Daniel Martin and Louis-Yves Cloutier: Rising Stars of the Digital Automotive Market.

An unplanned meeting after a hockey game sealed the fate of 2 friends: a man of ideation and an action man, each with his own personality and style, yet with absolute confidence in one another’s abilities. Their success story is also the story of 360.Agency’s meteoric rise in the automotive world. Two different backgrounds with one shared objective: to conquer the digital automotive market!

Your backgrounds?

Daniel : My background is a relatively unusual one. My studies in both finance and technology allowed me to hold many key positions in business from a young age. The dot-Com crash of 2000 really propelled the number of opportunities available on the job market. Thanks to my ability to bridge the gap between business and technology, I often found myself in key managerial roles, developing innovative solutions in ‘start-up’ environments. My talkative style and hustling personality served me well in companies with flexible structures.


The Famous Napkin!
The Famous Napkin!

Starting my own company didn’t really scare me. After all, I had just spent 7 years building companies for others. It was even a dream I’d long wished to accomplish. It was fate that allowed me to meet Louis at the exact moment that I was ready to take on a new journey in my professional life – the timing was perfect! I was looking for a profitable, long-term business plan for the emerging digital market. He sold me on his industry idea by drawing up a business plan on a paper towel – the famous napkin where everything began! I brought my start-up experience, my technical knowledge of the mobile world and a mind free of any auto industry preconceptions. Louis brought his vision, his deep knowledge of the auto industry ecosystem, and his experience. In short, it was the perfect match.


We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.


Louis-Yves : I’ve been a sales, marketing and big-picture guy for almost all of my life. My studies in administration and marketing allowed me to work for large companies very early on. At 22 years old, I was already a representative for national accounts at Purolator. I’m an hyperactive, though, and I constantly crave change and growth in my professional life.

At the turn of the millennium, I found myself deeply interested in data-driven technology – not so much in the technology itself, but in its potential for innovation and change in the marketplace. In working for ADP, the world’s largest provider of technological solutions to the automotive industry, I had the chance to mix business with pleasure by combining my drive for innovation with my love of cars. As the company’s representative for Eastern Canada, my 10 years at ADP also allowed me to sharpen my instincts for consumer behaviour and e-commerce. It was there that I first developed my vision of what the future of automotive retail should look like.

So I had a vision, and I was ready to take a leap in my professional life, but at this point I didn’t know how to translate my dream into reality. Daniel had the business and entrepreneurship experience that I needed to get started. It was reassuring to know that he was willing to go all-in on my idea, and throw himself fully into this adventure.

We’ve made many sacrifices along the way, but we’ve always done it with a smile. You have to be a bit naïve to launch yourself into this kind of challenge. Should I had known about all the pitfalls and challenges we’d experience down the road to success, I might never have made the jump in the first place… And that would have been a huge mistake! Looking back, we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.

Daniel : “When you think it’s going to be hard going, prepare yourself for even worse – you haven’t even started yet!” (laughs). It’s funny, because now that we can step back a bit, we see the same fear and trepidation in the eyes of 360.Agency’s general managers that we once had when we were first starting out. Because we’ve been through the same emotions ourselves, we try to prepare them as best we can, and let them know that everything will be okay in the end. They have to go through a period of discomfort and worry – it builds character, and prepares you for challenges in the future.



Your mission in 3 words?

Daniel : Convergence, collaboration and performance. I see myself as the conductor of an orchestra made up of talented individuals who have to learn to collaborate, to perform together and translate Louis-Yves’ ideas into reality.

Louis-Yves : Vision, audacity and results. I’ve known my own objectives since the beginning. It’s all very clear to me. I often make the comparison between my role and that of an artist. A musician sits at a piano, or an artist stares down a blank canvas, and they simply know what to do. It’s natural for them – innate, almost. They see the sheet music or the finished painting in their mind, and they know what the end result will look like before they even begin the process. No matter how they go about creating their art, the end result is fully formed in their mind’s eye. It’s the same for me. I know exactly where we’re going, and Daniel is the one who allows me to arrive at this result.



A memorable anecdote?

Daniel : Our first hires! When we first started the company, our workspace was in the basement of Louis-Yves’ house in St. Lambert. Because we didn’t have a conference room to conduct interviews in, we would meet with our prospective hires at a restaurant nearby. By the way, I hired our first employees for positions that they didn’t even interview for! I just saw something in certain people – I can’t really explain it. It was a feeling, an intuition that’s almost never failed me. I sensed an innate potential in certain applicants, and I was sure that they could go far if given the opportunity. In 2013, I declared a hiring freeze for a brief period before my summer vacation. And then I received a strange call from Louis: it was bland and flattering, full of empty praise – I understood right away that I had to stop by the office. When I got there, it turned out that he had hired 5 new employees! During our brief 2-week hiring freeze, he’d hired more people than we had for the rest of the year combined.


Louis-Yves : It was the first Auto Show we attended as VIPs. Daniel, Marc-André, Pal and myself had all found ourselves, “by accident,” in the foreign vehicles section. It was late, the hall was practically empty and about to close. Even the security guards had left for the night. We decided to slip past the barriers and into the vehicles themselves, since the doors were unlocked. We even slipped through the window of a million-dollar McLaren! We took full advantage of those last 30 minutes, until the alarms went off in the building! We were just like a bunch of big kids. Those are still great memories.

salon Auto 2013


Your dream vehicle?

Audi Spider R8Daniel : My dream ride is an Audi R8 Spider in charcoal grey with titanium mags! It’s a high-performance vehicle, ultra-reliable as a daily driver and it can easily handle the winter roads. My emotional, passionate side comes out on the road.

(Find out more about the Audi R8 on the Glenmore Audi website!)

Louis-Yves : Hmmm… That’s a tricky question. I don’t have a dream car – I have dream cars! My top 3 would be: the Porsche 911 turbo convertible, the latest model, in black or charcoal grey with a red interior to drive to work; a white 1970s Corvette Stingray convertible (they’re impossible to find!) to satisfy my muscle-car side; and a Jeep Wrangler with no doors or roof for my walks in the woods…



The last application you used, or the one you use the most?

Daniel : The last application that I downloaded was Last Pass. It allows me to securely save all my passwords: a great discovery, and I’ve been using it a lot lately. However, Songza remains the app that I use the most. I listen to a lot of music, and I love their playlist suggestions that are tailored to specific activities or moods. It helps me discover a lot of music and artists that I otherwise would never have listened to.

Louis-Yves : I’m not really up to date on “new downloads,” but an application that I use almost every day is Strava, an app for the cycling community that lets me track the history of my races, my results, and those of my friends. That, and RDS Go. I’m not really self-promoting here, even though we developed this app, but I sincerely believe that it’s the best sports news app on the North American market. Its design is intuitive, and I can personalize the newsfeed based on my favourite. (Download the RDS Go! mobile application on the App Store and Google Play. )


(Download the RDS Go! mobile application on the App Store and Google Play.)


Another calling?

Daniel : A chef. Cooking is a medium in which I can express my creativity and craziness. I’m even capable of improvising recipes without too much trouble. It goes against my meticulous nature, but it also serves to satisfy my impulses as a foodie !

Louis-Yves : Professional hockey player! I couldn’t live without sports, and hockey in particular is in my blood. But I also have to confess my teenage dream: I would have loved to play lead guitar for Metallica!



Your trick for pressure relief?

Together : Sports or partying! But always in the most intense manner possible. No half-ass measures! We’ll give our all in a bike race or hockey game, and afterwards, we’ll celebrate with some Tanqueray martinis, straight-up, extra olive, extra dry, stirred not shaken.



What’s a mistake that you forgive easily, and one that’s not so easy to overlook?

Louis-Yves : I’ve always loved this quote from the founder of Sony, Akiro Morita: “Never be afraid of making mistakes. Just make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.” A mistake I’ll accept is one that you make the first time, but I won’t accept the same mistake twice. People who keep making the same mistakes revel in their non-performance. This goes against our professional values.


«Never be afraid of making mistakes. Just make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.»


Daniel : I’m of the same mind as Louis on this subject. Human error based in ignorance saddens me. When we put you in a new position, you might make some errors in judgement because you’re still learning the ropes. If you make the same error multiple times, though, that’s a sign that you’re fine with incompetence and negligence, and that kind of attitude annoys me deeply.



Your recipe for happiness?

Louis-Yves : I’m smiling right now, because your question reminded me of a story from my own life. I’ve been with my wife for 21 years now. When we first met, she made me fill out a questionnaire in a women’s magazine titled “What Makes You Happy?” At 19 years old, the results of my happiness test were beer, beach, and babes. (laughs). Today, I can say without hesitation that what drives me and keeps me happy is a balance between family, pushing myself constantly through sport, and personal accomplishment in my work.

Daniel : For me, it’s those small perfect moments you find scattered throughout your day. If you’re always looking for something bigger, something more, it’s easy to miss out on those moments in life. Each day, I try to take advantage of those small moments of happiness. Dining with a friend, sharing a coffee with colleagues each morning, discovering new things…the list goes on. For me, happiness can always be found in the present.


You find yourself in the year 3025 – what’s it like?

Daniel : I’m a pretty tech-minded guy, so I imagine a future dominated by on-board technology. Flying cars whose every feature is controlled by thought. Human beings can’t exist without technology, but perhaps humans might not exist at all in future! I’m usually a very positive person in life, but with everything we’ve done and are doing to our world, the future might not be a very welcoming place……

Louis-Yves : The future has me very worried. I’m not proud of where humanity is heading, and I’m afraid of what lies ahead. I’m not sure if this is because I’m very happy now and I’m afraid of losing it all, or if I’m scared for my children’s future. Humanity thinks in the short term. Everything is designed as a disposable: we buy it, use it once, and then throw it out. I think of this often. Too often, people lack humility when faced with the whole of the universe they inhabit. I fully expect that the earth will reclaim its rights once humans are no more. It’s a pretty pessimistic vision of the future, but I hope that someday I’ll have the time and the means to make a change in the world for the better before it’s too late.



What’s the best advice you could give somebody who wants to get started in the industry?

Daniel : The best advice I can give, no matter what the business may be, is “to follow your dreams and never stop dreaming“. It’s your dreams and desires that allow you to move mountains and succeed.

Louis-Yves : I would add: “Get up in the morning before everybody else and work hard to get a head start.” If you do this every day starting at 15 years old, you’ll have given yourself a huge advantage when it comes to your chances at success. I’ve known many people who have dreamed of being rich and successful, but didn’t truly work at it. In life, nothing comes free. You have to earn it through hard work. Work hard at turning your dreams into reality. That’s the key to success.