Jean-Francois Bouchard: The man behind C2

Jean-Francois Bouchard had given up on attending business conferences by the time he decided to create his own.

“Basically at some point I stopped attending business events because I thought they were awfully boring,” he says. “Always set in the same generic venues serving the same plastic chicken and there was a lack of originality”.

The founder and chief-executive of Canadian advertising agency Sid Lee came up with the concept for C2 in partnership with one of Canada’s most famous exports, Cirque du Soleil.

“With Cirque du Soleil as a partner we thought it was possible to do something in a radically different way and something that would truly amount to an experience,” Bouchard says. “Using our background in entertainment and creativity we set ourselves the ambitious goal of completely reinventing the business conference.”

Bouchard says he was prepared to take the risk to fail and the first C2 was held in Montreal in 2012.

“I’m not sure we understood what we were planning for the first year, we just jumped into it in a very naive way,” he says. “Thank God it worked out because it could have been a massive failure. It was basically our first event and we went from knowing nothing about this business to hosting 3000 people in a very progressive setting. It was typical entrepreneurial behaviour to jump in first and then figure out how to swim.”

Bouchard is jumping in again as, after six years in Montreal, C2 will host its first ever international event in Melbourne in October.

Bouchard and his team provided a taster of the main C2 Melbourne event on Friday.

At the preview C2 transformed the large hall in Melbourne’s Convention Centre into a series of ‘eco systems’ with huge cloud like structures filled with mist and pits filled with plastic balls like a children’s play centre for networking with a difference.

Bouchard says the secret to creating an organisation like C2 that swells to a team of 300 and operates with a $10 million budget comes down to identifying the entrepreneurial spirit in others.

“The one thing that is a big learning from all of them is how important it is to surround yourself not just with great people but with other great entrepreneurs,” he says.

“I really believe that companies in this day and age should be led by a collective of entrepreneurs not the heroic lone wolf mystique. The world has become so much more complex so the level of talent that is required in so many fields is staggeriang. When you hit a rough patch you can really survive difficult moments and even emerge stronger when you have a really solid team. For me it is about finding the right people for this entrepreneurial journey.”

{ SOURCE: The Sydney Morning Herald | }