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Alexandre Gauthier is on a mission.
The ClearEstate co-founder is a young but experienced Montréal-based technology product and marketing leader who, in 2019, decided that he would put the brakes on a promising career to help solve an especially difficult problem. Parts of the estate settlement process, he learned first-hand, were not only obsolete but breeding injustice.
It was the excruciating process of settling his late mother’s estate that inspired Alexandre to outline the ClearEstate concept. He recalls the complexity of the process, and the amount of work involved in settling all North American estates, as being a total shock.
“It was more antiquated than I could ever have imagined,” recalled Gauthier, who noted he had to send faxes for the first time in his life. “I hadn't owned a cheque book since I was 20 but had to get one for managing the estate. We’d ask ourselves, ‘is this for real?’”
On average, an estate can take 16 months to settle. It is also a significant financial burden for the estate, in addition to the burden of managing anxiety while grieving a loss.
Gauthier comes to the table with deep experience at prominent Canadian tech firms like Acquisio and Amilia. As to the latter, the popular and sophisticated online membership hub was his final stop before ClearEstate and a formative experience that helped prepare him for the demands of building a useful Software as a Service (SaaS) platform from the ground-up.
“My days are a little crazy,” he mused, as the co-founder wears many hats, including Head of Product and Marketing. “We’re all committed to the same goal: a next-generation service for estate execution, so that we can stop inflicting frustrating paperwork on families in mourning.”
Gauthier joined Amilia as VP of Marketing in 2014 and was soon promoted to CMO and eventually COO. Over six years, he helped increase revenue tenfold with $10M in recurring revenue by the end of his tenure.
“I’m proud to have helped the effort to grow the business from 17 to 110 employees, and raised over $12M in private capital through that period.”
Amilia, and the challenge of building a platform for community-driven businesses (groups like soccer leagues and summer camps that manage activities requiring multi-level scheduling), brought out the manager in Gauthier, a skilled entrepreneur and marketer in his own right.
“I think my superpower, so to speak, has always been my ability to kind of speak everyone's language,” he said. As a student, Alexandre was a successful franchise owner in Quebec’s well-known Qualité Étudiants network, the province’s leading student-owned residential painting operation. He believes in marketing from the ground-up, and prides himself on being comfortable “speaking with developers, the CEO, clients, and the marketing team... If two people are not understanding each other, it’s often because there is no cohesive vision. I’ve enjoyed working with CEOs who think big and always look to the future.”
Gauthier truly loved his time with Amilia and even felt a sense of ownership, but only after losing his mother did he understand his true purpose.
“There is a product that needs to be built. And it needs to be built because it doesn't exist yet. It became the driving force. My mother's real final gift was providing me this vision and this path forward to creating something that was meaningful.”
He describes the “craziness” of ClearEstate’s rapid development and trying to keep up with the needs of a company that is rapidly scaling each week. He jokingly refers to himself as the “Chief Executive of Everything”.
“If it's successful, and clients are happy with the services that we deliver, then I’m happy. And it's humbling, because we kind of figured it out very early on: what are the pain points? And we know them. I’ve been there, and when I see a family struggling, it's easy for me to relate.”
While estate planning in advance can mitigate cost, conflict and confusion in times of crisis, the probate process is far and away the most complex problem in the process to solve. Reforming the centuries-old system calls for concrete leadership, and Alexandre is confident ClearEstate will help spur these reforms in government and financial institutions across North America.
“We're a company that's born of empathy, transparency and being clear to customers,” he added. “Initially, we thought these qualities represented the brand. And very quickly, we realised that those are also the qualities of the people that we're bringing in. I like the image of a lighthouse because to me, that is what good management is, especially in crisis: being able to take a step back, analyzing the environment and shining a light forward, through the darkness. We know where this team needs to go.”
You can reach Alexandre Gauthier at firstname.lastname@example.org