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Startup Grind Montreal with John Gumbley


Startup Grind Montreal – John Gumbley was the guest speaker at this month session of Startup Grind Montreal, a global startup community powered by Google for Entrepreneurs with chapters in over 100 countries and over 250 cities. Startup Grind Montreal meetings will take place every month where “participants will enjoy networking, food, and drinks and then a ‘fireside chat’ with a leading entrepreneur in a sleek and memorable atmosphere to learn, connect and exchange.”

John Gumbley told us his story about how he lost his father when he was only 5-year-old, and then growing up in poverty in Verdun, the aunt that helped him to open his world-view when still a child. I should say that I have heard stories like that many times, usually told by people who want to moralize and sell a somewhat conformist view of society. When I heard Gumbley however, my reaction was completely different: he exuded a great sense of authenticity. No fake images here, he was poor now he is a successful businessman. One can question the whole social paradigm on which this society functions, but at the same time one has to recognize that in some cases there are people with a genuine capacity to succeed, perhaps in any social or economic system: those with “a good idea.”

David Kynan, Montreal Chapter Co-Director, John Gumbley with his children, Jamie Benizri


The opportunity, especially for young entrepreneurs, was there this past Tuesday with guest speaker Gumbley who told the audience that he had started doing business at a very early age, selling chocolates and collecting bottles at the time. By age nine he had thought of a brilliant idea, to make mirrors that would make people look beautiful… This reference took the speaker to his primary point in business: to have an idea. Of course, it must be a good idea, although—and that is the nature of this activity—sometimes what seems a good idea isn’t in the long run.

The idea, however, no matter how good, by itself is not enough, you also need the team, he said. “To put the idea into work one needs the interaction of humans” the speaker added. Picking the right team would obviously depend on the project in mind.

Gumbley is the president of Jagantic and owner of bars such as Orchid, Rouge, Muzique, and Bord’Elle. He has also ventured into a record label and franchising. “There is no secret recipe in the nightclub business,” he told the audience. “To maintain the relevance of a place, you must look at other experiences” he explained how his travels to Paris and Spain allowed him to introduce innovative elements in his clubs here. It is also important to speak to people of different ages, he remarked.

Toward the end of the talk, his two children joined him, and that was the part in which the speaker addressed an issue that complicates the life of many entrepreneurs: finding a balance between family life and business. Then he also mentioned some of his projects in cryptocurrency and lodging, eventually in the hotel business.

After the talk I had the chance to ask him about the current situation for Anglophones in businesses and whether he ever thought of leaving Quebec. Not now, he answered. “Montreal is on the rise now; things are going well. Many Anglos would be coming back; things are too expensive in Toronto or Vancouver. Montreal is doing very well.”

Feature image: Jamie Benizri, attorney, entrepreneur, and founder of Legal Logik and new director of StartUp Grind and guest speaker John Gumbley

By: Sergio Martinez – mtltimes.ca

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