Written by: La Liberté Communication on behalf of RDÉE Canada
Originally from Prince Edward Island, Mathieu Arsenault travelled through Europe before returning to his native land to start his business, Think Forward Solutions. Founded in 2012, this consulting firm helps companies review their strategy and improve their performance.
The young entrepreneur drew on his European experiences to help various Prince Edward Island organizations give the best of themselves: “The philosophical foundation of the company is to bring home avant-garde ideas from abroad.” This concept is also the source of the company’s name, Think Forward Solutions.
Mathieu Arsenault discovered the old continent after completing his education. After following a history and political science program in New Brunswick and Quebec, he began his masters in business administration. This curriculum gave him the opportunity to go on a trade mission to Russia as the representative of a company. “It was really great. That’s where I began to see entrepreneurship as a tool for getting things moving.”
Fascinated by international diplomacy, Mathieu did not stop there. In 2002, he went to Ukraine with World Canada Youth, a Canadian exchange program. Since then, he has travelled, either as a tourist or on trade missions, to Italy and Austria, and has also returned to Russia several times. Whether sightseeing or working, Mathieu Arsenault discovered new ways of life and new ways of viewing the world.
One of the pioneering ideas that the founder of Think Forward Solutions hopes to bring to Prince Edward Island comes from the Austrian city of Güssing, the first city in Europe to go 100% green: “Güssing is a self-sufficient community with respect to its energy consumption. In other words, the city produces more renewable energy than it uses.” It became an inspirational model for the young entrepreneur.
In 2008, Mathieu decided to return to and settle on Prince Edward Island. He cites a strong attachment that only those called Islanders can understand. “My family has been there for several generations. The people who come from an island are often very attached to it. I wanted to come back and I don’t regret doing so.”
He entered into business in 2012 to gain the freedom to choose his own projects. There are two individuals behind Think Forward Solutions, and their mission is to “move things forward in the Atlantic province” in three areas: economic, social and environmental. The services offered to businesses include both strategic planning and coaching. “Many entrepreneurs have trouble focusing on a goal. They sometimes don’t know where to put their energy when they have twenty tasks to handle.” In this way, the Prince Edward Islander plans not only to help businesses build a more well-defined business plan but also to “use modern technologies to achieve the results desired – for the organization and for society in general.” Think Forward also incorporates actions for the environment. Mathieu would like to see “less waste and proper use of our resources… because there are ecological imperatives.” Sensitive to climate change issues, he hopes to improve the relationship of businesses and, more broadly, of Prince Edward Island residents to nature.
He is currently conducting a survey on green economics, as requested by RDÉE, the province’s economic development and employability group. One of the approach’s objectives is to increase Islanders’ awareness of environmental issues. He also works with the city of Charlottetown on sustainable development so that the city will keep this factor in mind when it implements new services and opens new markets.
At the outset, Mathieu called upon Futurpreneur for help creating capital, but the program enabled him to go much further. “When you start a business, you are little or completely unknown, so you have to build your name and reputation.” For Mathieu, the mentoring offered by Futurpreneur made a big difference. “This component had a major impact on my work. Before becoming an entrepreneur, you have to learn how to be one, and the mentor participated in this development.”
What is the best advice he received from his mentor? “To have ambitious but attainable objectives, ones that are connected to the reality of the business world,” he explains. “But also to have self-confidence and to move forward. Never give up.”
We asked Mathieu to give three pieces of advice to new entrepreneurs, and this is what he had to say:
1) Don’t fall in love with a product; fall in love with the problem. Always make sure that you have a good understanding of the problem. Then you can solve it and find the right solution.
2) Don’t overthink… This means that you have to keep the 80-20 rule in mind. You have to set the right price without overpricing. Don’t get too comfortable, basically.
3) Don’t forget to have fun and see the company as a challenge. Sometimes things don’t go the way we’ve planned. It’s important to see business as a game or a challenge to be overcome.
About RDÉE Canada:
RDÉE Canada promotes the economic development of Francophone and Acadian communities by supporting the collective actions of its members and ensuring national leadership that is based on collaboration and partnerships.