Stephany Lapierre is the CEO and Cofounder of Tealbook which is a provider of supplier data and e-commerce procurement technology. The company has raised $72 million from top tier investors including RTP Global, BDC Venture Capital, or Workday Ventures to name a few.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Stephany Lapierre’s journey is deeply rooted in a family legacy of entrepreneurship, where her grandmother’s leadership at Pepsi set the stage for her own ventures.
- Stephany navigated the gender bias in venture capital, securing funding from women-focused investment firms and highlighting the challenges women founders face in the industry.
- Growing up with a spirit of adventure, Stephany’s early experiences in entrepreneurship and her time in Whistler cultivated a mindset of risk-taking and a global perspective.
- Matchbook, Stephany’s venture before Tealbook, was inspired by the need for true innovation in a competitive market, setting the stage for her exploration into transformative solutions.
- Tealbook’s journey reflects a constant evolution of business models, adapting from membership fees to a data platform, driven by a commitment to meet the dynamic needs of the market.
- Overcoming initial challenges in raising capital, Stephany emphasizes the importance of building a complementary team, especially in technology, to secure investor confidence.
- Tealbook’s impact on enterprise operations goes beyond streamlining processes, significantly influencing areas such as ESG targets, sustainability, and overall competitiveness.
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About Stephany Lapierre:
Stephany Lapierre is the current CEO at TealBook. Prior to their current position, Stephany was with IADQGA, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and the Institute for Supply Management.
Stephany has also held various positions within the healthcare industry on the supplier and client side. In their most recent position before TealBook, Stephany was the Director of Business Development for US expansion at CTC Communications / Elixir Healthcare Communications.
Stephany has a wealth of experience in the field and is highly regarded as an expert in their field.
Stephany Lapierre attended the University of Guelph where they earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business/Commerce, Marketing & Management.
Some individuals on their team include Arnold Liwanag – CTO, Brian Tarble – VP, Product, and Angela Anastasakis – Vice President of Customer Success.
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Connect with Stephany Lapierre:
Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: All righty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have a really exciting founder. You know shes saying done it a few times now she is writing a rocket ship and we’re gonna be talking about all the good stuff that we like to hear building scaling financing. And all of the above. You know we’re going to be going. You know a little bit deeper. You know around finding product market fit fundraising you know as well and the landscape do and then finding the inspiration for finding really a problem that you want to tackle you know amongst other things so without further ado. Let’s welcome our guests today Stephanie Lapierre welcome to the show. So originally from quebec you know our family of on entrepreneurs give us our walk through memory lane. How was life growing up.
Stephany Lapierre: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.
Stephany Lapierre: Yeah, so um, I came from a ah family of entrepreneurs. Um, more prominently, my grandfather started Pepsi in Eastern Quebec and so back in the I think in the 40 s he was 25 when he left a family nest to. Establish itself in the Eastern Quebec and then took the franchise of Pepsi so bottled by hand distributed initially I think by hand or by truck door to door. Um and then ah built a pretty big franchise because I don’t know if you know this. But. The only place I think in the world that Pepsi has a higher market share than coke is in Quebec and so I’d like to attribute this to my family. He unfortunately passed away when he was in his sixty s so he was fairly young and my grandmother was much younger than him at 3 kids and decided to take over the business and so she. She went with her head of supply chain and her head of finance to Pepsico and defended keeping the business and one and so she was able to run Pepsi in in the Eastern Quebec for a long time until pepsio centralized all its operations and bought up its franchise as and I think it was 9091 and I got to grow up with a pretty you know, ah sort of iconic person in my life that was ah very um, very strong but also remain incredibly feminine and raised 3 kids on her own with help but was very involved in the community very involved with our employees.
Stephany Lapierre: And you know manage to successfully grow Pepsi in Quebec and so that that was a lot of inspiration but I come from a world of entrepreneurs everybody in my family. My sister, my brother all my childhood friends. Even if they’re lawyers or real estate agent. They all have their own firm and so definitely part of my Dna and part of my. Um, my ah you know my childhood sort of seeing you know take control of your destiny.
Alejandro Cremades: That’s amazing now obviously growing up and in having a grandmother that that that that is a powerhouse like that. No I’m sure that that really got you inspired I Guess what were some of the biggest lessons that you took away from. From really seeing your grandmother. You know, really taking the reins and and making it happen like that.
Stephany Lapierre: I think in ah in um, you know I was just actually in Quebec last night having dinner with all the women in my family and they’re all very strong women who have all chosen careers where they’re disrupting and it’s all in very male dominated space. The founder and co and tech and. My cousins in engineering where I think she’s the only woman engineer in our entire company and so I think it broke some bears for us as we’ve never saw gender as being a blocker or a disadvantage. In fact I didn’t actually really thought of it until we start raising capital and then I became aware of how you know how little. A lot of the venture capital is going to woman founder I think it’s 3% of venture capital goes to woman foundunded companies and I was just not aware of this until it became a thing and we were we raised capital with two funds that were woman focus investment firm a standup ventures and the woman in tech fund from bdc. And so and I became sort of because I was one of the first investment in those funds I got more involved in the community. But I think seeing my grandmother being in male dominatminated space and there’s a really famous picture of her with think something like 25 to 30 men from Japan who came to Quebec and learned about supply chain from her so this this. Beautiful feminine woman in the middle of like all these men so that’s sort of the image like I got and so I think staying true to myself I do have three kids of my own luckily I don’t raise them by myself I’m happily married. Um, but um.
Stephany Lapierre: You know I think it’s ah yeah I think it just opened up the world to not use that as an handicap but as an opportunity.
Alejandro Cremades: Now your case. Obviously you did your first business. You know, very early on you know, which was doing corporate events now you ended up selling that. So I think that that thing gave you some good visibility into the world of business. But. You. Also you know in that route of of being independent. You know you decided to go to Whistler too and spend some time skiing there and and and and learning a english so I guess how was that you know also for you I guess first. Seeing the full cycle of running a business and then selling it but then also having your own independence you know and and skiing for for some time in Whistler is not bad.
Stephany Lapierre: Well I think it’s part of my Dna too just being my my parent gave us a lot of freedom very early on and so you know you learn by making mistakes and by trying things and so I’ve definitely always had an appetite for adventure. And when I was 18 decided to leave Quebec and leave the comfort of my province and my language and my culture to go and venture into the world and cross Canada with my best friend to go to Whistler and no not knowing much english I thought I knew english until I left Quebec realized I really didn’t um. And so it it opened my my view into the world because getting to whistler I got to meet people from all around the world for you know, very different background people that had been incredibly successful when you’re when you’re in that environment where people are coming from all around the world to ski and that just open. My eyes to what was possible and so it was very hard for me to even think of coming back to Quebec one day because I just saw the world as being a bigger place. Definitely a big appetite for adventure tolerance for risk like I left Quebec not even looking back I was like so excited for what’s coming and so there’s definitely. You know I think we have a bit of a Dna among founders of of a lot of appetite or a lot of bandwidth for risk and we don’t see risk in the same sort of way. Um, and so I think that that yeah, that’s probably very much part of my personality.
Alejandro Cremades: So obviously no surprise that you went up to university have studied business. You know amongst the other things that you could have studied. You know you decide to study business with some marketing and management in there now after university you did quite a bit of um. You know, smaller companies. You worked for a startup there where they only had for employees ah to bigger companies and obviously that was you know, ah a sequence of events that led you ultimately to Matchbook which was a pivotbotal moment that you know ultimately was what propelled you to what you’re doing right now with tillbook. But walk us through what happened you know and what you experienced from being perhaps at a small startup to then going to a larger corporation and then also what push you to want to go at it again. You know and your own having experienced all of that.
Stephany Lapierre: Well I think the the big corporate world was a moment in time for me if you look at my entire career. It’s been mostly startup world high energy high pace. Um, it did open my mind to just it’s a lot of the same challenges and a bigger environment just more. People on different challenges. But um, that structured you know, sort of political environment is just not my my thing and so that was a good learning is I don’t want to do that. We can’t move fast enough and there’s too much red tape for me. I want to be able to make decisions and move really quickly and respond to what’s happening in the market and so that was a good learning there but it gave me. You know my early 20 s some really good training to understand the world and the corporate environment and how what we need to. Manage around our customers because we we sell to large enterprise. So I’ve got a good understanding of what our customers have to do to build a business case and navigate their own. You know, political issues and and get budgets and things like that. So those were good exposure. But yeah, definitely been more comfortable always in smaller space where. And the opportunities are kind of endless if you you know if you pay attention to them and you you adapt quickly to be able to capitalize on those opportunities. So definitely um, more interested in that and my first business or my second business matchbook.
Stephany Lapierre: Was inspired by being in large companies where I was in a very competitive environment I was in marketing and I was spending a lot of time meeting with vendors that were telling me how innovative they were and so you take you take the time to have coffee and lunch and learn because you want to know what’s happening in the world. And you want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of those new innovation. But I found that most of them were not that innovative and to find innovation. True innovation required a lot of time and so I had the idea of Matchbook stemming from I think there’s maybe a service that that should exist. Where you know there’s a good understanding of the business requirements and the problem that needs to be solved and then go out in the world and find true innovation like who’s doing things either to solve very similar problems or a group of companies that can brainstorm to develop some really truly. Innovative ideas that can turn a brand or company more competitively and so matchbooks stem from that and I launched that business in 2006 and so already you know quite ah, a long time ago, but really really successful company I got my first mandate within 4 hours of sending an email that was pre. Social media. You know so I sent an email to my network and then within 4 hours I got a um, a call back saying you know I heard you guys can help us find and this case was a drug that was being launched and they were looking for a ad agency that than more consumer based type of marketing.
Stephany Lapierre: And so I said you know can you guys help us and it was me and I had a baby at the time I just had given bet to my first daughter and I was like yeah ah you know? Yeah I’ll talk to the team and we’ll get back to you on next steps. So. And that company you know is sixteen years old and it’s still running I don’t operate it anymore. But I’m really fortunate to have found people that have continued to manage that that company but it also gave me a lens into a bigger problem that I saw and. You know I’ve been challenged quite a few times over the years as to and you build a consulting firms with healthy margin. That’s always been profitable. You know I had a really good quality of life and could bounce both like why why teal book like why going into this crazy journey where you know. You know I need to raise capital I need to turn my life upside down and it was really a passion project because I saw a problem I wanted to solve and I spent 9 years trying to kill the idea to not start tailbook and at ah 1 point in time where I saw sort of the stars aligning I thought if I don’t. If I don’t do it I don’t want to regret not having done it and then nothing changes or worse someone else does it and it’s like oh I thought of that but I never did it I didn’t want to be that person that had to live with that kind of regret and so decided to you know to go boat feed in and you know.
Alejandro Cremades: And what was that point. But what what was that point because obviously 9 years you know trying to post the idea away and then it keeps coming and then what was that day where you were like I got to do something here about this but what what happened for you after 9 years to really take action.
Stephany Lapierre: That’s been it greatly.
Stephany Lapierre: So every single customer I work with needed better quality information on their third -party provider it was the biggest blocker for them to making fast and good decision and I saw you know millions to billions of dollars being spent. On goods and services being exchanged by third party providers or suppliers. But also the management of those relationship. You know you talk companies who have thirty thousand to one hundred and fifty thousand suppliers in their vendor master each of those relationship required people to like. A discovery to maybe run an rfp to negotiate to do compliance and do diligence on board that supplier to their system to pay those suppliers to manage the information and what I saw is none of my client had true visibility like they can’t answer basic question and I thought this is such a. Massive investment of you know that’s completely being underutilized and if it could be actually optimized properly. Um, this could represent hundreds of millions of dollars in value and so I work with a company called jenin tech in san francisco and my consulting business was hired to do 2 projects that required I think it was like sixteen weeks of full-time work. So we’re talking about pretty significant mandate and they had no information like I was were trying to find data within the organization and no one had the institutional knowledge you had to go to different functions to put.
Stephany Lapierre: All the pieces together in some cases. The suppliers would tell us of the history with with the company and then I remember in the end we had all these companies coming to pitch and this company had spent about $100000 on their pitch putting all the pieces together to win this significant piece of business. And someone walked in the meeting and said oh we can’t use that supplier because of some compliance issue but no one knew right through the whole process because no one was in that role anymore and I thought this is crazy to me that you know you can’t just have. Visibibility who have we done business with who have we paid who’s delivered value. How can we optimize them better where can we find the alternative like suppliers to help us meet our business objective and and if this idea existed they could have done all of this within hours right? Maybe a couple like days but we’re not talking about months. Um, and so I came back from San Francisco thinking this is a company that’s across Sa Facebook Linkedin Salesforce and they don’t have a solution and so this was sort of the catalyst for me and I start seeing a big transition from on-premise software to cloudbased technology which was key. Um, this was the beginning of big data and also ml ai which I didn’t fully know at the beginning but then became a core component of how we differentiated our tech and so when when all those pieces were starting to come together debatably. We were maybe a bit early but at the same time we learned so much.
Stephany Lapierre: By building different you know, building blocks of the the solution that it gave us a massive leader’s advantage, especially when Covid happened and there was a lot of disruption and supply chain and suddenly people were looking for information and we were a fantastic source of data for ah for you know for the market.
Alejandro Cremades: So how do you guys make money with tearbook for the people that are listening to really understand the business model.
Stephany Lapierre: Oh you know the business model in the early days we could talk for hours of how many crazy things we did ah and and I bootstrapped the first two years um you know in the first two years I was charging a membership feat to suppliers. And I needed $25000 to pay my engineering team and so as long as I I sold 5 membership to suppliers I could I could stay in business now I mean obviously we raise capital but the model had to change because we need to be able to scale and our customers which is large enterprise wanted. Information on all their suppliers not just suppliers who would come in and pay a membership or put populate their information in a profile and so we need to find a way to ingest data faster and so that’s when we start introducing ml and ai to um, gather any information on every b two b company in the world. And so we charge and our models changing. We’re just about to release a new data platform and so um, you know we live a bit in two world. 1 is an application where it’s a platform fee but then we have user licenses because our clients are using our data through an application for specific workflow that solves a specific business problem. And we’re moving to and a platform that is more um, sort of data operation filled with content that our customers can choose information that they need and then they can apply business rule and syndicate high quality consistent data on their third party provider across all their systems and tools. So it could be I tool data lake source to pay.
Stephany Lapierre: Ah, yeah Erps Payment systems compliance systems Third -party risk system even in salesforce to have balance of trade and so our business model has evolved and it’s continued to evolve and this is our levers of how much data our customers want to consume the api call where do they want the data to be syndicated. And we will reintroduce some application but more around again automating and accelerating the process of validating data doing data audits consuming the data more from a less structured sort of more insight-driven. So again, our model will keep evolving but it’s um. It’s really that our product is data the the better the information, the better quality. The information we have on suppliers the more content the more attributes we’re able to cover the more value our customers get and the more use cases they can address based on the data that they’re consuming.
Alejandro Cremades: So you guys say have raised 72000000 and you were alluding to it as to how you were able to get the female investors too. You know to to better on you guys. So how was the journey of of raisingcing money to.
Stephany Lapierre: Well in the beginning was really hard I never raised capital so my my matchbook didn’t need capital I just built it with one customer the time made enough money. But this this business needed. Quite a bit of investment because we were investing in technology and we had to build a tech and and and building a data company. It’s very capital intensive especially in the early days um and so in the beginning when I won six customers I had some really big client. Um, and I went. And I contacted everyone that had an investor title next to them I must have met hundreds of investors and I was asking feedback. But I think generally people were really polite. You know oh you’re too early. You’re too late. You’re this and that. And and it’s until I I start really asking I need constructive feedback I need to be able to to successfully raise capital and it was 1 investor at the beginning who said hey loan ranger you can’t you can’t be doing this on your own and I mean what do you mean is like you need a team. You need to. Complementary skill. You don’t have a tech background you need your tech in house and a cto that knows what they’re doing. Um, it’s not because you’re a female founder. You can’t raise capital. It’s just your risk profiles way too high. You’re on your own. You know you you get a funny accent I’m better now. But at the time I had a pretty strong french canadian accent.
Stephany Lapierre: I was like you haven’t gone to Stanford you don’t have you have not built a tech company before like who are you you know and it’s the you know if an investor will put a bet on you. Plus you have 3 kids what happens if your kids get sick right? like like it’s all you and at the time I I told them I was like but I need capital to hire. The team is like you’ll not. You won’t get capital unless you have the team and that was I was pretty defeated at that moment because I was thinking like how do I attract co-founders or or executive to come and join me. Without being able to pay them and all the stars aligned at the time I was able to find a cto that came with a Ceo that came with a check that had just exited from a company so brought engineers and so that sort of on block that and I was able to go back to investors I had met. And successfully close that first round of institutional capital and this was with standup venture. It was a ah ah fun dedicated to female founder and we were the first investment and and standup ventures. Um, after that the second round still hard because we’re trying to figure out what we were building. We had the technology. We had some customers but. You know you really needed investors that understood what we were building and what I found through my entire journey is that you know I spend a lot of time in the early days convincing investors of what we were building and why other companies like sap or oracle or kupa couldn’t build what we were building.
Stephany Lapierre: Ah, the value of having data that becomes more valuable over time back then was really hard to explain a machine learning saas you know model and um and so what I found is the investors all my investors across my entire journey got the concept within seconds and what was really important. Without making this the headline it was what’s an analogy that an investor can understand and as soon as we start focusing on. We are the Zoom info to the buy side right? like if you look at the the sales and marketing side salesforce became the cloud-based technology with the promise to digitize that data. But it required humans like salesforce doesn’t get good on its own. You need people to maintain the information and salesforce until the Zoom info started to automate the quality of data and once it’s integrated it into salesforce then you could actually get much better outcome from it and so it was the closest analogy that we had that we’re we’re focusing on data. That could syndicate into cloud-based technology to make the technology much more effective and deliver better business outcome and as soon as we made that connection investors got it and got really excited about the potential and it’s those investors that put you know, gave us term sheets and so if I found if I found if I got. Too much into convincing them or answering all these questions versus the investors that like I totally get it this a huge tamp like let’s dive in and and it’s those investors that I focus and I was successful in closing our rounds and then you know post seed extension it all became about metrics and so you know.
Stephany Lapierre: I’ve heard from an investor that investors they they may not know anything about your business. But if you have best- in-class Metrics. They’ll get on a plane to come and meet you and so it became really important that we got best- in-class metrics which we got you know, um series a series B we got preemptive term sheets. Ah, really fortunate at the time to raise capital when we did with really good people and good investors that had you know experience in our space that really believed in the vision and also just good humans which you know it means a lot when you’re going through this crazy journey because there’s no Perfect. There’s no perfect Path. You know if you’re a founder you know. Everyone has their own kind of crazies and we’ve certainly have gone through a lot of different stages of our business and it requires you know investors that and board members that are supportive.
Alejandro Cremades: So obviously you know investment requires vision. So I guess if you were to sleep tonight and you wake up in a world where the vision of thebook is fully realized what does that world look like.
Stephany Lapierre: Every enterprise is I’ve implemented a tibook. Um it generates all the information that they need it. It unifies all the data set to the right supplier and it feeds that through their systems. It’s transformative for organization. It removes an enormous amount of. Operational costs. It brings a lot of efficiency and then they’re able to maximize the investment that they’re making in technology and deliver significant business outcome that it’s you know, driving better margins to mitigating risk and and and not just mitigating risk. But when they are. They’re able to recover. It allows them to hit their esg Target It allows them to be much more sustainable much more competitive and so it’s it’s quite transformative and we see a really big market on the other side on the sell side because of the way that we’re ingesting Data. We’re building some really proprietary data set that are going to be incredibly valuable to the cell side when we hit a certain critical mass and so our view is that our tam continue our gates continue to open as we’re sort of hitting a certain critical mass in one market. But for this to all happen. You know we need to be the gold standard in Data Quality. And be the um you know the the the leader and providing um you know solution for those companies which is all companies to get better quality data more scale and more controlling governance over the data that’s flowing through their systems.
Alejandro Cremades: So obviously we’re talking about the um, we’re talking about the future here. But I want’t talk about the past but doing so with a lens of reflection. So let’s say I was to put you into a time machine and I bring you back in time you know maybe to that moment where you were thinking about starting you know maybe matchbook or or even before you know where you’re like. You know wondering you know maybe I should do something on my own here because you’ve now been at it for a while I mean we’re talking about you know, being a founder you know, obviously it seems you started the first company at 18 but you know for example with Matchbook you got started about sixteen years ago so imagine if I was to take you back. And you have the opportunity of having a chat with that younger self and you’re able to give that younger Stephanie 1 piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.
Stephany Lapierre: I don’t think I would want to because the the naivete of not knowing is what got me into this and the amount of work and how hard the last eight years have been through all the challenges. Um I think I would have scared myself back then if I had known how intense how consuming it would have been with all the ups and downs of building this business and so I think I would have exhausted myself before I even started. But when you go into it with this vision. Ah, you can take 1 challenge at the time and you can digest it process it move on to the next challenge and it becomes more about how fast can you process business challenges because that’s all we do as a business is just you know manage challenges and to get to the next milestone. So. Honestly I think ignorance is a bit of a bliss and I don’t think I would want to tell my old self anything but just you know just I think it and not that I have regrets I have no regrets I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished and I’ve always went to the lens even my early angel investors where I’d say like. You know put don’t put your life savings into my company because we have a 1 % chance of being successful. It’s a big opportunity. It’s a big idea. It was a passion project for me. It was like I wanted to see it through because I I felt it was the right thing that the companies the world needed.
Stephany Lapierre: Um, but it was a long shot and so I’ve always had this lens. This is a long shot. It could not work and so I had to be comfortable with the fact that it could fail. Obviously I have a lot of accountability to my employees or customers or investors. Um I always had sort of this lens that it. Could not be successful and but I’m going to do everything possible to make this company a success I will work my my tail off to make sure it’s a success and that’s the promise I made my early investors. Um, yeah, So anyway I don’t think I would want to tell my old self anything because that person is blissfully ignorant of all the challenges ahead I walk. I would want to keep her hopeful.
Alejandro Cremades: I hear you I hear so so Stephanie for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so yeah.
Stephany Lapierre: I mean I’m ah I’m very active on Linkedin so please connect on Linkedin. It’s Stephanie Wi A Y so that differentiates me um, that’s probably the best place. Obviously we have a website tealbook.com. So if you’re interested in the technology itself. Please reach out to our team. But if you’re a founder if you’re. Ah, strategic if you’re someone that just wants to learn more about the journey have any sort of questions and I don’t have all the answers but when I do enjoy mentoring younger founders. Um, especially female founders and you know what I’ve learned can be helpful and if I can avoid making some expensive mistakes that I’ve made over the years and I went with the with the mindset that I was going to try to reduce the risk and the mistakes by surrounding myself with really smart people and I think I’ve made every possible mistake an entrepreneur autover can makes I don’t know how you avoid it I tried I I failed. Um, because at the end of the day you’re gonna make the decisions that you decide to make but anyway I’m happy to chat anytime if you have some questions. Um, you know, please please dm me on and Linkedin is the best way to get ahold of me.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well hey Stephanie thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today has been an honor to have you with us.
Stephany Lapierre: Well thank you so much and enjoy the holidays.
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