Sometimes, you just have to dive into the deep end and figure things out on the way. Negotiation requires flexibility and a willingness to test ideas and figure out what can work for all parties involved. In this episode, Christine McKay interviews Andre Champagnean entrepreneur, international business executive, and inventor, who talks about taking risks and finding success. Andre shares his journey in the film industry and as an inventor. He talks about the importance of negotiating from abundance versus scarcity and why believing in yourself matters so much at the negotiation table  

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Inventing Opportunities and Negotiating for Success with Andre Champagne

We are joined by Andre ChampagneHe has quite the background. He is an entrepreneur, accomplished speaker, inventor and international business executive who brings many years of expertise in the environmentallyfriendly transportation and logistics sectors. He works at Blue Duck Micromobility, where he is responsible for all the design, innovation and technical aspects of the fleet of electric scooters and eBikes. He is also responsible for manufacturing and supply chain logistics. He’s focused on creating the most advanced commercialgrade, modular scooters and electric bicycles in the global market. 

He also has numerous patents. He is part of the Young Presidents Organization. He sits on the board of the Southeast LA American Red Cross and he is over the top with entrepreneurs’ awards. He had a business called Hollywood Trucks that he just sold that serviced the entertainment industry. He’s got a movie coming out that’s being launched in TorontoAndre is a Renaissance guy and he has some great negotiation stories, tips and tools that we’re going to be able to talk about. Andre, thank you so much for being here with me and with our audience. I appreciate you taking the time to do that. 

It means a lot. It’s an honor. 

Tell us a little bit about how you ended up on this journey. Tell us a little more about the journey that’s taking you from where you grew up to where you’re at now? 

The opportunity exists where you seek it. Click To Tweet

I was born and raised in Louisianain a small town called Napoleonville which is about 300 residents. I went to high school there, graduated and attended Louisiana State University. I was fortunate to be raised by my grandfather, grandmother and my mom who were all educators. Watching television, interestingly enough, since I work in it now at times or something that wasn’t even on the desktop. We read books all day. I was going into studying at LSU. I was going to be the good family doctor, go down to the novel route. While I was going through it, it was something that I wasn’t passionate about. I didn’t enjoy it. I ended up graduating and I was going to go down the medical school route. 

That entire process was taking place and aone point, I just stopped. I remember, I drove home. I was doing volunteer hours at a local hospital. I drove home and I told my mom and my grandfather, I cannot do this. He said, You probably want to think about that before you go down to this whole biochem route.” I said, Okay.” In retrospect, we can go back to those things but I said, “I want to go to California. I want to understand because you guys have always taught me intellectual property. At that time, books and stuffwe didn’t watch TV. We read everything. I said, I want to go and see it. 

The first time, I was fascinated because when I learned that a piece of IP, a script, a book, a novel or an article became what you saw on television, I was absolutely blown away. I didn’t understand the process. I wanted to know more about it. I bought a little car and I knew no one in Los Angeles. I drove to LA, I rented a little onebedroom apartment. I had about $1,600. I said, I’ve got to find a job, first and foremost. I have to find a place to live. I went through that whole process like many people who venture out, take a risk and have no idea what they’re going to do. 

I pointblank drove to Los Angeles with no idea. I knew it was going to be something that is in entertainment. What happened is I got a job as an intern at a studio and I began working through that process. I got promoted and was asked by the head of creative development at another film company. Learning that, I was able to grasp the ins and outs like you’d call it in front and behind the camera, left the camera, right at the table, every side from the business side as well as the creative. During that process, I began to learn more and more about it. I was in California for four yearsLouisiana state had passed a tax credit program for film and television and this was in late 2007. 

I was asked to come back, look at a governmental role there and see if it was something that I was interested in. I’m bringing projects back to the state, producing them in the state or any form of fashion. flew back to Louisiana and started helping the local government write the draft and become instrumental in the legislation. It ended up passing which is a great program. It bought a substantial amount of economic development. What happened was the state asked, “We’ve got this brand-new program. Do you have any productions or is there anyone you can bring to work through it? This sounds quite interesting but that’s how the transportation company began. 

There was a film that was coming in. I was asked to help produce it and while producing that film, there was no infrastructure at all in the state. We had a fantastic tax credit program but yet soundstages, trucks and cameras. There was no business or no infrastructure yet. I was producing the film with a couple of friends and we were looking for vans and trucks everywhere. We couldn’t find them. We went to a local business partner. I asked if he could help us buy five vans. What happened was we bought five vans and two trucks and that became Hollywood Trucks. The name came from the simple fact that it’s what everyone called them in Louisiana because they were the big white film trucks. 

My thought was, “Let me see if I can get that name.” Long story short, that took four years of being rejected by the trademark office but I was relentless. finally got itThe company started. We had five vehicles, five trucks, a couple of vans, a couple of what they call state beds and they were rented for the entire year. I sat there with my business partner at that time and I said, “This could be a viable business. It’s not exactly what I was interested in or thought about but this seems it can be profitable. We bought a couple of more trucks and the company grew from what was supposed to be a side job, day job, mailbox money or whatever people turn it into a fulltime job. 

When we started it, it was only two of us working 24/7. We grew it. The first year, we went from 5 vehicles to around 75. The next year, 150. We brought in new investors, 250, 350 and over the period of about 6 or years, we grew from 2 employees to 25 to 30 with multiple offices in the Southeastern US and iLondon. The business grew cohesively with the program but it was an unbelievable experience. It took my life path down a different area and it led to where I am now which is still in the transportation sector after having sold the Hollywood Trucks. 

That is an incredible story. I love hearing those stories because, over the course of that, they talked about a few things in there. One of the things that you talked about was this wasn’t necessarily in your plan. This was not like you had this biggrand life plan to go into the transportation industry and support the film industry. In negotiation, one of the hallmarks of good negotiators is being able to be flexible to see opportunities when they present themselves. How has that skillset that you clearly developed as you were building Hollywood Trucks and decided to go into it served you over the course of your career as you sold Hollywood Trucks and in the work, you’re doing now? 

I had great mentors along the way. That was something that is unbelievably important to give back. I was always taught opportunity exists where you seek it and find it. It’s everywhere. You can look at the grass. They say the grass is greener on the other side. It’s not. The grass is greener when you water it. You sit there and you look at what’s in front of you. I‘m always thinking about solutions. Reality is what it is. One of the things that I found interesting about Hollywood Trucks is I had no business experience at all. I would miss class all the time at LSU. There was a Barnes Noble and I would go and sit at Barnes Noble all day and read any single book that I was fascinated by it. 

I tried to start 2 or 3 little companies even in college that obviously failed miserably. I didn’t understand the structures. I had no idea what I was doingThat led to reading books about the corporate structures, LLCs, S-Corps, C-Corps, and things that were vastly different from the standard biochem. What was great was my mentors always said, Formal education earns you a living. Self-education will earn you a fortune. Those are the things that I wanted to know everything. II wanted to start a business, I read so many books on the actual businesses and the tax structures. 

This was before I even had oneThat came in and I think about it all the time because when Hollywood Trucks was formed first and foremost and I love to talk about all the ways that I failed and I didn’t know. These are the things that I wish a lot of the successful people or any of the mentors that we look at now would talk about because it’s the things that I related to where I have no idea how to form this structure. I have no idea to pull out this line of credit or anything. When Hollywood Trucks was formed, I had a local investor come and ask that wanted to invest in the company. 

had no idea how to value it. The company had only been open for six months but run $300,000 in revenue through it, at top maybe. He asked to buy 40% of it and asked for me to give him a price. I came up with a formula on the stock price that I asked him for it because I asked him for a material amount. I asked him for $1.5 million in cash in a $10 million line of credit. The company was six months, whad $300,000 and that was for 40%. He’s a wonderful guy and I still am great friends with him now. When I presented it to him, being a great guy he is, he said, Can you give me the formulas or the thought process on how you derive this and let’s discuss it? 

Supply Chain Negotiations: Don’t just sit there and look at what’s in front of you; rather, always think about the solution.


I did and that’s exactly what I got $1.5 million and $10 millionfacility. I walked him through the explanations and the way we did it, which was at that time, I had no idea and I was just going, I hope this works. We devised a formula at a threeyearperiod in which that amount of equity that he had bought at that date could become a convertible note. It was derived by a formula that if the stock price was worth more than $1.5 million, he paid cash. If it wasn’t, it was a note. Interestingly enough, it worked out almost perfectly. It came out to be worth $1.55 million. That was one of my first negotiations in business. I was fortunate lucky that it worked. 

One of the things that I talk a lot about when I do public speaking and I‘m training on negotiation is how important it is to have clarity in what it is that we want out of the negotiation and also then to take and say, once you know that and you’ve prioritized it for yourself, is it doable for your counterpart? If you ask some of your counterpart that’s completely not doable and you have no logic behind itthen you’re almost certain not to get itI know we’ve got some venture capitalists who are reading, private equity people, finance people, and they’re all whiz-bangs at doing all this valuation stuff. 

This is an area that’s foreign to most small companies. How did you come up with the assumptions that you use to get in the formula? The reason why I ask is because we often treat price as an output, that’s an outcome but the price is more often an output based on the assumptions that go into it. Instead of negotiating price, negotiate the assumptions. What I like about that story is that your partner asked you, “Walk me through the math. Help me understand the assumptions. How did you come to those? 

You’d say a hybrid of some structured EBITDA numbers versus potential sales. It was a little bit of idle speculation combined with real business acumen. I consulted a couple of people on some of the actual business acumen side, the financial side. In reword, we were using tangible assets. There were some mathematical and computational areas that I could base off of that I knew any investor would understand and can relate to. There was the other 50% side of pure sales, I‘m going to do this. You have to believe this. I give you my word and here’s the formula why. If it doesn’t work, this is what we owe you. For us, the film and television industry and transportation respectively had been around for many years. 

I wouldn’t say there were comps but there were at least metrics you could look at. You can look at the total production and you could back into some of those but mostly had an explosive market. At that time, Louisiana had passed the program and with the supply and demand, we couldn’t even come close to supplying for the demand. Those were some of the key factors that took place that all of those together in concomitant fashion literally led to, I‘m with you, let’s do this. Let’s give it a shot. What’s important to note is anytime you’re looking for strategic investment, look at those that can benefit vertically. 

My partner happened to be a car dealership expert and owned multiple dealershipsThat was one of the real great incentivized areas for him. It’s because, “I‘m going to buy the trucks from you, but I want fleet pricing, service and maintenance contracts that are at fleet rates,” and all of these things. It was another dual benefit. Looking at it as, I‘m going to put $1.5 million cash into this business that I have no idea if this is going to work.” No one in the state knew it. However, he’s going to buy 80% of the vehicles from me so that seems to workEven now, anytime that I talk to anyone looking at a company or investment is, look for those individuals first and foremost that there is some form of substantial dual benefit to them as well and at least facilitate the conversation being easier or give a greater know to the investment potentially happening. 

I know whave a lot of finance people whose reading but also, for those of you who don’t know what EBITDA is, it’s Earnings Before Interest Tax, Depreciation and Amortization. I want to make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of the acronym. This is such a great story on so many levels. One of the things I like about it is that you’re highlighting critical teaching points along the way and one of them is about how you look at a counterpart. One of the things that we do is we’ve created a quiz for people to learn their default negotiation style. 

If somebody wants to, text, VENN, to 26786they can take the quiz and figure it out. There are two styles of negotiation. One is a champion and one is a maverick. They tend to be very focused on the win right now for them. The challenge for those two styles is they don’t often and don’t naturally look to say, “II get this, what does it mean for my counterpart? How can I position my ask in a way that is mutually beneficial to my counterpart? I love what you shared because it highlights the importance of understanding what that mutual benefit is. Let’s be honest, you generated $300,000 in revenue in six months. That could’ve been a fluke. 

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It’s a benefit that you had been part of developing the legislation that got passed so you were intimately familiar with certain aspects of the conversation across at least the state government. Being able to leverage that and figuring out, not many people would be confident enough in where they were at after six months and $300,000 in revenue to go ask somebody for $1.5 million in cash investment and $10 million a line of credit. Tell me a little bit about the negotiation that you had to have with yourself to get yourself to the point where you were willing to ask for that because that’s the hardest part of any negotiation. It’s the negotiation we have between our ears. To have that ask, it says a lot about what you believed about what you were asking in and of itself internally. 

You have to believe it. It has to begin right there. If you do not believe it and you do not at the mindset of, “I‘m willing to risk everything, it’s not the right business. That’s the way I’ve always viewed it. Once I took and subscribe to, I can do this. I‘m learning these vehicles. I saw so many opportunities with it. It was unbelievable because again, it was an archaic business. I was looking very far down the line of, “Once I get this capital and get going, this is where I‘m going to expand to. There’s not a single franchise model, film and transportation ever in history. 

There’s no environmentally friendly. I was so excited that if I had to say there was one Achilles’ heel through the process is I was always taught to protect your enthusiasm. At times, I would get so excited and above it I was like, I’ve got to take a beat back and combine the mathematical parts with it with the excitement and that will work. You have to believe in what you’re going out and ask them forWhen I came up with that formula, I had no idea whether it was going to be fantastic or be terrible. Anyone going into starting their own company, you have to think about two things. We’re talking about the vertical integration of your partner. Number one, if it’s a small business, the person investing into the business, they’re going to be close to you. It’s almost they’re coming into your family. 

You want to create substantial value for them. Let’s say hypothetically, in a worstcase scenario, they’ve invested into your company because it’s vertically aligned and ithat instance, I had bought 75 vehicles from this one dealership in one calendar year. After they invested in my company, that year wasn’t a great year for their dealership and that investment chain and turned it around for himObviously, the first 2 and years of the business is very hard to earn that profit. 

Supply Chain Negotiations: A formal educational or annual living self-education will earn you a fortune.

Even though they had invested in my company and at that time we were still growing, it’s still at the embryonic stages, we had no idea where it would eventually go, but it helped their dealership. The relationship that you have with your investor is very important especially the smaller entity whether it’s a small closely held LLC or you’re endgoal is IPO. You have to always think about who is coming into your company, what’s your relationship with them and you always want to keep it the best possible. Generate as much happiness for them as possible in different facets. Ultimately, they’ll continue to reinvest. 

You hit on something that I want to move to because when people start their companies, they get so excited about their company. They fall in love with their idea which can create its own issues but they don’t plan an exit. It’s unlikely that most people are going to run their business until they die or want to run their business until they dieThere’s going to come to some point in time when life is going to change for them. They’re going to want to have a different relationship with the business or no relationship at all. At what point did you start to develop your exit strategy? What did you envision as your exit strategy? How did that unfold when you did exit Hollywood Trucks? 

To be quite frank, when we decided to sell the company, it wasn’t on the plan for the year. It wasn’t on the agenda yet. We were still growing. What happened was we were being asked because we had developed some products and the offerings that were now patented and in the vanguard of an entire movement of cleantech like an electric car. The eco electric trailers that we developed were the first of their kind. It’s essentially an off-grid RV. What happened was there was a real big warrant for those products outside of film and television. 

We were looking at the inside of film and television as well. We were deciding, in order for us to go to the next phase of growth, it’s going to require at least a strong eightfigure investment or even up to ninefigures to scale into what we saw as a global company or something of significant value. During that process, a couple of the companies that were looking at the investment looked at it in a different perspective and said, “We would like to discuss an acquisition. That’s how that came about. It wasn’t on the agenda. 

I want anyone to know and understand as well. There are going to be things that come out of left field that you’re not prepared for or you thought was going to be something like 2, 3, 5, or 10 years down the line and you’re going to have to weigh the pluses and minuses. What I always begin with is how do you create value for your investors? That’s the primary focus also. Many people don’t even look at payback schedules or anything. My goal and focus is to get them paid off as soon as possible and they’re going to be happy. 

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That’s always something that I’ve looked at and want to create value for them. This came completely out of left field. Ultimately, we had an excellent plan down the line and we had tapped into something that was taking the company on a pivot. I wouldn’t say away from film and television but into many other real, new, fascinating silos of business which dealt all the way from disaster relief. If you think about it, when you have a mobile asset that you can play anywhere in the world, iruns with full HVAC for film and television and any of the amenities that you want. For extensive and unknown periods of time, these multiple silos of business, you can now begin to look at. As I said, we were looking at the private sector, defense contracts and standard RV market. Film and television happened to be one that we were involved in at that time. It was taking the company. It’s a whole different perspective and that led to the differentiation of what we decided to sell and retain. 

Tell us a little bit about that because you sold part of it but you did retain some aspects of it. 

We sold all of the film and television assets. The actual tangible trucks and trailers to another company that was involved in the film and television business. It was a benefit for them as well. They could gain in multiple areas. We were by far and major competitor for them so they could take some of that out of it. They can also utilize the assets immediately because we were a recognizable brand and they were readily available. A lot of these are specialized units so it takes time to build them. They didn’t have to go through any of the weight factors. Those were two benefits for them. The benefits for us was we will sell the tangible assets but we’ll retain all the intellectual propertyWe had a holding company that held the different entities in different states along with the intellectual property. We maintained ownership of all of those and the IP, the patents, trademarks, copyrights and all of those. 

Now, you’re doing this new thingThe patents you developed that you hold and all that, now it’s parlayed you into this new area around eBikes and scootersHow are some of the things that you did and learned from a negotiation perspective over the course of Hollywood Trucks translating into the work that you’re doing now? 

Unbelievably well and absolutely an important factor. When I was growing Hollywood Trucks, I became involved in cleantech, wanted to take trips across the world and saw how important it is for us to be environmentally conscious. Even moreover my own company and how I could differentiate that from others. Those patents took seven years of my life to develop. We spent $4.6 million on R&D and building trailers that didn’t work but still had to work. The amount of knowledge that I went through in that period was the greatest accomplishment of my own intellect in that time period. There are many different factors that came into building those units. 

We talked about from manufacturing, techall the way and every single part. I wrote half of the formulas. I was intimately involved in every part. What happened was during that process, you become an expert in Cleantech transportationEven though they’re in different classifications, they’re all going towards the same goal of being a clean manner of moving someone from point A to point B. When I was building those units, I was always fascinated. I live in Venice, California in Los Angeles. When the birth of the micromobility industry began in early 2017, the first couple of scooters were placed right around my house. At that time, I thought that’s smart. 

That’s an interesting business model. It’s a rental fleet and that‘s what I was coming out of. It’s purported as a cleantech rental fleetThe Hollywood Trucks is sold in 2019. I was monitoring it in 17, 18, and 19 and I’m looking at how can I bring these eBikes and scooters into my own company. began to study those units more over the two years. got to the point where once the company was sold in 2019, I was at a point where I was so ready to go on that part of my next career because I saw this is an explosive industry.  

I have to get involved in this. I have to become a part of this. I know this like the back of my hand including the assets and the bikes. I can see where they‘re getting some of these areas right and I can see where they’re missing some of the major opportunitiesHollywood Trucks closed on a Friday and bthat time, I have not only in my mind solidified the fact that it’s the industry I was going to go into, I was already looking at different companies that I would want to work with. Bring the knowledge and input that I had into their hardware development specifically at a very specific focus. At the core of those businesses, their rental businesses, their fleets and you’ve got a point of sale. However, the hardware side was something that I saw. 

While they’re putting these scooters and bikes into the public sector for everyone to useyet these are coming off the shelf. The useful life of them is what we found historically was only about 30 days. I can go into the depths of those business models, where I see great attributes and substantial areas for movement. All of the knowledge, life lessons, negotiation, tactics, skills and understandings, I also learned, “II‘m going to start a company in micromobility or even if I‘m going to join one, I understand the structures better. Not only to negotiate my own deal but also to be able to bring value to whatever company I joined in the growth stage. 

Supply Chain Negotiations: Generate as much happiness as possible for your investors in different facets, and ultimately, they’ll continue to reinvest.


Whether it’s a seed round or series A, B, C or whatever it might beI knew that having a great and sophisticated understanding of it over the years, from trials and tribulations. A lot of it is reading books and learning from very sophisticated investors and corporate financial structures but it came to the point where I‘m asked the knowledge that I felt was functional working and I could bring value to the company across multiple platforms. That’s how we got to micromobility. 

What do you see are some of the biggest negotiation challenges in that industry as we move forward? I live in Downtown Los Angeles. Prepandemic, not so much an issue now, but people bring the scooters into the buildings and parked them there. They’re all over the streets and people are tripping over. I saw one run over a dog once. They were on the sidewalk. It’s an interesting model. It’s got some bumps that it’s trying to work out. From a negotiation perspective, what are some of the big challenges you see for the model taking off on a global level? That’s something that’s of interest to you ithe globalization of that market. What are some of those? 

The first biggest negotiation you’re going to have is with the cityWhen the business began, there were different tactics and factors that were being used where you woke up overnight and someone had dropped thousands of scooters into the city. We take a different approach in that. You have to work with the municipality. What I understood was that, “These are your partners. They’re no different than your investors. They’re investing into the success of your business. They can directly impact that based upon what legislation they write. You absolutely want to work cohesively with them. Many of the cities that we work in, we write the actual code and policies with them or for them, and let them have some of the red lines. 

That was something that wsaw that was unbelievably important because they are your partner. That way, you don’t have to drop a bunch of units in commerce and then the city comes back and bans them and taking the market away. One of the first, most important parts of negotiation is the geographic region. Where are you deploying the assets? This is a global perspective. In some cities right now todate have a ban, some have a fantastic policy with operators there, some are considering it and some have no policy at allBecause the business is growing so quickly, it’s very congruent to when Uber, Lyft and rideshare companies began stratospheric growth. 

It’s very similar to that. The fact of the growth and the interactions with the city, its vastly different because you have a rental business. You’re putting assets into the municipality for the private sector to use. That’s a different point of sale process and that’s a negotiation within itself too. Anytime you’re going to grab one of these units, you’re negotiating with yourself on which one you’re going to take. From the corporate side, the primary negotiation is first and foremost with the city. Secondly, it always comes back to the capitalHow fast can you scale the business? What are the metrics and models behind that? 

As you’ve seen, the one thing about our business, Micromobility, is it’global and it’s very vocal because it impacts so many cities. You see a lot of companies raising significant amounts of capital in all of your major players, all your suppliers, black stones and all the myriad of your powerful players in venture capital or private equity. You see the large raises occurringAgain, the companies are painting the picture of, “This is our anticipated revenues, growthEBITDA and all of those factors. Every part of it, the negotiation begins again and we’re no different than that. We’re raising capital, you’re primarily in a capital raise stance pretty much through the growth pattern as long as you’re growing at a rapid scale. Every single intellectual asset that I learned through Hollywood Trucks, I bring that to Micromobility and every one of them is being used. 

That’s incredible. Congratulations because that’s a huge accomplishment. We’re going down a path that you’ve never thought in your wildest imagination that you would be on and the things that you’ve done to move aindustry forward into cleantech and transportation. When we talked, we were chuckling that Hollywood is so eco-friendly and many of the superstars are all about the environment, but this was an area of the Hollywood machine that was absolutely not eco-friendly. 

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It’s one of the highest carbon footprints of it. That was one of the reasons that I knew, if we’re going to make a substantial difference from an environmental perspective, the vehicles are primary and no one was addressing it in film and television in that sector. 

How can people find you? This is such an interesting topic and Tesla is going publicand all of Elon’s work with SpaceX and everything and he added $500 million to his net worth. It was impressive. 

They’ve been public but their stock price is going through the roof. They probably added $500 billion. They’ve had stocks but they were taken out of the S&P. 

This is such a huge area of concern and interest. I don’t usually bring politics into the episode but it is going to be interesting given the change in administrations that appears to be imminent what the Biden administration is going to do that’s going to be beneficial to your industry may not have been the case under a continued Trump administration. I‘ll be curious to pay attention and many of our readers are going to be fascinated so they could follow you and follow the work that you’re doing in the industry. 

It’s an exciting time. It’s unbelievable. I‘m thankful to see the things that Elon is doing and what’s coming from a perspective of cleantech or environmental best practices. For me, it’s like candy store. I sit here and I’ve shown my son some of the falcons reversing and landing back at the portal. He doesn’t even believe me which is unbelievable. Elon allows people like myself to push our own boundaries on such a different level. 

I applaud everything that Tesla has done and any of the cleantech companies pushing that movement forward because it’s inevitable. It would be unbelievable to see Nikola Tesla with all the 145 amazing patents that he wrote that are being marketed and branded. From AC power to DC power, the telephone, radiofrequency, internet and all of the things that he wrote. It would be amazing for me to see what he would think about now if he was here in the fact that finally, these global changes are occurring and moving to electrification. I would be fascinated by that. 

He was a brilliant man. He’s from Serbia and his childhood home was in Belgrade. What an incredible human being. He’s so smart. How many napkins did he throw away with great ideas on them? 

When you’re talking about negotiation, one of the things about Tesla that he didn’t focus on was the negotiation of his own IP. It was back to his interactions with JPMorgan and all of the individual backers and how he utilized the capital that he had. He wasn’t someone driven by net profit or the monetization of his IP. When you’re talking about negotiation, it was one contractual. Don’t quote me, but I think it was the one based upon one kilowatt of power versus one horsepower that he had, and he tore it up. It would be worth around $17 trillion now. 

I’ve got to go find that and research that. That’s a great story. The thing is that I’ve worked in the technology industry for pretty much my entire career. I‘ve been involved in telecommunications, hardwaresoftware development and all of that stuff. lot of the contracts that I’ve negotiated are techrelated contracts. One of the reasons why I launched Venn Negotiation is because I had worked with so many of the big Fortune 100 and 500 tech companies and they’re like pythons. They’d take the small innovative tech companies, squeeze the life out of them and then they’d eat them. A lot of brilliant, amazing people in technology are not negotiators and they can sometimes get very emotional about the product that they’ve developed because it takes so much intellectual, perseverance and resilience.  

You trademarked the name of the company four times. You have to go back and back again and then you might have somebody who’s trying to steal that stuff. There’s all this stuff. In that process, so often I see smaller tech companies getting so wrapped up emotionally into their idea that when it comes time to negotiate, they either hold on too tight and they lose the opportunity because they’re not willing to give enough or they give it all away and they get nothing in return. They don’t get to take their product over the finish line and reap the benefit of all that work that they did. That’s one of the reasons why I started Venn Negotiation is to help companies like that so that they had a better chance. 

Supply Chain Negotiations: When people start their companies, they get so excited and fall in love with their idea that they don’t plan an exit.


That within itself is a negotiation to have someone. You can’t do it all by yourself. Those were some of my growth areas through Hollywood Trucks. It takes a team. If you’re the smartest person in the room, something is not right. 

You’re in the wrong roomYou better find a different room. 

The finestsmartest people you know, you bring them and work with them. Negotiation is life. Every single thing you do in lifeyou’re negotiating whether you’re negotiating with yourself, you’re sitting there at lunch or dinner with your friend, or whatever it is. It doesn’t matter. I’ve read as we talked about. 

I‘m going to ask you to tell me which of those three books is your favorite so far. 

It’s important to also know that you’ve got to be free enough to rely on other people’s expertise and let them deal with it. That’s how I’ve always loved to run my own companies is to let people flourish. You can always bring something back if you want the idea or the concept. If you cut them off before they’ve even had a chance to potentially bring you an idea or a thought that could be the single most valuable thought. It’s okay if it’s not your thought. They’ll get merit to it. 

We started down the road of how people can find you, but how can people find you? 

It’s easy. I’m on LinkedInMy personal emails are there. Anyone can shoot me an email anytime. I get emails all day, every day like everyone does. I read all day. I’m easy to get ahold of. In this day and age, you can find anyone. 

When Andre and I were talking, he’s starting to read three books. I don’t know if you’ve started them or getting ready. I couldn’t remember the first one but it had something to do with marketing. The second one was Chris Voss Never Split The Difference, which we’ve talked about on the show before. The third one was about human cosmic psychology or something like that. That one was very fascinating to me. I had such a great conversation with you all throughout that but I have to tell you, I’ve talked a lot about those three books because I love to read as well. I‘m an avid readerWhat is your favorite book so far of 2020? 

I never pick favorites. I get small antidotes from each one that I bring into my life, and that goes into my little toolbox. Anytime I encountered an environment where that becomes realistic or realism, then I’ve got a knowledge point from that. I try not to pick favorites. I try to take each one for what they are because life is about negotiations and human interaction. You and I may have a reference point that you say, “I was sitting at lunch and I was reading about this particular kale.” I may have read a book about it and I’m like, “That’s the actual C12 strand that they grow.” The human interaction part of the negotiation between you and I is going to be much more favorable. 

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Negotiation is a series of yeses. You start with building small yeses and they’re cumulativeThe more yeses you get in a relationship, the easier you build with the comfort. That’s such a good book though. 

I was trying to take a small amount from each one. Anytime you read a book, you might retain 5% to 10% of it. The ones that I reread will have a more significant impact on me but obviously, I try to take something away from each one and a bit of understanding. That’s pretty much how I’ve done it. 

I‘m going to reword my question for my next guest. 

Again, some people do have favorites. 

I have a top 3 or 5 list in a year that I’ve gotten the most out of or where there are multiple things that I’ve gotten out of it that has helped me grow as a person. Sometimes, they’re unusual and people are like, I’ve never heard of that. 

My question back on that dictates my thought process is, If you have five books that you’ve read that year, do those permeate your thought process of that year?” Do you ever look back and say, I read these five books in 2016 and this is what happened or this is what I accomplished, I read these books in 2017? Do you ever look back on those? 

Supply Chain Negotiations: A negotiation is nothing more than a conversation about a relationship, and there is no win in a relationship.


I average about a book a week. I’ve never made a correlation between the performance of a year versus the book that I’ve read. The ones that I had got the most out of, I’ve read all of them toward the end of the year instead of at the beginning which was surprising. One was a philosophy book. One was a sociology book and then the other one was Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking To Strangers, which is a phenomenal book. I take a little bit out of all the books I read too but every year, there are 3 to 5 that bubble up as these books are something that I’ll talk about for a long time. 

There’s real impact on your life. 

I haven’t done that correlation. That would be interesting. 

You can look and say, “These five books in 2015 had such a dramatic impact on me, and that’s why I went to India in 2016. I‘m always fascinated by how the influences around you whether they’re books, people, movies or music. 

These are things that matter in negotiation. These things have influence on us. They give us the opportunity to build relationship as we move forward like your kale example. They give us that opportunity to find common ground when we may think we don’t have any and being curious enough as one of my mentors, Blair Dunkleytalks about being curious enough to discover that and to ask questions in a way that leads you down that road of discovery. It goes a long way in helping you be successful in your negotiation, business, your personal life and life in general. 

It’s wonderful that you said curiosity because that’s been one of the bigger factors in what I’ve done so far in life. I don’t even like to use the word best because it’s relative. I genuinely enjoy people. I could ask question after question. Not on the podcast that I‘m fascinated but even after the recordings are done and everything but I just genuinely want to know. I found that it’s been a great attribute because most people like to hear themselves speak all the time and that’s fine. When you’ve listened, that’s when you’re gaining the most intelligence. That’s when you’re having the greatest form of human interaction. 

Humanity is the thing that gives me the most hope in the world. Somebody asked me, “What gives you hope? I didn’t even think about it. I was like, “Humanity. I have the utmost faith and hope as a result of humanity but it’s that human connectionMy daughters are all in their 30s. When I say my daughters, I‘m not talking about little kids. One of my daughters works with me and she was listening to me talk about how I feel about negotiation and this human aspect of negotiation. We were talking about it in terms of how many people negotiate in the moment to win. Negotiation is nothing more than a conversation about a relationship. There is no win in a relationship. 

I cannot even tell you how much I agree with that. I’ve been fortunate to speak to students or young entrepreneurs, that part is unbelievably important. I can say without a doubt, that I never once sat at negotiation with the mindset of the word winning for now. It’s always been, “How do we benefit? How does this relationship become enhanced? I never have used the word winning because it means someone has to lose. If they walk away from the table feeling like they lost, then that’s not a great relationship, especially if this person is going to be with me, involved in this business or any of the things we’re doing. 

I always walked away saying, “How do I create value and enhance this relationship where five years from now, we’re both parking the yachts and having boat drinks?” It’s not material-driven but it’s like, “How do we enhance that?” That’s how I’ve always gone into it. That’s why I always felt like both people have to walk away from the table feeling they’ve won something or they’ve got something. If you’re looking at a long-term relationship with someone, you don’t want to walk away from the table with the mindset that, “I crushed this negotiation.” Once that works out and becomes reality, even if you did negotiate an unbelievable deal, there’s going to be some form of remorse on the other side. That usually leads to a not great working relationship long-term for the company. Always find, “How do I create significant value for both of us?” That’s how I go into the thought process of it. 

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This is one of the reasons why I‘m glad to have you on the show because a lot of the things that you talk about are things that I talk about when I‘m teaching people and consulting with clients to help them move forward, so that they’re getting more of what they want but they’re also identifying and creating more. The way that you and I both talk about negotiation requires a change in how we think about negotiation because most people approach the negotiation table as this win-loss thing, which means that they’re negotiating from a position of scarcity versus negotiating from a position of abundance. That there is more than enough for all of us to participate in. How do we figure that part out? I am so passionate about that. 

That’s my tagline for Venn Negotiation. Our tagline is, Changing the nature of negotiation, because we want that mentality. People that act based on abundancethat there’s more than enough for all of us. Certainly, there are situations where that isn’t the case. There are negotiations that happen where it’s not all about growing and improving. Divorce and business bankruptcy come to mind. You definitely have those situations, but even in those situations, there are ways for people to get more out of those relationships and situations as well. 

It’s part of the global compound interest. It’s the ninth Wonder of the World. 

Andre, it has been a pleasure to have you. Thank you so much. I feel like I could talk to you for a lot longer. It has been great. To all our audience, thank you for readingI look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Until then, have a great day. Thank you, everyone. Cheers. 

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About Andre Champagne

IVZ 15 Andre Champagne | Supply Chain NegotiationsAndre is an entrepreneur, accomplished speaker, inventor, and international business executive who brings over 15 years of expertise in the environmentally-friendly transportation and logistics sector to Blue Duck Micro-Mobility. At Blue Duck, he is responsible for all design, innovation, and technical aspects of the fleet (electric scooters and e-bikes) in addition to the manufacturing and supply chain logistics required to bring the most advanced, commercial-grade, modular scooters and electric bicycles to the global market.

Prior to joining the Blue Duck team, Andre was the founder and CEO of Hollywood Trucks, a full-service, eco-friendly, entertainment fleet. The company began in 2008 with seven vehicles and under his guidance, grew to more than six offices with 400 vehicles.

During his tenure, Andre designed and engineered the world’s first, 100% clean energy, off-grid trailer line, trademarked as Ecoluxe. The Ecoluxe line achieved multiple U. S. patents and global recognition for its efficiencies and engineering. Andre and his team at Hollywood Trucks successfully sold this business in 2019.

Andre graduated with a B.S. from Louisiana State University where he was asked to give its commencement address in 2012.

Honors and Awards:

  • 2018 US Patent: Inventor Solar-thermal powered mobile encapsulation
  • 2017 US Patent: Inventor Solar-thermal powered mobile vehicle
  • 2016 Tulane University Forum Honored Speaker
  • 2016 Excellence in Innovation (
  • 2015 100 Top Entrepreneurs Award (The Idea Village/JP. Morgan)
  • 2014 Air and Waste Management Joseph D. Martinez Environmental Achievement Award
  • 2014 ACG Emerging Growth Company of the Year
  • 2012 LSU Fall Commencement Address
  • 2012 INC Magazine 500/5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America
  • 2011 Business Report Top 40 under 40
  • 2009 Sales and Marketing Executives Marketer of the Year

Boards and Associations:

  • Young Presidents Association (YPO)
  • American Red Cross (SELA Division)