JP:Well, welcome Vijay! Very excited to get to chat with you again. We jump right into things here, we don’t mess around. So welcome to OPNs Ask An Angel, and today we’re with Vijay Thomas and we’re excited to chat with you because we were just on a panel not too long ago and we got to do a really good deep dive and learn a lot more about yourself. So I’m excited to kind of explore well a lot of different angles but the best way for us to start is, if you can give us a bit of your background: so where you’ve come from, all the great things you’ve been up to, and the new things that you’re kind of working on, and then one thing about you that nobody will know.
VT:Okay, that’s a lot that I have to think about but anyway, some of it nobody would know it be a tough one but let me just start with the other ones, the simpler ones. My name is Vijay Thomas. I, you know, grew up in in India. I was born and brought up in India. I lived in different parts of India. I, you know, started my career there. I have a mechanical engineering degree, I have an MBA in finance, and I ended up in the IT industry. You know, put all of that together you know, I am a strong believer in serendipity. You know, you let life take you to places and in most cases, it is better than where you wereand you know, I, you know for whatever you know, I’m not a you know, big planner. I don’t think I know what’s going to happen, you know two years from now, five years, and I don’t even know what’s going to happen you know 30 days from now or you know tomorrow. So I think there’s a little bit of serendipity that I firmly believe in and I’ve let life take me to places, and it just is actually being, not too bad. So you know I started as a mechanical engineer, did some MBA. I should have been in finance people say you’re good at it and this was the end of the late 90s. There was the whole you know, finance was not doing very well, so I didn’t get a finance job. But you know the Indian and I did my MBA in India, so the Indian IT industry was doing well but thanks to Y2K, along came in and IT companies that said, “Hey, you wanna join this thing?”, and I said, “Okay! What’s on offer?” “You could possibly travel the world, you can do a lot of things, we got projects,” or I said, “Hey, fantastic! Sign me up!” and that’s how I went in there and you know, people always ask you, “How do I land up in Canada?” The same IT company joined, sent me to Boston this was you know, 2001 or so, at that time you know I was on an L-1 visa. The spouse couldn’t work in Boston, so you know this was just I think George Bush had just talked taken over it was it was kind of you know, a different time of the world. We, my wife and I had not married us then but I told her, ”Hey, you know you want to come to the US?”, she said, “I’m not going to come if I cannot work,” and I’m like, “Okay, this is a big problem.” So went to visit a friend in Montreal which is only four hours away from Boston, and the guy says, “Okay, you know what? Are you interested in Canada?” I said, “Okay.” I told him, ask him one question, “Can the spouse work on a work permit in Canada?” and he said, “Yes,” I said, “Okay, send me in. sign me up!”. So I went to the company was Bombardier, I went to the for an interview to Bombardier, the next day they hired me. They said, “Okay, you can join tomorrow.” I said, “No, no I can’t join tomorrow.” “You gotta do some paperwork and all that stuff.” I go back to India, we get married, they send the paperwork. I come back to Montreal and you know, I started working in Montreal, my wife was in marketing. Now she can work, she can officially work, right? She’s got the paper that allows her to work but she’s in marketing and in Montreal, little did we know that if you want to do marketing Montreal, you need to know French. So she didn’t get a job, so we’re like, “Okay, you know, now, what do we do?” So we, you know, she applies to some company, she gets a job in Toronto. So we just come to Toronto and you know, no regrets! I’ve been in Toronto since and you know, I then started a software- I was working for a software company and this is a..I just had this and I don’t how much time you have this was a company that was out of Paris, France and I was their h=Head of Operations in Toronto. And I went to India once and an I said “Okay, you know what, I’ll come back,” and this was I think Christmas, and I came back in January, and I tried to reach the company, the vice president I reported to, and I was only guy in in Toronto, and I reached out to him and said you know, “Hey, what’s happening?” You know and then I only got voicemail said, “You know the company shut down so nobody’s there.” I tried calling a couple of people but I started- I was still being paid. So I said, “Okay, everything seems okay but I can’t reach anybody,” and finally remembered, there was a HR guy in Quebec City. I call this HR guy and tell him, “Hey, you know what, what’s happening? I can’t reach anybody coming,” he says, “You don’t know?” and I said, “Yeah, I don’t know,” what he said the company is sold and he said, “There’s only two people in Canada left. That’s you and me. And he saying, the HR guy said, “But I wanted to put in my papers and I’m quitting,” so I said, “Okay, this is not good news. What do you mean only you and I in the company?” and he said, “Don’t you read email? I said, “No, they’re all in French so I don’t read them.” So it’s quite funny. So you know and the previous year we had won rookie of the year from Canada Dealer News. So it was done very well. So the guys in Paris were kind of saying, “You know, do well. You’re doing well.” and I said, “Okay, do they have any plans? are they- do have any budgets for doing this?” They said, “No, no they want you to build this company by yourself. Ground up.” and then I said, “If I will do this myself, I might do it on my own. Only thing I am not going to get is my salary, okay because they were not really.. there was no budget, there was no growth equity, there was nothing, there was nothing in there. So I said, “You know what, I’m quitting as well.” So the HR guy said, “You know what before you quit, here’s my resignation as well.” So we won’t quit and that was it, so I went on my own. Totally jumped into the- in the pool of water not knowing how it’s hot or cold or whatever. I always wanted to do something, so that was 2003 come to you know 2021. So the company I started in 2003 was Tangentia. We’re now a global you know, IT consulting company. We operate in primarily US, Canada, and India, and we do automation, B2B, EDI, and digital. So those are core cure areas. We’re around 150 to 200 people worldwide, and we all started from a one bedroom condominium at Bayview and Shepard, so I’m one of those stay hungry, stay foolish kind of guys, and as we go along you know, I’ve invested a little bit and you know, as we go along somebody came by and said, “You know, you want to invest in a startup?” and I’m a sucker for entrepreneurship and Angel investing, you don’t need a lot of money to start off with and I think I was mentioning that on that panel, I actually started investing in India because the Canadian dollar although you think you know, especially when I came to Canada it was almost $54.00 and 54 cents to the US dollar, but you know it was still goes along way in India. It doesn’t go as much in some other places but it goes a long way in India, so you know that’s where I started doing a lot of my Angel investing, you know you hit one or two out of the park, and then you know, you build some street cred. You know, how this thing works and that’s come through maybe couple three years back, I kind of started a venture capital, private equity, kind of you know of our business. It’s not a separate company, it’s got Tangentia Ventures and we’ve got some investments now specifically in the India-Canada corridor, so that’s the area that we we kind of operate in and you know, it’s not been bad so I’ve got two real businesses, one is Tangentia which is our original business and we’ve got an Tangentia Ventures and you know, I’m now learning more about venture investing. It was more you know, gut-feel, more seat of the pants, more you know, just you know almost like a startup but almost like a you know, not with not knowing anything but just standing there for them, you know putting in some money, helping them you know grow. Now, I’m figuring out. There is a whole science to this. Okay, there is a science to how some of this is being done so I’m learning how some of that is being done and you know one of those people that I want to you know learn something from is going to be you as well. So after we’ve done this you know, please, you know be ready for me asking you some questions. May be out of the show but I want to learn more as well, of how this is done by the professionals. I’m one of those guys are kind of just got into this without knowing much, just basic fundamentals which is you know, kind of not being bad but you know, we could have done something a little differently I guess on hindsight. But that is it Jeffrey. I know, I remember taking longer than you probably wanted, but that is.. that covers everything.
JP:No, that was perfect! Oh man, keep talking! You got high energy. I love it. So one thing about you that no one would know. I’m sure you’ve had some glimpses in there that you want to share.
VT:I think I.. people think you know, I do believe you know, sometimes some of these things you know, I people do think you’re you know, my.. I, sometimes you know people think you’re very confident in, you know, you do it. I am a glass half-full guy but every time I do something, I am quite scared. I’m quite afraid that it might actually fail. Now, there’s something I don’t tell people but I do think and sometimes I am prepared for that. I’m- what’s the worst case? All these things is going to blow off, right? So the- I do have a worse case. People