By Andru McCracken
A company co-founded by former McBride Secondary School student Adam Miron is now worth more than a billion dollars and a new book ‘Billion Dollar Start-Up’ tells the story.
HEXO Corp is a packaged-goods cannabis company serving the global market. It’s one of the largest licensed cannabis companies in Canada, with 2 million square feet of facilities in Ontario and Quebec. It also has a foothold in Greece to establish a Eurozone processing, production and distribution centre.
Miron went to school in McBride from Grade 7 to 11 and during that time he helped the family business, AAA Miron Computer Services, bring internet to Valemount and McBride two decades ago. A new book, written by the cofounders of the company and author Julie Buen, gives an account of Miron’s experiences with marijuana in McBride.
“The tale herein is about how two eager 29-year-old brothers-in-law and friends, Adam Miron and Sebastien St-Louis, grabbed hold of a bold moment in Canadian history and, with just $35,000 in credit, turned their basement start up into a billion-dollar corporation.”
He remembers as a 10 year old in Two Hills, Alberta preparing his bike for the season on a cold spring morning. He and his dad adjusted the seat, and oiled the chain. While they worked, his dad asked questions that got him thinking.
“Do you think everyone knows how to do this?” his dad asked. “Do you think everybody has the tools? Do you think people would pay a couple bucks for you to do this?”
His dad let the ideas sink in.
“Wait a minute, what if we did this? We could make money,” Adam recalls saying.
They printed out flyers on a dot matrix printer and delivered them around his school.
“That morning, Dad woke me up early, we went outside and opened the garage door, I wasn’t sure if anybody would show up. They did. I made 100 bucks that day and it cemented my entrepreneurial side.”
In McBride he was a part of AAA Miron Computer Services in the back of McBride Realty Office.
The family serviced and sold computers, including the first few computers for the McBride Hospital and provided dial-up internet to hundreds of clients.
Influences from home
“Mr. Jones was one of my favorite teachers. And I always wanted one of his paintings. Last summer we were visiting and I wanted to stop into McBride to go see if we could pick up one of Mr. Jones Paintings.”
Miron emailed Jones, teasing him. “I have the two paintings we did together,” he said, a reference for Jones’ penchant for helping his students complete their works of art. “Now I can finally afford one of yours.”
He didn’t hear back.
He called the Whistlestop Gallery to see if they had any pieces. They just had one left.
At the gallery he learned that Trevor Jones had passed.
“There is no way I’m leaving without that,” he said. “I have it hanging in my house today; it’s one of my favourite pieces.”
Miron said that in a town where only the outstanding students went on to university and the rest picked up a tool belt and went to work, his art teacher opened another door.
“Mr Jones filled an important gap making creativity okay. I always felt this creative outlet wasn’t encouraged by the masses. Mr. Jones was there to make it okay, encourage it and foster it. It made a lot of the ways I feel and think okay.”
Miron said he’s not an artist as such, but the brands, how the businesses look and feel to consumers is important to him.
His advice to the students in McBride is simple.
“Focus, work hard, but allow yourself to be creative,” he said.
Essential qualities for an entrepreneur
Miron’s place is on the frontier, whether it is the internet, medical marijuana, or cryptocurrency. He’s the chairman of the board for a cryptocurrency company in Ottawa called for a company called Brane Capital. They work to secure people’s cryptocurrency. Not the most exciting aspect of cryptocurrency, he admits, but it answers an important question in a market that is set to grow.
He believes it was his mother’s steady support that brought him so much success. Her steady mantra filled him with confidence: “Adam, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll be the best.”
Miron said that is the key when working in new uncertain industries.
“When you embark on a future emerging industry, there isn’t a path. It hasn’t been proven. I have an overwhelming sense of confidence. Bigger than it should have been, but it has allowed me to be a risk-taking entrepreneur.”
You can too
“The reality is, you don’t have to be a fortune teller to know that Crypto will be a major part of the GDP (gross domestic product),” said Miron.
He quotes a report from the World Economic Forum that forecast that 10% of global gross domestic product is likely to be stored on the blockchain by 2027.
Miron said he spent a lot of time convincing investors that cannabis was going to be mainstream one day.
“Most Canadians didn’t know there was a legal medical program,” he said,. His insight was that medical cannabis was legal and that recreational cannabis would be soon. While cannabis isn’t quite mainstream yet, he maintains it’s getting closer.
Now he’s trying to tell people about the potential of cryptocurrency, a message he doesn’t mind sharing with entrepreneurial-minded teenagers in McBride.
“If you want a real skill set, if you want to make an investment of your time and you don’t have cash. Take some of your time and learn how to code smart contracts.”
As always, Miron’s money is where his mouth is. His seven year old daughter is going to coding classes three days a week.
“I fundamentally believe that the influence and change to society that the blockchain will have is just as great as electricity has changed our world today from 100 years ago.”
On being a billionaire
Miron said there is a big difference between starting a billionaire company and being a billionaire.
“I am not a billionaire,” he said, with a quick proviso. “At least not yet.”