On this episode of #BLUEPRINT, I had the pleasure to interview Justin Thouin, the Co-Founder and CEO of LowestRates.ca, one of the fastest growing companies in Canada.
In 2012, Justin set out with a $150,000 investment from his barber and a vision to help Canadians save more time and money on financial products. Last year alone, LowestRates.ca saved Canadians over $300 million on insurance, credit cards, mortgages and loans! From working as senior executive in the corporate world to building his own company from scratch, Justin has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience in the business world which he has so kindly shared with us today.
Q.1. Having had an established career in the corporate world, what has been most rewarding as well as challenging aspect about starting your own company?
You don’t realize what it’s like to actually own something and what that truly means until you are actually doing it. When I was in the corporate world, I was responsible for revenue performance, profitability and divisions, but when you actually own the company yourself and its your money, everything takes on a greater meaning. You are responsible for the livelihood of all the people who report to you and it becomes such a huge part of your life, you think about it 24/7. Your life becomes your work and your work becomes your life. To me, Mondays and Fridays feel the same because everyday I wake up with that same passionate feeling about what I am doing.
"Your life becomes your work and your work becomes your life."
Q.2. What was the process of going from just an idea to a functioning business for LowestRates.ca?
We thought the idea was a powerful one because people were comparing options online in every other area of their life, but they were not in the area where they spent the most time and money - personal finance. We saw an opportunity, but all we owned at the time was a web domain. We did not have a website, partnerships with banks or insurance companies or any site traffic, we had to build it all from scratch. We started with $150,000 to build our idea into a functioning business and decided that we would go back to the corporate world if we ran out of capital. It took a lot of good decision making and a lot of resourcefulness. We did everything in house and built one part at a time as we could afford to. Three years into starting the business I had not paid myself anything because the company could not afford it. I was doing everything from sales to marketing to customer service to taking out the trash. It really comes down to prioritizing what’s important, working exceptionally hard and being humble. But, you must also have a lot of confidence in yourself and your vision because in the begging, when you are working so hard and not seeing a ton of growth, giving up is so easy.
"Three years into starting the business I had not paid myself anything"
Q.3. What has had the biggest contribution to LowestRates.ca becoming one of the fastest growing companies in Canada?
Most importantly, I think we set out to solve a real problem. People spend more of their money on personal finance and mortgages than they do anywhere else. Dealing with so many different rates can get confusing and the help we have been able give Canadians in saving their time and money has been well received. Furthermore, our execution has been extremely strong and we have been very focused on where we want to win from day one. To begin with, that was car insurance, so we put almost all of our efforts into getting that vertical as strong as possible. Focusing on one area instead of spreading too thin combined with outworking the competition has served us well. Also, we really focused on articulating our vision and being very clear with our customers and partners on what the benefit of our service was to them. People are very busy and to get their attention you have to be succinct, clear and understand how you can benefit them.
Q.4. What 3 tips would you give someone looking yo turn their idea into a profitable business?
Firstly, you need to know if someone is willing to pay for what you are offering. You need to speak with your target customer and see wether your product or service is something they truly need because if they don’t, you don’t have a business. Second is figuring out what you can charge for your product. What is someone going to be willing to pay for it. Thirdly, how much is it going to cost for you to generate a sale. If your cost to generate a sale is greater than what the customer is willing to pay then you are always going to be running at a deficit and profits are unattainable. I would also add, focus on making money not raising money. It forces you to make better decisions and operate more nimbly when you are using your own money.
Q. 5. What are you most excited for in the next 6 months for LowestRates.ca?
Our goal is to be the first place that Canadians go when they have a financial decision to make and I am very excited about the prospect of that. I am excited about the opportunity to introduce more and more Canadians to LowestRates.ca and to save them more time and money so they can invest in the things that matter most to them. Last year we saved Canadians over $300 million and in the next six months it is our goal to hit the $1 billion mark.
Connect out Justin on LinkedIn or at LowestRates.ca and check out his awesome content and message! If Justin's thoughts resonated with you, share this on LinkedIn with #BLUEPRINT and follow along with this series!