JOSH McRAE + CHUCK LAPOINTE
Co-founders MTL Blog, MTL
If there was a ever a modern Montreal fairytale to be had, the birth of MTL Blog might be it. It’s a story of friendship, nah bromance, between Chuck Lapointe and Joshua McRae, of their blossoming partnership and the resulting business that grew from a mere Facebook page into the city’s go-to nightlife, news and culture website. And like all great Mtl fairytales, it unfolded after an evening of hard drinking.
“One night I went to this massive house party – which never happens – and it was a free for all. That’s where I met Chuck. Well, I didn’t really meet him, I woke up on his floor. There was this really nice bear carpet that I slept on and I look up [to see], Chuck is in the bed with a girl and I was like ooh awkward! And tried to creep out of the room,” Josh recalls.
Like many twenty-somethings, Chuck and Josh were penny pinching, working the 9 to 5 tip at lackluster gigs and living for the weekends – struggling to reconcile a shortage of funds with a desire to live large. As Igloofest 2012 approached, Josh hatched a plan. With just a camera, a freshly minted Facebook page (with the very memorable moniker of Mtl Blog), and branded business cards, he was officially press.
“It was a lot looser back in the day, we didn’t exactly have plans to start MTL Blog, we just wanted to cover the event so I basically just walked in and said ‘I’m shooting’ since I had a big camera they let me in. I even got on stage; I was on the stage with fucking Diplo! I didn’t even know who Diplo was at the time…I went to Igloofest every single night. We had 400-500 people on our Facebook page in 3 weeks! It was crazy! So we thought, wow we really have something here.”
Targeting the massive student population of Montreal, the guys had a captive market via social media. They began aggressively hitting up the most popular parties throughout the city, shooting the saturated masses and hooking them with the promise of reliving the moment the next morning while scrolling their feed.
Josh explains, “I threw out about 300 [business] cards a night. Chuck created the card. It’s the easiest way to get follows. We put up pictures and [told people to] tag themselves and like the page. We would only upload the albums to Facebook. People would tag themselves in the photos and their friends would see that and they would like the page also.”
Entrepreneurial pair that they are, neither stopped there, once they had achieved a sizable community online (approximately 2,000 page likes) they sealed the deal by dotcom-ing in May 2013. Driving their followers to the site by expanding their offering with edgy and intriguing can’t-not-click content, always with its own unique Mtl spin from, What if Seinfeld was Set in Montreal to sensational pop culture exclusives and tip-offs like, Justin Bieber Spotted in Montreal.
Josh, who vibrates with energy, is the lightning in a bottle component of the duo, endlessly bubbling over with clever ideas, overseeing the masthead and monitoring the social platforms. Perhaps to be expected, Chuck is the triple C-side, the personification of calm, cool and collected. With a background in web design and advertising, Chuck built the site and has nurtured the business end of things brokering deals between partners such as Evenko, Car2Go, Parasuco and Red Bull. Their odd couple dynamic is a harmonious one.
“Clients come into the office and here’s this calm collected guy, Chuck and I’m this wild piece of shit! I give them kisses and hugs. Now we know our roles, and it’s like rolling. We bring people [on to the team] that compliment each other.”
The Mtl Blog duo is now a team that numbers 5 and they’ve all but grown out of their Old Port space (Chuck’s desk may or may not be located in the kitchen). Their burgeoning crew works nearly round the clock; Montreal arguably being another city that doesn’t sleep.
“We just have a huge network of things we know we have to check. We run through them every 20 to 30 minutes. What’s new? What’s new? What’s new? Like my brain hurts!” – J
“We’re entering this huge competitive market with media and everything, that’s the challenge everyday is getting our voice heard through all of that. If we slow down, we’re going to get crushed.” – C
The site continues to thrive with irresistible articles, hilarious videos and a candidness that speaks directly to the spirit of its growing audience, garnering upwards of 75,000 visits a day. Both guys aren’t afraid to go-there and take risks and these qualities are giving them a growing edge against the competition. Josh and Chuck’s success, and friendship, is rooted above all in a shared passion:
“This was how I decided to pursue MTL Blog: I asked myself, do I want to work at an agency and build sites for other people? Or do I want to build something that I can grow for myself? This is something I wanted to continue every single day.” – C
Josh elaborates, “They’re long fucking days but I never find anything we do tedious. It’s still fun. I don’t want to be in a cubicle doing shit that I don’t want to do. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had to do but it’s thrilling every single day.”
Chuck and Josh’s favourite Montreal Spots
Ye Olde Orchard Pub – 20 Prince Arthur W
Le Saint-Sulprice – 1680 Saint-Denis Street
SuWu – 3581 Boul. St. Laurent
Kitsuné – 19 Prince Arthur St W
Foufounes Électriques – 87 Rue Sainte-Catherine E
Mural Festival – Saint Laurent Boulevard