And now for something completely different*


(Défilez vers le bas pour lire le texte en français)

Those of you who are more observant might have seen that I’ve updated my LinkedIn profile and my current location. After 2.5 years at Element AI spent in hypergrowth mode and 12 years operating startups, the family and I have decided the time was right to fulfill a long-time dream and take a professional sabbatical. We will be spending the next few months in Provence (France) living in a country house. 

Trend trackers amongst you have probably read that sabbaticals are on the rise, especially for startup entrepreneurs. I’ve seen it mentioned by serial entrepreneur Danielle Morrill and a few friends are considering taking one. There have been multiple articles written about their benefits, including these two. My program over the coming months: biking every day, going outdoors, spending quality time with my family, enjoying great food, reading philosophy and writing blog posts. 

As I will not be returning to Element AI after this pause, I will be exploring new challenges in 2020. If you’re curious to know what I will be looking for, you’ll find details in my LinkedIn profile’s “About” section. But no rush, as I won’t be available until Spring 2020 for a remote role or Summer 2020 for an in-person role.

During the next few months, you can follow my musings on Twitter ( or in French on my philosophy blog ( Feel free to message me as well!

Talk soon!


* with a tip of the hat to Monty Python

Et maintenant pour quelque chose de complètement différent *

Ceux qui sont plus observateurs ont peut-être remarqué que j’ai mis mon profil et ma localisation à jour sur LinkedIn. Après deux années et demie passées en mode hypercroissance chez Element AI et douze années à opérer des startups, la famille et moi-même avons décidé que le moment était venu d’accomplir un rêve de longue date et de prendre un congé sabbatique professionnel. Nous passerons donc les prochains mois en Provence (France) dans une maison de campagne.

Les observateurs de tendances parmi vous ont probablement lu que les congés sabbatiques sont à la hausse, en particulier pour les entrepreneurs de startups. La créatrice d’entreprises en série Danielle Morrill en a parlé récemment et quelques ami(e)s envisagent d’en prendre une. Plusieurs articles ont été écrits sur leurs avantages, y compris ceuxci. Mon programme pour les mois à venir: faire du vélo chaque jour, profiter du grand air, passer du temps de qualité avec ma famille, bien manger, lire de la philosophie et écrire des billets de blogue.

Puisque je ne reviendrai pas chez Element AI après cette pause, je serai disponible pour explorer de nouveaux défis professionnels en 2020. Si vous êtes curieux de connaitre mes divers intérêts, vous trouverez plus de détails dans la section « À propos » de mon profil LinkedIn. Mais rien ne presse, car je ne serai disponible qu’au printemps 2020 pour un rôle à distance ou à l’été 2020 pour un rôle sur place.

Au cours des prochains mois, vous pourrez suivre mes réflexions sur Twitter ( ou sur mon blogue de philosophie ( Aussi, n’hésitez pas à m’envoyer un message!

À bientôt!


* avec un clin d’oeil à Monty Python

Image source : Tommy Ku’s blog


Saying Goodbye to Acquisio

5002318500_e8a4a2919c_zPhoto by Kellan / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 2015, I was approached by Acquisio to take on the role of VP Product to help the company make the transition to the local and SMB space. Another important element of my mandate was to better structure the product management team, a team that had recently started working in an agile context. I was also looking to gain experience managing a large team in a more mature technology environment. It was a perfect match between my skill set/experience/career interest and the company’s needs.

As a seasoned senior startup executive, I get approached all the time by headhunters or startup founders, but as you probably know, not all opportunities are born equal. You turn down a lot and refer these people to your talented friends/contacts. A few weeks ago, I was approached for a new role. Turns out it was the opportunity “you can’t say no to”. I won’t go into more details right now, but I can tell you Friday November 4 will be my last day at Acquisio.

I had a great time at Acquisio. I learned a lot and I extensively contributed to the organization. Thank you to the founders for your trust, my c-level colleagues and my amazing product team. You guys rock!

I’m very excited about what comes next. Stay tuned for my new role announcement in the next few days.

Sebastien Provencher, Local Marketing Expert, Joins Acquisio as VP of Product Management

Extremely happy to announce I’ve joined @acquisio as their new Vice President, Product Management.

The official release:

MONTREAL, Sept. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Acquisio, a world leader in digital and programmatic marketing solutions, has welcomed a new VP of Product Management to their executive team, Sebastien Provencher.

The Montreal-native local marketing expert has accepted the role of VP of Product Management with Acquisio and will help the search marketing company make the important shift towards more of a mobile and local customer base, which includes the development of new products exclusively for local small to medium businesses (SMBs).

Acquisio’s New VP of Product

Sebastien Provencher will use his experience as an entrepreneur in the local advertising market to drive the company forward.

“I aim to use my expertise and knowledge of digital tools coupled with my understanding of how small business owners operate to bring products to the market that make sense and help SMBs thrive in the difficult economic environment,” explains Sebastien Provencher, the new VP of Product.

With more than fifteen years of hands-on product management and business development experience, Provencher has helped generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue throughout his career. Acting as an advisor to startups, founding multiple companies and working for various industry leaders, Provencher is a digital marketer who has a lot to bring to the table at Acquisio.

“At this point in my career this Acquisio is the right place for me to be,” saidSebastien Provencher. “I know the company needed someone like me and I’m very happy with where the company is and what the challenges are.”

“Having an industry leader like Sebastien Provencher direct product is a huge win for our company. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the table regarding both local markets and product development, and we are confident that by welcoming Provencher to the leadership team we can better execute on our goals and grow immensely under his leadership,” says Marc Poirier, CEO.

About Acquisio

Acquisio is a high-powered performance media solution that enables digital marketers to optimize their search campaigns and report on all PPC initiatives including social, mobile, and display, all in one easy-to-use dashboard.

With more than 500 agencies and 25,000+ advertisers in its portfolio, Acquisio is recognized as being one of the fastest growing companies in North America, winning the Deloitte Tech Fast 500 and Fast 50 awards for three consecutive years. The Acquisio software is used by companies like GroupM, Sensis, Hanapin Marketing, iRep, YPG, YP and Microsoft.

With its headquarters in Montreal, Acquisio also has offices in New York, Seattle,London, and Tokyo. For more information, contact Acquisio.

The end for Folders (and now looking for my next role)

12 months ago, almost to the day, I started working with my co-founder Christian Lavoie on a new startup idea. After brainstorming for a few weeks, we settled on the idea that would become Folders.

Our idea was very ambitious. In customer interviews with local retail businesses, we realized that most were still storing their product and customer data in spreadsheets or even on paper. Others had data locked in their old point-of-sale (POS) or in their accounting system. And, even worse, they were not doing anything with it. Very few small businesses were using modern CRMs or POS.

So, we set out to build a better solution for the 80% of small businesses who were collecting data, but not doing anything with it. The resulting prototype allowed customer/product data upload (from a spreadsheet), manual entry or sync (from Quickbooks & Shopify). It did not stop there. We also gave them access to best-of-breed marketing/management apps to make that data actionable. Customer data would unlock email marketing, loyalty, invoicing and scheduling functions (and more in the future). Product data would unlock e-commerce functionality and shopping site syndication. We were, in effect, creating a basic dashboard to manage & market a small business. We talked to retailers and many loved the idea. We talked to potential resellers to help us scale sales and many loved the idea as well. We talked to a few fundings sources and many liked the idea.

Fast-forward to the last few weeks, we tried raising a pre-seed funding round on the early interest from all stakeholders. That would have enabled us to move full-time on the project and pay us a small salary, but we did not succeed. Everyone loved the team, but there were recurring doubts about the small business beachhead and how Folders would succeed against larger marketing or CRM platforms. Most wanted to see more traction. And, to get to that, it surely meant 6-12 more months of bootstrapping (getting customers onboard, signing reseller agreements, etc.). In a startup, when that happens, it’s a good time to assess where your project is and what the future looks like. It’s going to take time, so you want to make sure you’re ready to embark on that new round. For personal reasons, I wasn’t.

We’ve therefore decided to wind down the project and I’m now officially looking for a new full-time role. What I’m looking for: senior digital exec role (VP, C-level or General Manager), ideally in product management, strategy, partnership development and/or operations. My core expertise is in local search/local commerce, marketplaces, digital advertising, social media and digital tools for small businesses but I’m definitely open to other sectors. Size of company doesn’t matter, as long as it has a solid entrepreneurial culture.

If you hear of anything interesting in your network (I’m open to relocation to the US or to Europe), do let me know. You will find my LinkedIn profile here and you can reach me by email at sprovencher AT

Update from the startup trenches + some availability for freelance consulting


Happy new year! As many of you know, I decided late last year to jump back into the tech startup fray and create a new company with a very talented technical cofounder (and ex-Googler) Christian Lavoie. The first few months of a new startup are really about validating hypotheses and blocking & tackling, including things like market opportunity, sanity checks on the idea, early business case, product requirements, first mockups, technical prototypes, incorporation, customer discovery, etc. Things are progressing very nicely on that front and you should expect our teaser site very soon! Stay tuned.

As I did in 2006 when I cofounded Praized Media, I’m doing 10-15 hours per week of freelance consulting. That model allows me to work the rest of the week (40+ hours) on my new company. I just finished a very interesting mandate with the City of Montreal’s Smart City office and I’m now available to take on a new one.

I usually work with tech startups and larger organizations on the following mandates:

  1. Product Strategy & Management
  2. Product Reviews & Improvements
  3. Strategic Partnerships
  4. General Management & Operations
  5. Assistance with VC fundraising
  6. General Strategy

If you’re interested in hiring me as a freelancer, you can ping me at sprovencher AT gmail DOT com or leave me a message below.

Mise à jour au sujet de mon projet de startup + quelques disponibilités pour mandat de consultation

Excellente année 2015! Comme plusieurs d’entre vous le savent, j’ai décidé en fin d’année dernière de me replonger dans le monde merveilleux des startups et de créer une nouvelle compagnie avec un cofondateur technique très talentueux (et ex-Googler), Christian Lavoie. Les premiers mois d’une nouvelle startup consistent surtout à confirmer les hypothèses et à poser des bases solides pour le projet. Nous avons donc travaillé sur des éléments tels que l’analyse d’opportunité de marché, la validation de l’idée, le plan d’affaires de base, les définitions de produits, les premières maquettes, le premier prototype technique, l’incorporation, les entrevues clients, etc. Les choses avancent très bien sur ce front et vous devriez voir apparaître notre site « teaser » très bientôt!

Comme je l’ai fait en 2006, lorsque j’ai cofondé Praized Media, je garde de 10 à 15 heures par semaine pour la consultation avec des clients. Ce modèle me permet de travailler le reste de la semaine (40+ heures) sur ma nouvelle startup. Je viens d’ailleurs de terminer un mandat très intéressant avec le Bureau de la Ville Intelligente de Montréal et je suis désormais disponible pour prendre un nouveau contrat.

Je travaille habituellement avec les startups et grandes organisations sur les mandats suivants en technologie :

  1. Stratégie et gestion de produits
  2. Améliorations sur produits existants
  3. Partenariats stratégiques
  4. Direction générale et opérations
  5. Assistance à la souscription de capital-risque
  6. Stratégie

Si vous êtes intéressés à m’engager en tant que pigiste, vous pouvez m’envoyer un courriel à sprovencher arobase gmail point com ou me laisser un message ci-dessous.

Photo Flickr: Esparta Palma – “La Quebrada Cliff Diver statue

Mission accomplished. Now looking for my next opportunity.


Flickr photo by Crystal

Two years ago, I was offered an amazing opportunity by Craig Smith, HomeAdvisor’s President, to join the exec team of this IAC company as Vice President – Product Innovation, open up their Canadian office, assemble a team of tech rock stars and operate as a startup within this larger organization. It was the perfect professional segue after six years at Praized Media/Needium, my own startup.

Over the last 18 months, we’ve built this great local marketplace, HelpedBy, where Canadian consumers can find trusted home improvement service professionals. Thousands of professionals have signed up to be part of this new vertical search site. And last week, we launched the complete vision we had crafted in 2012. Check it out at I’m very proud of my team and the work they’ve done.

And now, it’s time to move on. What’s next for me you ask?

First, I’ll take a few weeks of vacation and try to go offline. Summer in Montreal is beautiful.

Then, I will start looking for my next opportunity. I’m looking for an executive position in an entrepreneurial tech/Internet company and, like last time, I’ll keep an open mind and listen to ideas, suggestions and proposals. Potential roles that would be of interest include VP Product Management, Chief Operating Officer, General Manager, or other similar senior positions. As a well-rounded technology exec, I bring general management, product management, business development and strategy skills to any team. I am willing to relocate to the US (preferred cities: New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco) or to Europe for the right opportunity.

As I’m not in a hurry to pick a new role, I will also make myself available for consultation mandates. I will also use some of this spare time to move forward a connected hardware pet project I’ve wanted to work on. My LinkedIn profile can be found here. Ping me at sprovencher AT if you’d like to start the conversation. Talk to you soon!

Mission accomplie. Et maintenant, à la recherche de ma prochaine opportunité.


Photo : Crystal sur Flickr

Il y a deux ans, Craig Smith, président de HomeAdvisor, m’a offert l’occasion extraordinaire de joindre l’équipe de cadres supérieurs de cette société du groupe IAC en tant que vice-président, innovation produits, pour ouvrir leur bureau canadien, assembler une équipe de vedettes du Web et opérer comme une jeune pousse au sein de cette grande organisation. C’était l’enchaînement professionnel parfait, après six années au sein de ma propre startup, Praized Média / Needium.

Au cours des 18 derniers mois, nous avons bâti une grande place de marché en-ligne, HelpedBy, où les consommateurs canadiens peuvent trouver des entrepreneurs en rénovation de confiance. Des milliers de professionnels se sont abonnés à notre service et font désormais partie de ce nouveau site de recherche vertical. La semaine dernière, nous avons finalement livré la vision complète que nous avions définie en 2012. Vous pouvez voir le résultat à Je suis très fier de mon équipe et du solide boulot qu’ils ont accompli.

Maintenant, il est temps de passer à autre chose. De quoi à l’air la suite me demandez-vous?

Tout d’abord, je vais prendre quelques semaines de vacances et tenter d’être le plus possible en mode hors ligne. Après tout, l’été à Montréal est magnifique !

Ensuite, j’amorcerai des recherches plus actives pour choisir ma prochaine opportunité professionnelle. Je cherche un poste de direction dans une société en technologie/ Internet opérant en mode entrepreneurial et, comme la dernière fois, je garderai un esprit ouvert et écouterai les idées, suggestions et propositions. Les types de rôles potentiels qui pourraient m’intéresser incluent vice-président gestion de produits, chef de l’exploitation (COO), directeur général, et autres postes similaires de direction. La compagnie qui m’embauchera bénéficiera de mes grandes habiletés de direction générale, gestion de produits, développement des affaires, et de stratégie. Aussi, pour la bonne opportunité professionnelle, je suis prêt à déménager en Europe ou aux États-Unis (villes préférées : New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco).

Comme je ne suis pas pressé de choisir une nouvelle fonction, je vais aussi être disponible pour des mandats de consultation. Je vais finalement utiliser une partie de mes temps libres pour faire progresser un projet de matériel connecté (connected hardware) sur lequel j’ai envie de travailler depuis quelques mois. Pour plus d’information, vous retrouverez mon profil LinkedIn ici. Contactez-moi à sprovencher AT si vous souhaitez discuter avec moi. À très bientôt!

Moving On (And Looking For New Opportunities)

Photo: Bernat Casero

After almost six years and a long, thought-out decision process, I’ve decided to leave Needium (i.e. Praized Media Inc.), the company I co-founded in 2006.

What a journey it has been!

  • Creating our original concept and prototype in 2006
  • Signing our first customers in 2007
  • Raising our first venture capital money in 2007
  • Executing our first pivot to enterprise products in 2008 (when the credit crisis struck the world)
  • Constant product innovation between 2006 and 2012
  • Executing our second (and successful!) pivot to Needium in 2010
  • Seeing advertiser and revenue growth in 2011 and 2012!

After beta testing Needium in 2010, we brought in help to structure and scale operations/sales. We now have a dozen resellers (including very large media sales channels) and I feel I can leave in confidence that the company will continue to grow and prosper.

There are many people I’d like to thank for the incredible journey this has been for me:

  • First and foremost, our customers, the people who pay for our products. We built Needium for them. They will be in good hand with the team in place.
  • Our employees (past and present), especially the dev team (most of whom have been with the company since the beginning). Loyal and dedicated.
  • Our investors, who have trusted us since 2007, through hell and high water.
  • And finally, to Sylvain Carle, my co-founder (who is also announcing his resignation) and brother-in-arm. I will miss his daily presence dearly.

My last day will be Friday March 2nd 2012. After that, I will take a few weeks off but, as a next step in my career, I’m looking for international experience. I’d like to work in Europe or in the United States as a senior exec in a media/Internet company (large or small). I bring with me solid experience in product management, business development, Internet strategy, social media and management. You can see my LinkedIn profile here and you can reach me at sprovencher AT If you think I’d be a good addition to your team, don’t hesitate to contact me and we’ll discuss!


Et maintenant, en français:

Passer à autre chose (et à la recherche de nouveaux défis)

Après presque six ans de travail et une longue réflexion, j’ai décidé de quitter Needium (i.e. Praized Media inc.), la compagnie que j’ai cofondé en 2006.

Quel beau voyage au cours des 6 dernières années!

  • La création de notre concept et prototype original de Praized en 2006
  • La signature de nos premiers clients en 2007
  • La levée d’une première ronde de financement en 2007
  • L’exécution de notre premier pivot vers le modèle “entreprise” en 2008 (lors de la crise mondiale du crédit)
  • Le développement constant de produits innovateurs entre 2006 et 2012
  • L’exécution de notre second pivot (un succès!) vers Needium en 2010
  • La croissance du nombre d’annonceurs et des revenus publicitaires en 2011 et 2012!

Après les tests bêtas de Needium en 2010, nous avons amené du renfort pour nous aider à structurer et accélérer les opérations et les ventes. Nous avons désormais une douzaine de revendeurs (incluant des grands groupes médias) et j’ai le sentiment que je peux quitter avec confiance : la compagnie va continuer à croître et à prospérer après mon départ.

Je désire remercier plusieurs personnes qui ont fait partie de cette incroyable expérience:

  • D’abord, nos clients, les gens qui paient pour nos produits. Nous avons bâti Needium pour eux et ils seront en bonnes mains avec l’équipe en place.
  • Tous nos employés (présents et passés), et en particulier l’équipe technique. La plupart d’entre eux sont avec nous depuis le début, loyaux et dévoués.
  • Nos investisseurs, qui nous ont fait confiance depuis 2007, à travers vents et marées
  • Et finalement, Syvain Carle, mon cofondateur et frère d’armes (qui démissionne aussi). Sa présence quotidienne va me manquer.

Le vendredi 2 mars 2012 sera ma dernière journée. Après cela, je vais prendre quelques semaines de vacances. Pour la prochaine étape dans ma carrière professionnelle, je cherche une expérience à l’international. J’aimerais travailler en Europe ou aux États-Unis comme cadre supérieur dans une compagnie média/Internet (grande ou petite). J’amène avec moi une expérience solide en gestion de produits, développement des affaires, stratégie Internet, médias sociaux et gestion générale. Vous pouvez voir mon profil LinkedIn ici et vous pouvez me contacter à sprovencher arobas N’hésitez pas à m’écrire si vous croyez que je ferais un bon ajout à votre équipe!

The Right Place At The Right Time: My Panel at the Local Social Summit

I will be moderating a panel on day one of the next Local Social Summit happening in London on November 9 and 10 (it’s a two-day event this year). The panel is titled The Right Place At The Right Time: How The Real-Time Web Influences The “local” World.

Its description: The rise of the real-time Web is well documented.Propelled by both the social networking revolution and mobile device ubiquitousness, we’re seeing the birth of new user services and business opportunities. In this panel,  we will explore the time element in the local/social Web and will try to discover what kind of content works well in real-time, what are the benefits for consumers and what kind of business models can be deployed to leverage the
“time” dimension.

My panelists:

People that have been reading this blog and following my Twitter feed know that I’ve been interested in the real-time (sometimes called the Alive Web)and the temporal Web for a few years now.

On day two, I’m also on a panel titled Can Social Media Be Outsourced? headed by Jonathan Ewert from Codero. I’m looking forward to that discussion as well!

It should be an excellent conference with speakers from Yelp, Foursquare, European Directories, Decarta, Mueller-Medien, the BBC, in addition to Greg Sterling, Dennis Yu and Perry Evans.

The organizers have provided me with a 20% discount to my readers but I hear there are less than 20 tickets left. So, hurry up if you want to join us. I will be in London the whole week. If you want to meet, ping me at seb AT

On Steve Jobs

Flickr picture by Luc Legay

I was a wide-eyed 12 year-old when I saw a personal computer for the first time in my life, an Apple II that belonged to my best friend Hugues’ uncle. Every Saturday night, we knocked on his uncle’s door and asked him if we could play with his computer while he was having dinner with his wife. “We’re going to be very quiet!” we would always tell him and he would let us come in and enjoy this new piece of technology. Ah, the hours we spent playing Odyssey! One or two years later, my friend received the computer as a gift and we kept plugging away, playing games but also learning to code. We were uber-Apple fans! And the arrival of new products like the Lisa in 1983 and the Mac in 1984 sent us in a frenzy. They were too expensive for teenagers but we could dream!

Steve Jobs’ passing yesterday brought me back to this seminal era. Being exposed to great technology at an early age made all the difference. It made me who I am and it propelled me into a technology career. Many people thinks Steve Jobs’ legacy was created in his second run at Apple, with the creation of the iMac, the iPod, iTunes and the iPhone but I really believe his first run from the ’70s to 1985 had the biggest impact on me.

Thank you Steve for imagining the future, my future.