Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Sean Arani, the CEO of the eponymous Montreal-based LED company. He was an early adopter of the technology back in 2009 when he first started designing, manufacturing and distributing LED products. Now his business is one of the leading suppliers of LED lighting in the world and delivers state-of-the-art products to customers across North America.
We caught up with him to find out what inspires him and what advice he would share with other young professionals…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
We design, manufacture and supply easy-to-install and environmentally friendly commercial LED lighting systems across Canada and the US.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
With LED technology, I knew that I could help reduce the planet’s environmental footprint while growing in a rapidly evolving and futuristic marketplace.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
From a business perspective, completing an agreement on a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal with Contrast Lighting from Levis, QC was a major milestone. It catapulted the business to levels beyond what I’d imagined. From a management perspective, I think everything changed when we moved to new facilities in 2015, which are five times larger than our previous offices. All of a sudden, we went from a tiny business to a corporation with well-defined goals and procedures.
4. Where do you see yourself in five years, 10 years, 20 years?
Our five-year goal is to become the number one visited website for electricians in Canada and the U.S., with at least three other distribution centers in addition to our head office. In the next 10 years, our current R&D efforts will deliver very innovative products that will change the way we light up our environment. I hope that by the time we reach 20 years, we will have branched out to similar categories in our industry, and have become a multi-national, multi-directional company. Throughout these milestones, I hope to I get to share my experience with other entrepreneurs who are looking to start their growth path.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I meet a lot of professionals who say, “one day, I’ll start my own business”. They will say this for years and years, then other personal and professional commitments come along and they never do it. DO IT.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I’m a mentor and supporter of Youth Fusion, a non-profit organization that seeks to lower school dropout rates by creating continuous ties between the school system and the community. Part of their mission is to involve at-risk youth in innovative and meaningful educational projects that contribute to their learning, their qualifications, and their social integration. I think better education can solve a lot of social problems by being a solution rather than just a bandage.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Product-based businesses bring on challenges in inventory management. This, coupled with product categories with a short life-cycle, became a nightmare for us. I solved it by hiring exceptional people who specialize in tackling these issues. My team is what built this company, without them I wouldn’t be able to get very far.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Someone who is motivated to create and drive change that benefits everyone.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Moishe’s. It was my first ever “luxury” dining experience, and the food and the service are second to none.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
I’m a big Habs fan and an avid reader of habseyesontheprize.com
Lately, the most played song is Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” because I’m mourning his loss. Beyond that, I’m a big Drake fan, so probably one of his songs.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Kevin Kallaugher. He makes the “KAL’s cartoons” for The Economist (and others) and his drawings are always spot on.
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I heart Montreal. So, coming back to Montreal is usually my favourite trip! Next one up is New York for work.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Airports. I love airports. Everyone is going somewhere, has something to do, achievements to conquer. When I’m in an airport, I feel like I’m falling behind and the rest are growing faster than I am. At the same time, this feeling drives me toward my achievements.
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
The Habs. I spend way too much time watching and following the Habs.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Yeh yogurt! That stuff gets expensive very quickly and I can’t come away from there under $10 in my cup… I wish I spent more on flying first class. It’s such a great comfort when you’re 6’ 4”, but I can’t convince myself to spend potential business growth money on it.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is having influence. Being able to move the world toward being a better place for everyone.