Other Biographical Elements
I am also interested in economic development and I have done research on this topic in the Balkans for the World Bank and Haiti for the Inter-American development Bank. I have also created a small NGO in Haïti called Ed’Haïti aiming at helping young children to get access to primary education. I am currently president of Ed’Haïti. It is a family-run NGO, a very small one, we support three schools in Port-au-Prince and Miragoânes, totalling 1500 pupils. These three schools are in very unprivileged neighbourhoods, where it is tougher for other (bigger) NGOs to intervene. If you want to support us, do not hesitate to donate money or time. You can reach us on Ed’Haïti’s website through the contact form. I have also initiated a couple of projects, among others the Ambassadors’ Alliance, the CIRANO-Harvard Club of Quebec Seminar, the Avant-Garde @ CIRANO, and a high-tech platform about Data Science for International Business called Mondo International.
With my family, we have spent some significant time working and traveling in China (Beijing, Guanzhou), Europe, the U.S. and now Canada. I have also done and organized field studies of companies and local institutions throughout Europe, China, South Africa, Australia, USA, North Africa and some countries in Latin America, totalling more than 100 companies, central banks, international organisations and ministries studying the engines of globalization and the industrial policies of countries.
While being the academic coordinator of PolyMonde at Polytechnique Montreal, I have also created PolyFinances, an academic program to bridge engineering and international finance and I have organized three campuses for PolyFinances (two in New York City and one in Washington D.C.). After having joined HEC Montreal, I remain on the board of PolyFinances.
Some Business Related Info
My first business was a landscape and construction company, but since I was not an adult (and also I don’t think everything I did was totally legal) it is better to forget it. But it was so much fun. I understood then that customer’ satisfaction was essential. My second business was during my senior year in Paris. I coded a financial software called Anafin (standing for “Analyse financière”). I don’t think the programming language still exists ;-). This software proposed to download stock prices and did some time series analyzes as well as provided some CAPM-based results. It was before JP Morgan sold the VaR model to Wall Street. The only issue was that it was before the wide spread of the Internet in France, and no one wanted to buy the software from this young guy. A couple of years later, after I learned how to shoot planes with missiles and some other “think outside of the box” skills during my military service, I joined a small team of incredible and famous people in the European media world in order to create an economic magazine, then another one, and then I was one of main architects (and owner, yesssss!) of a media convergence firm (Radio, TV, Internet) also with an economic and finance focus. Guess what? Anafin came alive since Internet users could manage their portfolio online with topnotch and user-friendly tools. “Never let a good (product) go to waste” to rearrange Winston Churchill’s famous quote. I also learned some new skills (on top of the ones from my military service) about the media industry. It is definitely a world I love. It was also one of the biggest round A funding in Paris at that time. While in Paris, I also designed an online magazine (TaGénération) for the 18-30 year old generation. It did not really work. Now Melty.fr is apparently a big success. Lesson 1: do not be too early!
Then life brought me to the other side of the Atlantic. I then participated to a MOOC (at that time, it was called “online courses” for business people, and it was about the introduction of the euro). Not a big success as well. Lesson 2: do not be too early! I also tried to sell an app called Joeletaxi with the idea of sharing trips and also creating a taxi platform in cities where there are none across the developping world. Not a big success, though Uber now is worth $17bn. Lesson 3: do not be too early! I am passing on some other failures (too embarrassing) and now I work on a couple of projects all related to data science for international business (nuance-r.com, www.mondo.international)
I want to reward you for having read this far… You want some great “too early” business ideas? You don’t mind the risks? Well, it is up to you. Business idea #1: start anything that could be bought by Apple or Google in the health insurance industry. Apple and Google are going to the health insurance industry? Really? Well, the truth is they may not know it yet. However, with the iWatch, the new iOS, and the biometrics all the new gizmos will collect and aggregate, Apple and Google (and others) will realize soon that they can predict your health issues with a high probability just using big data analysis. The next move is obvious: they will be able to offer you, through iTunes, your health insurance as they offer you a membership to iTunes Match for your music. Crazy? Again, it is up to you. Think also about the health ministries across the world and the challenges this shift will pose to them. Business idea #2: Ease my life and the one of millions of customers in terms of transportation (apps, hardware, etc.). Business idea #3: no sorry, I keep it, I think this one is not too early ;-)