Interview with Jérôme Paradis, an optimistic entrepreneur for Montreal

Meet Jérôme Paradis, Co-founder and CTO of Jet Rebellion, the first online platform that automates the operations of private jet brokers and operators. Jérôme is a Montreal-based entrepreneur and technology solution provider who previously co-founded the startup Buyosphere. Jérôme shares with us the highlights of his career path and what motivated him to become a TechAide Leader.

What has led you to develop a technology solution to help the airline industry today?

I have had my own software development company, ParadiVision, since I was a young student. It has allowed me to touch a multitude of industries and domains. That’s what I love about computer science: you always need to learn about the field but you also need to get to know fields as diverse as marketing, advertising, logistics, health, retail, aviation, charities, etc.

I was introduced to the private aviation industry through the needs of a private aircraft operator and charter client around 2005. Over time, through contracts, it allowed me to get to know the industry well and to see the crying need for real time resource availability solutions, but more importantly, to arrive at the “Eureka” moment of imagining what the field really needs to modernize. Around 2014, after Buyosphere, I decided to start a new company with my co-founder and CTO, Andrew Zarrow, to address these needs.

How do you envision technology having a positive impact on our community, both locally and globally?

Technology is an enabler. One of the great technological revolutions of the last decade is that it has given people a greater voice and has better democratized the right to speak. The big challenge is for this voice to be fair and equitable to those who do not have access to technology as well as to not be biased towards those who are better off, who spread hate or who speak louder.

We can all see that more and more injustices are being brought to light and in the end, I believe it will continue to have a significant impact in our communities both locally and globally. There is much to be hopeful about. It makes society aware of the problems of poverty and exclusion and it pushes us to act individually and globally.

In 2020, you became a TechAide Leader to support Centraide’s actions to fight poverty and social exclusion in the Greater Montreal area. What motivated you to take this on?

I consider myself privileged to work in the world of technology and to enjoy working there. I am aware that many people in the Greater Montreal area are not as fortunate as I am and that the need for help is enormous. Governments cannot solve everything and I have always been convinced that it is always more efficient to be close to people to get results and Centraide is acting at this level.

The community’s entrepreneurs have a duty, I believe, to help the less fortunate and excluded by giving back to their fellow man. Society will be better off and all individuals in the community will benefit.

I’m not rolling in money, but I have a good job. I think that if I can give back by becoming a TechAide Leader, many of my colleagues can. You have to set an example and you don’t have to be a millionaire!

Montreal is ranked the happiest city in North America, yet 83,000 children aged 6 to 17 live in poverty in our great city. Do you think we can still make a difference as individuals?

Certainly, I am an optimist by nature. Each person can do their part and give hope.

For example, I know a parent whose child lost a pair of shoes at the local school. The parent thought he had lost them. In reality, the child had given them to a friend who had a pair of shoes with so many holes in them and was walking partially barefoot. The more fortunate parent told the friend he could keep them. It’s little gestures like that that make a difference in the community. When you open your eyes, you realize that there is still a lot to do.

I believe that compulsory schooling for children has been a great revolution in leveling the playing field in society. It is the perfect place to help children in need while not pointing or excluding. I know a high school principal in an underprivileged area and schools are really the pillar that give the tools but also hope to young people with struggling parents.

I believe it is essential to invest in organizations such as Centraide for critical issues. As a society we need to invest more in the primary and secondary education systems and especially without specialized services in the schools and on the ground for children in difficulty.

It is certainly an understatement to say that these are tough times for many people. What is it about Montreal that makes you optimistic and hopeful for the future?

Montreal is a city where communities enjoy coming together. The pandemic has been ruthless in restricting opportunities to gather. With vaccination well underway and a targeted approach to the most affected communities, we can hope that the worst is behind us and that opportunities to mix and enjoy each other’s company will soon return.

The population that lives in the various neighbourhoods is a key factor in the quality of life in Montreal. I believe that many workers will want to be there because it is pleasant to spend time there, whether it is to visit a museum, a park, a restaurant or a festival. The arrival of new pedestrian streets should make the return attractive this summer, until large gatherings become possible again.

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