It’s been another year of lockdown and supply challenges for all companies dealing with the COVID-19 variants as they pop up.

But with challenges, comes opportunities to learn and grow. So as the end of the year approaches, we took the chance to tap our client list and ask CEOs of ASX-listed small caps – from sand miners to cannabis growers to fintechs – what they learnt in 2021, their highlights, and what they hope for in 2022.

Today, we ask:

What was your company highlight for 2021?

Idan Schmorak (CEO, Crowd Media, ASX:CM8)

Getting back to the office with our European teams. Nothing replaces a product brainstorming session in a room with a whiteboard.

Alastair Wilkie (CEO, Change Financial, ASX:CCA)

We had three really important events:

  • Completing our core card management and processing platform in the US and launching it that into market;
  • Following that, we made a strategic and transformative acquisition that expanded our US operations into a global payments solutions business. This, in turn, sped up our three-year strategic roadmap by 18 months; and
  • We launched our customer ready integrated payments as a service solution “Vertexon.” This was an exceptional performance by the team to achieve that within a year

Robert Martin (Chairman, Suvo Strategic Minerals, ASX:SUV)

The purchase of French multinational Imerys’ Australian operations.

Paul Lock (MD, Pan Asia Metals, ASX:PAM)

PAM was effectively unknown in the resource market until we announced our Kata Thong Geothermal Li and Hard Rock Li/Sn Project on the 31st of August – we haven’t looked back since. It was a defining moment for our company, for our ambition to Explore a Better Future.

Karim Nejaim (CEO and MD, ActivePort Group, ASX:ATV

Well, we listed on the ASX! The support we saw from investors was really amazing. After years in the telco industry, I could see the promise in ActivePort’s technology and it was wonderful see that supported by investors.

We’ve spent the year getting ready to connect the world and make it simple to do so. Everyone knows that I’m obsessed with the customer experience, and at ActivePort all the senior executives meet with customers on a regular basis. This enabled another highlight… To cross into partnerships where customers are included in the product design process to come up with new and better solutions. When your customers are helping to create the next product releases, you know you are in a good place!

Alex Biggs (MD, Critical Resources Limited, ASX:CRR)

Beginning drilling at our Halls Peak project in NSW – it’s something that our loyal shareholders have been waiting a long time for and what initially attracted me to join the business in June 2021.

Milan Jerkovic (Chair, Wiluna Mining, ASX:WMC)

Delivering on our plans. Improving profitability. Executing on our aggressive development and expansion strategy.

Paul Russell, Executive Director, IOUpay

Paul Russell (Executive Director, IOUpay, ASX:IOU)

There are really two highlights. Firstly, the successful launch in June of myIOU, our flagship BNPL service offering into Malaysia. Our planned launch was reconfigured as a virtual event at short notice due to last minute level 4 lockdown restrictions.

The launch was a huge success reaching 8.6 million Malaysians across major broadcast and print media and led to record results in the first quarter which we are looking to build on.

Secondly, we successfully negotiated our strategic investment to acquire a 42% stake in leading Malaysian specialised finance company I.Destinasi Sdn Bhd, for which in early December we settled and completed the first tranche for half the investment.

Steven Yatomi-Clarke (CEO, Prescient Therapeutics, ASX:PTX)

Seeing all our vision, planning and execution begin to come to fruition and start to be reflected in our valuation. We positioned ourselves ahead of the curve with our enabling OmniCAR platform, and as the whole cell therapy field continues to unfold, we gain a stronger and stronger conviction that we have the right technology at the right time. It’s incredibly exciting.

William Howe (CEO, Andean Mining, ASX:ADM)

Completing the purchase of a significant project in Colombia.

Paul Glass (CEO, Nexion Group, ASX:NNG)

Personally, taking a company from private to public as CEO has been an amazing journey and the start of something great. Seeing revenue increase at such a rate quarter on quarter this financial year and being surrounded by such a strong team has been exceptional.

Roby Zomer (CEO, MGC Pharma, ASX:MXC)

First of all, I would have to say being the very first cannabis company to be listed on the London Stock Exchange. We prevailed after two years of very hard work to achieve something no one else has.

We also made the discovery of CimetrA which started as a food supplement, but we always believed in the formula and believed in the natural ingredients and what they could do. We pushed through the Phase II trials and Phase III trials and now we’re at the stage where we’re speaking with drug agencies to get emergency approval for CimetrA to be used in battling COVID 19, which puts us on the same level as companies like Pfizer and Merck.

Then of course, we had the best quarter and the best six months in terms of revenue and if this trajectory continues, we will achieve our target of becoming a profitable company.

Ralph Highnam (CEO, Volpara Health Technologies, ASX:VHT)

Reaching the milestone of our breast imaging AI products being used in more than one in three breast cancer screenings in the key US market. Over 13.4 million women in the US are now screened with at least one Volpara product. We’re very humbled to be helping in the early detection of cancer among so many women.

Michael Anderson (Managing Director, Firefinch, ASX:FFX)

FFX had many highlights, but the standout was completing the deal with Ganfeng to form a JV on Goulamina.

Glenn Smith (Managing Director, TALi Digital, ASX:TD1)

Without a doubt it was our agreement with Akili in August. ADHD is a significant issue globally, affecting millions, but particularly in the US. Akili has the first clinically proven, FDA-approved digital therapeutic for treating the condition in children 8-12 and, as important we help parents, carers and families between 3-8 years of age. The synergy is clear and the ethical based business opportunity is enormous for both organisations.