Exclusive Interview with Elevated Signals Co-Founder and CEO Amar Singh
Elevated Signals was launched as an agile, cloud-based solution to meet the day-to-day operating needs of cannabis producers. The Canadian cannabis software company has a unified platform for inventory tracking, environmental monitoring and digital record keeping. Co-Founder and CEO Amar Singh explained to New Cannabis Ventures how the platform works and how it stands out from the competition. The audio of the entire conversation is available at the end of this written summary.
Singh started Elevated Signals with three co-founders: James Douma, Benn Mapes and Hardeep Shoker. Singh studied environmental science and then worked with the Biotron Experimental Climate Change Research Centre. He saw firsthand the kind of technology and infrastructure necessary to support research conducted in greenhouses and grow chambers. Some of that same technology, like controlled environment greenhouses and wireless sensors, are used today in the cannabis industry.
Singh decided to go to graduate school for water engineering and business, and the idea for Elevated Signals was born. At the time, the medical program in Canada was taking off and recreational use was right around the corner.
Douma, Mapes and Shoker worked together at Adobe, which acquired a company co-founded by Douma. Singh had developed a relationship with Tantalus Labs and Anandia Laboratories (later acquired by Aurora Cannabis), allowing the team to try out a couple of pilot projects. From there, the co-founders launched Elevated Signals.
The Elevated Signals Platform
At its inception, Elevated Signals was intended to focus on precision agriculture with the use of wireless sensors, integrating with seed to sale software developed by other companies. But, it quickly evolved to become more. Singh found that there were shortcomings in many of the options available in the first generation of seed to sale software, and cannabis producers were looking for a new solution.
Today, Elevated Signals has three pillars: modern inventory tracking, environmental monitoring and digital record keeping. That third pillar has fueled much of the company’s growth over the past few years, according to Singh.
Cannabis companies need to provide documentation to prove regulatory compliance, but much of the necessary data has lived on paper or been siloed in multiple different software systems. Elevated Signals captures all of a producer’s quality documents, environmental data and record keeping. As a result, preparation for and undergoing Health Canada audits is a much faster and more efficient process.
For larger producers that want a full ERP solution, Elevated Signals has integrated with Sage X3. This integration gives users an answer to their financial reporting needs.
Adding More Features
Right now, Elevated Signals is only tracking cannabis inventory, but it is going to evolve to become more of a comprehensive manufacturing resource planning (MRP) platform. The company is introducing general inventory tracking. Users will be able to track all of their other materials, such as nutrients, packaging for prerolls and consumable products, using the Elevated Signals system.
Elevated Signals is also going through the process of GMP validation, which could be a significant draw for clients in the United States.
Canadian Market Presence
The company has a strong base in western Canada in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. This year, it plans to expand in those western provinces and to become a market leader in Ontario.
Elevated Signals serves small, craft producers, mid-size producers and large producers. Some of the company’s clients include Pure Sunfarms, Rubicon Organics, Tantalus Labs, Decibel and Habitat Craft Cannabis.
Expanding into the U.S.
Over the past couple of years, the Elevated Signals team has been carefully considering its opportunities in the United States. Last year, the company received an investment from Canopy Boulder, and it has been preparing its U.S. go-to-market strategy. Elevated Signals wants to have five partners lined up in the U.S. by the end of the first quarter, according to Singh. It is pursuing leads in states like California, Colorado and Nevada.
The company intends to align its Canadian and U.S. technology roadmaps as much as possible. In Canada, the focus has been heavily on regulatory compliance, while Singh sees the focus in the U.S. to be more on the performance optimization side. The company is taking its data and experience from the Canadian market and applying that to data analytics to empower producers to track KPIs around yield performance, according to Singh.
Ample Organics, acquired by Akerna, has been Elevated Signals’ primary competitor in the Canadian marketplace. MJ Freeway, also a part of Akerna, will be a competitor in the United States. Last year, Elevated Signals did 15 competitive replacements, largely of Ample Organics, according to Singh.
As the market evolves, Elevated Signals will come up against more traditional ERPs and MRPs. But, its integration with Sage X3 shows that it can form synergistic relationships with these types of companies.
Singh also expects to see a newer generation of tech startups popping up, particularly as the timeline for legalization in the U.S. starts to become clearer. Over the next few years, the cannabis tech startup space could experience more M&A activity.
For Elevated Signals, any potential M&A would need to make sense from a strategic standpoint. Singh believes the company can stand alone from a product perspective, but a deal that would dramatically increase penetration in a particular market could be of interest. Or, the company could potentially partner with a company that caters to another part of the supply chain.
For now, Elevated Signals will concentrate on growing organically, and it will remain focused on production. The company has plenty of room to go deeper in serving cultivation and manufacturing operations, according to Singh.
Elevated Signals has raised a few million dollars since its inception in 2017. It worked with Creative Destruction Lab to kick start its seed round, and it did another round last year. Its next round of funding will likely be a larger series round, according to Singh.
2021 Revenue Outlook and Growth Drivers
2020 represented a period of rapid growth for Elevated Signals; the company’s monthly recurring revenue grew 800 percent. In 2021, the company is targeting 3x growth, the majority of which will be driven by the Canadian market. If the company is able to gain traction in the U.S. market in Q1 and Q2, it may be able to boost its target mid-year, according to Singh.
At this point, MMR and customer count are the company’s most important metrics. Over time, it will work to ensure its gross margins are in line with other SaaS companies. Right now, Elevated Signals is still doing a lot of R&D, but it will continue to optimize its business by streamlining its sales and onboarding operations.
The company plans to double the size of its team. As demand continues to grow in the U.S., it will be looking to build out its sales, engineering and implementation teams there. Elevated Signals also has plenty of growth opportunities ahead in Canada.
To learn more, visit the Elevated Signals website. Listen to the entire interview: