TWO TRUTHS ABOUT ME AND A LIE: I’m planning a trip to climb an active volcano in Congo, I live in a 200 year old house, I never go to bed before midnight. IF I WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND AND COULD TAKE 3 THINGS: My husband Francisco, an iPad, and an ice cold gluten free beer (I assume we have food and water!). PEOPLE OFTEN DESCRIBE ME AS: Adventurous and tenacious
Using the past to build the future
A SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR. Anthony Venus has started so many companies that listing them all would be exhausting. Today, he is the CEO and co-founder of YayPay, an accounts receivable automation software company, but he also founded the investment group Meridian Equity Partners, market research firm Marketshare and consulting firm Strategic Intelligence, which connected local correspondence with international media.
“Unlike my first two businesses where I had my fingerprints all over them, my third was something I didn’t know too much about.” After selling his third company, Anthony forced himself to take a year off. He went scuba diving, he went on safaris, he got engaged and married, and then he got the urge to start another company, leading him to YayPay.
“Starting a business is an expression of yourself. You leave a piece of yourself in the business.” Even though his old businesses were bought out, he left his stamp on the company culture.
“I get a kick out of that, and any entrepreneur could tell you the same.”
THE DIFFERENCES OF CREATING BUSINESSES OVER TIME. What starting a business means to Anthony has changed over time. “In the beginning, it was ‘I can make my mark. I can do something fresh and exciting. Over time, I find that I am now more interested in seeing people join the company and how they develop with it. It’s less of ‘You must do it my way,’ and more of ‘What will they do?’ these days,” he says.
Anthony’s team has helped him grow personally too. “Working with a diverse team has helped me realize that I still hold various biases about people, simply based on my perceptions of where they are from.” Fielding a team that is diverse in not just gender and sexuality but also politically has allowed him to check his biases, challenge them and be open to opportunity.
And championing radical honesty and transparency is a manifestation of Anthony’s journey as an entrepreneur over time. “Looking back 20 years ago, I experienced a lot of discrimination for being myself, and there had been open hostility... I don’t want others to have to experience that. I see it as my duty to keep pushing forward on championing progress. In hindsight, there were people before me who had it much harder than me, and I hope others after me will keep doing the same.”
Anthony jokes that in this day and age, being gay is the least interesting thing about him.
“I’m at a stage where I’m comfortable with being gay, but that hasn’t always been the case for me and many other gay people,” he says. Part of that had to do with the lack of representation of successful gay people out there, he explains.
Life always looks clearer in retrospect, but taking the punches and bruises that come with it is sometimes the only way through, Anthony says. “Other people will be struggling with their identities alongside you too. Maybe it’s not about sexuality, but other insecurities. But when you reach out and help each other through, even if we all end up in different places, hopefully we end up in a good place at the end of this.”