Lee Piccoli, Chief Executive Officer of Helia Capital, had a talk session with CanadianSME to discuss his inspiration behind starting Helia Capital. He also talked about the biggest challenges that he faced as an entrepreneur and the ways he overcame them.
An entrepreneur for over three decades since founding Fusion Homes in 1999, Lee Piccoli is Chief Executive Officer of Helia Capital. Fusion Homes is a client experience leader and large-volume developer of low- and high-rise residential homes in Southwestern Ontario. Lee grew Fusion Homes from the ground up, steering the company to its current position as a progressive, agile firm with revenue in excess of $200 million.
A strong self-belief pushes Lee, but an honest and transparent approach defines him. Lee is passionate about long-term sustainable growth and, like many entrepreneurs, he is no stranger to putting everything he owns on the line. Largely self-taught, Lee recognizes that every day is an opportunity for growth – professionally and personally — and is currently participating in the YPO/Harvard University President’s Program.
- What was the inspiration behind Helia Capital? What was the deciding factor that made you want to reimagine Fusion Ventures and launch Helia Capital?
As an entrepreneur, the opportunity to achieve what I dream up – whether big or small – is my daily inspiration. Having grown Fusion Homes from an idea to what it is now twenty years later, I just feel I have so much to share with those who are seeking a similar or greater trajectory.
The evolution from Fusion Ventures to Helia Capital is acknowledging my growth in this space. Starting with a couple of great partnerships with some very inspiring entrepreneurs, I realized I not only loved doing this but that my team and I were good at it. We just needed a brand that was representative of this realization and commitment.
- What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an entrepreneur and what strategies did you use to overcome it?
For me, transitioning from an entrepreneurial company to a professionally managed organization. So many key decisions are made during this time that can severely impact your culture, your relationship with the customer, and the perception of your brand.
- Helia Capital has achieved great success since its launch. What would you say are the main aspects that have contributed to the company’s success?
I’m very excited about our value proposition and every time I chat with entrepreneurs, I feel more confident in it. Having a team experienced in the very thing we are advising on, paired with a patient approach, means we can genuinely be there for each of our partners. We also seek out compatible relationships – working with like-minded businesses that see value in balancing people and profit in their decision-making.
- Would you consider yourself an innovative leader? Is innovation a crucial part of your way of leading your employees and doing business?
I would consider myself a passionate leader, with innovative approaches being a by-product of my full commitment to balancing the needs of our people and the business. Being flexible and open to the needs of our employees is necessary when it comes to recruitment and talent retention. By being truly open to your people, you will have no choice but to be innovative in the experience you deliver to them.
- What’s been the biggest impact that COVID-19 has had on the company? How has the global pandemic impacted your business and the way you do business?
In speaking with colleagues from various industries, it seems we all had very similar impacts – accelerating the digitization of our customer experience and flexing on how our employees can work.
In a matter of weeks, we were able to start selling homes online without ever having much of that infrastructure in place to do so. This is something that is beneficial even as restrictions relax, as a growing segment of customers demands a digital homebuying experience.
Before COVID-19, we were a strictly in-office, 8 am-5 pm workplace. During the various lockdowns, we saw how effective a flexible schedule could be. Moving forward, we have kept that flexibility paired with a more limited in-office requirement.
- What advice can you give to your fellow entrepreneurs when it comes to doing business during these challenging times?
I always come back to VUCA and the importance of prioritizing agility and flexibility. Being rigid in increasingly uncertain times will date you quickly and will not allow you to attract and retain talented people. Listening and making timely decisions will continue to be my preferred approach.