He used charm, others’ personal tragedies and fake celebrity endorsements. How Christopher LaVoie cast his reality show and reeled in successful entrepreneurs.
When Christopher LaVoie was first approached to be CEO of Lolo Land by the son of the company’s founder, he couldn’t have imagined that the role would lead him to such unexpected and profound personal growth.
“I was just happy to work with my dad. I didn’t really think it would lead to anything like this,” he said.
LaVoie took Lolo Land public when he was just 26 years old. The business grew into $12 million in revenue last year, and its revenue was forecast to be $5.75 million in 2012, according to the company.
LaVoie was on the verge of starting a family when he decided he wanted to step away from the limelight. He joined with his fiancé, Stephanie Fazio, to launch Lolo Land.
They had the support of a couple of friends who, along with two other investors, helped LaVoie pay off his debts. In the end, they had almost $3.5 million to work with — plus a seed round and a $750,000 capital donation from entrepreneur and investor Chris Branson via the Seattle Seahawks.
Fazio, who also works in the tech industry, has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in marketing. She previously worked on product development for a company specializing in business software.
She started working on Lolo Land in March 2010. At first, they made all of their friends feel like celebrities, LaVoie said.
“We made all the people of our friends feel like businesspeople, which is something that people don’t really do.”
After a bit of an odd couple dynamic, he and Fazio developed a relationship based on their common values and ambitions. They bonded over their mutual desire to help people.
LaVoie was inspired by his father’s business, which was founded more than a decade ago by his father, Peter LaVoie.
“He wanted to bring back the notion of family businesses