement with Liquid Avatar just announced this week.

APS: We got introduced to Liquid Avatar through our Chairman of Board Sheldon Inwentash, as Sheldon has been working with them. He's the Chairman of the Board of ImagineAR. He introduced the business opportunity for working with Liquid Avatar. They created liquid avatars for biometric identification where consumers can take control of their identification. David Lucatch, their CEO, who wanted to integrate AR in his product. He has a tremendous knowledge of AR.

With Liquid Avatar, consumers not only control their identity, but the businesses who work with them can utilize AR to reach and engage them in an immersive experience to create opportunities to purchase as well. So, we're excited by this partnership. And also, it's another major ImagineAR license agreement for our SDK. The SDK actually plugs our entire AR platform into any existing mobile app, which is a key market opportunity that we've discussed previously.

The ImagineAR mobile app SDK can integrate with any existing mobile app. In the Apple Store, there’re over 3.5 million mobile apps and over 3 million in the Google Play Store. We can plug our AR platform into any one of them, integrate and provide AR immersion experiences, interaction directly into their existing mobile apps so they could build their own AR community. With Liquid Avatar, we're very excited about the future. We see a lot of recurring revenue opportunities with them and it's our first move into the world of avatars, which we think is going to have a significant future in the world as everyone proceeds forward in 2021.

SH: What’s the update with Shopper’s Drug Mart?

APS: Shoppers Drug Mart was a great win for us. We're delivering a training event for them with Human Contact in 30 days where they are using a white label version of our app. They took our ImagineAR app and created their own branding. The training event will be attended by over 2,500 managers and pharmacists around the country. They will be running a two-day event and will be dropping in AR speakers directly into people's houses. They will also be doing onscreen AR scavenger hunts. So, it's going to be immersive interactive AR experience. We're very excited that they selected us. Certainly, Shoppers Drug Mart is a great name and great brand to be associated. Using ImagineAR as a training tool, they will be able to dynamically create AR interactions as the event occurs. We think there's a lot of traction for ImagineAR. Going forward doing this, not only for conferences and events, but also for entertainment - dropping in AR entertainers and having these immersive interactive experiences.

SH: In recent news you provided shareholders with a 2020 calendar year update, including record $775,000 dollars in executed contracts. Can you give our Stockhouse investor audience a brief overview of last year for the company?

APS: AR is still evolving – there aren't multi-million dollar deals that exist in AR today. But what we're seeing now are long-term partnership opportunities for our SDK. For example, we closed two international soccer teams; we’ve closed a couple of the organizations for ImagineAR white labels, and those are the types of deals that we're booking. As we go forward, we're very optimistic that we're going to really have significant growth - starting this year with our first Liquid Avatar deal. We didn't have our first revenue deal last year till late spring. We already got one within the first couple of weeks of January. So, our bookings will then be as revenue as it's amortized over the contract period. For example, we can't book $775,000 booked last year in a single year. We are booking revenue over the contract period – for example, 36 months if it’s a three-year agreement.

So, investors have to understand revenue will always be growing, but it's going to come up slowly behind the bookings because that's the standard accounting compliance for SAS Enterprise Software. We’re excited by having Liquid Avatar as a starting point but we're seeing this year really is going to be the year of AR. We are seeing it from our sales pipeline; the inbound communications that are coming to us. And we're extremely optimistic going forward that our bookings this year are going to be significantly more and stronger as we go forward. Very optimistic.

SH: Alen, can you talk a little bit about the recent ImagineAR feature in Global Sports Innovation Center’s White Paper?

APS: We did it to go global. I don't know if we discussed previously, but I actually lived in India for four years. I'm very familiar with global interaction and the opportunities certainly with augmented reality. So, we joined GSIC, the Global Sports Innovation Center, which is powered by Microsoft. And they just published a new White Paper focused purely on advanced fan engagement technologies. And we were selected as one of the case studies. We analyzed what we did with the Cincinnati Reds Triple A franchise, the Louisville Bats. We helped them with their restaurant partnerships; the opportunity to drive their fans to partner restaurants to order food, and to help them survive in these times during the pandemic. I am going to be on a panel for the white paper, discussing it at a Singapore virtual conference this week. We believe it's going to be a great sales tool for us; explaining what we could do with our platform and create new client prospects that we could talk to around the world.

SH: On the sports side of the business, you’ve also scored some impressive strategic partnerships with big international soccer teams like Spanish football team Real Sociedad along with Valencia CF. Sounds like quite the sporting coup!

APS: What's great about those two wins are the key decisionmakers: Juan Iraola at Royal Sociedad and Franco Segarra at Valencia CF. Those are two of the leaders in soccer digital innovation in the world. Franco has his own digital innovation hub for Valencia, and they selected us as the only AR partner. That's a big win and they are in Spain and he's integrating our SDK with their existing mobile app. They'll be launching mid-January to provide AR immersive global interactions – and they have over 7 million fans around the world. Real Sociedad has its own innovation hub where they have 20 to 25 soccer teams, and we are his only AR solution for his app. Big wins for ImagineAR, yet we are not in Europe and I don't even speak Spanish. It will be wonderful to show these AR examples of what we could do around the world with great partners.

SH: And as a follow up, ImagineAR recently announced an agreement with Indian superstar singer Ananya Birla. How do these kinds of partnerships enhance the company brand and what’s the upside for shareholders and potential investors?

APS: That's a good question. Actually, Ananya came to us through her music management team, Maverick, and Maverick is owned by Live Nation. If you add up all her social views across platforms for music, it's over 350 million views. So, we're using Ananya to break open the Indian market for both consumer and business. If you do a little bit of due diligence of the Birla family, it is very highly respected in India. We're looking to do – potentially - an AR live stream this spring with her which is very exciting. Something that's never been done before. We created a full 3D model of Ananya, which will be integrated not only with our social media posts but dropped into people's homes and for other AR interactions. This is allowing us to branch out into music and entertainment with talent who has a tremendous following around the world and is really interested in integrating technology. And we think this is going to bring great commercial opportunities in business with recurring revenue in partnerships, and other opportunities in the world of entertainment and music. So, this is our start, but we are very optimistic. We're going to see a lot more of these types of partnerships and relationships as we go forward to 2021.

SH: Can you discuss a bit about your exceptional management team and the long-term strategy they bring to the company moving forward into 2021 and beyond?

APS: I think you're talking about our advisors that are part of the company. We're lucky to have some really well-established successful people in target niches. We've got Mike Tunnicliffe, former EVP of Universal Music, who built a business over 10 years for Universal Music with brands from zero dollars to $140 million per year. Mike Anderson used to work in publishing and media marketplace and is over in the UK. Jonathan Mariner, former chief financial officer for MLB for over a decade. So, we're able to have a group of really sharp people. And we have other advisors - while I apologize that I am not mentioning - who have specific niches and understanding of their markets. They are compensated through a stock option contractual relationship. So, their goal is: the better the stock performs and provides value to stockholders, the better their future reward as well. So, we maintain a very low monthly cost with our advisors, but we are able to grow from the revenue side. We just completed a big financial raise this past year - $6 million. So, we are well-funded for 2021 and beyond. We don't need to raise money. And now we're focused on executing deals yet maintaining still a very low monthly burn rate to ensure that we have a lot of runway to really grow this AR business.

SH: It would be remiss of me not to mention your stock has had a very nice bump over the last couple of months…nearly doubling since mid September. What can you tell our investor audience regarding the current valuation of your stock and why you think it’s still a good buy right now?

APS: That's a good leading question. I never discuss price – as you know, most CEOs will say they are significantly undervalued. And I feel the same way as the global AR market is just beginning. We are just at the beginning of what we see is a tidal wave of augmented reality. Apple jumping in; Google and all the other vendors like Snapchat. You're going to see tremendous growth. As you mentioned before, Goldman Sachs estimating the AR market at $198 billion. There's another analyst group called Digi Capital that just focused on AR/VR. They are estimating $60 billion by 2025. It's not that far away. So, with that high growth, we're really at the beginning of a significant shift in digital channel communication. We are well-positioned. We're commercialized. We're closing clients. And with this wave of new interest and excitement, we're very optimistic with the sales pipeline that we're now building and growing on a week-by-week basis. And we expect that value to be reflected in the stock as we go forward throughout 2021.

SH: And finally, Alen, if there’s anything else that I’ve overlooked and you’d like to add, please feel free to elaborate.

APS: I think people need to experience to understand it. We have a website called ImagineARStudio.com. It's free. You can get on the website, create your own AR activation with your own photos, videos, images or whatever you want – like dinosaurs for kids. And then you can use our ImagineAR mobile app free to enjoy sharing and take pictures / videos just like you did with AR Santa. So, we encourage everyone, not only do your due diligence, but take a look at ImagineARStudio.com to try it yourself. And like I said before, we've got the SDK we're out in the market globally. We see enormous opportunities for growth. We're extremely optimistic. And even though the stock has moved, we believe there's significant value to be had as we go forward throughout 2021. And the unfortunate circumstance of the pandemic has led to AR’s adoption.

For more information, visit imaginear.com.


FULL DISCLOSURE: This is a paid article produced by Stockhouse Publishing and the transcription has been edited for readers.


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