Brian Paes-Braga Credits Entrepreneurial Success to Vision, Mentorship, Hard Work

As a principal and head of merchant banking at SAF Group, a structured merchant and banking group, Brian Paes-Braga oversees a venture with offices in Vancouver and Calgary that builds, invests, finances, and advises high-growth companies and provides investment capital to private and public corporations. Prior to this, Paes-Braga founded and served as CEO of Lithium X Energy Corporation, a lithium resource company he sold in just over two years for $265 million.

Brian Paes-Braga is active outside the company as well. He serves on the boards at Thunderbird Entertainment Group, Inc., a content producer, and DeepGreen Metals, Inc., a metals company. Additionally, he continues to lead Quiet Cove Foundation, which he co-founded to provide innovative solutions to large-scale social issues.

Brian Paes-Braga was already highly accomplished at an age when many others were studying for their finals. He’s also generous with his insights for fellow entrepreneurs.

You were a stockbroker at the tender age of 20. How did this set you on your entrepreneurial path?

Brian Paes-Braga: I think I’ve always been entrepreneurial-minded. After helping several resource companies raise capital for various projects, both as a stockbroker and investment banker, I was ready to start my own business. At the time, lithium had a terrific supply and demand outlook, and I believed Lithium X would be a great way to fill a need in the resource market. My intention was that the company would open the door for small-cap natural resource speculators to learn about electric vehicles during the consumer electric battery boom.

You’ve done very well, but there must have been a few challenges along the way.

Brian Paes-Braga: Yes, every entrepreneur experiences challenges to one degree or another. Of course, you have to do a lot of planning up front and learn everything you can about the industry in which you want to start your company. And you have to be prepared for things not going the way you planned and know what you’re going to do. To this end, it’s easy to develop self-doubt at times, but it’s important to be confident, believe in yourself and your mission, and be resilient during challenging times.

How did you learn the things you needed to do?

Brian Paes-Braga: I’m a huge believe in mentorship. We can all learn very valuable lessons from those who have done it before. One of my mentors was Frank Giustra. Giustra is also a philanthropist, which I’ve tried to emulate in my career by starting Quiet Cove Foundation. I continue to learn from him.

What do you think is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

Brian Paes-Braga: There are two. The first is the value of hard work. As everyone who’s ever started a company knows, there’s no nine-to-five. You’re up early and often work late. You have to reach out, interact and, often, pursue alliances with other businesspeople. You spend a lot of time negotiating. I’ve long been resilient, continuing to work hard and persevere when unexpected obstacles arise.

Second, I enjoy social entrepreneurship and try to lead by example. I’ve been fortunate in my career to date, and I really get personal satisfaction from using my own success to help others and to make the world around me a better place.

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