Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Canada Streaming wants gold to shine again

Canada Streaming Incorporated’s Bill Marvel and Zeina Osman plan to use the lessons they learned in the Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation’s Wings program to help restore gold’s lustre.

Gold holds an undying attraction for humans. But that most precious of metals often comes with a hefty hidden price tag. The mercury or cyanide commonly used in extracting it from raw ore can poison the surrounding land, water -- and people.

For most consumers looking for a gold pendant or wedding ring, their preference is clear. Given the choice between gold produced by artisanal miners who do not use environmentally unsafe and toxic chemicals to extract it, versus gold that is processed using cyanide or mercury, which leaves behind contaminated tailing ponds and can make miners very sick, they will choose the former. But how can consumers ever know whether the gold they are getting has been sourced ethically?

This is where Canada Streaming comes in. The company is developing a system using sensors on site and data stored in the cloud that will allow it and its customers to track gold extracted by artisanal miners in Brazil without using mercury from where it leaves the ground right through to the end user.

Osman and Marvel have extensive experience in the high-tech world -- they met through a computer charity that Marvel started -- but marketing gold represents a new direction for them. Drawn to Kingston in part because of the Queen’s innovation ecosystem, Canada Streaming joined the Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation Startup Runway program and from there graduated into the most recent version of the Wings Accelerator, the program intended for technology or science-based companies that have a product but as yet no or small revenues. They needed as Osman puts it, to take a “deep dive” into the world of startups, covering customer discovery, marketing differentiation and a host of other important subjects.

Both are effusive about what they learned. “Elza Seregelyi and Andrew Jackson [the program co-coordinators] and Rick Boswell [from QPI) were fantastic in clarifying things for us,” she says.

“Very professional and inspirational,” says Marvel, a Queen’s geography graduate. “They know the process for starting a successful company, one that can sell to a customer.”

“We spent a lot of time with Andrew [Jackson],” says Osman. “and he really understood what we do. That was good for our self-confidence when it came time to pitch.”

The founders used the tools they learned in the program to launch their IoT sensor network that connects mines with customers seeking a sustainable, ethical product. This has already led to new opportunities for developing their tracing technology related to smart mining in Ontario.

Working remotely via Zoom thanks to COVID-19 had its drawbacks, particularly when delivering their pitch as part of the final session. Their show-stopper, a small piece of ethically sourced gold, just didn’t have the same “wow” effect when people couldn’t handle it. But overall, says Osman, “I thought the virtual delivery of the program worked quite well.“

The next stages of their journey will include working to build networks in Kingston that will help them improve their tracing system. From there, says Osman, the goal is to “really focus onto moving into production and from that into revenue.”

“Now that we have a pitch,” says Marvel, “we need to do it many times in front of many people.”

 

The Wings/Growth Acceleration program was made possible with support from the Government of Canada to Queen’s University through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the Scale-up Platform Project which is led by Invest Ottawa in eastern Ontario and by Queen’s in the Kingston region.

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