Connect & Collect Podcast - Episode 5
In this episode with Michael Thibodeau, Azure Segment Lead at Microsoft, he delves into the many benefits of cloud-based technology. We discuss how leveraging existing software that solves a business problem is key to innovating faster, driving speed to market, and achieving scalability while reducing costs.
Michael introduces the concept of “use it,” build it,” and “break it” concerning AI. He discusses the business with existing solutions that involve AI to be more efficient (use it), to the business looking to fit AI into their roadmap (build it), and then finally, that radical disruption of completely rethinking what solution can be provided by leveraging AI (break it).
What we're talking about in this episode:
- How businesses can leverage a cloud platform to save money, scale up and solve a problem faster
- Why the cloud ecosystem is for businesses of any size - from startup to large enterprise
- What they key differences between AI and machine learning are
- Questions to consider in your roadmap to adopting cloud-based technology
"Cloud by design is for everybody." - Michael Thibodeau
*Please note that the views and opinions expressed by our guests are solely their own and do not represent the views or opinions of their employer.
Michael is the Azure Segment Lead for SMB, Startups & Growth at Microsoft. With a passion for cutting-edge technology, Michael’s mandate is to inspire and collaborate with customers, partners and innovators across Canada to help them realize their full potential by leveraging the power of cloud computing.
Widely valued for his passion, collaboration, and creative approach, Michael has held a variety of positions including business management, operations, marketing and sales during his 12 year tenure at Microsoft. He believes technology enhances the world and he is committed in helping Canadian customers reimagine the future of their business and empowering them to achieve more. He is also the host of the Podcast Pitch Please focused on Canada’s best startups and elevator pitches!
Connect with Michael Thibodeau on LinkedIn.
Founder’s Hub: Microsoft for Startups | Microsoft
ISV Success Program: ISV Success Program Overview | Microsoft
Get more insights as Michael interviews Canada’s best startups on the Pitch Please Podcast
Read the Transcript:
[00:00:00] Michael Pupil: Welcome to Connect and collect the podcast for leaders in credit and collections, brought to you by Lexop. Get firsthand insights from our expert guests about the latest innovations, challenges, and opportunities that lenders are facing today. I'm your host, Michael Pupil, vice President of Sales at Lexop, and I'm thrilled to introduce today's guest, Michael Thibodeau, Microsoft Azure Sales and Strategy lead.
Michael is the Azure segment lead for SMB Startup and Growth at Microsoft with a passion for cutting edge technology. Michael's mandate is to inspire and collaborate with customers, partners, and innovators across Canada to help them realize their full potential by leveraging the power of cloud computing.
Widely valued for his passion, collaboration, and creative approach. Michael has held a variety of positions including business management, operations, marketing, and sales. During his nine year tenure at Microsoft, he believes technology enhances the world and is committed in helping Canadian [00:01:00] customers reimagine the future of their business and empowering them to achieve more.
He is also the host of Podcast Pitch. Please focused on Canada's best startups and elevator pitches. Michael, welcome sir, to the podcast. Great to have you here.
Michael Thibodeau: Thanks for having me, Mike. Looking forward to having a lot of fun together today.
Michael Pupil: Before we dive, uh, you know, deeper into, into the conversation, I'd love for the audience just to get a little bit more insight about you, personally, your role at Microsoft and, and kind of the things that you oversee today. And give a little bit of a deeper dive than that intro that I just gave you.
Michael Thibodeau: For sure. I actually realized even, um, when sending over my bio, like time's creeping, I think nine's actually creeping on 12, uh, this coming August. So time flies when you're having fun. I've had an amazing opportunity to be through a whole bunch of amazing roles across the company, learning from amazing leaders.
Um, started out thinking I wanted to be a marketer, but. You know, got some bugs around operations and strategy and got the opportunity to work on security [00:02:00] HoloLens and mixed reality things around channel. Um, and now what I think is probably one of my coolest jobs. HoloLens and mixed reality is a, is a close second, but is getting to work across anybody except for 1200 um, deeply managed enterprise accounts here in Canada, which allows you like this massive breadth of inspiration around all of the cool things happening across the country, um, from sort of the smallest companies that you know, you would try to imagine why or how they're using this technology and what it impacts in their business to some of the Canada's fastest growing or largest unicorns and everything in between.
So it's super cool. My role, um, honestly, is just being the glue, between a whole bunch of amazing people on our team, that service customers around Azure and more, the partners and the channel and the community that go and help our customers every day, and then that continuously growing ecosystem of customers, startups, and, and partners.
So my role is getting to be the glue. Making [00:03:00] sure we all rally together to make everyone happy, and when our customers and partners win, Microsoft wins and that sort of is a great feeling and makes my job super easy.
Michael Pupil: Yeah. Actually, the ecosystem is what brought us, together and, and here today in, and Lexop is obviously part of that, ecosystem as well, and we're incredibly excited about it. You know, could you talk a little bit about the benefits for those that, maybe don't know what it looks like, that we can point them into that direction?
Because I think there's some, maybe some preconceived notions of it, but maybe to hear it from the, the horse's mouse, so to speak, as to what that ecosystem looks like and what the benefits are.
Michael Thibodeau: Yeah, I think there's like, um, a couple different components to that, right? So the ecosystem, um, sometimes is referred to in a couple different ways. So there's like our partners. Who are the people that go out and help our customers implement these solutions? They may sell to those customers. And the reality is not every company wishes to or has the technical depth to be able to [00:04:00] do all things across everything Microsoft offers, not just Azure, just like generally.
And so there's that type of partner. Then there's an ecosystem of partners or ISVs or independent software vendors. These are really software companies or SaaS companies. I'm dropping like every key word because everyone classifies themselves differently and Microsoft has a massive place in their ecosystem for those companies to help really amplify software companies, um, because they are solving the challenges.
At the end of the day, I think Microsoft tries to be. I use different terms and analogies, but the pizza sauce. And so if we're the pizza sauce, everyone's sort of making the pizza, pizzas and pastas with the sauce in it. And we want them to be successful because inherently they'll need more sauce from us.
And so I think that's like a really cool way to think about where and how that ecosystem works in the same way even with our partners. So I think that's it, um, around generally the how and why the ecosystem is so valuable to us. Because when. We [00:05:00] actually succeed when all of those other people succeed.
Um, and it's a real good feel, good moment, uh, around why and how we do our jobs.
Michael Pupil: I love the analogies. I'm a big analogy person too, so I'm, I have a feeling the over under for the number of analogies that we'll probably use is gonna be at least five. Um, talk to me a little bit about, you know, do you need to be a large organization? Cause I think Microsoft being the size and the dominance of, of.
What that organization is and just the, the global reach of this. Do you need to be a massive organization in order to take advantage of this, you know, quote unquote ecosystem? Or maybe you can give a couple of pointers for those companies, small, medium, and large, and where that, where that takes place.
Michael Thibodeau: Yeah, for sure. If, if you're okay with it. I'm actually gonna take like one step back on that thought, Mike. Just to like help people understand why people use cloud. I'll, I'll say Azure because I'm, you know. Mm-hmm working on Azure, so, but cloud, and I think it really thematically breaks down into two super [00:06:00] hyper simplified themes.
They're either trying to save money, cost savings, or they've got growth aspirations. Um, and what I, what do I mean by that? So like on cost savings, maybe these are things like thinking about your business continuity, managing new challenges, and evolving challenges around cash flow. Not because you have cash flow problems, but like, you need to ingest and invest cash to grow a business.
And so how does that change the dynamic of where you're spending money? Um, how do you think about where you're scaling up and scaling down and how much you need to spend to be able to do that? And then that translates right over to the side around growth, which is to grow. How do you pilot things? Test things scale up at a capacity that you would have to invest so fast to go do yourself.
And so when I say that, you start to realize that. If you're trying to save, create cost savings or create growth, that's, that's anybody, that's any company of any size. Um, I think to your point, what's different is how [00:07:00] customers of all those sizes might take advantage. Um, and I think in that regard it's are you looking to do this yourself?
Are you looking to invest time and energy to learn the skills to do it yourself? Are you looking to stay purified on the business that you are in and the industry that you are in and just master that and leverage the help of others partner ecosystem of what we call system integrators, um, to go help do that?
Or are you looking for something where you don't have to go build it? I know we might get into this after, but. There's this valuable place of finished packaged IP or software that can help companies move to a place faster. So I think it's that entire continuum that means it's like everybody from the solo student or developer looking to build all the way to com.
Canada's largest enterprises, fastest growing companies, not just the ones in my space, but beyond. Um, and there's multiple reasons why people choose. Azure specifically in that [00:08:00] regard, or Microsoft? I, I like to think more broadly because I think you should be choosing your partnerships in this regard, not just on just the singular element of cloud being Azure.
I think there's like a lot of value to every aspect of it, but the reality is it, it's for everyone. And we can talk after about like which path each of those would maybe wanna take. But the idea is cloud by design is for everybody.
Michael Pupil: Hundred percent. Building off what you're saying, I mean, sitting on that platform, I would imagine that even in that ecosystem, it provides a little bit of a blanket of security, safety, and credibility as to the organizations or the potential partners that you're looking at for implementation. And I guess that's the, you know, getting to market faster.
Some of the cost savings that you're talking about, at least what we've seen over the last couple of years is that it has become more complex. To purchase, and so if it sits on that platform, is one of the benefits that it could get you there faster because there is that credibility, safety, and security that's provided.[00:09:00]
Michael Thibodeau: Yeah, I think, um, there there's an element of aligning for things that maybe help build out what you're doing. So to your point, there's definitely key underlying components of why Azure. Trust and security. You've got best in hybrid and you've got sort of our innovation and and road mapping. And so, um, we put out tons of new, amazing technology every single day.
There's iterations on our roadmap, some of the more popular ones that people are talking about, although it's almost like a disservice to all the other amazing features and releases that we do. Obviously our partnership with OpenAI is a very hot topic right now and a very big key demonstration of how, um, long range we're thinking as a company, but those elements of like, trust, security, scalability.
And hybrid because to my kind of conversation earlier, it's for every business. And so there's been businesses [00:10:00] that have been around for a very long time that didn't naturally start their journey in the cloud. And so might be on premise or in a co-located environment, um, and not ready to pull a switch on everything.
And so hybrid is a very strong consideration and a very powerful one where Microsoft shows up. Um, but then as you think about. You know, the looking forward against that. Those are like some moments of why you choose the platform, but there's also these elements of like why you choose to partner with a cloud provider or a partner.
Like any element actually, like I think these are like ring true and so I'll talk to some that are from Microsoft, but they're strong considerations no matter who you're kind of partnering with on your journey as a company. Um, the first one that I like to talk about is like aligned purpose. And so when you think about where and how Microsoft tries to and works to partner with different organizations, it truly does boil down to one of the first principles being around aligned purpose.
And [00:11:00] you know, I talked earlier about being people's sauce. That in itself is one element of aligned purpose, seeing you succeed. Means inherently, yes, you may buy more from us, so we will be successful if you are successful. So we start to become tied at the hip around mutual success, but that spans into so many other things.
What are we doing around environment and sustainability? What are we doing around empowering other people, diversity and inclusion, all these things of aligned purpose that organizations want to actually not just say, yes, this company does that and we do that, but like there's like natural cohesion and opportunities to collaborate on these things.
The next is like the platform. And so Azure's a big piece, but when you build on Azure and when you work with Azure, you're actually buying into the full ecosystem. We call it one Microsoft. And so it's how are you thinking about how the data, how the integrations work across the entire plane of every single thing Microsoft touches and how do you take advantage of that and weave that into the next point.
So there's platform [00:12:00] next is. Product and roadmap. And so what are you thinking about? How are you working with us closely on your roadmap? Understanding our roadmap and staying on the bleeding and cutting edge, um, of whatever you're building, whether that's you as an organization, uh, or whether that's you as a software builder, building out your future product and roadmap is critical.
And the deeper in the fold you are on that, the more important it will become. The last is around customer access. . And so I talked briefly about like when you buy our sauce, we want you to be successful at Microsoft and specifically on Azure. Um, we invest in that success in a meaningful way where we help our software providers that choose to build on our platform, get access to bridge connections with many of our largest customers, actually most of our customers.
And we do that for two reasons. One, because it's good for those people buying our sauce and it helps them grow and scale their business, but it also helps [00:13:00] drive speed to market for a bunch of problems that these large organizations are facing. And the reality is sometimes it doesn't make sense to start trying to build everything yourself because there's so many smart people solving so many big problems that sometimes all they need is a bridge and an introduction.
And we love to be that for people
Michael Pupil: so well said. If an organization has not started, what would you say would be the first step? If they're hearing about this for the first time, what would you say is step one, step two, step three.
Michael Thibodeau: So, um, just to, to clarify sort of like what's the first step in taking advantage of an ecosystem like Azure or the cloud? Yeah, I think, um, maybe the very first question is, what are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to solve a problem? Are you trying to, uh, innovate something you're already, you already have. [00:14:00] Or are you trying to build something net new? I, I use this term in a couple different spots. Uh, we may even use the same categorization if we talk about AI at any point today. But there's this term that I like to call, like, use it, build it, break it. Break, it's less relevant here, but there's like this, use it or build it component, which is, are there things across the ecosystem that already exist to solve or nearly solve a problem I'm facing. As an organization that's super appealing because although I think I'm the smartest person to solve the problem, there's probably people super deep on these problems and just that speed to market could be my competitive advantage.
And so that's where things like. You know, surfing through our Azure marketplace or looking across the SaaS providers that have existing solutions with Microsoft is a great advantage for many of our Microsoft customers. Not only because it helps you maybe solve your problems faster, but it's on a [00:15:00] trusted platform.
It's a set of solutions we believe in. Um, and ultimately if you are a large Azure customer or any size Azure customer of Microsoft, it also helps you deprecate any Azure commitments you've made to us because then you can just use these on your Azure platform. Um, so I think that's super important. The next piece is figuring out like where in the plane of do it yourself you are.
And what I mean by that is do you have the team with the technical capabilities to do this themselves? Maybe you do, maybe don't. The next is okay if you do or you have close to. You probably still need to invest as an organization and we help organizations do that in skilling, in technical capacity.
What are the things that you're doing as an organization? Um, and working with Microsoft, because we, we have tons of free training. We have tons of paths, learning paths that we help support our customers and our partners with, um, to continue to build and [00:16:00] invest in that capability as an organization.
And then sometimes you do have that. Or you don't. You do have that, but you still might wanna augment or you don't have that, and you definitely need to augment. And so that's where you might lean on our very strong, highly capable ecosystem of solution partners. They exist not just for Azure, this is for every component of Microsoft.
Whether you're implementing modern workplace solutions, business applications, surface. And manageability around that, or also Azure or maybe a mix of all. We have partners that either work on one, with a deeper specialty or across all. And so I think to take advantage of the software, there's just a couple key elements to understand around where you're at and where you're trying to achieve.
And then defining that path around either going yourself, leveraging things that already exist or working in partnership with someone whose specialty is this. So you can go focus on your core business, but still take advantage of it.
Michael Pupil: [00:17:00] Maybe AI is the the perfect segway to this, cause I know that this is the, the one of the hottest topics, or AI I should say, AI vs. Machine learning. Um, and this is probably where they use it, build it, break it, um, you know, kind of breakdown that you have.comes into play. Talk to us a little bit about the trend that you're seeing there, because ai, those two letters are probably the biggest buzz that we've heard for the last, you know, 12 months.
And especially with the new additions of things like chat, G B T and everybody trying to, you know, kind of plug into that and now applying it widespread across the board, to absolutely everything. Um, so talk, talk to us a little bit about what you are seeing specifically with that.
Michael Thibodeau: For sure. And, and just to maybe start, I'll give a quick definition of AI versus machine learning. I'm not like the deep expert, so I'm gonna oversimplify the concept here. But AI broadly is the concept of ultimately encompassing all aspects of how computers and machines, um, [00:18:00] Are being positioned to eventually be as intelligent as humans.
So there's so many layers to that. Machine learning is more around, um, a subset. It's a subset of AI and it's really around using algorithms and predictive decisions and data through a set of programmed instructions. I don't know if that adds a lot of context, but it's important that like people understand where they are, where was ones around, like programmed instructions and ones around, like the overall concept of trying to make.
Machines and computers as smart or capable as human beings, but I think what we were talking about is use it, build it, break it. So I'm seeing it both in my role at Microsoft and I am fortunate enough through my, my podcast Pitch Please, where I get to talk to amazing startups from all across Canada that I also get to live, learn, and field this layer of experience because there's people in all three camps.
So the term is use it, build it, break it. Someone smarter might've coined it. I've sort of been saying it for a while [00:19:00] because it was a realization after talking to so many of these companies, use it is where can you take existing solutions that are built, um, that involve AI to be more efficient or proficient at your job or as a company?
So some examples are you taking off the shelf software to take your existing marketing team and increase their impact. Um, same with your development team. Maybe they're using elements of copilot. Um, And so the idea is to drive increased efficiency and proficiency of your existing organization for things you do as a company.
So that's using it and the use it category is very big ever expanding. There's so many AI tools out there. You'll talk about this and break it. Build it is, I am an organization that has been around for a while, a while, can be defined as like, a year, I don't know, six months, but I'm an organization that has something [00:20:00] that is a core business that is not AI.
And so the idea is, as part of my roadmap, where or how could AI or does AI make sense to fit within that roadmap? Should I, should I be building it in, what are the capabilities that I want to individually myself, not just use, but actually build into our product roadmap and or as a company. And I think that's an exploration path that a lot of people, both companies and software providers are on.
Both are, are also considering where to build it or use it and they can be using both. Break it is sort of that new category and I call it new there's been people working on AI for a long time. I think there's obviously way more spotlight and way more boom around the solutions available, but break it is like that radical disruption of completely rethinking how something can be done and what type of solution can be provided leveraging AI.
So that's sort of the three. I think a lot of the amazing startups we're seeing are in break it many had been in build it and are now leveraging AI. Maybe [00:21:00] this is even sort of where like Lexop is on your journey of like, you didn't start as an AI company, but there's definitely elements, I'm sure you're either already building in or considering building into your roadmap.
So you're in build it and I'm sure there's people, whether you know it or not, already doing the use it to be more, um, proficient and impactful in their roles.
Michael Pupil: You're a hundred percent right and, uh, like you, I try to make as simplify the definition of AI to machine learning. And to use an analogy, I always make comparisons, right? Uh, to me it's like the Netflix, you know, recommended, uh, things to watch and. That to me is machine learning.
It's based on algorithms of what people are clicking into and it's pulling data off of it. And it would be the same as looking at an Excel spreadsheet and, and compiling that data to come up to a conclusion and hear the conclusions. AI, to me is decision making. So it's going to pick the movie that I'm going to watch or the show that I'm going to watch, and it's going to be independent [00:22:00] of that, kind of data that's there.
Not necessarily completely independent, but it's going to select it. Um, and that is very different and, uh, , maybe we're there, maybe we're not, or all that. Then you can have all the fun conversations about, you know, Skynet and all the rest of the stuff of making decisions. But I think there's a lot of valuable, uh, companies out there that employ machine learning today, and now it's how do you create the model to allow those decisions to take place without a human looking at it. Right. And, and letting it go on autopilot. And, uh, while it may seem scary, I think, you know, the, we're we're very close to that being a reality, and I think the vast majority of companies were not built to be AI driven. And so that build it, break it stages I think where everybody is, is kind of living right now in terms of do we pull the trigger and say, let's go forward and let's do it. Um, I,
Michael Thibodeau: [00:23:00] Yeah. And I think Mike, just, just to add to that, I think the point of the use it, build it, break it, is regardless what you do as an organization, um, I'm not saying you need to use AI. At this point, you should at least be reflecting as an organization of which one or multiple of those could fit into your business model, could fit into your operating model, your future roadmap.
Where should you even be considering building it or maybe you're in the break it category versus leaning on existing solutions and not trying to reinvent the wheel. Um, I talk about that a lot. There's so many innovators and I'm so proud of all the work they're doing, and I talk to so many on the podcast.
But the other reality is larger organizations sometimes. Yes, you've got very custom and unique needs and you you may need to build it or, but are there ways you could start with something that exists and collaborate on evolving that and get to market faster? Um, rather than getting caught up on internal cycles?
So both are very valuable and I, I see the need for both, but I think maybe sometimes people [00:24:00] rush to conclusions of what I need doesn't exist. I'm gonna build it. And then I see people leapfrog them by using amazing solutions that exist out there. Um, and so I think there's more of that we could be seeing, especially in Canada, continuing to trust and invest in our ecosystem and leverage the solutions that exist versus like always feeling like we need to do things ourselves.
Let's go on a journey together. And I think that's super important.
Michael Pupil: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And we'll come back to, to Pitch Please. Cause I think it's very cool and you've converted me into a, a subscriber and a listener. I think I have listened to about five or six of them, and I'm going backwards in time. So I did the newest down to the oldest. So, we'll, we'll come back to, to that one there.
But, um, , I couldn't, I couldn't agree more. And there's where the, the benefit of that, you know, we'll, for lack of a better word, we'll use that word, ecosystem, comes into play that, the research part of this that is there somebody that's already deeper into this issue and deeper into this problem where you don't have to start and recreate the wheel?
Are there things that you can leverage in order to [00:25:00] accelerate the process, reducing that cost? And like you say, reduction of cost is applicable for small, medium, and large. And it has impacts that, vary, but it's still the same impact. And I think the theme that, has been thrown down around a lot is do more with less.
Right. And that's really the, the fundamental framework of why, you know, I think that maybe the genesis of this type of environment was there, of the, if you do well, we do well and if we can expose, you know, what we've got already and empower that ecosystem with the ability to have that knowledge, it will allow them to ask the right questions as to where they are and what they're trying to do, and then have at their disposal within, you know, a trusted network to say, here is where I'm going to take my next step.
Right? And so that's where, , obviously when Lexop was looking into this, I think we drank the Kool-Aid and we dove, head first into the pool. The more we learn about this, the more excited we [00:26:00] got. Hence why we came into this, podcast today that we wanted to share some of these, um, experiences and, and some of the insight and revelations that we've been having.
Um, to maybe to flip back to, your role specifically, where do you fit in into this ecosystem network. Like what are the conversations that you're having where, where do you see the trend moving forward from where you sit?
Michael Thibodeau: Yeah, I think it's, um, interesting because on one hand, um, , I get the opportunity to work with channel partners that work with some of our largest and smallest customers. So across there you get like a wide variety for people's maturity curve on technology and how much help they need versus the things they're doing themselves.
And I see the impact of packaged, finished SaaS helping some of the smallest organizations that just don't have like the ability to invest or the people to go tackle doing some of this themselves. Then [00:27:00] I get to see how, you know, more developed technology or partners can go help people implement some of this.
Um, and then there's the whole world of like startups, uh, and from the earliest stages to some of the largest ones and how fast they're moving, how proud I am of the Canadian ecosystem. We're seeing a lot of like innovation, I think thematically in a lot of the same areas around what people are building.
But then it's really important to not forget all of the styles of companies and customers we have in Canada. You know, Canada's a very SMB dominant market. I don't have the exact stat off the top of my head, so no one hold me accountable, but something like 90% of the companies in Canada are considered an SMB or SME, depending how you frame it.
And those are everything from doctors, lawyers, dentists, retail stores, restaurants like they need solutions, and sometimes they need help on their technology.
Michael Thibodeau: It's where partners fit in. [00:28:00] They need finished SaaS because it doesn't make sense for them to build it themselves. It's where our ISVs or SaaS companies fit in.
And then, there's the other layer, which is like, what are the types of software being developed in the country? What are the startups working on? Um, there's definitely some B2C, but we have a massive B2B market, and thematically that follows into a few categories, which are, some of them are similar to worldwide.
You know, you see a lot of energy around financial services and FinTech. You see a lot of energy around healthcare and health tech, especially over the last few years. You see a ton of energy around the efficiencies and benefits that can be brought to like manufacturing. Um, Canada is doing an amazing job, really propping up sustainability.
Um, and we're also seeing a lot of great work on VFX and gaming. It's, we're a pretty unique market globally in that there's a lot of VFX and gaming in Canada. So those are like thematically some areas where we're really seeing a lot of things. But the reality of it is, it's more just like how do you connect the dots?
And that's sort of where my role is, is [00:29:00] how do you get the partners to be thinking about the things that exist. How do you get customers to think of the things that exist? How do you help people navigate this, use it, build it, break it. So, um, across our entire team, we're just sort of just doing that every day, which is how do you help the people building move faster?
How do you people help the people that need to use things, get connected with the right people that realize success, um, faster and where and when possible, how you connect those two things to help people move faster.
Michael Pupil: What you just said was that the origin story of Lexop as well. Uh,a lot of companies that are involved in startups, chances are you've been involved in more than just one. Um, because of the nature of, of the individuals that it draws, uh, the startup life too, because it is a, a unique environment.
Uh, but the genesis of, of Lexop, or the origin story of Lexop was, you know, a prior company, the co-founderswe're doing their thing and, uh, they just happened to be late on a bill and it was more of an administrative thing. But the, the process or the treatment was, [00:30:00] you know, an unsavory one.
And that word collections, tends to carry a pretty heavy, uh, you know, weight on people. And so it can cause anxiety, it can cause, frustration, embarrassment at times. And they set on a path and they completely turned course. And then they moved, Lexop into the, into the moment of saying, if we got treated like this, others are getting treated like this.
There has to be a better way. And so how do you marry empathy to technology? And so your comment about, you know, sustainability and, some of the the very personal side of business. I think that's where the core of Canadian, you know, startups really live. I mean, just listening to the Pitch Please Podcast there are a lot of stories in there from healthcare to disability to a number of different topics that are focused on personal experiences that can be, uh, scalable at, not just a a Canadian market, but worldwide, um, across the board, that if you can [00:31:00] marry technology with that empathetic approach to that problem solving, you get a really great outcome.
And it's not just the business side of things, it feels really great as well. And that's, I think where the, the champion kind of prospect comes into it. So as you were talking about that, I was like, my God, this was the, the origin story of, of what I was being told when, when I was looking at Lexop before, before driving in.
Mike Thibodeau: It's so powerful, right? Because it, it comes back to that you were talking about how Lexop's co-founders came across a problem that they were experiencing and they built this organization around, um, the need for empathy and more innovative solutions around collections.
And that's obviously not a, Hey, I'm a big organization. This is a me problem. That is a problem lots of people face, and so whether you think you should build it or you've got some operational process around it, the reality is, companies that have that problem should at least [00:32:00] evaluate and have a discussion with Lexop.
And I think that's the point. Like if I could, if I could do anything and, and, and I try to do it in this role, but I wish I could do it at an even greater scale, like just imagine like the power that comes out of connecting all of these people with people that have problems and people that have finished or in progress solutions to those problems, how much faster could we move? So it's really impressive to like see those things come together and that it's really amazing to see the work that Lexop's doing because again, not a unique problem. Lots of people face that challenge. Um, it's just about how quickly could they solve it and what are some of the unique things that Lexop's doing.
Michael Pupil: Yeah. And, and thank you for that, uh, that piece. That's very, very kind words. Uh, much appreciated. I joke around a little bit that, uh, you know, collections is not a, a greenfield space. Since the first IOU there was a way to collect back on that first IOU. Now it may not have been sophisticated, like a tech stack that's there, probably incorporated a sticker or rock to get it back.
And we've evolved, [00:33:00] uh, you know, over the years since then. But, um, yeah, there are some, there are some workflows. there are a lot of workflows that can benefit tremendously by looking and leveraging technology. And then if you're also leveraging things like machine learning or even AI at a certain, uh, at a certain point in time, the speed of the execution of that transaction.
It's a benefit for both the consumer as well as the organization. And so I think that's the whole point of why entrepreneurship, is is born. It's identifying where that problem is, identifying what are the resources that we have in front of us, and then making the right choices and asking the right questions in order to put that into the market.
And if you can layer it on top by having the right pizza sauce on the pizza, um, and putting all the ingredients, uh, together, what you get is a, is a fantastic, you know, outcome to this. This is a perfect point where I want to transition to Pitch Please. Because I want to, I want to [00:34:00] throw a little bit of a, of attention to if you have not come across a Pitch Please Podcast, like, and subscribe, go to it, take a listen to it. I've listened to it. A number of them on the drive-in to, to work whenever I, I go into the office. Um, and some of the stories in there are just outstanding. So I have to ask you, how did this start? What was the, what was your origin story for creating Pitch Please and I think that's gonna touch on the passion side of things. And, and where do you envision this going? And, and where do you see this continuing?
Michael Thibodeau: For sure. Well, I appreciate the shoutout, Mike. Thank you for being an avid listener. Um, I'm glad you like it. And I, I think the origin story of this was, um, there's probably no surprise that I found myself into a role that gets to work with lots of different companies and startups. Um, there's someone, I was on a, a mentorship call with the other day sort of trying to determine their roles and some things that they were doing. And I was reflecting on my own experiences to sort of give them how I've thought about my career. [00:35:00] And I think one of the hardest things for me personally, would ever be making the jump to any singular startup or any singular company.
What I've sort of loved about my roles, um, and role now at Microsoft is the diversity of things that I get to go see. And, um, in some regard, if I could get paid, I mean, I guess I could, if I get rich enough or join a VC firm, um, if I could just get paid to listen to all these amazing innovations happening, I would just love every single day.
And so, um, I love connecting with and meeting new people. I love hearing about the new cool things that people are doing. A lot of it tech-based, but not every you know, founder that I bring on Pitch Please Is is tech based. And so I wanted to bring a spotlight around the Canadian ecosystem, um, which oftentimes gets overshadowed, you know, and there's a lot of great podcasts out there, like how I made my First Million, my advice.
But I sort of, because it's not like there's no specific end game or end goal with the [00:36:00] podcast other than to meet cool people and, and learn and hear about their stories. There's no startup too small for me to talk to. There's no person in the ecosystem too small. So I'm just humbly approaching it to learn about people's stories of like what got them here.
Was it a problem? Was it them being a serial entrepreneur? What makes them passionate about what they're working on now and what problem are they trying to solve? And I think if anything, it's hopefully there to just show people the diversity of great ideas out there, the amazing types of founders and tech being developed here in Canada.
Um, and to maybe inspire others to either join startups, support these startups, leverage the things they're building, or maybe make the jump for yourself because sometimes in those stories, what you learn and what you hear is these people never thought themselves to be entrepreneurs one day. There's just something else that created that switch.
And then when you hear about the impact that they're having, it's just so, um, so amazing and so valuable. And it's so, you know, I started it with, [00:37:00] I'm gonna record 12 sessions post one a month, and now we're doing like, weekly, like I'm trying to figure out how to keep up with it, but it's like an addiction.
I just wanna hear all the stories and I want to hear about all these people and like how it all fits together and just drive introductions. So, um, I guess that's what it's for. It's maybe just for my own personal health, uh, and enjoyment at this stage. And if other people like it too and they wanna follow along the journey, I love that even more.
Michael Pupil: I, I agree. I think you, uh, use the perfect word addiction. it is absolutely addicting and I think it, it generates from the passion, the belief, like it, when you hear some of the stories, especially on, on Pitch, please. where you hear the why as to, as to where this comes from and what they're trying to do and how they're trying to do it.
I mean, you can't help but get sucked in and just start cheerleading, um, you know, for, for some of these organizations, if not all of them. Um, and then, yeah, that, it just, I agree with you. Um, Thank you for being a champion of, you know, startups of, you know, passion in business of, trying to to [00:38:00] be part of the wheel that makes all of this stuff turn.
Uh, you have been, uh, a great ally for Lexop ourselves, uh, as well, in helping us navigate the network and the ecosystem, and it's something that we truly look forward to, not just for this year, but many years, uh, throughout our, our partnership together. And so with that, what I'll, I'll conclude is just aside from the, the thank you, what I will say is if you are looking, and you are on the Azure network and you have not dove into this, Mike, I'm gonna tell them to, to reach out to you directly, subscribe to Pitch Please go take a listen to it.
It's very, very cool stuff. You're an amazing guest. Thank you so much for bringing in a, a very unique aspect of Connect and Collect. And while this wasn't necessarily purely focused on collections, I think there are, there are too many spokes in the wheel that are just interconnected. And this is a perfect example of a network of support for those organizations, either on the buy and sell side to kind of network together, [00:39:00] and you're putting that glue together. So thank you for that, Mike.
Michael Thibodeau: Thank you so much for having me. It was an amazing conversation. Um, we'll, uh, we'll make sure to also, Include any links to people that are looking to try to figure out where and how to navigate their journey. Whether you're a startup, an established SaaS company, someone looking for a partner, or someone just looking to get started, Microsoft or Azure, we'll, we'll get those links.
That way you can make it easy. But, um, for anyone that wants, please feel free. I'm, I think, pretty responsive, at least from what I've heard. Feel free to connect with me, add me on LinkedIn. Feel free to send me a message. It might not be like an instantaneous reply, but I do reply literally to every single person that messages me.
And I genuinely wanna learn your story, genuinely wanna know how I can help. So thanks again, uh, Mike for having me and to the entire team, at Lexop for making today possible. Uh, and look forward to continuing to watch and support your journey.
Michael Pupil: Amazing. Thank you. Well, that brings, uh, a conclusion to our latest episode of Connect and Collect. And, we look forward to, uh, to hearing and speaking to our next guest next month. And thank you Mike again for joining us. [00:40:00] And thank you everyone for listening today.