UTM student dominates Canadian finance

Matt Goulart is a UTM student. He has yet to graduate, but he has already become a successful entrepreneur and has been featured in
The Globe and Mail, Google Finance, MSN Finance, TheScore.com. Under30 CEOs, The Boston Globe, AOL News and Mississauga Business Times.
Moreover, Goulart owns BankNerd.ca, one of Canada’s largest financial website, savingforserenity.com, a large North American personal finance website and manages  one of Canada’s largest real estate websites, realtykitchen.com.
At a reader’s suggestion, The Medium sat down with Goulart to discuss his success.

TM: What are you taking at UTM?

MG: I started in the management program but couldn’t hack Economics 101. [It’s a] really interesting course and concepts, but I just couldn’t succeed no matter how hard I tried. I ended up changing programs to history and political science. Crazy eh? Most people would have never assumed I’m a history major.

Is this the path you always wanted to follow?

Actually no, I sort of stumbled upon it. My goal has always been and still is to be a stock broker. I won a stock competition a few years ago and that experience really pushed the whole financial industry to the forefront of my mind. Being actively involved in the financial industry online just made sense to me a year ago. I saw a niche market online; no one was talking about the Canadian banking industry. I’d hear a lot about the UK and the US, but nothing about the Canadian marketplace. It made me frustrated and I figured other consumers were in the same boat. I never thought in the beginning that my site would become the largest Canadian financial website (well, so quickly at least).

You’ve accomplished a lot for someone who hasn’t even graduated from UTM. How much of your success would you attribute to what you learned here?

Everyone says that (“I’ve accomplished a lot”). I actually feel I haven’t accomplished enough! UTM courses actually taught me literally nothing in relation to my business. First year management was very theoretical and my historical studies are actually rather good conversation starters for publications and my arts orientated clients.

Are there any professors, staff or fellow students who inspired you?

Professor Miller, who teaches POL203, and Professor Thornton, who teaches CLA231, are great presenters. I actually stole a couple of their presenting styles. Professor Miller is really nice and really outgoing. She makes the entire lecture a real happy and fun environment. I always try and replicate that in my public speaking engagements. Professor Thornton does this intellectual “pace.” I can’t explain it, but it’s this confident pace and witty comment he adds to his lectures that really lighten up the class. I “stole” these methods of speaking from them.

Jennifer Catallo, who is the head TA for POL208, is another solid presenter, but I stole her essay writing notes (she’s a really hard worker) and gave them to my writers on staff to learn. One of her tactics actually got one of our articles to be published in The Boston Globe and AOL News. Made my client really happy, thanks Jen! Daryl Zahra and Alex Shivraj (students) have also been a huge inspiration to me in helping me when things seem to never work out. They taught me that when one door closes another door will open, if you look up.

What tips would you offer to UTM students about branding themselves?

Make yourself bigger then you actually are. This helped a lot in the beginning. I signed up American Express as a client and they would have never even looked my way if I didn’t come off as a big player. Also, the best advice I can give to entrepreneurs at UofT is focus on relationships. I started with $200 to start my company. I had no marketing budget; instead I focused on developing strong relationships. Those relationships I developed helped a lot. I got better deals, better treatment, and most importantly, I was always asked first before anyone else could have a say. I can credit building relationships as a critical ingredient to my rapid success. Networking is critical to your professional success. If you don’t know many people… start networking.

What is your ultimate professional goal?

People always joke that I’m trying to dominate the online world, and so far every market I’ve entered, I’ve pretty much done it. I’m stuck between a life goal—be a stock broker or continue and grow the successful company I have. In the end, [they are] both professions I love. Maybe I’ll build an online stock brokerage. I’ve already had success going up against Canada’s leading financial institutions. It would be another challenge I’d relish.

How did you get to these positions? What did it take? Or did they knock on your door?

Trial and error. Not many errors, as I don’t tend to make the same mistake twice. I’m also a huge believer in being positive and being positive to others. [That’s] something I had to quickly learn in second year. It’s helped in my daily life and in my professional life.

I was asked by a real estate brokerage to redevelop their website. It was a beautiful website, but it didn’t have any proper solutions to make it a success online. I was then asked by Realtor to develop their site (I also should state I hate developing sites). I was onboard for about six months and was able to generate $75,000 from the site (I saw a fraction of that). I then realized I could make some good money in this. I started being serious about it last year, on April Fool’s Day. It took a lot. I learned a ton. I learned how to optimize content to get people to look at your article (and also get publishers to look at them). I learned how to mingle with the leaders in the online world and I quickly rose up the ranks. I’ve had clients fly me out to do public speeches for their companies. I’ve been called an expert, a guru, a rising star… you name it, I’ve heard it. In the end, I’m just a normal guy who has a strong work ethic and loves what he does. I don’t have an ego, so when clients try flattering me with “guru” and “expert” it doesn’t change me.

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