Q: Antoine, tell us a little bit about your background and upbringing?
“I grew up in Lebanon where most of my family, including my father, were successful entrepreneurs. My father, was the first person to spark my interest in business – as a successful businessman he instilled in me at a very young age that being an entrepreneur was the only way I could achieve personal and financial freedom. After graduating from university in Beirut with a bachelor’s degree in business, I took a leap of faith and moved to the United States to further my education. It was a hard transition in the beginning, but I soon found my stride and enrolled in an executive MBA program at the University of Michigan. Feeling confident in my abilities to navigate the world of starting a business, I began searching for opportunities that led me to become a businessman, and I eventually started my own company.”
Q: How old do you think someone should be before they start their own business?
“With this type of question I think it’s always a fine line between ambition and experience. I think that a lot of Millennial entrepreneurs realized at some point that starting their own company – even if it initially fails – will teach them more in a couple years than a regular 9-5 job would do in 15. Throughout my business ventures I have provided a lot of opportunities to 20 something year-olds because I love their eagerness to learn. If you have this trait in your nature, I don’t think it matters what age you start your own business. I personally put my entrepreneurial skills to the test at the age of 14 – opening an arcade business called Karemess. I sold numerous arcade games for local school children to play. Though most of my peers considered this an after school hobby, in just one weekend, I made $14,000 and was featured in the local newspaper where my story and age shocked a lot of people. From that point forward, I knew that becoming an entrepreneur was my passion.”
Q: How has your business evolved with changes in the marketplace?
“Well my company Credico started out as a credit card acquisitions business and later moved into customer acquisitions through face-to-face and business-to-business sales. Sometimes you have to react to trends you see emerging, and sometimes you have to plan logistics and growth well in advance. I dismiss the claims that business owners who react to changes surrounding them are poor long-term planners, again, it’s about finding a balance. People now ask us, as a primarily face to face business, how we will adapt to advances with digital and internet technology? But as far as I’m aware you can’t judge non-verbal communication over the internet – so consumers still need that human elements brought to their interactions.”
Q: What made you take Credico global?
“Our enormous success in Canada motivated me to take the business model to other countries and expand the Credico name. We laid out the plans to expand into America, South Africa, the UK and Australia – it just made sense. When you come across situations or crossroads where major decisions are required that will shape the future of the business irrevocably moving forward – don’t rush it! I spent many sleepless nights pondering our plans, but ultimately it was an easy decision. At present, Credico has operations across the globe, and I am proud to say we have acquired millions of customers globally for our clients.”
End of interview.