CONVERSATION WITH ONCI CEO STEVE BERMAN 2/26/18
I managed to get in touch with ONCI CEO Steve Berman for a brief chat about some of the current questions that have come up of late. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule (he was between meetings when we spoke) and shared as much info as he could in the time we had.
I want to preface this by saying that SB is a hardworking, passionate CEO who is working toward a goal of great success. This is the first time we've spoken at length and it made me realize that not only are we fortunate to have such a smart, savvy, articulate captain driving the ship, but we as shareholders (despite the countless hours of DD and gross assumptions we pour into ONCI), only the man and his team really know exactly what is happening behind the scenes. Hopefully some of what I report will clear things up.
PAST RELATIONSHIP WITH TXTM AND DRIVEALERTNOW
As we know, SB used to work for Protext Mobility (TXTM). Before Steve was on board, TXTM formed a licensing deal with DriveAlertNow to bring public awareness and a potential solution to the distracted driving epidemic. SB was then brought on board, as his years of marketing and sales experience seemed a natural fit to bring this 'solution' to the masses. However once SB began settling into his position, he came to realize that there were inherent problems, both with TXTM's dealings with DriveAlertNow and with the APP itself. The most complicated hurdle was that the software was programmed exclusively for android use, making it a very difficult sell. During this time, SB formed a relationship with Cogosense. and decided bringing them public through the ONCI shell made for a much better career opportunity. Three years ago he recognized the growing epidemic of distracted driving and wanted to be at the forefront in providing a solution. It was the right move given the immediate success he's found with Cogosense's products.
SB is still actively pursuing a deal with Big Auto. All previously discussed opportunities are still on the table and are being worked on. He said that working with such big corporate entities takes a great deal of time for various reasons, the biggest of which is the vetting of the technology. Each wants to see how this patented technology will best suit an integration into their own tech. Lofty requests have been made for changes, all of which are taking a lot of time and energy for Cogosense's programmers. BMW requested that the tech operate in 7 languages, for instance. This is no small feat. But it is being done. The opportunity is there and the timing is right to make something happen, and the ONCI team is doing everything they can to make it happen.
Sales to dealerships have been the immediate and most lucrative source of revenue for the company. SB saw this as his initial starting point for sales and has not let up for one moment. Not only have there been many 6 and 7-figure sales to dealerships, but he was quick to point out that retail sales have been VERY STRONG and that he is beginning to see increased orders and reorders. The dealerships LOVE the product, with many communicating details of the technology and its strong sales to their corporate HQ's. He's hopeful that their continued support will continue to bring further interest to Big Auto.
One thing he mentioned was that the managers of the some dealerships have complained about shareholder calls, some of which have been harassing in nature. This puts SB in a difficult spot, as he's trying to appease shareholders by being specific with names. However this is resulting in a strained relationship with SB and some of his clients. IMO--it's in our best interests as shareholders to keep our vetting to a professional level, if at all.
At this moment, ONCI has 37 independent sales reps with a clientele list suited for pitching our distracted driving technology to. This does NOT include any reps working for the (announced) distributors we hired: Capoli, US Warranty, Scully Lemoine, and Cataclean. These companies have units and literature and are currently 'pounding the pavement'. Of the 37 independent reps, ALL are commission based and YES, they are currently selling Bsafemobile to their accounts. The company is seeing many 'smaller' orders which SB noted are adding up. SB also noted that he's working with them toward an initial minimum goal of just 20 units per rep per month, which is a very plausible scenario. Think about it: that's over 8,000 units a year just in small orders. And this is a starting point.
SB also mentioned that there's a distributor in place with strong relationships with major retailers. He's very excited about this opportunity and sees this as a gateway to bring BsafeMobile to the mass market.
As we know there is a 3P seller on Amazon selling Bsafemobile. He is a former dealership employee who had a few units in his possession when he left his position. SB cannot list Bsafemobile as he will need to match this person’s pricing and cannot do that as he is vigilant in maintaining the integrity of the retail price in the marketplace. SB has purchased three units from this person himself and feels his supply is nearly exhausted. Once this person is out of stock, ONCI will begin selling on Amazon with an already-in-place promotional push from FLY.
The Florida law office represents over 250 dealerships and has been actively taking orders for Bsafemobile. SB said the venture is a strong one and with continued support of the firm, monthly revenues will continue.
Currently exploring various non-dilutive funding opportunities to close on the acquisition, and begin rolling out the mobile-care business. He noted that most of the company's current income is being used to further develop the bread-winning Cogosense division of the business at this time.
Vetting companies as I write this. Issue is many businesses are not fully and properly licensed for all aspects of the business he is trying to establish.
T-TRADES & DILUTION
I asked specifically about dilution and he stated yet again to me that up until recently there has only been dilution to satisfy the LAM debt, which was reported on the annual. Since then, there has been VERY LITTLE dilution, which is being used solely for operating expenses, such as commission payments to the reps and legal fees.
As for T-trades, he said that in this instance we are seeing trades from a specific brokerage (I did not write it down and cannot recall which one it was) that are taking large buy orders from clients requesting a specific price. This large HUB brokerage then sends the order out to their smaller satellite or SPOKE brokerages that then record the buy and send back into the main ‘HUB’. The main HUB accumulates all the small orders from the smaller satellites and prints it as one large trade, or T-Trade at the end of the day. He assured me that despite all the crazy theories being touted, that he has nothing to do with the large T-Trades and that the dilution is minimal.
The $25,000 question. SB told me what he could and definitely cleared up any concerns I had. YES, the audit will happen. YES we will be Hexagon. YES DE debt will be cleared. Although the DE debt exists, it is MUCH LOWER than anyone knows or assumes it to be. SB feels that the former owners should be responsible for settling it and is legally pursuing this avenue. He said the total DE debt will be revealed on the 3/15 Q1 and again, will be MUCH lower than anyone thinks. But this is only ONE of the issues affecting the audit.
When MAZARS (He reiterated that it’s a 100% bona-fide a REAL letter) started the audit, there was the necessity of obtaining various legal documents from the former shell owners. All of which the owners are hesitating to provide due to the fact that they would accrue a variety of costs and expenses, including responsibility for the now infamous DE debt. Again, SB is legally pursuing this matter and will not let up until MAZARS is satisfied. Once the issues with the former owners and DE is fulfilled, MAZARS can complete the audit and ONCI can become HEXAGON.
That’s all we had time for but I think it clears up a good portion of what we are concerned about. On closing, despite the hours of DD I’ve put into researching ONCI, I was filled in on a LOT of info I did not know. Keep this in mind when others tout details they could not possibly know without being a part of the company.
SB is a very smart, aggressive Long Islander with an undying passion for building his business. At the end of the day, he’s the one you want running this company.