How to sell as a Founder

Even though you have a great product, it WON’T sell itself. Every founder will have to sell their product at the very early stages and often times don’t have the skills or practice to do so. It is not an easy task, and it is the most crucial part for every company. What’s the point of putting your blood sweat and tears into a product you can’t even sell. So next time you’re negotiating with your first few customers , remember these 10 tips to make sure you close every deal.

TIP #1: Be Passionate

It should be a given that you are passionate about your product otherwise you might be in the wrong business. Share this passion with your clients, nobody is going to trust a product that its own founder is not passionate about, you will lose clients immediately. Show them how much you care about believe in this product and you’ll gain their trust.

TIP #2: Get to know the customer

Closing a deal is more than pitching your product; it is about connecting with your customer and getting to know them and their needs. Build relationships before sales, people are more inclined to buy from people they like. A Linkedin study shows that a salesperson who creates connections with their customers create 45% more opportunities. Ask the right questions and have conversations try to find things you can relate to such as hobbies, sports, kids whatever it might be. Be viewed as a person who is genuine and wants to help rather than just sell. They might not need your product but if they like you they will want to support you.

TIP #3: Don’t oversell

Creating trust and being transparent is super important with your customers. If you break their trust then you’re building a bad reputation for you and your company. Creating a good reputation is especially important for companies in the early stages of their business.  Now the worst thing you can do is make promises you can’t keep. Do not commit to things you can’t deliver, its dishonest and will break the immediate trust you have with a customer.


TIP #4: Learn from others

Get ahead of the competition. Check out what your competitors are doing to sell their products, what’s working, and not working with their customers, use this as leverage.  Explore products that you might buy and see what those companies are doing. Do your research and learn from other peoples mistakes or other peoples wins.

TIP #5: Improve your pitch

Giving a great pitch is key in a startup. It is not something that comes easy, it takes a lot of practice to master it. Practice it repeatedly until you can amaze your audience. However, don’t focus solely on pitching a presentation, remember to connect with your customer as well.

TIP #6: Persevere

Do NOT give up easily and do not take no for answer! Follow up with your customers without being too pushy.

TIP #7: Know you will not close all deals

Do not be too hard on yourself if you don’t close the deals, it’s going to happen. It’s important to not let that get you down and to keep pushing through it. Do not give up easily just because you lose a few deals it’s all part of the process and you’ll only learn from your mistakes.

TIP #8: Referring to competitors

As mentioned, being trustworthy and transparent is key with new customers. Refer to your competitors and show your customer how your product is so much better than the rest. Do not be afraid to highlight how you’re company differs and even if your price point is a bit more than the competition, stick by your products worth.

TIP #9: Fire bad customers

Talk to the right people, and don’t waste your time and energy in customers who have no use or interest for your product. Focus on the target market and find the right people to sell to. Spend your time with prospects who are ready to buy your solution.

TIP #10: Celebrate the wins!

Celebrate every new customer! It’s easy to get too ingrained in the daily grind of sales and building a company and forget to celebrate the wins. Celebrate every win with your co-founders and your team.

Equity Split to Maximize Motivation

equityWhen deciding how much equity split to give to a co-founder, your goal as CEO is to create a split that will maximize motivation. The amount of equity you give to a co-founder will determine the amount of work and energy they put into the start-up.

1. Its about what your co-founder wants

According to Michael Siebel, a common mistake  founders make is coming to the terms of the equity split based on negotiations. You should be thinking about what your co-founder wants, even when they lose sight of their long term interests  It is normal that founders are hesitant in being generous with the equity split.  However, by  implementing methods such as a vesting and cliff period you should have no problem in gaining the trust of your co-founders.  A Vesting period is when an employee only receives partial benefits gradually over a specific period. A cliff period is when the employee only receives the benefits after a specific time.

2. Using a 1 year cliff with 4 year vesting

Most co founders do not understand the long-term time commitment that is a start-up. You need co founders that you can trust to be there for a long term period. That is why by introducing a 4-year vesting with 1-year cliff, you can guarantee their loyalty to the start-up. Even if they leave they will not be entitled to their full share of equity. A 4-year vesting period with 1-year cliff means that the co-founder will only begin receiving their equity stakes 1 year later. After the 1st year, the co founder can receive a quarter of their equity share every year for 4 years. They are only entitled to their full shares once they dedicate at least 5 years to the company.

3. Long term commitment

By implementing this hedge, you do not have to worry about choosing the wrong co-founder. You will have at least 1 year before they can receive any of their shares. After that, the co-founder will only receive their full shares of equity if they committed 4 years to your start-up. This is a minimum 5 year commitment which is enough time to grow your start-up. If they do not agree to the 4-year vesting period with the 1 year cliff, it means they are not willing to commit and should not be a co-founder.

Once you have this hedge in place, it should be easier for you to be generous in splitting the equity. The co-founders will be entitled to their share once they commit at least 5 years with you. You want to make sure your co-founders are willing to put in the same amount of time and energy that you are. The equity split will be the motivation your co-founders need to get through any challenges your company will face. Having this trust between you and your team is key in order for your start-up to become successful. There is no exact number of what the equity split should be. it depends entirely on what expectations you have for your co-founders.

Finding the Right Location for Your Business

Finding the right location for your business is one of the most crucial tasks you’ll have to undertake as a business owner. The matter no longer solely questions the physical location of your business, but also whether a physical location is even needed. It’s a difficult decision that requires you to take into consideration almost all aspects of your business functioning, whether that be cost and revenue, or branding. There are many moving pieces to this puzzle. Here are the most important factors you should consider when looking for a business space.

1. Demographics of an Area.
When considering demographics, you should think about two important angles. First, you should think about who your customers are and how close they are to your location. This is critical for some service providers and retailers but not so for other businesses. The demographic profile that you have for your target audience will allow you to make this decision. The area you plan to establish your business in should be attractive to members of your target market. This, will be more important to some business owners as opposed to others.
For instance, those working in retail or the restaurant business should take this more seriously than those working in legal offices. The accessibility of your location to members of your market should be one of the first things you consider. Secondly, you should consider your community. Is your customer base local, and does a percentage of it support your business or match your customer profile? When choosing communities that are largely dependent on a specific industry, you need to be careful because a slump can be bad for business.

2. Look Out for Nearby Competition
Finding the right location is serious business. There are many factors to consider in your decision making and often times it will require compromise. Whilst a perfect business location is different for every business, covering these crucial areas will certainly give you the best chance of beating the odds and keeping your business on track for future success.

3. Consider the Foot Traffic of the Area
Foot traffic is simply the presence of movement of people walking around in a particular space. It is important for businesses since it refers to those exposed to commercial establishments, whether they are walking or driving by the building. While this may be of more importance for businesses in retail, it should not be undermined by those running offices. Accessibility is important regardless of your industry. It is crucial that you consider the kind of foot traffic you need, and do a scan of the area to see if your goals and foot traffic line up. Remember, not everyone who comes by your business is going to leave with a purchase. So the more people you have in proximity, and the more accessible your business is to the general public, the higher your chances of turning a profit.

4. Look at the Success of Other Businesses in the Area
As the old saying goes, you are who you surround yourself with. Have a look around the area to see how successful the businesses in the area are. If businesses in the area are booming, chances are the traffic they bring in the area will help you out. It can also mean that the area you are in is up and coming. On the other hand, if businesses aren’t doing well, you should probably rethink your move. For one, you shouldn’t be too confident as to carry the burden of reviving the area.
5. Is the Building High Quality with a Good History?
Surroundings aside, you should examine the property itself. Whether it is in good shape or needs renovation matters. Establishing whether the property management company undertakes responsibilities over common areas matters as well. In order to make proper assessment speaking to previous and nearby tenants is a must. If the property requires too much work and money, this is can be a red flag depending on the area and the cost associated. Additionally, if you are buying a large piece of land make sure to check the Registry for servitudes or other rights attached to your property.
6. How Much Would It Cost Monthly and What Does the Lease Look Like
Rent can be heavy burden to businesses located in hot-spot areas. What you must pay particular attention to is not just the cost, but the measures you will have to take if ever you want to get out of your lease. Make sure to read all details in order to see if there are any restrictions to the things you can do to the property (ex. Artwork on your walls, staying open after a certain hours, etc.)
7. Check for Adequate Parking and Accessibility
There is nothing a person hates more than driving around to look for parking, just to realize their time is better spent elsewhere. Being located in an area with enough parking isn’t mandatory. But if this is not the case, make sure the area is easily accessible by public transit. This is not only important for your customers, but for your employees as well. Subsequently, if you decide to create or buy an existing parking lot, make sure it is well taken care of.
8. How Does Your Business Plan to Operate?
This is all about figuring out your style of operation. Are you going casual? Professional? Formal? The area you where you will set up shop, especially for restaurants and retailers, has a lot to do with the vibe you are putting out. You must make sure that your style of operation and the area you are in are compatible. It must be in line with the demographics and audience you are working with.

Finding the right location is serious business. There are many factors to consider in your decision making and often times it will require compromise. Whilst a perfect business location is different for every business, covering these crucial areas will certainly give you the best chance of beating the odds and keeping your business on track for future success.


PME Mentor: David Horowitz

As the saying goes, the best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people. Mentorship is an essential part of the PME Program. On this 18th anniversary, it would only be appropriate to give thanks to our mentors. We may not have all the answers, but what we can do is introduce you to someone who does. We recently got the chance to catch up with our longtime mentor, David Horowitz. David is a seasoned executive always interested in promoting entrepreneurship and international business. With over 30 years at Senior Management level, involved in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution, David wishes to pass on his knowledge gained from 10 years of teaching experience to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Q: What aspects of mentorship do you enjoy most?
A: Gaining the intrinsic rewards of helping others. When you decide to mentor someone, you really do not know how far they will go, but mentoring does make a difference. Whether you help shape the next great entrepreneur or help someone achieve their dreams, making a difference is all that matters. It feels great to know that you are a positive influence in someone else’s life.

Q: How can an entrepreneur make the best out of their relationship with their mentor?
A: Be prepared. Yes, the mentor’s time is valuable, but take advantage by being well prepared. Have an agenda. You want to use the time with mentor on your most pressing business issues. Be humble. Ask for criticism and feedback. Sometimes questions the mentee has are needed to be answered sooner than the planned meeting. Keep a swinging door policy so that ‘smaller but important decisions’ that need answering quickly are just an email away. These fast answers can save the entrepreneur time, but more importantly, can save the young firm money.

Q: What advice would you give an entrepreneur thinking of working with a mentor?
A: The relationship has to be authentic and there should be a baseline chemistry between the mentor and mentee, so pick your mentor accordingly. Be prepared to act on the advice given, rather than think the mentor is there to validate your shenanigans. Always remember the benefits a mentor can bring to the table, and never forget the statistics of small business failure- 80% of business start-ups do not make it past their 5th year. So don’t be shy to ask questions, listen and absorb as much as you can, and you can hopefully avoid getting as many scars as us mentors have had to endure.

Our mentors are passionate people dedicated to helping others. With their help, entrepreneurs have been able to reach great heights. Thanks to the efforts of people like David, we look forward to what the next 18 years has in store for PME.

PME Co-Founder, Jimmy Alexander

We got the opportunity to have a quick chat with PME co-founder, Jimmy Alexander. Since 1999 he has been an essential part of PME’s success. He had some insight to share about the program, entrepreneurship, the lessons he’s learned along the way, and what he anticipates for the future.

Q: PME has been around for quite some time now. Why did you believe it was necessary to start PME?

A: Back in the days of the potential referendum, or the potential loss of the referendum, PME was founded in order to help young Jewish people stay in Montreal. We went out and we asked a set of Jewish people what it would take for them to stay in the city. They all said job prospects and career opportunities. We figured, what better way to do that than to take on the Jewish adage “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” We wanted to give young people an opportunity to learn business. We wanted entrepreneurs and community leaders to have exponential growth within the community, and provide them with great potential.

Q: What has kept you motivated to continue after 18 years?

A: Our success! It’s so gratifying. I’ve participated in many community projects and, by far, the PME has been the most rewarding. Creating something from nothing, and enjoying the success we have, is for sure the motivation behind PME. It’s not just about the company’s we’ve funded. Just the mere fact that PME exists sparks people’s interest in starting businesses.

Q: What have been some of the highlights as part of the PME Committee? Do any moments stand out to you?

A: How we define success would be that more people who have been recipients of funding will eventually join our board, donate to PME and community and help us perpetuate the fund.  Over the years, that is exactly what has happened. Right now, we thankfully have about four previous PME recipients sit on the board. That is by far, the most outstanding highlight to me! In a way it’s like meeting your grandchildren or great grandchildren!

Q: What is it about a particular business that makes it deserving of PME funding?

A: I think it’s two things. One, is the credibility of the plan. At its base, the idea, and where it fits in the shelf is crucial. In other words, how it is positioned within the industry it wants to be in is very important. The second aspect is the entrepreneur. The tenacity of the individual, their charm, charisma, and how they can explain the profitability of their business is equally as important. If they can’t convince a group like ours, who is really pushing for them to be successful, how are they going to convince others?

Q: Where do you see PME 18 years from now?

A: First of all, from a self-serving point of view I’d like to see my children or Stephen’s participate in the PME program. That would be great. We also actually started the plan for PME 2.0. I’d really like to see that grow into the next stage of PME. It’s a whole different ballgame, but we have a good plan set in place, and so continuing to build it and figuring out different ways of helping entrepreneurs is the goal.

Q: What do you believe is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?

A: One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned, and taught many of our recipients, is that you show up day one with your plan and idea. However, you may have to adapt and change and deviate from what you originally set out to do. Making changes, while progressing is what keeps us successful. We’ve learned a lot, and more importantly, we’ve been very fortunate to have a very engaged board that has helped us along the way.

It is because of the dedication of community leaders like Jimmy Alexander that PME has seen great success. Starting and leading such a program comes with its set of challenges. However, with passionate people leading PME, the obstacles and challenges make for great lessons and brighter futures.

Introducing Your Start-Up to an Angel Investor by E-mail

Angel investor, start-up You can only make a first impression once. Introducing your start-up to an angel investor is nerve-wracking to begin with. However, introducing your start-up to an angel investor by e-mail is a lot more challenging. You cannot charm or socialize with an individual by e-mail the same way you would in person. Standing out is much harder. Of course, you are better off reaching out to an angel investor by e-mail after having met them in person. But this isn’t always the case. For this reason it is important that you hatch out a plan that will captivate the interest of an angel investor. As said Alex Iskold, Managing Director of Techstars, there are 3 key notions to stick to when contacting an angel investor: be simple, clear, and awesome.

Your Structure should be simple-

Being concise is key. Your initial e-mail should only about 5 sentences long, with a one-pager attachment maximum. An angel investor should be able to decipher, based on just these few lines, if this is an opportunity of interest. Keep in mind that your e-mail does not need to answer every question that an investor would have. It simply needs to strike enough interest to schedule a meeting. The following steps can provide for a good blueprint for your email.

Introduction: Your name and the name of your business
Business: 2-3 sentences about your business & why it’s interesting
Traction: 1-2 sentence about your traction, customers, and progress over time
Why: Looking for feedback, or connecting because you have background.
Ask: Schedule a quick phone call, meeting, or ask for feedback via e-mail
Be as clear as possible-

Do not use complicated jargon or terms in order to explain your business. Most investors do not have time to untangle your e-mail in search of clarity. Your first e-mail must be able to stand alone as a comprehensible pitching tool. Note that you should have two goals with this introductory e-mail. First, you have to persuade an angel investor to engage with you in conversation.  Second, give this person the tools to communicate the information clearly to others if need be. This is not to say that angel investors should not have questions about your business after reading your e-mail. It is simply to make clear that the questions they have should not be with regards to your description of the company but with regards to the company itself and its potential.

Focus on Market-Product Fit-

Often times entrepreneurs mistakenly put an excessive amount of focus on the solution instead of the business problem. Reaching out to an angel investor should include focusing on the ‘why’. A strong opportunity statement, which will communicate exactly why an angel investor should care about your business is crucial. When a profitable opportunity presents itself, investors will almost always be willing to listen, at the very least.

Adopt the right attitude, don’t oversell yourself and be truthful. Standing out by e-mail will be difficult. Especially since many angel investors are busy and receive numerous e-mails daily. Just remember that more times than not, less is more. Keep it simple, and make your case as to why they should at least hear what you have to say.

Apprendre à connaître ses partenaires avant de signer

partenaires Trouver le bon cofondateur pour votre entreprise sera une des décisions les plus importantes que vous aurez à prendre en tant qu’entrepreneur. Faites-nous confiance, cette décision déterminera le sort de votre entreprise. Nous avons été témoins des meilleurs et des pires scénarios. Voici quelques conseils à considérer avant de prendre cette décision importante.

  1. Apprendre à se connaître avant le mariage

En affaires, comme dans toute relation, vous devez apprendre à connaître votre partenaire et sa façon de travailler avant de vous passer la corde au cou. Rencontrer quelqu’un à un événement de réseautage n’est pas suffisant pour décider de signer une convention entre actionnaires quelques semaines plus tard. Une fois qu’un tel contrat est signé, il n’est pas facile de le révoquer. C’est un processus qui peut devenir fort désagréable et qui peut ruiner une entreprise; tout comme épouser quelqu’un sans bien connaître la personne ou ses intentions. Le divorce sera un processus long, déplaisant et pénible que vous auriez pu éviter. Les désaccords les plus communs entre les cofondateurs concernent la vision et l’orientation future de l’entreprise. De toute évidence, l’objectif est de développer l’entreprise, mais les façons de faire croître une entreprise sont limitées, et il y a tellement de directions dans lesquelles on peut orienter une entreprise, et qui peuvent toutes conduire à des résultats très différents. Avant de vous engager dans un partenariat, assurez-vous que vous et votre partenaire potentiel êtes sur la même longueur d’onde, surtout en ce qui concerne la vision et les valeurs en lesquelles vous croyez.

  1. Choisissez quelqu’un qui vous complète

Établir un partenariat avec quelqu’un qui a exactement le même profil que vous n’est pas une bonne idée. Vous devez trouver une personne dont les compétences complètent les vôtres, afin de permettre à votre entreprise de croître et de prospérer. Lorsque vous considérez à quoi peuvent ressembler des compétences complémentaires, pensez surtout à l’avenir de l’entreprise. Les fonctions seront établies en fonction de ces compétences complémentaires. De cette façon, vous pouvez vous créer une émulation et bâtir une entreprise plus solide et de qualité. Alors que l’idée de vous discuter des mêmes choses peut être séduisante, vous voulez être avec quelqu’un qui possède des compétences différentes.

  • Si vous êtes programmeur, il devrait être agent de commercialisation.
  • Si vous êtes concepteur, il devrait être développeur.
  • Si vous êtes introverti, il devrait être extraverti.
  1. Comprendre la convention d’actionnaire

Nous ne pourrons jamais assez souligner l’importance de ce point. Les conventions d’actionnaires garantissent qu’on a bien réfléchi aux responsabilités des actionnaires en fonction de ce qui est permis et de ce qui ne l’est pas, et sur la façon dont les décisions seront prises. Son objectif est de réduire les risques de conflit entre les actionnaires dès le départ. Cependant, des problèmes peuvent survenir lorsque vous ne comprenez pas entièrement le contrat avant de le signer. Il faut donc réfléchir très sérieusement à la propriété des actions. Qui possède combien d’actions (et quelle contribution en espèces? Propriété intellectuelle, etc.)? Et, comment ces actions sont-elles détenues?

Questions à vous poser avant de signer :

  1. Suis-je satisfait de ma participation au capital? (Si je suis le principal fondateur, est-ce que je traite les autres équitablement?)
  2. Puis-je quitter cette entreprise si je le veux? (Puis-je vendre des actions?)
  3. Puis-je acheter plus d’actions si je le veux?
  4. Est-ce que je m’engage à faire quelque chose que je ne pourrai pas respecter?
  5. Est-ce que je pourrai exercer suffisamment d’influence pour protéger mon investissement?
  6. Quels sont mon risque financier total et ma responsabilité juridique (présente et future) dans cet engagement?
  1. Répartition des capitaux

Certains ont l’idée fausse que les capitaux doivent toujours être divisés en parts égales (50/50). Alors qu’une répartition égale du capital peut très bien fonctionner pour certaines entreprises, ce n’est pas la seule solution à considérer. Vous évitez peut-être une conversation gênante et difficile en répartissant les parts de façon égale maintenant, mais pensez aux répercussions que cela peut avoir sur l’avenir de votre entreprise. Vous devriez également considérer l’acquisition des droits. Cela pourra empêcher d’émettre des actions à des partenaires ou à des employés indignes.

Rappelez-vous que vous passerez probablement plus de temps avec votre cofondateur qu’avec votre propre famille. Le choix de cette personne déterminera l’avenir de votre entreprise. Une bonne alchimie et une bonne entente entre vous et votre partenaire sont essentielles. Vous voulez quelqu’un qui assume ses responsabilités et qui démontre la même passion et le même dynamisme que vous. Vous êtes sur le point de vous embarquer dans un voyage ambitieux et mémorable, assurez-vous d’avoir le bon compagnon de voyage!

Dating Before Committing

co-founder, startup, founderFinding the right co-founder for your business will be one of the biggest decisions you will have to make as an entrepreneur. Trust us when we say that this decision will determine the fate of your business. We’ve seen some best and worst-case scenarios. Here are a few tips you will have to consider before making this big decision.

  1. Date Them Before You Marry Them

As with any relationship, in business you must get to know your co-founder and the way they work before you tie the knot. It’s not enough to meet someone at a networking event and a couple of weeks later sign a shareholders agreement.  Once that’s done, it’s not easily undone. The process can get nasty and can ruin a business, just like marrying someone without having known them or their intentions, the divorce will be a long, ugly, and tedious process you could have avoided. The most common disagreements that co-founders have is with regards to the future vision and direction for the business. Obviously, the goal is to grow the business but there are only so many ways a business can grow, and so many directions a business can take that can all lead to very different outcomes. Before you commit to a partnership, make sure you and your potential partner are on the same page as far as the vision of the company and the values you hold.

  1. Choose someone that compliments you

Partnering with someone who has the same exact profile as you, is not a good idea. You must find someone with complementary skills that will allow your business to grow and flourish. Look to the future of the business when you consider complementary skills. Based on those complimentary skills, job positions are drafted.  That way you can challenge each other and build a stronger and quality company. While it might be appealing to geek out together about the same things, you want someone who has a different skillset.

  • You’re a programmer, she should be a marketer.
  • If you’re a designer, he should be a developer.
  • If you’re an introvert, she should be an extrovert.
  1. Understand your Shareholder’s Agreement

We cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. Shareholders agreements ensure that the responsibilities of the shareholders are well thought-out, what is to be permitted and what is not to be permitted, and how decisions are to be made. It should also include what do to when you cannot reach a commune decision, who gets the last word? It is meant to decrease potential for conflict between shareholders from the get-go. Problems arise, however, when you do not understand it fully before signing. Some very careful thought must be given to the share ownership. Who owns how many shares (and for what contribution cash? time? intellectual property, etc.)? And, how are these shares held?

 Question to ask yourself before signing on the dotted line are:

  1. Am I happy with my ownership stake? (If I’m the key founder, am I treating others fairly?)

    2. Can I get out of this deal if I need to? (Can I sell the shares?)
    3. Can I buy more shares if I’d like to?
    4. Am I committing to something I cannot live up to?
    5. Will I be able to exert sufficient influence to protect my investment?
    6. What is my total financial exposure and legal liability (present and future) on this deal?


  1. Splitting Equity

Some have the misconception that equity must always be split 50/50. While an equal equity split can work great for some businesses, it is not the only alternative on the table. You may be avoiding an awkward and tough conversation by opting to split equally now, but think about the repercussions this may have to your business’s future. You should also consider vesting. This can prevent you from issuing stocks to unworthy partners or employees.

Remember that you will likely be spending more time with your co-founder than with your own family. Choosing this person will determine the future of your business. Having good chemistry and getting along with your co-founder is a must. You want someone that will carry their weight and that has the same passion and drive as you. You are about to embark on a challenging and memorable journey, make sure it’s with the right person!

A PME Success Story: Catching up with Hayes Nulman

startup, montreal hayes nulmanHayes was part of PME’s 2014 funding round. Still heading operations of his business, Hayes Nulman Design, he embodies true entrepreneurial spirit. With his furniture design and fabrication studio, and his outside-the-box thinking, he has paved quite a way for himself. We were able to sit down with him for a few minutes to talk about his journey and what he looks forward to in the future.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to start your own furniture design and fabrication studio?

A: It was a dream as a child. I also didn’t really fit into other workplaces so I sort of just wanted to create my own space.

Q: Where did your passion for furniture design come from?

A: When I was a kid I always liked to build things. I kind of always wanted to make stuff with my hands. From there it evolved. For me it was more about seeing something be created at the end of the day as opposed to the type of building that would be created over long-term projects. The immediate gratification part is what I like about it.

Q: How did you learn to master your craft? Did you teach yourself or were you professionally trained?

A: I went to a school called École National de Meuble et de l’Ebénisterie. It was an interesting experience seeing that it was all in French. The school is specialized in furniture making and design.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR design PROCESS? What’s the thought DEVELOPMENT that goes behind it?

A: Our business shifted. It started off as us doing residential.custom pieces.  However, we’ve pivoted more into a commercial aspect. That means that more of what I’m doing is interpreting a designer or architect’s design into a final product, suggesting changes that will make it more stable, and producing technical drawings based on their original rough wire frames.

Q: Do you find it difficult to compete in an industry where people tend to buy standardized products from big name corporations?

A: I feel that I’m more in a niche. There is certain clientele that doesn’t care much about the quality, they just need a piece. Then there are others that actually care about the quality in the final product. Typically we cater to the higher-end final quality products. We also cater to a clientele that knows what they want to have versus someone who doesn’t have a clear idea of what they want and is more open to suggestion. We build someone’s dream piece, not a piece to fill a void.

Q: Your father, Andy Nulman, has a big presence in the Montreal business scene. How were you able to pave your way for yourself?

A:  I think that what we do is unrelated. I think the underlying values that were instilled to me as a child was big into entrepreneurship. Growing up surrounded by an entrepreneur vouching for entrepreneurs really pushed me and my brother to go our own separate ways and to pursue what we like doing. Also, pursuing it in a way that we can build a business from it. It’s funny, my brother is a computer programmer, I build stuff with my hands, and my dad’s just completely in another space. We’re all different, but also the same, because it`s all in entrepreneurship. That`s how I see it.

Q: Why start to a business in Montreal?

A: It’s cheap rent. My business unfortunately requires a lot of space. Space in a lot of other cities comes out premium. I can see Montreal as a place to raise a family, raise kids, have a life, as well as have cheap rent. Those are the factors that make me want to stay here. I wanted to originally go to New York and then struggled paycheck to paycheck and realized that Montreal is a better option.

Q: How has PME helped you on your journey?

A: They believed in me when I first started. It took a little bit of convincing but they liked the approach. We’ve strayed so far from what we originally set out to do, but the funding they gave us has helped us secure our first commercial contract and helped us grow into more of a commercial oriented company than a residential oriented company. When we first started with PME we were in a 1000 sqft space, now we are at 12000 sqft. We’ve also increased our employee count. We were 2 last year and now we are 9.

Q: Where do you see yourself and your business 10 years from now?

A: I see us continuing to do more commercial projects. Continuing our same stroke. Hopefully doubling in staff and seeing where we can take everything.

Doing what you love is one of the biggest perks of being an entrepreneur. Doing it successfully is an even greater one. Hayes had some much needed insight to share. Best of luck to him moving forward!

Pro-Montreal Entrepreneurs (PME) is a social business model created to help young entrepreneurs build and strengthen their business roots in Montreal. PME offers business plan feedback, a network of mentors, and access to sources of funding. Entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-40 can also get access to capital of up to $50,000. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions that you may have.

Histoire d’une réussite de PME : Praktice Health

montreal, startup, Praktice HealthMichael Moszberg faisait partie de la série de financement de PME en 2014. En tant que cofondateur et chef de la direction de Praktice Health, il a constaté des lacunes sur le marché en matière d’activités de bien-être, en particulier pour les entreprises. Lors du démarrage de son entreprise, M. Moszberg a eu recours à un grand nombre de programmes d’accélération et de ressources accessibles aux entrepreneurs au Québec. Il nous donne quelques renseignements et conseils importants tirés de son expérience au sein de programmes d’accélération à Montréal. Ce qu’il changerait et des endroits où les entrepreneurs peuvent trouver de l’aide à Montréal.

Q: D’où vous est venue l’idée de démarrer Praktice Health?

R: Lorsque nous avons commencé à parler avec des gestionnaires RH des activités de bien-être pour entreprises, nous avons découvert qu’ils cherchaient des solutions modernes et variées, mais qu’il n’y en avait pas à leur disposition. Après avoir cherché l’activité la plus intéressante qui soit, nous avons constaté que le véritable problème était le manque de participation aux activités de bien-être. Les gestionnaires RH n’avaient pas d’options pour intégrer des activités de bien-être.

Q: Comment avez-vous réussi à vous différencier des autres programmes et applications de conditionnement physique offerts?

R: Il y a beaucoup de choix pour les consommateurs, mais rien pour les entreprises. Ces dernières ont surtout besoin de fonctions comme la planification, les communications, l’administration, l’analytique, les sondages, les photos. Le programme doit aussi être confidentiel et sécurisé. Les grandes entreprises veulent être en mesure d’obtenir des analyses selon les différents départements, et il n’y a rien de la sorte pour les grandes entreprises. Les programmes disponibles nécessitent des ententes annuelles coûteuses, qui absorbent la totalité des budgets de bien-être. Vous avez ensuite les applications qui ne sont ni confidentielles, ni sécurisées, et qui ne comportent pas d’options applicables aux RH. 

Q: Vous avez participé à de nombreux programmes d’accélération au fil des ans. Selon vous, quels sont les avantages et désavantages de ces programmes?

R: Je crois que le plus gros avantage des accélérateurs est également le plus gros désavantage. L’aspect le plus important est l’aspect communautaire. Qu’il s’agisse de District 3, de McGill ou de FounderFuel, tous offrent un certain degré de collaboration communautaire, qui peut consister en des conseillers, des collègues ou des pairs. Je crois que c’est une bonne chose, au début, d’avoir recours à un accélérateur, mais après un certain temps, vous devez vous concentrer sur votre entreprise. Le fait d’avoir trop d’événements et trop de personnes autour de vous peut devenir une distraction. 

Q: Selon votre expérience, quels aspects du processus des incubateurs/accélérateurs changeriez-vous?

R: Les incubateurs/accélérateurs veulent aider tellement d’entreprises qu’il devient difficile pour eux d’accorder une attention particulière à chacune d’elle. La majorité des incubateurs suivent le même modèle, c’est-à-dire qu’ils présentent l’information générale et veulent que l’entreprise se démarque. Mais seulement une sur dix y arrive. S’ils avaient les ressources leur permettant d’accorder plus d’attention à chacune des entreprises, leur taux de succès serait probablement plus élevé. Mais ils sont limités par les ressources. Ce dont ils ont besoin, c’est davantage de ressources.

Q: Qu’avez-vous acquis de plus précieux dans votre expérience des divers incubateurs?

R: La diversité des conseillers est ce que j’ai acquis de plus précieux au fil des ans. Le problème en ce qui a trait aux mentors, c’est qu’il est difficile d’en trouver un qui est bon pour vous sur tous les plans. Je crois qu’il faudrait en avoir un qui en bon en vente, un qui est bon en TI, un autre en collecte de fonds, etc. Aucun mentor n’est parfait pour toutes les entreprises. Il est important d’avoir un groupe diversifié de mentors.

Q: Quels sont les meilleurs endroits pour trouver des ressources à Montréal, qu’il s’agisse de ressources financières ou de simples conseils?

R: Chaque incubateur est unique. District 3 fournit des espaces de travail gratuits et accompagne les entrepreneurs du point zéro au démarrage de leur entreprise. McGill possède un bon réseau d’anciens ainsi qu’une bonne équipe. The McGill Dobson Cup est un moyen fantastique pour les entrepreneurs qui veulent obtenir des fonds tout au début du processus. Il y a ensuite FounderFuel, qui est un très bon accélérateur d’entreprise. Cependant, si vous vous joignez trop tôt à FounderFuel, vous n’arriverez pas à obtenir cette accélération. Vous devez être arrivé à un certain niveau pour que le programme d’accélération de FounderFuel vous soit utile. Beaucoup de gens ne se rendent pas compte du temps qu’il faut pour démarrer une entreprise. Bien entendu, PME (Pro-Montréal Entrepreneurs) est aussi une ressource formidable. Somme toute, District 3 et McGill sont bons pour le démarrage d’entreprise. Pour obtenir un soutien complémentaire, il y a ensuite des organismes comme PME, PME Montréal, SAJE et Angels. Si votre entreprise est mieux établie, FounderFuel et d’autres entreprises semblables peuvent vous aider. Voici donc ma réponse alambiquée. Il faut toute une communauté, et toutes ces ressources enrichissent l’écosystème.

Q: Que pensez-vous de Montréal en tant qu’entrepreneur? L’écosystème favorise-t-il l’entrepreneuriat?

R: Selon moi, Montréal est un endroit fantastique pour démarrer une entreprise, en raison des salaires bas, du talent qu’on y trouve et des crédits d’impôt. Cependant, il est difficile de vendre sur le marché montréalais. Regardez en Israël, par exemple: il y a beaucoup de ressources pour les jeunes entreprises, mais vous ne verrez pas beaucoup d’entreprises qui y feront des ventes. Montréal est un endroit fantastique pour bâtir une entreprise, mais en prévoyant vendre sur le marché mondial.

Q: De quelle manière le programme PME vous a-t-il aidé, vous et votre entreprise?

R: Le programme PME soutient réellement les entrepreneurs. Les conseillers investissent du temps et des efforts pour contribuer au succès de chacune des entreprises.

Voici de très bons conseils de la part d’un entrepreneur qui a démarré son entreprise à Montréal. Montréal a des ressources formidables à offrir. Vous devez savoir lesquelles sont appropriées pour vous à l’étape où vous êtes rendu. Michael a parcouru beaucoup de chemin depuis notre rencontre en 2014. Nous sommes convaincus que le meilleur reste à venir pour Michael et Praktice Health.

ProMontréal Entrepreneurs (PME) est un modèle d’entreprise sociale créé pour aider les jeunes entrepreneurs à bâtir et à renforcer leurs bases d’affaires à Montréal. PME offre la consultation dans l’élaboration d’un plan d’affaires, un réseau de mentors et l’accès à des sources de financement. Les entrepreneurs âgés de 18 à 40 ans peuvent également avoir accès à un capital de départ pouvant atteindre jusqu’à 50 000 $. N’hésitez pas à communiquer avec nous si vous avez des questions.