Investing in science for a better future

SciMar investor Terry Cholka: “The opportunity to contribute to a positive change in global health far outweighed any investment risk.”

When it comes to his leisure time, Terry Cholka likes to fish. When it comes to investing, though, he’s more of a hunter.

He hunts for investment opportunities that not only offer the potential of a significant return, but are also poised to make a difference in the world. All the better if the values of the company he is investing in align with his own. For Cholka, who lives in a home he is building at the face of Riding Mountain in Manitoba’s Parkland Region, all the pieces came together with SciMar. He made a significant investment in the summer of 2019.

“When Mick (Lautt, SciMar’s CEO) started telling me about SciMar and what they were doing, I could see that not only was there potential from an investment standpoint, but there was a potential benefit for our own community and the world,” says Cholka. “An improvement in human health and major steps in the battle against type 2 diabetes would benefit everyone.”

Cholka and Lautt were introduced by a mutual friend in the Dauphin area. Cholka was eager to meet Lautt because, as it turned out, the two are neighbours. But he also wanted to meet because of the positive “rumblings” he was hearing about SciMar throughout Dauphin, home to SciMar’s head office and most of the company’s early investors.

“I could see almost immediately Mick’s passion in SciMar as well as his professionalism and commitment to the community. It was clear we shared similar values,” says Cholka of his first meeting with Lautt. “I was impressed by how open he was with information and how passionate he was about what SciMar is trying to accomplish.”

And so, Cholka undertook his own personal, rigorous vetting process. He examined SciMar’s materials and its numbers, and studied information about the pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical approval processes. He liked what he learned.

“I certainly felt that there was enough there to justify the investment,” says Cholka, whose late father lived with diabetes. “The opportunity to contribute to a positive change in global health far outweighed any investment risk. This is an investment in the health of all families, including my own.”

For Cholka, family is a key ingredient to a happy and purposeful life. In fact, the 54-year-old has started winding down the farm that has been in his family for four generations so he can spend more time with family—including a son who lives with autism—and spend more time fishing, camping, and contributing to society as an informed an engaged angel investor.

“I had told my kids that before I turned 50 I wanted a direction from them about whether any of them wanted to carry on the farm,” says Cholka. “They all chose a different path.”

Tetra Farms, Cholka’s business, sold off a piece of the farm to a young couple from out of province eager to start farming in Manitoba. There is a leasing arrangement in place for the rest of the farm and its equipment for now, with a complete transition in the works. Cholka stays involved as an advisor, visiting the farm about once a month. “It’s difficult getting into farming, but it’s just as difficult getting out,” he laughs.

His main focus in the short term is to finish building his new home. His longer-term goal is to build a better world through investment.

“In my mind, everyone has gifts to share. I look at my son and his autism. His gift is to teach people tolerance,” reflects Cholka. “The gift I share is my ability to help companies like SciMar make a difference by investing in them. SciMar’s gift is the potential of their research to change global health. There is a multiplication effect at work here and I am glad to be a part of it. I care about the future.”