Swarmio, a decentralized eSports platform with an automated tournament management system, has put its plans to seek a stock market listing on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis but is finding the pandemic creating business opportunities in new and existing markets.

The company, which has bases in Halifax, Sydney and the Toronto area, announced earlier this year that it would seek a listing on the TSX Venture exchange – but that was before the recession cut share prices.

In an interview this week, Founder and CEO Vijai Karthigesu said those plans are now on hold, and are subject to review. However, the company has just closed a $350,000 venture capital round from Innovacorp and hopes to secure matching investment from BDC Capital.

“We had discussions [about the listing] with our advisers at Cannacord and other groups and said let’s wait,” said Karthigesu in the phone interview. “Let’s see how and when the market comes back. It’s giving me a good perspective. Going public is not always the first option. If the new verticals and COVID-19 demand for gaming bring in new revenue, we might not go public. We might stay private and still raise money.”

Swarmio aims to solve a huge problem for multi-player online games. When players in different parts of the world are playing one another, the system is much faster for the player closest to the gaming company’s server, giving that player an unfair advantage.

Swarmio’s solution is to develop a network of remote servers, so the players are always playing on a server based roughly equal distances apart. As of March, Swarmio's platform connected more than 170 data centers in more than 70 regions globally.

Innovacorp Plans To Accelerate Funding During Crisis

It is one of the startups in the region that has seen increased demand because of the pandemic. With so many people forced to stay home, a lot of people (especially the young) are spending more time gaming, so Swarmio is seeing an increase in business.

While acknowledging the tragedy of the pandemic, Karthigesu said gaming is serving a useful role because it allows young people to socialize with their friends without breaking social distancing rules. That helps to alleviate mental health issues during the lockdown, he said.

“It’s an unfortunate situation for the world, but for us it is an opportunity,” he said. “And going forward, things are going to be changing. Our technology optimizes latency and now we’re thinking of making the technology available for other verticals, like voice technology and video conferencing.”

Karthigesu said the company had been working on plans to attack new business sectors like video conferencing, to help ensure there is no delay in people conversing over great distances. The plans are now being accelerated.

The company’s core technology can be used in new ways, he said, and the team will have to design products that can be sold into the new market. Remote working will still be an essential part of working life after the crisis ends, he said, so there will likely be a strong market for it.

Swarmio first received funding from Innovacorp several years ago, and the Nova Scotia government’s venture capital agency has signaled that it plans to accelerate investment during the pandemic. BDC, the federal government’s business bank, has also indicated it will provide matching funds for any startup that raises venture capital during the crisis.

That means that Swarmio, whose 20-member team includes 15 people in Nova Scotia, could receive an equity capital injection of $700,000 in the near term. The company recently received a $338,369 grant from NRC IRAP to help an R&D project and a $250,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.