Eric Gauthier
IMPACT INVESTING

Eric Gauthier

#43

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Managing Partner – Roadster Capital

Eric Gauthier – What is Focus?

“Innovation requires self innovation.”

ABOUT

Eric is an innovator and investor who loves to learn about the wisdom of life and resilience of nature to empower technology startups generate maximum impact in the world. Eric has co-founded the Tangle Lab Accelerator designed to empower impact-driven tech companies in the US and Canada to move from Seed stage to Series A. Tangle LAB offers a 2-year acceleration program helping startups go to market, generate sales, raise capital, develop effective products and build synergy.

Eric is an angel investor and a family member at the AGHolding investment fund. AGH invests in impact-driven tech companies, in Canada and the US. AGH has invested in over 60 companies since 2001.

Eric Gauthier was CEO of Synopsis Solutions (1997-2007), a SAAS company specialized in powering online travel agencies (airlines, hotels, cars, packages) that he co-founded at the age of twenty. Synopsis technology was at the forefront of an entire new way of selling travel. He was also CEO of Polar Web (2005-2007), which specialized in the development of websites and applications. When Eric sold his two businesses more than 30 people were involved in them. Eric obtained his electrical engineering degree in 2001 from École Polytechniques of Montreal.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Eric Gauthier

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Thank you very much for joining us today at the OPN People Work or or as we call it, Ask An Angel. And today we’re excited to be able to chat with you, Eric, and learn a bit more about you and your business and how you guys invest and all these great things that you guys are up to. So the first thing that we like to kind of start with is if you can share a little bit about your background, kind of where are you from, what you’ve been doing, got a career wise, if you will, and then where you are today, and then one thing about you that nobody will know?

Eric:
Just to be clear, should I repeat the question you asked me and then I gave the answer? Or how does that work? What’s the format?

Jeffery:
The great thing is that I’m going to say, 98% of the time, we mostly forget because we’re just having a conversation. I used to say, for sound bites, it works well. But in this case, if you do repeat it, that’s perfect. Again, it works great for sound bites. If you don’t remember, it’s okay too. We’ll just make our way through it all. So..

Eric:
Okay, Okay. Perfect. So you ask me a little bit about ourselves and, as investors, right?

Jeffery:
I just-

Eric:
My background? Where I come from?

Jeffery:
Background, all those things about you, and then we’ll kind of explore things from there. And then one thing about you that nobody would know.

Eric:
Nobody would know. Okay, nobody, a few people, so, yes, I’m a tech entrepreneur, serial tech entrepreneur. I started.. I first, you know, started as, studied as an electrical engineer at Montreal Polytechnique. And then I started my first e-commerce company after my first year at the university. So we ran this for 10 years, and we were building travel technology, platform, like competing just at the time where the internet was disrupting travel, and Expedia was the big players. So we were empowering the- my travel agency to compete with Expedia essentially, and then, so yeah. So from that, and also, because it’s a complicated story in a short amount of time. Something else-

Jeffery:
We got time!

Eric:
Yeah. So we have an hour, right?

Jeffery:
Yeah, take your time.

Eric:
Okay. Perfect, yeah. So and also, so we’re family office. So we invest in technology companies. Mainly, that care about bettering the world, so we’ve done about 70 investments over the last 15 years. And, and the capital comes from, mainly from the cell of my dad’s company was called Group LGS. So, essentially, my dad and I run our family office and yeah, and so you ask me something and nobody would know, but so something a few people close friends of mine know is that between selling my first company and becoming involved as an investor, as part of our family office, I traveled around the world for three years with only my backpack, not knowing where I was going to go the next day. So I was just going on following a hunch, following the unknown, and people I was meeting, and really being free. You know, after working 100 hours a week for years, I was fi- just finally decided just to stop having plans and just follow my intuition, follow my heart. And then I discovered in order to learn and discover things I could not imagine, it was a great need for that. And all these insights that I learned on this journey, forge, how I, you know, how we build technology today, who we invest with and how we invest. So learning about, you know, so you know, a lot of technology is about innovation, and so what, you know, but in truth, innovation really requires self innovation first. So how to get here, put you know, remove yourselves from the equation so that you can see the true need what’s really there, and then you just listen, listen and feel what’s there and then you build a company, that service that needs so they can better people’s life.

Jeffery:
I love it. And, and I don’t say that just because I feel like using the word I love it. But what I like about the thing that nobody knows about you is that I follow the same mantra, if you will, when I left big business, I did the same. I traveled, but I did travel for three years. I would have loved to, but I backpacked through Asia for three months and nowhere to go. Just no destination. And the great thing that’s come out of that is that over the last 15 years I travel every year, December and January, for 4 to 6 weeks with one country in and one country out. I have nowhere to stay. Except for the last couple of years. Border security has forced me to start putting in and booking stuff. But I never book anywhere, so I’m on a flight. I have nowhere to land. I have nowhere to go when I land. I have to find a hostel to stay in. I have my backpack and that’s it.

Eric:
Amazing!

Jeffery:
And I just traveled and I’ve been to over 50 countries, and it’s because I just explore and in the- I always add in the startup community. So as I travel, I make connections and I just find people to go visit. But I’m out watching football matches, climbing mountains, seeing, but it’s all about having no plan, and the reason I do it is because one, I felt that, like you, is that everything was structured into long days. But everything we do is always buy a calendar. So I felt that if I traveled by myself, it would force me to meet people or I would be by myself because I wouldn’t meet people here. It would be my way of forcing myself. And don’t get me wrong. Yeah, there’s weeks where I may not meet people, but that’s okay. Other times I forced myself to have to talk to people and get to know them, and that’s been amazing. I’ve met so many amazing people around the globe that have the same kind of mindset for travel. But I’ve also met startups all over the world by doing this. So I love that this is what you did to kind of open up the world. And now you can jump on a plane and go anywhere in the comfort level of doing that three years ago, takes away the insecurities. So if someone said to you, “Hey, you should go here.” You would be like that because you’ve done it before. It’s easy. You don’t think twice about it. You’re like, “Yeah, that’s easy,” grab a bag and go. Whereas other people might go through that pattern of unknowns, what should I do? How do I do this? So it’s pretty cool that you’ve done that?

Eric:
Amazing, yeah.

Jeffery:
It kind of lines your mind up, right? And it makes you feel a little bit more free for that moment that you do get to do that. So I kudos. I think it’s brilliant. So do you still continue to do that now?

Eric:
Well, now, with, you know, COVID, so it’s a bit a bit more difficult. I was in California last week, to be- I was on a land, it was a place called the Mushroom Farm. And it’s an estate that used to be owned by Campbell, where they used to make their mushroom soup.

Jeffery:
Okay.

Eric:
And they have, like, 753 acres. And many years ago, it was purchased by this family office in Canada, and now they’re starting to make something out of it. So as they regenerate like, it’s a technology center, to design and build, imagine new cultures for regenerative agriculture, energy, social impact, and so they’re creating an investment fund, an accelerator. And so the group, I’m part of the Coventino Foundation, and so we’re partners of them. And so we spent a week, teaching each other stuff, sleeping in a big yurt on the side of the ocean. And, it’s amazing. It’s about an hour north of San Francisco, so it’s really close to Silicon Valley. So it’s a great place, so that’s where I’ve been the last year.<