Q&A with angel investor and serial entrepreneur, Guy Gervais

Editors note: On the 27th of March, the Dobson Cup Finals were held. We decided to sit down with Guy Gervais, to get insight into the mind of someone who has achieved massive success in the business world and hopefully get some tips on how to pave a similar path.

Guy was CEO at Vulcain Inc, a leader in gas detection. Under his leadership, the company got unsurpassed results with continued new product development, enhanced operational efficiencies and highly effective sales strategies.

After the sale of his enterprise, he became an Impact Angel Investor investing “in people and companies that matter”. He played an active role in the beginnings of Anges Québec. Alongside other investors, this group of business angels invested over $400M in more than 150 companies over the last few years.

He is also involved in the start-up community. To name a few, he leads the Impact Investing Cell at Anges Québec, he is a coach in several accelerators such as Espace Inc and LaPiscine on top of managing the DEL accelerator. Finally, he is a member of the Investing committee at Aligo Innovation that acts as an engine of economic development. 

When did you know you wanted to take an entrepreneurial path?

I think it happened by accident. I come from a family of entrepreneurs who really encouraged me to go down a similar path, and therefore it was in my DNA.

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?

There are a lot of benefits; most importantly freedom. Also, the chance to create wealth and opportunity. I enjoy being on a mission and changing the lives of my employees. I feel I am in full control of my destiny. I think as an entrepreneur we can have a big impact on the people and businesses around us, more than as an employee.

What’s the hardest part about it?

Being alone at the top. Somethings you have to make very difficult decisions, and unfortunately you are on your own. You can have the support of your family, but at the end you are on your own. If I have to fire someone, I’ll lose sleep over it. But it is important to me that I show them that this is a chance to improve themselves and be put on a new path; one on which they would be more happy.

What have you taken from your university experience, that has benefited you the most towards your career?

You learn how to learn. You learn how to adapt and how to be resilient. That was the greatest benefit for me while in university.

Where do you think novice entrepreneurs waste the most time?

That is a tough question, because as an entrepreneur just starting up you have to worry about everything, but you also have to prioritize. See what is urgent and what can be put on hold. You have to keep an eye on the big picture but at the same time, be sure you know exactly what is required for the next step. It is normally done through a 3 month forecast.

What advice do you have for students about using their time, relationships, and opportunities at university to prepare for the type of career you’ve built?

One of the most important things, if not THE most important, is the quality of your network. Make sure you continue to enhance that network and pursue those relationships, because those relationships can bring a lot to the table in terms of your career. Networking is everything in today’s world.

Tell us about a habit of yours that is very important to you?

I like to wake up at 5 am. I do this because I know I am going to have a very interesting day. I am getting inspired by this new generation of entrepreneurs, and I don’t have time to waste and neither to they. I want to be with them early so that I can provide them with my knowledge, expertise and network. I always look forward to helping these entrepreneurs, learning from them, helping them, so that I can grow with them.