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Remi Fournier sees district m as the next Montreal success story

By Sandrine Tessier,
Content Strategist
November 12th 2018

A seasoned businessman and entrepreneur, Remi Fournier, has over 15 years of experience in the telecommunication industry as a cofounder of Fibrenoire, once the largest fiber optic network exclusively dedicated to businesses in Quebec and Ontario, now part of Videotron. He now comes out of retirement to join the district m team as CRO to help the company as it enters its next stage of growth. We met with him to discuss his vision of the industry and of the company.

You left the Telco industry after working in it for 15 or so years and founding a leading company, Fibrenoire. Rumour has it, you bought a farm and were basically retired - what was it about the district m story that made you want to come out of retirement?

What little people know is that I’ve known Seb and Dom (two of the co-founders) for 20 years - we met in university. I’ve been on the sideline of every single project they’ve worked on, I’ve seen the monstrous success they had with their dating site Monclasseur and with district m after. I have the greatest admiration for the infinite talent and intellect those guys have so when I was offered to join district m, it felt like I was already part of the company but was simply going to take a more active role in it.

Montreal sees new startups rise every day and is said to become the next North American tech hub - I believe district m has the potential of joining the elite billion-dollar company club in the next few years.

But the reality is also that I sit and discuss with over 40 businesses and entrepreneurs a month - I have seen every type of businesses out there, and of all of them, district m has a business model that has an unprecedented potential, and that is what made me come out of retirement. The company has gone through a fast-paced organic growth since its inception and is now entering a phase of hyper-growth. This is a stage very few companies reach, most of them get into a scale/fail loop and resign themselves to peak at that point and do not realize the full potential of their model. Once you’ve lived the thrill of bringing a company through that phase, the feeling can never be matched. I see that happening at district m.

Montreal sees new startups rise every day and is said to become the next North American tech hub - I believe district m has the potential of joining the elite billion-dollar company club in the next few years.

What is the one thing you believe you can bring to district m as it is entering its next stage of growth?

I think my experience as an entrepreneur as a whole will be of good use to district m. Entering a stage of hyper-growth is not something that can be done lightly. You have to build a solid operational structure to support this change especially in an industry that is changing so rapidly.

district m was a startup with a very enviable growth, but now, how do we scale this growth x10, x20, x30? Since the 80’s, we’ve done tremendous amount of research on start-ups and how to start companies, how to become your own boss - that’s when the startup movement kicked-off. You can find tons of resources to help you start a business, but the reality is, every startup that survives peaks at some point. Some will remain in the status quo, some will fail to generate sustainable growth, but the tricky part is pushing your business beyond the startup phase and taking that growth curve. And unfortunately, there are to this day little resources, models and knowledge that show you how to strategically organize a business to hyper-scale.

I think Fibrenoire is one example of a company that succeeded in doing that, and this knowledge is what I believe will be valuable to district m.

You are now at the head of a big sales team - how do you encourage good relationships in a competitive environment?

I think this is where a lot of sales people get it wrong - the competition is against us and our competitors out there, not amongst ourselves. Of course, it’s healthy as a sales person to be in a competitive environment because it pushes you to strive for more, but at the end of the day, we win and fail as one team, and not as individuals.

What is most exciting about the future of programmatic advertising?

In the grand scheme of things, programmatic is a fairly young and misunderstood industry, even by its own players. All the challenges surrounding transparency are what will shape the future of this industry and we will see who can adapt, and those who can’t. This is an incredible opportunity for our company because we have the potential to become a real challenger by pushing our value prop and going beyond the product to offer an effective customer experience based on transparency that is lacking in the industry. This is not a luxury larger or established companies have short term. As we can quickly improve, we’ll be able to provide better optimized working media to our advertisers and increase the monetization revenues for our publishers.

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