Al Desrochers, iHasta Online Auctions
Tell us about yourself.
I am the youngest of 7. My grandfather and parents are entrepreneurs... it's in my DNA! After a brief stint in University and College, I decided that working for myself was my future. Most of the education that has complimented that decision has come from focused online learning.
Tell us about your business.
We have been building iHasta for a few years but went "live" with our site in September of 2017. Youth Opportunities Unlimited was the first organization to use our DIY platform to create more excitement and engagement around their silent auction. We are available to not-for-profits, businesses and individuals looking to host an auction or a sale for whatever reason suits their needs.
What led you to start this business?
My wife and I, known in our circle as the "Canadian Treasure Hunters", have been buyers and sellers at auctions for close to two decades. That industry hasn't changed much and we decided to make changes that we felt no longer fit in today's world. Buyers do not pay a percentage of their purchase like they would to a traditional auction house, known as a buyer's premium, and sellers pay a low fee to use the platform instead of splitting their profits with a traditional auction house.
As a busy entrepreneur, what do you like to do when you take a break?
We have two boys and they keep us very entertained! When we have some time for a break we like to go camping, play board games or swim in the pool.
What advice would you give to someone starting a small business today?
I highly recommend visiting the Small Business Centre. All the answers to the burning business-related questions can be found there and there are amazing mentoring opportunities. We are proud recipients of a grant facilitated by the SBC and are very grateful to have access to such a great program right here in Middlesex County.
What’s in the future for your business?
Our future is as bright as the sun. We recently partnered with Habitat for Humanity and through that partnership, created another arm to our platform. We are now able to facilitate a buy/sell option in addition to DIY auctions. We continue to invest in the entertainment and social sides of our platform so that non-profits can engage their audiences in a fun way at their events. We are built to be leveraged in Canada and the US.