A whiteboard leans on the exposed brick wall behind the bar in Tyler LeBlanc’s basement. He and his friends gathered here to enjoy a few drinks and just hang out, but by the end of the night the board was overrun with an idea for a new business.
LeBlanc, 30, says this is how each of his three businesses began. Tycoon Enterprises is a real estate investment business that began in 2006, Referral Mortgages began in 2013 and they are currently working on a commercial medical marijuana production.
After attending Algonquin College for a year studying business administration, LeBlanc attended a full day educational seminar with his friend from school. Listening to the final speaker discuss real-estate investment sold LeBlanc on making that his career. He then went to a three-day seminar and brought his mother.
“I basically told my mom, ‘If I don’t do this right now, I’ll end up going back to school and get stuck in a 9-5 government job, so I have to quit school right now and start doing this’,” said LeBlanc.
She supported him and gave him $225,000, which she borrowed against her house, to open a line of credit and start the company.
Tycoon Enterprises has an approximate property value of $10 million. It has around 50 rental units, some near the University of Ottawa and Carleton University for students, and some around Pembroke, Ont. and Overbrook (an eastern suburb of Ottawa, south of Vanier) for families.
The company is starting to do some larger projects where it brings in investors to fund the projects and split the profit in half. LeBlanc plans to start looking in some smaller city centres outside of Ottawa for larger assets such as apartment buildings because he said it’s harder to grow overly big inside Ottawa.
Referral Mortgages began in 2013. It includes four business partners: LeBlanc, his partner Sebastien Proulx from Tycoon Enterprises and two others.
“That was our core business. Real estate is the secure slow-going growth for equity and money,” said LeBlanc.
Paul Stevenson was working at TD Bank as a mobile mortgage specialist when LeBlanc suggested starting their own mortgage broker business. Stevenson said he was worried about being self-employed and making enough money to support his family, but LeBlanc and Proulx said they would supplement his TD salary until the business became profitable.
Referral Mortgages was 120 per cent more profitable in 2014 than 2013. So far in 2015 they have already done about 40 per cent of all the business they did last year. Stevenson thinks they could increase their business by 300 or 400 per cent for this year.
To help differentiate themselves from some of the larger mortgage businesses around, they thought it would be best to work as a team. Larger firms have the brokers work on their own and against each other.
“We figured the best way to get the credibility and trust from our clients is to educate them and show them what we do know so they can have the confidence that we’re doing right by them,” said Stevenson.
The commercial medical marijuana production is taking longer than they originally thought, but LeBlanc is still positive that once their security clearance comes through they will be able to move the business forward. LeBlanc said the medical marijuana industry has massive growth potential and would be a good way to diversify themselves. They want to help cure diseases with the research and development of marijuana as a natural way to medically treat patients.
“The biggest thing I like is just creating,” said LeBlanc. “We’re always creating new ideas and new businesses and that’s kind of what fuels us.”