We sat down with entrepreneur duo Pierre-Luc Laparé and Marc-Antoine Bovet of Montreal to find out how they balance running two companies, Oatbox and Golf Avenue, what inspired their businesses, and what advice they would share with other young professionals…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
We are the co-founders of Oatbox and Golf Avenue. Oatbox, founded in November 2014, produces and delivers, on a monthly basis, healthy and original granola mixes. Our chef creates two granola mix flavours every month using mostly organic ingredients. Golf Avenue, founded in 2006, is Canada’s largest online retailer of pre-owned golf equipment.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
For both of us, entrepreneurship has always been the only career option. After successfully launching an ecommerce business together, Golf Avenue, and learning from it, we decided to use our capabilities to bring breakfast back to those who don’t have or take the time to eat. In fact, although it is considered the most important meal of the day, only 40% of the population eats breakfast every day. We both did not eat breakfast either, so we created a solution – Oatbox, a subscription-based granola mix delivery company that aims to give users a healthy, original and fast breakfast option.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
PL: The best part is getting to the office and seeing over 25 people that are happy to work collaboratively to grow Golf Avenue and Oatbox. It’s cool to think that my partner and I created those jobs and that they are working hard with us to always reach higher levels. The most challenging part of my job is managing my own agenda. There is so much that needs to be done in a startup environment, so I need to be very well organized.
Marc: Both the best and most challenging parts of my job are having to deal with running two startups. Every day, there are emergencies arising that I had never could have anticipated, which require urgent attention. It’s both thrilling and stressful, but I wouldn’t like it any other way!
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
PL: I promised my girlfriend at 20 years old that I’d never have my emails on my phone… do I really have to tell you that I didn’t keep that promise? I spend too much time on my phone and this is a thing I am working on.
Marc: I often get so caught up in work that I forget to eat lunch about once a week. At least, now that I have Oatbox, I get a healthy breakfast every day.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
PL: Who knows… Marc and I are partners in two great businesses, and we have high expectations for both of them. The actual growth of Oatbox is phenomenal, and we will work towards increasing our reach and offering. For Golf Avenue, we are now the biggest online retailer of pre-owned and demo equipment in the country and we have great projects ahead to continue this growth.
Marc: In five years, I see Oatbox being a flourishing business, delivering granola mixes and other cereal-based products around the world and helping everyone to eat breakfast. As for Golf Avenue, I see the company being the worldwide reference for everything related to golf.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Marc: One major challenge was convincing Golf Town stores across Canada to sell to two 18-year-old boys their clients’ used golf clubs. We actually started with one store, and added year after year more stores, before signing an agreement with all the stores across the country.
PL: Getting my CA title while managing Golf Avenue! I was working crazy hours to be able to manage both the internship at Deloitte and the startup. Deloitte has been very accommodating. I managed to do it and I’ll always be grateful for what they did for me. And now I’m their client!
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Both: Success is achieving your goals, no matter what they are. Success applies to all aspects of your life. In our opinion, money is a consequence of having success in business but it’s not a goal.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Both: Getting all the Golf Town stores across Canada on board. It took two years of negotiation with headquarters. More recently, we are thrilled with the growth of Oatbox and cannot wait to see where the company will bring us.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Both: Dream bigger – and then work hard towards that goal. Do not give up, because the worst that can happen is getting a ‘No’.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Both: Tuck Shop (Montreal).
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Both: Playing golf and spending time with the people we love
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
PL: This is a tough one. Even though it’s nothing exotic and right next door, I have to go with New York City because of its fast pace, excellent restaurants, and the mix of different cultures. I try to go there at least twice a year.
Marc: Definitely Spain. It has it all – beaches, good food, nice people, and a lot of culture. I learned Spanish in high school, and love being able to converse with the people there.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
PL: The truth is that I like oldies – Classic, jazz, etc. My friends love making fun of me!
Marc: The Hockey Night in Canada Theme song – it gets me pumped up, and gives me the motivation to accomplish anything that lies ahead.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
PL: My dream was to be the next Tiger Woods, but guess what? This won’t happen! Also, when weeks get crazy busy, I dream of selling sombreros on the beach in Mexico. I’d probably find a way to get too busy even on the beach, but I don’t go that far in my thinking process.
Marc: Similar to Pierre-Luc, I would not see myself in the corporate world. I’d probably be by a lake fishing my next meal… but I’d probably also find a way to get too busy!
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Marc: At Oatbox we have partnered with the Canadian Breakfast Club to be able to help children have the opportunity to eat breakfast every morning. In fact, we give $1 to the organization every time you receive your Oatbox. We are proud to be able to give back to the community since the very beginning of the company.
PL: I’ve always been very close to the Sainte-Justine Hospital Foundation. In the past few years I was on the organizing committee of the Mont-Royal Ball and now I’m the Co-Chair of the Cachou Tournament for Young Leaders.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
PL: iPhone without cover!