My story about Gary Lipovetsky was written in 2014. In February, 2018, I’ve got an unexpected call from him; the first words that he said were “Natalia, thank you for your article! I really appreciate it.” … After that I had a great pleasure of meeting Gary for a second time. We talked about what’s happened in his life during those years. Today, I’m pleased and proud to offer the updated version of that article. Some parts are old, some new, but the beginning I’ve left unchanged. Let’s start from it!
Since 2011, I’ve been dreaming of meeting one particular person – an outstanding businessman and self-made multimillionaire whose name has been in the front page in The Globe and Mail, National Post, CBC Television, Financial Post, Toronto Star, The Vancouver Sun and other sources of Canadian mainstream media – Mr. Gary Lipovetsky.
For privacy reasons, there was no information in the newspapers to contact him, but even if it was I would not dare or have the nerve to ask a personality of his caliber to grant a small business owner an interview. Deep inside I was sure to be ignored or rejected.
Three years went by and one day between “People you might know” in LinkedIn, Mr. Lipovetsky’s name appeared. I took a deep breath and pushed the “Invite” button. I was excited and could not believe my eyes when in a day or so after my request I’ve got an answer signed “Gary”.
Gary was not born in privilege, his parents carrying a few suitcases and no savings came from the former Soviet Union looking for a better life in Canada. They could not sell their apartment back home to secure some money before leaving, because in the USSR there was no such a thing like “private property”. Soviet people had everything and nothing: apartments they lived in, factories they worked at, shops they went to buy their groceries and soils they planted their grains on … everything belonged to the “People” but to no one in particular. The only private property they had was their personal stuff.
Gary’s parents had to start their new life from scratch at the time in which Gary was three years old.
And there was another problem – English. The educational system in the Soviet Union was excellent! But maybe for political reasons it did not teach foreign languages. Concerning them, it looked like the system was intentionally designed in such a way that avoided proper teaching of English. Lots of anecdotes were spread around about that. Just one of them:A university student was sent to London to practice his English. Once, he was lost in time on the streets and started asking everybody “How much watch?” Nobody could get what he wanted. Finally, on his “How much watch?” he got an answer: –Two watch! – Such much? – To whom how – Are you also from the Moscow University??!!! In English it would be: – What time is it? – Two o’clock. – So late? – It depends.
Therefore, Gary’s parents showing the same resilience that he will be known for, started to adapt to their new country step by step.
GROWING UP AND ATTENDING UNIVERSITY
Gary was a normal Canadian kid. He grew up in Toronto in the Bathurst and Steeles area, and considered many Israelis and Russians his friends. For him, Canada became his country from the day he landed and he is very proud of that fact.
During those growing years that were sometimes difficult but mostly enjoyable, he fully understood and never forgot how hard his parents had to work to put food on the table.
When the time came to decide what to do after high school, Gary decided to enroll at the University of Western Ontario located in London. His parents enthusiastically approved the idea but were not able to support him financially. But if Gary sees the goal, he is not deterred by any obstacles along the path taken.
To pay for his education, Gary borrowed heavily and ran a business selling children’s toys on street corners in the summer. “I was lucky I was single, didn’t have a family or employees to take care of, I was only responsible for myself”, says Gary.
He graduated in 1996 as a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Western Ontario.
In the following years, Gary held different jobs in order to make a living but his mind was focused in computing, Internet and running his own business.
THE ROAD TO SUCCESS
One day in 1999, his best friend Mike Tulman came to him with an interesting idea to create an online restaurant directory and sell the restaurants’ ads. Together they founded MenuPalace.com.
Their first office was small and located in a poorly maintained dirty building, but it was a start!
Gary went door to door and made lots of cold calls offering restaurants to have their menus, addresses, hours of operation and pictures on MenuPalace.com. “I must have had about 100 contacts before closing my first sale to a small pizza-by-the-slice takeout place for $59 for one year of advertising”, remembers Gary.
He learned on the job how to overcome the rejection, how to build relationship with customers, how to be an entrepreneur, and how to run an internet marketing business.
In a while, MenuPalace had its own sales persons, accountants, programmers, web designers, and customer service representatives. On a smaller scale, but all the departments of a big enterprise were in place. The company moved to its second and then third office – large and bright.
With MenuPalace.com, Gary and Mike had a solid base for their new venture – DealFind.com.
The Toronto-headquartered, Dealfind.com was an overwhelming success: the third largest group buying website in North America with over 300 employees in 100 cities in North America. Gary Lipovetsky and Michael Tulman founded it in 2010, and only a year after, the company secured a $31-million investment from three leading Canadian and global venture-capital investors. “We never actually needed that money, we didn’t look for investors, the investors came to us”, Gary says.
In 2012, Gary and Mike successfully exited both businesses that they co-founded – MenuPalace.com and Dealfind.com.
In September 2013, a new company was born – Bestie.com. Available online as well as for iPhones and Androids, it’s a social shopping community, a unique platform that consists of an online fashion store, cool stuff finder service, virtual mall, and social network.
“Bestie is a social commerce site featuring some of the most popular consumer products and stores in the world. We’re a community of web and mobile shoppers exploring and sharing our amazing product finds. … It’s like going to the mall with your best friend, except now you’re doing it from your computer or phone, and instead of one friend, you’ve brought them all along.” (Bestie.com)
In the Internet slang “Bestie” means “best friend”, and it is really what all is about.
In 2015, Gary became the CEO of the internet media company Providr Inc. The Providr.com website generates over 500,000 unique visitors per month. According to Alexa, its global rank is 172 and 76 in the United States, which is really great.
So far, he has been active in on-line businesses since 1999, almost for 20 years.
Being an extremely successful entrepreneur and having over 14 years of internet marketing experience, Gary is very modest. He never brags about his stunning achievements and honestly thinks he hasn’t done anything outstanding. He believes in hard work and luck, in 50-50 ratio, and considers business common sense to be the main factor of success (at least most of the time). He always says that half of his business accomplishments belong to his long-time partner and best friend Mike.
He is candid, speaks with conviction, tunes into humor easily, shows no signs of arrogance, smiles often, makes eye contact, listens with interest, and immediately puts others at ease. Charisma? He has it!
“One man, one wife, one love through life”
In the interview to National Post about “the one for me”, Gary said: “When your heart tells you its right, you listen, that’s why I proposed after only two and a half months”. And Valeria Lipovetsky, his wife, confessed: “I am truly blessed to have found the love of my life.”
Valeria and Gary Lipovetsky
When Gary speaks about his family and the meaning of love his eyes become brighter and his voice softer. He uses very simple but very meaningful words, like in one of Dean Martin’s songs:
… The wedding bells, one house where lovers dwell
One man, one wife, one love through life
He has two “little kids for the flavour,” two sons. They are a miracle of his life, gifts from above, his pride and joy.
Yes, Valeria was lucky falling in love with a man who happened to be rich.
Yes, a wealthy husband can provide his wife with luxury and comfort.
Yes, when you don’t think about food and rent it’s indisputably easier to follow your passion.
Yes, you can buy a lot of things for money.
But you cannot buy a talent. You cannot learn talent. If you have it, you have it; if you don’t, you don’t. As simple as that. And if tens of thousands of people watch her videos and follow her on Facebook, they cannot be wrong. It’s the most solid proof that Valeria has a talent, the best “evidence” that nobody can buy or tamper with.
Gary adores his wife. She is a beautiful woman, loving partner, caring mother, and at the same time, she is a model and prominent business lady, a YouTube celebrity whose videos generate over 20 million views a month. He is overwhelmed with her success and truly believes that she is one of the best entrepreneurs that he has ever met.
In the definition of the “American Dream” by James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book Epic of America: “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.
Gary Lipovetsky is one more American Dream that has come true.
By Natalia Grytsan