Entrepreneurs Under 25 is a new series that seeks to profile up-and-coming web entrepreneurs 25 years old or younger.
Some people just genuinely love learning, whether it’s teaching oneself or absorbing information in an academic environment.
Pascal Leblanc is one of those people.
After gaining work experience programming throughout CEGEP, he found university easy and he had a lot of time on his hands. Naturally, he took the next logical step and started a company while still attending school full time. Well, almost.
“I made my first startup while finishing my bachelor degree,” Leblanc told MTLinTECH. “Well, actually it started as a side project. Because of my CEGEP in computer science, and my working background, I started my bachelor degree halfway accredited. But even in classes for more experienced programmers it was still easy.”
His first project-turned-startup was blockchain-based, and was basically hashpower redirection for miners.
“I only wanted to learn about blockchain because it was new at the time and I hadn’t heard of it before that. So this project was to teach myself how blockchain works and how to program this new kind of technology. And then I managed to make a software that was useful in the blockchain ecosystem.”
He managed to put in 40 hours of programming a week to his new startup, still while attending classes.
As a programmer, the most beautiful thing you can fall into is a project that you’re passionate about, and you can work 100 hours a week without noticing it. By feeling only that you’re learning and having fun.
When he felt ready to go fulltime on his current venture, Ambo Technology, he decided to start with the strongest aspect of his first startup: artificial intelligence (AI).
Ambo technology is seeking to optimize investment strategies based on technical analysis, and by doing so, be able to take a position on markets by routing orders on various markets.
“The core of the first startup was using AI. It was the first time I experienced it in my path. By having had success in the AI field, I felt like I could push my AI knowledge and performance to where I targeted financial markets. As a reflex, I told myself that the most profitable place to use AI was financial markets. So if you have a performing AI, if you use it in financial markets, you can make more profit than any other field. This is why I decided to make an automated trading AI bot after the first one.”
Leblanc has been working on Ambo full time for the past three years. They are now a team of three made up of two developers and a financial engineer developing an AI engine which can predict time series for financial market purposes.
He’s also working on a Masters in Computer Security at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières in his spare time. Despite finding university easy, he has chosen to continue down the academic path, in part because of this very reason.
“I’m currently at school for fun because I like the ecosystem, the student life is amazing and there’s something soothing about sitting in a class and having all this knowledge given to you. Self-teaching is harder than being in a class, listening to a teacher that has a PhD in this specific course. There’s something soothing and different from the entrepreneur space. Because when you’re in a startup, you have to work, everything is fast-paced, you always have to do things for yesterday. By being in this educational structure which is slower and more traditional, I like having both sides of it.”
Finding a fulfilling balance between academia and the startup scene has been made all the more accessible in part due to the nature of the startup scene in Montreal.
“People in Montreal have great resources, great contacts. Before joining the startup community in Montreal, I thought the challenge for a startup was to raise money. But that’s not it at all: there are great VCs are all around town and they host many events, they attend many events. So what I notice is that raising money if you have a viable business plan is not a challenge at all.”
Most of all, Leblanc seems thankful for the all the opportunities that have resulted from his love of learning, both in the startup and academic worlds. He mentioned his appreciation for being given an opportunity to speak at FinTech Forum last September.
“It opened a lot of doors for me, being able to speak in a community-centred event. These opportunities are one of a kind and golden.”
But for someone as self-motivated as Leblanc, these sorts of opportunities are well-deserved and could hardly be called pure luck.
Have you read the rest of the Entrepreneurs under 25 series?
Retinad’s Samuel F. Poirier and Anthony Guay – January 11
Wizrd’s Rory Bokser and David Kleiman – January 12