MaRS Mornings: Anthony Lacavera on building a billion-dollar company
Anthony Lacavera just sold WIND Mobile to Shaw for $1.6 billion. With no business background, capital or relationships, how did he get there?
Last week, the CEO and chairman of Globalive stopped by MaRS Mornings, our monthly speaker series celebrating founders, to talk about his journey to the billion-dollar club and taking on the Canadian wireless industry.
Five tips on how to build a billion-dollar company
1. Pick a theme.
Decide on what your company’s value is to your customer, make it simple and stick with that theme. “For WIND, it was about offering more choice to Canadian wireless customers.”
2. Don’t be afraid of failure.
“You have to embrace failure and the reality that it will be part of your journey. As an entrepreneur, you always get in the moment and feel like what you’re working on will work. Once you stop having that fear of failure, it gets integrated [into how you work.]”
3. Get to know venture capitalists (VCs) on a personal level.
Before you go into a meeting with a VC, find out what their personal interests are and chase them relentlessly. “When you’re starting your business no one owes you anything, you just have to pick up your bag and start doing it. What is the VC’s personal passion so I can sell them my company?” Don’t give up.
4. You only have 160,000 hours to make it happen.
When you take a look at your good working years (minus time for rest, eating and so on), you have about 160,000 hours in which you can really make a difference. You’re never really tired or really too busy, he told the audience. “Make every hour count.”
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5. Take risks.
Lacavera took on a juggernaut wireless industry in Canada because he wanted change in the industry. Canadian entrepreneurs, he says, have to stop being risk adverse. “We have to start believing that Canada is as good as or better than any other place to start a business, because it’s true.”
Remember that the journey looks different for every entrepreneur and patience is key as you build and grow your company. It took Lacavera one year to secure his first $25,000 small business loan. “I didn’t have a unicorn or rocket-ship experience…just perseverance and discipline,” he told the audience.
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