BOARD OF DIRECTORS & executive officer
PIERRE GAUTHIER – FOUNDER, DIRECTOR
In the last 20 years Pierre Gauthier has been involved in raising over $500 Million dollars of financing in various projects . As founding shareholder and responsible for completing the Initial Public Offerings for various companies, Pierre has had a focus on financing innovation and disruptive technologies in artificial intelligence, entertainment and mining industries. Mr. Gauthier’s attributes and skills include financial literacy, managerial experience in addition to the knowledge obtained through his service as a director of multiple public and private corporations. After graduating with an MBA, he worked as an investment banker and became involved in corporate finance, institutional sales ( as manager ) and research ( as director ) .
RICHARD GROOME – EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN
Richard Groome is Managing Partner of Notre-Dame Capital Inc., a Montreal-based merchant bank , formerly licensed as an Exempt Market Dealer. His expertise is in the financing of small and mid-size emerging growth companies. Mr. Groome was a co-founder and founder of two different securities firms that specialized in the financing of small and mid-sized companies in technology, biotechnology and consumer products. Having been involved in the formation and capital raising for some 600 companies raising over $4 Billion, Mr. Groome is a seasoned veteran in the governance, structure and financing of early stage companies. With a BA in Economics from McGill University, Mr. Groome has actively participated on the board of several public and private companies. He was a member of the Board of the CDNX until 2001 and member of the National Advisory Committee of the TSX Venture Exchange until 2004.
MICHEL ZGARKA – PRESIDENT & CEO
Michel Zgarka is an experienced executive with a successful career of over 35 years in the productions, communications, marketing, financial engineering and business development fields. He is highly skilled in strategic and creative planning, marketing and personnel management for the media industry. Mr. Zgarka has produced, directed and distributed numerous film and television productions for the international marketplace, including “GUMMYBAR” which garnered over 6 billion views on YouTube. He has been a guest speaker at over 50 international entertainment industries events as well as the Delegate general of the Montreal Israeli Film Festival whose celebrating its 13th year anniversary in 2018. He is persuasive and possesses excellent communication skills that help build strong relationships. He is a rigorous and creative strategist with a proven track record of achieving and surpassing corporate objectives. Mr. Zgarka holds a B. ED. (McGill University), B.A. (Concordia University) & a Master in International Communications (University of Nice).
PETER RAFELSON – BOARD MEMBER
With a strong background in Media and Technology, Rafelson began his career writing and producing with notable success in the Entertainment industry. Creating over thirty #1 hits and selling over 300 Million copies for such artists as Madonna, Elton John and Britney Spears, he grew his business into an international reach and presence, developing diplomatic and strategic relationships. As an advisor, Peter focused on developing and managing International business opportunities. He has spent the last 25 years consulting and providing strategic business development services to a large variety of international Media and Technologies companies, helping to establish diplomatic ties to international markets, worldwide. With extensive experience in legal contracting and business development, Rafelson currently serves as presiding at co-founded ElectraCast Media and Interglobal Trade Group with satellite offices throughout Asia EU and the Middle-East. Rafelson manages online PaaS, DigiRAMP which provides administrative solutions for the entire digital content supply chain. He also is a co-owner of The US Blockchain Company, which serves the industry of fintech, crypto and blockchain development.
TODD RUPPERT - BOARD MEMBER
R. Todd Ruppert is CEO of Ruppert International, a firm with diversified interests globally in various fields including education, financial services, disruptive technologies, publishing, arts and entertainment, and strategy consulting. He is a member of numerous for profit and non-profit boards around the globe including INSEAD Business School and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Todd has over 40 years of experience in the financial services industry. He retired from T. Rowe Price, the global asset management firm with over $1.0 trillion under management, where he was CEO and president of T. Rowe Price Global Investment Services and co-president of T. Rowe Price International. He is a venture partner at Greenspring Associates, a $12 billion venture capital firm, and advisor to other firms in the financial services industry. He is the executive producer of four films.
J.F.ROBERT BOLDUC – BOARD MEMBER
J.F. Robert Bolduc was the co-founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Matol Botanical International Ltd. between 1984 and 2005. Mr. Bolduc occupied the position of Chairman of the Multi-Level Marketing Association and served for years on the Board of Directors of the Direct Sellers Association both in the US and Canada. Mr. Bolduc is also a graduate of the Advanced Management Program from the prestigious Harvard Business School and was the President of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Montreal, Canada. Mr. Bolduc was honoured by making the cover/front page of the Quebec Enterprise magazine, a Canadian Entrepreneurial Business Magazine reviewing of the Direct Sales Home Based Business Industry, also featuring Avon and Party Light, both billion dollar companies.
AKON - BOARD MEMBER
Grammy-nominated R&B and hip-hop artist who gained prominence with the song "Locked Up" and his debut album Trouble. He has collaborated on numerous #1 hits. Mixing smooth R&B vocals with hip-hop grooves, Senegalese-American singer, producer, and entrepreneur Akon first gained fame with the single "Locked Up," from his 2004 debut album, Trouble. A Top Ten hit in the U.S. and U.K., the song helped Troublego platinum, a certification achieved several times over on subsequent albums including 2006's Konvicted and 2008's Freedom. Along with his music, Akon founded his own Konvict label, helping launch the careers of artists including T-Pain, Lady Gaga and Kardinal Offishiall.
JON KARAS - BOARD MEMBER
Jon Karas is an established globally focused Entertainment, Finance and Technology industry entrepreneur. M. Karas is the business partner of global music superstar, social impact leader, innovator and philanthropist Akon and co-founded and runs Akon Legacy Ventures which has businesses in renewable energy, technology, agriculture, mining, film and television, and smart cities. He is the President and Co-Founder of innovative Blockchain Platform Akoin with Akon and Lynn Liss. M. Karas is a partner in Strawberry Pictures with producers Michael Uslan (BATMAN-DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY, LEGO MOVIE, NATIONAL TREASURE) and his prolific producer son David Uslan focused on global production and financing opportunities that capitalize on their collective relationships in Asia. M. Karas formed Institutional Media Investments with Caspar von Winterfeldt in 2010, raising capital and serving in an advisory capacity to a number of technology companies, media companies and film funds, as well as founded Infinity Management International in 1990. M. Karas has a background in corporate and entertainment law in New York at Dreyer & Traub (1984-86) and Robinson, Silverman (1986-87) focusing on capital formation, investment banking and securities transactions. M. Karas graduated cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law and received a Masters degree in Corporate Finance from NYU Law School. M. Karas also studied International Law and Finance at St. Edmunds Hall, Oxford University, and was a theatre major while getting his Bachelor’s degree at Vassar College.
XAVIER GAUTHIER – SVP A&R
Xavier Gauthier aka ZEEKY, since the beginning of his career the artist, A&R and CEO, has always played all roles. With guidance from multi-platinum selling Artist/Philanthropist Akon and Rap Mogul Master P, he started his independent record label ZEEKY ENT in 2015. Xavier has all the while been doing A&R work for music Tech company HITLAB for the past 10 years. The talent recruitment company has since partnered up with the likes of The Grammys, the Red Sox amongst others and It has also been featured on FORBES, ZEEKY ENT went on to discover and sign rapper Sahbabii and released “SANDAS” The tape Featuring the smash hit ''Pull Up Wit Ah Stick’. His latest label venture is the renown ATL Artist & Producer Kc Da Beatmonster who collaborated with the likes of; Migos, Future, Young Thug, Young Dolph DJ Scream and many more. The Montreal R&B/Hip-hop fashion-focused singer/song-writer and CEO formerly known as XAV, then Xav Zeeky and now ZEEKY has managed to keep dropping bodies of work, discover superstars and keep an avant-garde business mindset throughout.
JULIA KASTNER - CHIEF MARKETING & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
Julia Kastner is a finance graduate from McGill University with deep knowledge of the music industry. Her role as Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Hitlab merges her unique capabilities of creating marketing and selling strategies with executing her B2B and B2C outreach initiatives. She is consistently monitoring the day-to-day pulse of the music and streaming industry analytics, in addition to the strategies in play by important and evolving market players. Julia came from a background working as a financial analyst at a New York hedge fund. Her deep analytical skills and financial analysis were used by portfolio managers and traders for real-time investment decisions in local and international markets. Julia also worked as the Operations Coordinator for Halcyon Brands (Furla) acting as the interface between Italian offices and North American centers as they opened and operated new retail locations across Canada.
MARIJA ZIVKOVIC – CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER
Marija Zivkovic is an experienced marketing professional with previous job positions in both private and public sectors. She has seven years of work experience for Deutsche Telekom, the leading European telecommunication provider. She currently works as a consultant in the area of Communications and Investor Relations for several Montreal based companies. Ms. Zivkovic held positions in Corporate Strategy and Business Development, Marketing Communications, PR & Corporate Communications and CSR (Donation and Sponsorship).
YSÉ BRISSON – SENIOR EUROPEAN REGIONAL MANAGER
Ysé Brisson is a media & entertainment expert for more than a decade, experienced in building business ecosystems based on a strategic communications plan and a good data organization. She is a skilled leader who knows how to identify the market trends and how to attract new talents. With a specific knowledge of the film industry and an international network, she has served as a consultant in numerous TV programs and feature films for different groups and various broadcasting companies such as Panini media, Endemol group, Vision Film, XII Tribes Entertainment, Lionsgate or Casablanca. Founder of the FDFC women rights film festival in Paris, Ysé is promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women in the media industry. For the last years she established herself as advocate for ESG and is recognized internationally. Through GEMM, a fund management company, she created a new label to ensure that both women and diversity will be respected during a movie making process. At the moment Ysé is collaborating with - VR 4 GOOD, a startup that provides immersive healing films for hospitals and retirement homes in order to reduce pain, anxiety and isolation; and - HITLAB, a digital media company that is revolutionizing the music industry by using a very innovative AI software.
NATHALIE CHOQUETTE – LATAM REGIONAL MANAGER
Nathalie has 25+ years of experience in communication, film and television in Colombia, Canada and the US for channels such as HGTV, Discovery Channel, Discovery Kids and Telepacífico. Her work experience in Colombian cinema includes representative films such as “Dr. Alemán”, as location manager, and as head of production for “Todos Tus Muertos” and “Porfirio”. She was associate producer and post-production supervisor for the film “180 Seconds”, and production manager for “Tiempo Perdido”, among other international co-productions with Spain, Puerto Rico and the United States. At the end of 2017, she produced the documentary “Reconocer” directed by Ángela Gómez, winner of the Cali 2017 Documentary Production Grant. She also has complementary studies in writing and directing at the San Antonio de los Baños School. In 2020, she worked as an associate producer of the documentary for BBC London: Killing Escobar. She has been the CEO of Rolling Productions since 2015.
TECHNOLOGy, R&D & advisors
CHARBEL KHAWAND - PROJECT MANAGER
Charbel has been with Hitlab since 2014, also presently a teacher of computer science, with an educational and professional background in software development and project management and more than 15 years of experience. Charbel plays a role in planning and coordinating the work between the business and R&D teams. After completing studies in computer science and project management, Charbel worked as a software engineer and then project manager on a variety of software projects some of which are large scale and governmental projects including AI Algorithms, online media, websites, intranets and mobile apps.
SÉBASTIEN LANG - DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
With over 12+ years in software development, Sébastien has acquire great technical skills as of team lead for many web applications. He is the bridge between the product and the technology teams. Considered as full stack backend developer, he can be part of every strategic or tactical decisions. Very efficient at problem solving, he's the go to guy to help sort things out.
NIXA - TECHNOLOGY ADVISOR
Nixa is a web development firm, focusing on complex and challenging projects as well as failing projects takeover (with risk management). We serve the best digital agencies and software companies that need help and extra capacity with their daily programming, infrastructure or UX / UI design. Nixa innovates by developing practical solutions in order to accelerate your web project’s development process. We’ve built our brand on quick execution, impeccable customer service, and transparency. Not only are the tools we build and use brilliant, our team is too – featuring an impressive roster of the most creative and respected programmers, designers, developers and strategic partners in the industry. We hire geniuses, and that's why with us on your side; all of your projects will succeed. Our mission is to fast-track agencies' web projects by giving them the tools they need for high-quality development. We focus on sales growth and on optimizing every project's return on investment.