Innovation & Capital to make the world a better place
Eric Gauthier

"Innovation requires self innovation."

- Eric Gauthier

Eric outlines what he looks for in a start-up

Talk Takeaways

Eric Gauthier shares his story on how he and his co-partner started and successfully sold his business. Understand his investment process, and how his family office helps and supports startups. Learn from his method on how to pivot, play in the market, and how to continuously grow the team.

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.

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.

Jeffery:
Oh, that’s awesome. So I think one area that I want to touch on or go back to because I think it always creates a lot of value and carries a lot of weight in the investment community is that you’ve kind of been through the ringer. You’ve raise money, you’ve built your own startup, and now you’ve sold the company, and now you guys have your own family office. But to go back to the beginning when you were working that 100 hour work week, can you give us a little bit of an idea of kind of how you did it? Did you go and you raised funds, that you go through the same process that you help companies do now today? Or did you take a different approach, and how does that look, and how much does that change since you did it with your first company?

Eric:
Yeah, that’s a great question. Because back then I was 20 years old after my first year of university, was thinking about partying and having fun. And so, you know, and then we- I was, you know, up partying with a good friend of mine was studying in a computer engineering. I was still doing electrical engineering and say, “Hey, no, I think the internet is going to be a big thing.” “Oh, yeah. You’ve heard of this huh?” So we said- so we dared each other to start a business the next day. And so the next day, I called him, “Hey, were you serious?” “Were you serious?” And so we met and we found the name. And then we went to register the company. We had no idea what we were doing, no idea about what we were going to do or anything. So that’s not necessarily a path I recommend. But that’s what we did. So it’s a bit like the type of person I am, I, you know, And that’s also forging how we invest today is we don’t always need to know exactly what you know what we’re embarking ourselves into. You know, if it feels right and we love the great mystery and to meet what’s there, you know, then then we’ll do it. But that said so we started and then eventually, you know, went on and knocked on people’s door. And then, you know, eventually we found this company, this tech company that wanted to open an Internet branch to what they were building. We’re building desktop applications, and then they say, “Hey, so you become our Internet branch.” And so they started giving us contracts and then it’s okay. So how do we make a website? We had no idea. So we started reading books and hacking our way. And so our first project, we actually earned $5 an hour, and then after that, we got okay. Now we understand how this works, and we got the right software. And so we started, like, building a process to be able to generate more output. But we were studying at the university, you know, very, very busy as well. So it was not like a big, you know, it was a few hours a week, and then but then it started working. So by the end of my university, my engineering degree, we because- we went full time into the business. And so and then at that point, we realized “Okay, we need a business model. We need to know what we’re doing.” We need to, you know, So we needed to learn, “Okay, So what’s the problem we’re trying to resolve, like and who needs what?” And so eventually we met this other company that was building an airline website. And then they had an API from a global distribution system called Amadius, and they had no idea how to do this. And so we say, “Hey, we know what to do this,” and we didn’t really know. So anyway, we started learning, and then so we learned and hired a bunch of people. And then that was how we developed the first version of our online e-travel framework that we called it. And then after that, so by that time, we were- We had the $100,000 in debt, and then we were like, “Okay, so how do we-” so it was before the SAS models. I mean, so suddenly we said, “How do we make a business model out of this?” And then, so then we started imagining some of the first SAS model. And it’s okay, so we have a big version, where larger travel agencies could pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire the technology, and they pay monthly fees. And we had the other ones that were paying a smaller amount, but a constant amount every month, plus transactional fees, which was more repetitive business kind of business model, and so by, you know, at that point, then we started making revenues and started, like, organizing ourselves and figure out what to do and what we need and how to manage a company. And then we raise a bit of capital to help us, you know, go through that until the point where we sold the company. So it was so, yeah, I learned by doing every possible mistakes, possible and so.. No, so today, we you know, from that experience, and I’ve had two other businesses afterwards. Yeah, we don’t recommend that. I think that the you know, the technology community, entrepreneurial community, and around the world is far more, you know, I’ve learned a lot over the years with a lot of methodologies to develop technology and develop businesses. And so, you know, back then it was, you know, far West, in a way the internet was just exploding and everybody was doing all sorts of things. But yeah, so we built process and better understanding over the years.

Jeffery:
But there are a couple of things that I think you can take from that learning that really, I want to hone in on because I think it gives people that are thinking about building a company, some ideas on how and what they should do because what you actually started off with, in a way, it’s kind of brilliant because you helped offset your risk. And what I mean by that is that you started a company with a co-founder and you started with no idea, no direction, no anything but you went in with somebody else. You mitigated your risk in half, and you both force each other to actually go into this business, into this model that you didn’t know about and then grow from it. Still finished your education and then dived in fully after that. And I’m sure you were generating some revenue. So before you got $200,000 of debt. But the point was- is that you started to find ways that this would work, and then you expanded, and expanded, and grew from that. So that learning got you into this space. If you both didn’t take that risk, maybe you would have went and did it by yourself. And maybe you wouldn’t have actually succeeded because you didn’t take- choose to take that risk. So your partnership, I think is that co-partner was really important, and the idea that you just did it. You came up with this concept, that you wanted to be in business, but you hadn’t figured out what it looked like or what it was going to be again. You went in with two brains, both risking everything. I think that that really opened up that door for an adventure and something exciting to come out of it as long as you’re stuck behind it and work through the problems. And then the third thing was, you saw the opportunity to say you could do something because there was a problem, and you are willing to solve it and put the leg work in time in to get it accomplished. Whereas other people might have looked at that and said, “No, I can’t do something to fix that.” Whereas you guys were saying, “Yeah, we can fix that problem, no problem.” And then jumped in, solve the airline issue. But it probably took a bit of a few punches along the way, but it was a great learning experience to help you build your company.

Eric:
Yeah, absolutely. And, yeah, so I think having a partner really helped because, you know, you’re in it together. And of course, that brings the other thing, is how you manage challenges and how you manage, you know, differences of opinion, and how you work together as a team, and how you leverage everybody’s creativity, and desire. And our first employees were working as much as we do, you know, they just loved it. They just love the opportunities. And they were often, you know, people were sleeping at the office, waking up, going back to work. It was a very cool vibe, you know, of creating stuff, not knowing exactly where, but doing it together. You know, I think that that’s a big part of what kept us going, and also, you know, we had all sorts of prototypes of, you know, we designed the, Dropbox before Dropbox existed. Many like, 5, 10 years before. But then it was called X Room, and then we were, like, trying to hack our way, and then it gets some momentum. But as we were, you know, as we also in this journey, we mature. Or we realized we didn’t necessarily want to be a service oriented business. But first, we started this way because we didn’t know anything. So we were just offering some things we were learning as we were going. But as we were learning, we really got the, you know, attracted by building products. And so the transition from being a service business to a product business is a big, is a very different. How just- how you market yourself, how you take risks, how you develop the technology. So yeah. So before we build a travel, which was the number two player in Canada by the time we sold the company, we, you know, we were- we, yeah, we tried to build something like DropBox. We try to build something like Microsoft projects. We try to build all online collaborative online technologies. And then we came to realize at some point, but what do we know about project management? We realized we didn’t know so much about that. And so maybe we should really focus on something that we know something that we can learn fast that the other competition doesn’t know. And this is where travel, which is extremely complicated infrastructures of very old technology, built 1960s and 1980s and 1990s, and so they were very few that knew how to do these things. And so we just really focused and built the expertise around that.

Jeffery:
So as you carry that through to the next companies and to the family office and the things that you’re doing now. And you mentioned this a few times and I’m a big fan of this, and I’m all about de-risking your business so that investors will want to come in. But the key word to de-risking your business is focus. And you mentioned it a few times just in one sentence. So I can imagine how dear hearted this is to you because if you were to be able to get yourself focused enough that you were building out all these other ideas and you were seeing that the Dropbox version wasn’t working or this didn’t work and then you really honed it back in. And when you focused, you started to probably see way more attraction, more value. You were doing one thing really well. How much does that carry through your other businesses? And even now, today in your family office, how much is that has helped you in what you guys are doing and try to deliver in the space of your investments because of that focus?

Eric:
That’s a great question. And, yeah, I think focus is very important, and I would add to this that, so what is focused? Right? So you can, we can fool ourselves thinking that we’re really focused by doing something very specific. But how do we know that this very specific thing is really in need and what is going to become the future? When we build disruptive innovation, one of the big challenges to, you need to imagine what’s going to become. And so oftentimes we project the reality that we perceive based on what we know, and especially what has created our success in the past. And so for us to build a business, it’s almost like a, you know, in a way it’s a mythical, mystical experience. It’s an experience of meeting what is- does not yet exist and where the- you sense the flow of society moving so that you can, you know, cater or offer a product or services that is going to be a value in that future. And for that future to be friendly, I mean, you know, we’ve seen in the, you may have seen the social dilemma documentary, that you know, really, precisely. And it’s not nothing new, really. But just so well done, how they did it, that how that today with AI, it’s really you know, I mean, it’s greatly useful, but it has segregated people into their own mind, into their own perspective, where the algorithm is only feeding you what you want to see at a given moment in time. So it freezes people in the past. And so when are mechanisms of information delivery are supplying us of information that fulfill the need that we had in the past, very difficult to shape the future, and so there’s a big for us, a mystical component to building a business. And that’s the part I really, really enjoy is to really become that you want to build, and the thing is focus. So focus is really a focus of energy, and your mind. But to be open minded to what you’re meeting as you’re focusing your energy. So it’s not to be too stubborn or fix on something to specific, especially at the beginning, but to be, to get a sense in your heart of what you really care about. And to be clear about that and then to be able to pivot, pivot, pivot, pivot. Until you really find something that can bring value, bring value to yourself as a creator, and also to the community that you’re that you’re serving, And then the business becomes a bridge between that community that you’re serving, that market, and yourself, who you are as an individual. Now, we’ve met many, many of the investors, the entrepreneurs we’ve invested with or that we’ve talked over the years, there’s this.. sometimes this belief that they need to do something big. They need to build a unicorn. They need in order to have any value at all. And for us, we don’t we don’t care about I mean, great if it happens. But I mean, I think sometimes the obsession of building something that needs that has very specific, you know, very specified, shape or form, parameters, or level of success, it clouds from meeting what is there in a moment and that specific attitude is we’ve discovered over the years, it’s really the key in order to build something that the world really needs and not just build, I think it’s the Dalai Lama that said, “We don’t need more successful people. We need more heart centered people.” And so, yeah..

Jeffery:
I like that one and I wholeheartedly agree again, with kind of that the whole transition that you talk through there. And I think the key to all of that focus is the end result is that you’re bringing value, and I think that value comes from understanding the space you’re in. And one thing we look for when we’re working with companies are going to invest in them is that we want them to be almost psychotic about what they’re doing, that nothing really is matter. Their blinders are on that they’re so focused on this space, and it’s not about that one problem they’re solving. It’s on the space and the environment around them. And you mentioned that when you are in that state, you can pivot, but you’re adopting to the consumer. So as the consumer is changing and buying patterns or changing, you’re able to foresee that, where it’s going to go and just like a chess. If you can’t figure out where that next move is or five moves ahead, you’re going to find yourself in a bit of a pickle, and I think that being focused or being enlightened to that area, it allows you to better adapt in the situations that can come out of it. And you find that just even from an investment standpoint, being an investment space, more and more and more investment groups are coming in. More funds are coming in, more family offices. Everybody is an investor. So if you don’t start to find that uniqueness or understanding the value proposition that you carry, you start to kind of fade out and what you’re trying to deliver unless you can stay, hold true to your values and provide enough value back. So I do love how you kind of shift through that. So how much of this are you able to work with the startups that you work with to kind of get them through that vision of “Hey, here’s where you are today. Your products Great. You’re doing a million dollars in sales, but in order to do 20 million, where is that product going to go?
Where are you envisioning your business or envisioning that product? Is there a way to kind of help businesses really understand that?”

Eric:
It’s a great question. I’m not sure, really. So your question is how to grow like from once you get an initial market validation and then you get that traction and that momentum going in this excitement. And then the team starts to, you know, to organize the team and then you how to get to that next stage?

Jeffery:
Yeah. Like you said, “How do you know where you’re going to be in five years?” That’s a hard thing to vision, right? And, but that’s your success because if you don’t work with those buying patterns, you could be no longer a business in a year and a half. People might decide you’re not one anymore. So how do you get really pivot, and play in the market, and continue to learn and grow within their team?

Eric:
Mm, I guess there could be different ways to approach this. But the way that we care about is once your business starts getting momentum, you start being able to be in a position to make a difference, to have influence. And so it’s also like and that goes back to something I was saying earlier is innovation requires self innovation. So as your business start to be able to influence the market, it’s important to know in what direction is this influence going? So is it creating, is it perpetuating, you know, the vision that we see in the world? Or is it offering a new space for your market to come together to leverage each other? And so something really important at that point, once you make that first initial, it’s a dent or you start making your niche is to understand what’s, how does that market work? What are the components? The players, the roles? Where are the flows, what’s the flow of energy that feeds that market? Where does the money go, for what purpose? And what’s the outcome that creates? And is that outcome, is there a problem? What is the greater problem of that market, of that community? And is it empowering the users and and those or is it creating segregation and division between and concentrating the wealth in the hands of the few? And every time this happens, it creates corruption. And so what are the minimum triggers that you can press in order to create a new course, a new flow to emerge that empowers a mass, you know, that’s one strategy, one angle. You could advocate that the exact opposite would be, it would make a more success, a bigger financial success. And you know, that, and I guess that’s a matter of focus and what you care about? But you know, most of the time the investors, when the, sorry, the entrepreneurs who invest with and what we care about is, to use technology and businesses, entrepreneurial, is a fantastic force for change and to use that force to empower humanity, to empower, to share the wealth and resources. Because it’s only together that we that we thrive and with the compounding, you know, effects of global warming and all the systemic changes this creates on the world, it creates more and more of disbalance and because you know, 1% of humanity owns as much as the lowest 80% of humanity. It’s very difficult, even though they’re well intentions, for those in power to really be able to understand what the majority is going through, how they live, and what’s important for them because they kind of benefit from the status quo. They are at the top of the pyramid. So we challenge our businesses to, you know, what’s the current order and is this healthy? And if you feel it’s not healthy, what is a better order? Like to imagine that, and to feel it themselves, to live it. Do you believe it? Do you live it yourselves? If you care often, we invest in impact focus entrepreneurs so they care about the world. They have been moved at some point in their life, and there’s something they want to change. But first they need to live it themselves. And once they start living it and becomes their own life and they realize their shortcomings and where they have, you know where they have blind spots and that they started working on themselves and we help them with that, then they start living a different reality and have a teacher that says that before to use a metaphor of martial arts, he says, “Before you and turn to the ring. You’re not entering into the ring to win.” You know, you win before you enter into the ring and from that state of having one of holding that victory inside. Then you go and you meet your opponent and then you start dancing, or then you battle for whatever art that you’re performing, and you may win or not at the end. It doesn’t matter because you’ve done it from that spirit inside of you, of having one. And so, yeah, I don’t know. Does that make sense?

Jeffery:
That’s awesome. And I love that idea that you and this probably goes. There’s an entrepreneur that we worked with and invest in, and he tells everybody that he wrote a $5 million. I think it’s five million dollar check, maybe 50 million. And he said, “This is what, One day I’m going to catch this check. I wrote this to make sure that I have a goal to go after,” and it falls kind of in that winning before you get into the ring. It’s knowing right away that if I’m going to get into this match, if I don’t go in positive with the right energy and the understanding of the possible outcomes and how I can defeat the problems that I’m going to be faced with, whatever the art is that you’re choosing as you mentioned, but I’m going in with the mindset “I’m going to win” because at that point is when the challenge will hit and I have to figure out how to win that challenge. And I think that’s brilliant metaphor for how businesses operate that maybe we don’t go in with that wind attitude. We go in with the, “Okay, I’m gonna think about this or I’m gonna try this and not figuring out what that wind is.” And I can see that this being a larger scale problem because companies will either not find market fit or companies will have great market fit but don’t know how to expand. Or in the case of the discussion we’re having, they don’t see what that five year strategy is going to look like. They don’t see where that outcome is, and I think that can be problem mesh to the team because you’re getting a whole group of people that are biting into a solution into a strategy into the ownership into the drive of that company. They also want to see where they’re driving to. Where are we going today? That’s gonna get us tomorrow. What do we got to do to change? And I can see that being stressful to people if they can’t see that vision at the end of the road. So it’s, I like the way you broke that down and your sense it’s good. He’s got some good logic there. I love that, so this kind of rolls right into the strategy side of things. So as you’re working on what I liked about the family office and what you guys do is that you’re looking at everything from sustainability, which is all long-term planning. So with these companies that you’re working with, the 17 that you guys have really dug your heels into, how much of that is a long-term strategy plan in your overall umbrella of what you’re trying to create?

Eric:
Yeah, So do you say 17 or 70?

Jeffery:
I thought it was 17. Maybe it’s 70.

Eric:
It’s 70. Seven-zero.

Jeffery:
Oh man, even bigger Jeez, that’s a lot. It’s like yeah, so that’s even better. How amazing. So in that 70, how are you guys envisioning that kind of working in that system of where you’re going for longevity?

Eric:
Yeah, so that’s a great question. So you know something that’s important for us, as a family office, to be well networked. So we love to network with other family offices, with technology groups, with innovators, with people that think outside. It’s the typical outside the box, but that “think differently,” that “live a different reality.” We can learn a lot from a biologist that understand how the equilibrium, of nature is, how it’s broken and how it’s maintained, and how it’s been made better. And the world, is in a.. it’s a huge organism of businesses, of people, of different interests, different thoughts, different emotions, and, it’s, you know, at any given moment, the complexity of it is just increasing, increasing and increasing. However, we can use all sorts of metaphors from various different fields. And if we listen and pay attention to people, to, and it can be from the I’ve learned so many things from a homeless person living in the street, living in this rawness of I don’t know if I’m going to eat. I don’t know where I’m going to sleep. It’s raining, it’s cold. I’ve been beaten up at the shelter last night. I don’t want to go back there, and they live in such a raw way that most people don’t know. You know, we live mostly in our comfort or our stress of economical, you know, we need to make the payroll. And of course, these are big stresses and things, but our lives are not at risks. And so for most, most people, so we can learn from anybody. And I think that’s a great attitude to have as entrepreneurs and for us as investors, you know, we’re not like, “Oh, we’ve done this many times. We know the metrics. We know who we need to become, and the path and all the steps and, you know, and then if you do this, you’ll be successful.” I think that would be a dramatic first. I would bear that, we would bear the weight of the success of the failure, and we don’t want to do that, and two, how do we know? You know, everything is changing so fast. And so, one of our greatest joy, you know, is to see people entrepreneurs that we support to thrive and to be joyful, to be happy, to learn about themselves and to discover life through. You know, a business can take 10 years, and a lot of efforts, and sacrifices, and really, you know, most people will do one business, maybe 2, a few will do 3, 4, 5, and go on the moon and all this. But the truth is, this is a lifetime opportunity to discover yourself, to discover what you care about. And so if you can open your heart, and really feel who you’re becoming, and who you’re servicing, and how that’s making a difference. I think that’s the right attitude, the right mindset. And so we like ourselves to be, you know, to live that, to be the first to live that. And so we’ve developed all sorts of labs and processes that help support entrepreneurs to do that. And also we’ve been, you know, in contact with people in Canada, the US, different places around the world that have developing technologies and processes that help to listen better, to have a better sense of what’s needed and then to come together into, leverage technology. You know, we’re getting involved with a group called the Coventina Foundation that is building a blockchain type of infrastructure, something called Holochain. And that is at least 100 million times cheaper to operate than ethereum, which is the most the number one blockchain infrastructure. And one of the reasons they really, they mimic, they studied for years how nature works, and then they coded how nature works in, and doing so they can be so far more, so much more efficient in how they build the technology. And, instead of putting this in a private corporation and, you know, become 100 times a unicorn, they decided to make this an open source technology and opening up to humanity so that you can- humanity can leverage this technology, and improve the lives, and of everybody on the planet to create a decentralized and distributed economy that empowers everyone. So just an exempt, yeah. So really, in the short answer, you know, to learn, to be humble, and to meet like you, meet people, think people and get to know those that you don’t know so that I can learn something new. And the challenges constantly to redefine your own viewpoint of how to invest. Because if you have a very specific recipe and your reply to the recipe can make a lot of money, but what is the outcome of that recipe? Is that really working? Is it really helping humanity? And we care about learning new things as well. So…

Jeffery:
I love it. Well said. And I love the idea that you can explore a lot of different spaces, then feel that what fits best to make an investment or to drive you forward. It fits inside your philosophy and your overall thesis. But at the end of the day, you gotta get out there, meet lots of people and learn about them. Have your strategy, however, you want to go, figure your next five years on where you need to be, have a target, but it’s going to morph and change as you go. And the great people that meet in between, they’re going to help morph that theory in theory, where you want to go. Love it. All right, well, we’re gonna jump into rapid fire questions, and then I do have maybe 1 more question, and then we’re going to dive into kind of a quick, personal side of things to make it more fun. So rapid fire questions. Are you ready?

Eric:
I am ready.

Jeffery:
All right. What’s your favorite part of investing?

Eric:
Discovering.

Jeffery:
I like it. How many companies do you invest in per year?

Eric:
Between 5 and 10.

Jeffery:
Done. Any verticals you like to focus on?

Eric:
We care about the environment, energy, social impact, anything that can work, make the world a better place .

Jeffery:
almost like AGS or the systems that are governance and social and impact. All that beautiful, love it.

Eric:
Yep.

Jeffery:
Timelines for investment?

Eric:
From looking at… What do you mean, timelines?

Jeffery:
Yeah, just like that, looking from a company to start to invest in.

Eric:
Yeah, so anywhere. So our timelines for investing, anywhere between 1 to 4 months, depending on company’s maturity, where they’re at, and sometimes we’ve waited a year. And then this became some of our best investment. They were, you know, just a company sometimes just there’s, sorry. It’s short. I need to short answer. So..

Jeffery:
Sometimes they need maturity. I like it. You can expand. Outside of your regular DD requirements, is there anything else you look for when you’re making an investment into a company? Team members, CEOs, diversity. Is there anything that you really look for it to make that investment

Eric:
Sorry, outside of what?

Jeffery:
Outside of your typical DD or your due diligence that you would do.

Eric:
But I’d say, you know, part of our due diligence is what the company is about, is that answering a real need that’s gonna help the world become a better place? Who’s the team? Why do they do this? Where is their passion coming from? Where’s their skill level? And, how much can we learn? And also, how can this and this new investment that we’re considering, how can its synergize the previous investments we’ve made?

Jeffery:
Like it. Do you look to lead rounds?

Eric:
We can lead rounds.

Jeffery:
Do you have preferred terms? Prep shares, common shares, debt.

Eric:
It really depends on the situation in the context. So we’re flexible to the needs of the business. As long as it makes sense and it builds a long term relationship with deal with the entrepreneurs.

Jeffery:
Okay, do you do board seats?

Eric:
We do board seats, yes.

Jeffery:
Follow on investment? Percentage?

Eric:
Yeah, we do. I’d say, you know, when the business goes. Well, probably we follow each time, but I don’t know that, I wouldn’t know a percentage.

Jeffery:
Okay, outside of that, those are the rapid fire questions. Is there one company that you really want to emphasize that you really like? That’s doing some great things. One or two companies you want to share?

Eric:
Talk about? Yeah. So I can speak about let’s say “Social.mom,” and I can speak about I can swear by Coventina foundation. So do you have something specific you’d like me to..like me to say?

Jeffery:
I’m just curious. Just a company, just a reference of a company that you think is up and coming and like, that’s pretty much it. So social, Social.mom, what was the other one?

Eric:
Social.mom, which is a social network for mothers helping them address, loneliness, economic stress, and then health. And the other one is a Coventina foundation, which is leveraging the holo chain infrastructure to create a new economic and resilient economic infrastructure. in a distributed centralized way around the world.

Jeffery:
Awesome. Well, I’m gonna have to get your link on those two. They sound- both sound very exciting. Okay, so the next, the last big question, if you will, is in the time that you’ve been working with startups, investing in startups. I’m always looking for that great, exciting story of, it could be tragedy turned to awesomeness or just something that just blew my mind away about the perseverance or the great things that entrepreneurs can do. And just, you know, she was able to take a business from nothing and grow it, or he was able to stop a break of X and forced Y. Like anything that you just have that just resonates as a really cool story that people would want to hear about a company that you invest in or you’re familiar with.

Eric:
Sorry, Can you? I’m not clear. A success story?

Jeffery:
A heartfelt story of an entrepreneur that maybe they couldn’t find their way. Were losing money, COVID hit, and they found their way. They raised a million dollars. So now they’re doing 10 million in revenue. It could be anything. It’s just more of a heartfelt story of someone overcoming barriers to prove that they had a business so that they can succeed.

Eric:
Mm, yeah. Yeah. So we had a business that, you know, their model was to acquire users, and the more and then monetize later, and then, that’s typically in that industry, the model that they had and then, you know, so they were growing, growing, growing in terms of users. But then COVID hit. And then it became like, the question, “So how are you going to monetize?” and then as well, “We’re not thinking about monetizing right now,” “But then, you know, you’re out of money, and then COVID’s there, and then it’s affecting the model.” So everybody’s, you know, holding their breath and let’s wait and see what happens. And so they said, “Okay, so how do we.. So let’s monetise.” and then, so they looked at who would be in synergy of the community that has been built. And so they found 3 ideas and then explored them. And then within a month, they had found that two of these ideas were not working. One was working, ultimately did not work, but the fourth one worked, and within six months of the COVID. They reached from zero to a million dollar of revenue, recurring revenue. And that’s propelling the company. And now they are able to finance through their financial partners. They’re able to find the acquisition of users 15 to 1. So it cost them, they make 15 times more money than it caused them to acquire users. So if COVID would not have hit, then they would have continued with what they were doing before. And now we don’t. The company never needs to raise any money because it’s generating so much money that it can acquire all the users that they want. Now we’ll see what happens in the future, but that was a very inspiring, you know, for me to witness and to hold space for somebody who is, like, suffering and then going through these challenges and that stress and the weight, right. It can be very heavy for an entrepreneur to have the weight of all the investors that came in and all the expectations that are there. And you want to do well, and sometimes to have, yeah to have somebody tells you, “Look, it’s okay. Whatever happens, we love you anyway.” It helps to create space and distance, and then and then eureka comes. So this would be an advice I have is, care for your investors, but make sure you are happy doing what you’re doing. And if you’re not happy, you need to change them, because your happiness is what’s going to get through. And it’s going to be creative and what your users want. They want that through the products that you build. They want to feel that happiness.

Jeffery:
That’s awesome. I love the kick butt stories where they just figure it out and it works, and it’s good. I know there’s a lot that don’t get that opportunity all the time. But when you’re pushed to the brink and you gotta figure it out I love when the- when an entrepreneur can just make it happen. So that’s awesome.

Eric:
Yeah. Sometimes when the S hits the fan, you know, there are people that are gonna crawl in little balls and then and then wait and ask, “Please save me.” And there’s the others are gonna say, “Okay, what can I do?” And, sometimes were a little bit of both, which is fine. Yeah, that was an example of the latter experience.

Jeffery:
Agreed. Okay, so now we’ve got three quick questions, and they’re the personal side to follow into that one thing that nobody would know about you. So, first, what’s your favorite sports team?

Eric:
I’d say the Montreal Canadians.

Jeffery:
Alright, fair enough. At least you didn’t say Toronto Maple Leafs or something. You had to hang up and be like, “Are you sure you’re from Montreal?” Well, that’s a good team. So I like that. All right. And your favorite movie and which character would you play in that movie?

Eric:
Favorite movie is a movie that.. Well, it’s a story, really. And the new movie has been delayed by 10 months. A bit of supressed dune. And so I’d love to be Dukelito Atreides.

Jeffery:
Okay, so what was the movie?

Eric:
Dune?

Jeffery:
Oh, Dune!

Eric:
Yeah.

Jeffery:
Okay.

Eric:
They’ve made two movies already. There were more or less good qualities, but the story is just absolutely amazing. From a book from Frank Herbert’s 1950s.

Jeffery:
Well, he did it as a comic book or did it as a drawing book, correct?

Eric:
Maybe there was a version with it as a drawing, but I read it as a novel.

Jeffery:
Okay, Yeah. I think the way it originally started was he did it as a comic book style, and it competed with the, or at one point, it competed with Star Wars because Star Wars was being- was coming out later on, they couldn’t get people to carry or pick it up or something. And then they turned it into I think it was a written material, and yeah, it was I saw it was a documentary. A tiff on this.

Eric:
Okay, okay.

Jeffery:
I got to remember the name of it, but it was very cool. So, yeah, it’s pretty exciting. So which character would you be?

Eric:
Yeah so, Dukelito Atreides which is a great, for me, is a great metaphor of an entrepreneur. Somebody who has a certain context based on the family inherited a lot of wealth and responsibilities, and needs to battle all the odds to transform his consciousness in ways you couldn’t imagine. Transcend his animal fears, fears the mind killer, I must let the past- let the fear pass. So only I will remain, which is really a motto I was telling myself as there was in my first entrepreneurial experiences, when you’re I don’t know if I can make the payroll, I need to find $100,000 next week, and then somehow things happen. So there’s a great inspiration for me of playing against the odds and sensing what is about to come that is not just based on what happened in the past and a lot of what I shared in today’s interview.

Jeffery:
Ah, that’s awesome. I’ve already got the page open, and I’m diving into the characters and everything. So I love the metaphor, and that is very cool. I’m gonna find you that documentary and send it to you because I know

Eric:
Thank you.

Jeffery:
That I saw this somewhere on it, and it was absolutely amazing. So but overall, Eric, I want to thank you very much for your time today. I learned a lot. I love, as I always do, I take lots of notes. I guess it’s a bad habit, when I listen, I gotta take notes. But, big fan, I love all the things you’re doing. I like the theory that you’re behind and the thesis you’re working behind. So it’s brilliant. Keep it up. And the way we like to end the show is we leave the last word for you. So anything you want to say to the entrepreneurs out there or to an investor, the investor community, I leave it to you. But the floor is yours. And again, thank you very much for all your help today and sharing.

Eric:
Thank you so much, Jeffery. I’m really looking forward to the event tomorrow so it’d be nice to meet some of the businesses that you’re bringing on board. So yeah, I mean, you know all my words, just have fun, you know, enjoy what you do. And if you stop enjoying yourself, ask yourself was the simplest thing you can change, to enjoy it. I mean, through your joy and creativity, your heart will open and then you’ll be able to hear those that you seek to help. So, enjoy yourself.

Jeffery:
I love it. I love it. You do, find the happiness. And when you do, just keep trying to build it, grow it, and give back, and help other people while you’re doing it.

Eric:
Absolutely.

Jeffery:
Well, Eric, again, thank you very much for your time today and look forward to having you join us tomorrow. But, without great people like you out there pushing the line and helping entrepreneurs, I think you’d be a lot tougher. So I’m glad that we got to connect, and I got to learn something, so thank you.

Eric:
Thank you so much, Jeffery. This is really a pleasure and kudos on what you’re building here. It’s amazing. Love your energy and looking forward to meet you tomorrow.

Jeffery:
100%. Thank you, sir.

Eric:
Thank you. Goodbye.

Jeffery:
Yeah. That was awesome. So, man, Eric shared so many cool things. So I love the fact on Dune, and I’m so going to check out the Dune component to it, for sure. But I love this last message, man. Be happy when you do. I know we all find it tough when life’s tough, but we got to look for the things that really gear us up and get us interested in what we do. Find the problem, find some focus. You know, even the whole point about the co-partner and having the risk, I’ve deferred because you’ve got two people, figure out where you want to be in five years and try to go towards that target. You’re gonna pivot, but at least you got that vision on where you want to go and figure out, you know, that you’re gonna win before you get in the market. Nobody wants to start a business that they know that’s not going to win. So I figured out how you’re going to get there and do it. So love the input, was awesome. You guys have a great day. And thanks again for tuning in.

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