Stephany Lapierre, CEO and founder of tealbook, is using artificial intelligence to shake up the procurement industry
Stephany Lapierre has combined her love of people, passion for networking and savvy networking skills to create tealbook, a new platform that allows enterprises to build their own procurement ecosystem.
Written by Alison Joutsi
This serial entrepreneur who started her first corporate incentive events company at the age of 18, has used artificial intelligence to bridge a multi–billion–dollar gap in the process of finding or acquiring goods and services from an external source, otherwise known as procurement.
Here, she talks about disruption and the challenges of raising capital as a female entrepreneur.
On building a company:
You have to hustle. I started this company as a single founder. It was difficult to balance everything. I had three children and one of my biggest goals was to remain married. Yet, one of the most important things an entrepreneur must do is constantly prove value – in both the company and themselves. Travelling and working long hours meant that I was away from my family. I would come home after a long flight, and be up until 4 a.m. making Valentine Day cards for my kids to bring to school with them.
I met my first investor on a soccer field. At the time I had no idea that she was an angel investor. I was talking to a gentleman on the field about his business and I had given him my business card to connect at a later time. This lady saw me working hard and wanted to learn more about my company. She later invested one million dollars in tealbook. The lesson here is to always be professional because you never know who you will meet.
On disrupting the procurement industry:
I saw a gap in the level of data and transparency that companies, from every industry, had in suppliers through a previous consulting experience in Boston. The current procurement model still relies on Yellow Pages and trade shows to find customers; roughly seven billion dollars are wasted on traditional procurement methods. Tealbook is disrupting this model, through technology, and becomes a searchable platform that helps businesses find each other more effectively. Tealbook accelerates the procurement process by 90 percent.
Simply put, you can think of tealbook as a yellow pages to marketplace online, whose vision is that everyone in the world will find each other with more trust and the ability to do better business together.
On being a female entrepreneur:
As a female, French-Canadian CEO, the biggest learning curve I encountered was raising capital. I learned the importance of finding the right kind of investor very quickly: I had to be direct. Before meeting investors in person, I would ask what stage they wanted to invest in, and the amount on the phone to learn if the opportunity was worth pursuing. I didn’t want to waste their time if they didn’t want to invest at such an early stage.
I also learned to ask for feedback. Some feedback you can incorporate, other feedback you can’t. For example, one man decided not to invest in tealbook because I am a woman, and a mom. Due to those factors alone, I wasn’t deemed a ‘committed businesswoman’. My french accent was seen as ‘cute’ and ‘exotic,’ and the fact that I didn’t have any fancy graduate school degrees that had pedigree was frowned upon. I was told I had zero chance of raising capital, even though this potential investor thought I was onto something big.
To overcome this hurdle, I brought in the right executive team who had the experience and pedigree that I lacked. Within one year we raised $3.1 million dollars, on top of the $1 million I raised at the soccer field.