icetana (ASX:ICE) Presentation, FNN Online Investor Event, September 2021


icetana Limited (ASX:ICE) CEO and Managing Director Matt Macfarlane provides an update on the company, discussing its AI-driven video surveillance software, key financials, customer groups and geographies.

Hi everybody. Matt from icetana, I’ll dive into the presentation, and it’s great to be here today. Got the usual regulatory and legal stuff to get through, but I’ll let you read that later.

Just a quick refresher for anyone who hasn’t heard of us before, icetana is a video analytics company, so we work principally in the security surveillance space. Our company builds software and we use AI technology to understand movement patterns in front of fixed field of view surveillance cameras. So you can see at the top right of this scene, that’s a typical, say, university campus and what a surveillance camera might see in that scene, and this mock-up that has the little green pixels moving about is how icetana would view this scene.

Now, many of our competitors work by doing boxes around people, around cars, around objects and do very, very complicated processing around understanding what is within the scene. icetana works on a pixel basis and we use a very different approach to those many, many competitors out in the market, because what our system does is it understands normal movement patterns, and it does that learning over the period of anything from a day to two weeks, creates a model of what it expects to see within those scenes, and then it starts to report anomalous and unusual movement in real time. So it’s very much like movement detection on steroids.

Normal movement detection, when you put that on a surveillance camera, will knock out approximately 40% of your surveillant time and you’ll end up having to wade through 60% of surveillant time, which is a lot of hours in the day, 16 hours or so. With icetana, we knock out more than 98% of surveillant time, so you get down to the 15 to 24 minutes of interesting footage for each camera each day, and what that allows is that within the control room, suddenly the security operators start to see interesting stuff as it is happening.

But better than that, one of the things that we’ve discovered in the last year or so for icetana is that it actually massively increases the productivity of your security operators, and I’ll talk a little bit more about that as we get into the presentation in terms of our focus. We plug into existing video management systems, so these are the systems that capture the footage from these cameras and send it through to storage and allow you to do playback, forward, rewind like you used to on your old VCRs, and we use a unique black screen interface for displaying the events as they show up. So at the bottom right, you can see events kind of fade in and fade out as they are discovered on icetana. So that’s a little bit about our software.

We’ve been around doing this for 11 years now. We came out when, before AI was called AI, it was like basic machine learning in the early days, a spinout from Curtin University. There’s a huge unmet need in this space, and one of the most exciting things about being at icetana now, and by the way I was around from the very beginning, is that the customers out there get AI and they understand the leverage that can come from tapping into these massive data flows that are coming out of surveillance camera networks. Your typical surveillance camera will produce a terabyte of data every single day. And that is a sweet spot for AI to be involved and starting to filter through that data and present the interesting things as they happen.

Technology is moving at a wonderful pace. The processing that we do is done on GPUs, which are your graphics processing units, which are basically being built for the gaming industry by the people like NVIDIA, and those processing units are accelerating in their capacity faster than Moore’s Law. So just incredibly quickly processing is moving forward and that’s allowing us to do some really fantastic stuff with our clients. We’re already active on over 14,000 cameras. We make revenue on a per camera basis, and current forecasts indicate that next year there’s going to be a billion cameras around the world operating in the surveillance space. The leadership team has been changed out in the last three years since I returned to the CEO role, and we’ve just got some extraordinary individuals, I’ll chat about them later.

Perhaps best of all for investors, we are increasingly orienting towards becoming a SaaS business where we have recurring revenue streams coming through, about 60% of last year’s turnover was in the SaaS space. Not one-off revenues, but revenues that, if you hold onto the customer, you hold onto the revenue, you grow the customer, et cetera. And that’s, that’s a business that I absolutely love, it gives us recurring revenue streams, allows that when you go and get a new sale, you can just add it onto that sale.

So how do we present value to our customers? Well, we find a string of lots and lots of different events. On the left hand side, on the little circle diagram, you can see some of the things that we have reported to our customers and found for them. Everything from occupational health and safety breaches, to fights breaking out, to emergency response vehicles, to people tampering with cameras inside prisons, or even a fire or a burst of smoke when someone opens a door to an area which has been burning. Perhaps more importantly, on the right hand side, we’ve now established a very clear ratio, which is a return on investment style of pitch, which is that for every hundred cameras you connect to icetana, you can have one less guard either out in the field or in your control room. Now that one guard saving for every hundred cameras is a beautiful multiplier for a particular sector we want to address, which is the guarding services sector.

So if you are a company such as Wilson Security say, or Securitas, or G4S, these companies who provide guarding services, you need to fill a control room and you need to actively monitor what’s going on within the camera networks of your clients. And icetana’s sweet spot is when we get into that space, because we start showing those control rooms things as they’re happening, and quite honestly, those security operators go home feeling like heroes because they catch things in real time.

So a quick little chat about our results since listing. Our last quarter, we jumped annualised recurring revenue quite dramatically by getting some implementations happening. Things have been slow with COVID, many sites where we’d already made the sale, we were not able to get in place to install the hardware that’s required to run our software, so things have been put on hold. With the opening up of the sites because the vaccination rates lifting around the world, we’ve got a really nice coming out of COVID story happening with icetana and some nice jumps in our revenues, and our deployments are incredibly fast. Even though we’re based in Perth and physical infrastructure is required on each of these sites, we have deployed to places like prisons in the United States, which literally are air gaps in the internet. So we’ve become very, very good at remote deployments, and I’ve got to say that COVID has helped a lot for a Perth-based company, because many, many more people are happy to get on a video conference call for a sales effort and completely understand when you want to deploy your equipment remotely.

Our pipeline has also grown. So I mentioned about how customers are kind of getting the AI space at the moment. It’s wonderful to see the number of inquiries coming in, the number of companies who are interested in this technology, and with our new focus in guarding services, we’re going to get much more outbound in our communications to the market, because we have been relatively passive through the time of COVID as we’ve conserved cash and managed the cash balance that we had very, very carefully.

So a quick chat about the team. Apart from myself, I’d like to just maybe mention in particular Kevin Brown, Kevin’s been with us since before the IPO. He’s been involved in two of Western Australia’s most famous software unicorns coming out of this state, that was Nearmap and VGW, where he was a driving force in the transformation of that business into very, very fast revenue generation. For those who missed the news earlier, at the back half of last week, the third unicorn that came out of WA was Canva, they’re a little more than your average unicorn now. Raf Kimberley-Bowen joined us as CFO in February. He’s been an extraordinary addition, very experienced in the software space and has just been great in the team.

Our growth strategy going forward is a number of very, very interesting markets for us. So in South America, there are far more guards than there are police active in the market, and many, many condominiums, normal buildings, have extensive video surveillance protecting their assets. Those video cameras are extremely often piped through to central control rooms where literally thousands of cameras are monitored by up to a hundred operators in the single room. We can dramatically lift the efficiency of those operators, and so it’s a really easy use case to go and sell into that market.

In Japan, it’s also an extremely interesting market, because with the aging population it’s very hard to attract and secure guards. We announced last week a deal with Panasonic, we’re going to be building integration with Panasonic’s video management system. This is, to my knowledge, the only third party external piece of software that Panasonic have agreed to implement into their Japanese video management system and a real endorsement to our differentiated approach to dealing with video security surveillance footage. And lastly, managed surveillance in the Middle East. We’ve had a lot of success in the Middle East, it’s a strong market for us, we’ve got some excellent referring customers, and we’ve been expanding into that territory very nicely.

Now, in terms of the other part of the growth strategy is the product led side of things, we are going to be closely matching our new v2 product that’s due for launch very, very early in the new year. Matching those features to the requirements of these guarding services companies that we are chasing after, we have already started to reduce dramatically the lead time to closing a deal. We used to have to go through quite extended proof of concept processes, which would take two or three months before we even got to a point where the customer is comfortable with the product. We’re now able to ask the customer just to send us 24 hours of footage with an event in it and we’ll tell them if we’d find it or not.

So I like to refer to it as the eternal question, would icetana have found this, and they can literally send us that footage, we’ll analyse it all under proper confidentiality, et cetera, and come back to them and tell them, yes, no, we would not have found it. And of course, the dramatic savings that I was talking about, that hundred cameras versus one staff member, our license is substantially lower than a typical salary, unless you were selling into a part of India or something where security guards are incredibly cheap.

Right. A little more about the new product. So it’s been built from the ground up, not using the old technology that was used for the version one product, using NVIDIA’s deep stream off the shelf capabilities, as well as adding in all of our experience from the past 11 years, we’ve filed a patent in Australia and the US and Europe over the user interface that we’ve built for this new product. It’s all being built so it’s cloud capable. So historically we’ve only been on premise, but we are now moving towards a product that can also work in the cloud, because a lot of footage is going up to the cloud now. Even though there’s large, large amount of data, the networks are starting to support that, and that’s a unique opportunity for us. And our interface is entirely on the browser, which is a big change from where we were historically, we had a JavaScript thick client and browser based access is the norm.

We’re also opening the box on some really interesting new developments in neural networks, convolutional and recurrent neural networks, which is your classic AI learning algorithms to improve our performance, and I’ve already talked a little bit about our trial period being shortened. So this is a quick snapshot of the new user interface that’s intrain and currently in testing with a number of our most friendly clients.

And I wanted to also just quickly call out a little bit about our competitors. So it is a very competitive space in terms of budget. It’s not so much a competitive space in terms of functionality, but to give you an idea about the value assigned to some of these companies, because they’re addressing such an enormous market.

BriefCam was purchased in 2018 by Canon for over US$120 million. AnyVision, close to Softbank round, that valued them in excess of a billion dollars just in July of this year. Irisity, which is listed on the NASDAQ First North based out of Stockholm, they do a very similar approach to analysing anomalous events to us, and those guys are currently valued at about $250 million, even though their revenues are just about double what we are turning over. And Viisights is a company out of Israel, recently closed a US$10 million investment round, valuing them at over $70 million.

So there’s some really high value companies out there in the market, and it’s my job to convince investors that we should be in that strain as well, and so our big focus in the next 12 months is getting this new product out and driving our revenue growth as we did in the last quarter of last financial year.

So, “Why invest in icetana now?,” is a very important question for any venture capitalists and hopefully for all of you on the line. Well, first of all, our trading levels where we’re trading at the moment very much reflect what happened to us through COVID, it’s very backwards looking. We’ve retained cash, and we’ve been slow in terms of growth, but we’re picking that up, we’ve got a really nice coming out of COVID story.

AI is a beautiful growth wave and an opportunity to invest in that is, I think, something everyone should be thinking about. We’ve got a really clear focus in terms of the area that is growing rapidly, which is this guarding services space. More and more cameras are getting out there and more and more companies are seeking to outsource their security management to somebody else, because it’s just a pain to deal with all of those cameras out there. We’ve got a very unique approach, as evidenced by the Panasonic announcement that our competitive mode, in terms of our way of going about finding anomalous and unusual movement, rather than some kind of rules based, if this face matches this face, or if somebody goes over this virtual trip by our approach, our approach is quite unique in the market and quite well differentiated.

And we’ve got an awesome team. All of the executives that you saw in that diagram earlier are taking salaries that are well below normal market, and we are very much incented by an option program, which by the way, is priced at 25 cents, which is well above where we are right now. So we’re very excited to be driving the company way above that point in the foreseeable future. And as COVID situations come down, as we get on top of this Delta wave, I think that icetana is in a great place to move forward.

Now, I’ve got about 55 seconds left, so I’m going to show you a quick bit of footage for those of you who own bicycles, just to feel what it’s like to park your bike outside, and you should be able to spot very quickly what the anomalous event was in this particular video. Handheld grinders the bane of any bicycle owners these days. Anyway, I’ll wrap up here and turn back to Clive, and thank you very much for your attention.

Ends