Hitlab

Our team

Our experienced and diverse team of individuals with expertise in music, technology, and finance includes executives, advisors, and board members.

With our strong team and affiliates in Paris, London, Los Angeles, Lagos, Sao Paulo and Mumbai, we are well-positioned to pursue our growth and expansion plans.

SENIOR MANAGEMENT

Michel Zgarka

Michel Zgarka

President, CEO

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Michel Zgarka is an experienced executive with a successful career of over 35 years in the productions, (films, TV and music), communications (Guest speakers/keynote in over 25 int’l trade events), marketing, financial engineering (media) and business development fields. He is highly skilled in strategic and creative planning, marketing and personnel management for the media industry. Mr. Zgarka has produced, directed and distributed numerous film and television productions for the international marketplace, including “GUMMYBAR” which has garnered over 6 billion views on YouTube. He was the Delegate general of several film festivals. He is persuasive and possesses excellent communication skills that help build strong local and global relationships. Mr. Zgarka holds a B. ED. (McGill University), B.A. (Concordia University) & a Master in International Communications (University of Nice).

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Pierre Gauthier

Pierre Gauthier

Founder, Chairman

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In the last 20 years Pierre Gauthier has been involved in raising over $500 Million dollars of financing in various projects. As founding shareholder and responsible for completing the Initial Public Offerings for various companies, Pierre has had a focus on financing innovation and disruptive technologies in artificial intelligence, entertainment and mining industries. Mr. Gauthier’s attributes and skills include financial literacy, managerial experience in addition to the knowledge obtained through his service as a director of multiple public and private corporations. After graduating with an MBA, he worked as an investment banker and became involved in corporate finance, institutional sales (as manager) and research (as director).

J-F-Robert Bolduc

Robert Bolduc

Vice Chairman

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J.F. Robert Bolduc was the co-founder Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Matol Botanical International Ltd. between 1984 and 2005. Mr. Bolduc occupied the position of Chairman of the Multi-Level Marketing Association and served for years on the Board of Directors of the Direct Sellers Association both in the US and Canada. Mr. Bolduc is also a graduate of the Advance Management Program from the prestigious Harvard Business School University and was the President of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Montreal, Canada. Robert was honored by making the cover/front page of the Quebec Enterprise magazine, a Canadian Entrepreneurial Business Magazine reviewing of the Direct Sales Home-Based Business Industry, also featuring Avon and Party Light, both billion-dollar companies. In 2004, Robert was selected to appear on the U.S. Scully world Show broadcasted across the U.S. on the Public Broadcast System (PBS) to do an Industry Review. Past guests on the highly respected show included Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Steve Forbes.

Richard Groome

Richard Groome

Executive Chairman

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Richard Groome is Managing Partner of Notre-Dame Capital Inc., a Montreal-based merchant bank, formerly licensed as an Exempt Market Dealer. His expertise is in the financing of small and mid-size emerging growth companies. Mr. Groome was a co-founder and founder of two different securities firms that specialized in the financing of small and mid-sized companies in technology, biotechnology and consumer products. Having been involved in the formation and capital raising for some 600 companies raising over $4 Billion, Mr. Groome is a seasoned veteran in the governance, structure and financing of early stage companies. With a BA in Economics from McGill University, Mr. Groome has actively participated on the board of several public and private companies. He was a member of the Board of the CDNX until 2001 and member of the National Advisory Committee of the TSX Venture Exchange until 2004.

Todd Rupert

Todd Rupert

Board Member

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R. Todd Ruppert is CEO of Ruppert International, a firm with diversified interests globally in various fields including education, financial services, disruptive technologies, publishing, arts and entertainment, and strategy consulting. He is a member of numerous for profit and non-profit boards around the globe including INSEAD Business School and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Todd has over 40 years of experience in the financial services industry. He retired from T. Rowe Price, the global asset management firm with over $1.0 trillion under management, where he was CEO and president of T. Rowe Price Global Investment Services and co-president of T. Rowe Price International. He is a venture partner at Greenspring Associates, a $12 billion venture capital firm, and advisor to other firms in the financial services industry. He is the executive producer of four films.

Peter Rafelson

Peter Rafelson

Executive Vice President

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With a strong background in Media and Technology, Rafelson began his career writing and producing with notable success in the Entertainment industry. Creating over thirty #1 hits and selling over 300 Million copies for such artists as Madonna, Elton John and Britney Spears, he grew his business into an international reach and presence, developing diplomatic and strategic relationships. As an advisor, Peter focused on developing and managing International business opportunities. He has spent the last 25 years consulting and providing strategic business development services to a large variety of international Media and Technologies companies, helping to establish diplomatic ties to international markets, worldwide. With extensive experience in legal contracting and business development, Rafelson currently serves as presiding at co-founded ElectraCast Media and Interglobal Trade Group with satellite offices throughout Asia EU and the Middle-East. Rafelson manages online PaaS, DigiRAMP which provides administrative solutions for the entire digital content supply chain. He also is a co-owner of The US Blockchain Company, which serves the industry of fintech, crypto and blockchain development.

ADVISORY BOARD

Ting Gao

Ting Gao

Strategic Advisor

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Ting Gao is a businesswoman living between Shanghai and Paris. With a bachelor’s degree in management and a master's degree in marketing. Highly skilled and experienced in strategic, marketing and international commerce in all major markets, she is able to very quickly combine this multiple knowledge between Asia and Europe to build a network that is highly appreciated in various industries. Whether in the high or mid-range, Madame Gao will be able, by joining the Hitlab advisory board, to open up markets that we did not yet have access to.

Michele Amar

Michele Amar

Strategic Advisor

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Michele Amar is a highly accomplished professional in the music industry, specializing in global business development and export strategy for cultural and music tech enterprises. With an extensive consulting background, she has provided her expertise to renowned companies such as Universal Music, Sony Music France, Distro Direct, Groover, Midem, Mondo, Warner Music France, Wagram, City Parks Foundation, Metropolitan Artists, The Cultural Services of the French Embassy, and the Center National of Music, among others.

As the CEO and founder of France Rocks, Inc., Michele has established herself as a key figure in International Music Export and Global Business Development. Her wealth of industry experience includes creating and leading the European Music Office and the French Music Export Office in New York. Previously, she served as the Head of International Content Acquisition for IODA (Independent Online, distribution Alliance) and managed the international department at Putumayo World Music. In this capacity, she successfully developed the distribution network in over 90 countries.

Beyond her strategic roles, Michele has demonstrated her versatility by founding an independent record label in New York City, contributing as a producer and engineer in both Europe and the US, and lending her talents as a performer and composer to numerous recordings and commercials. Her multifaceted career reflects a deep passion for music and a commitment to fostering global collaborations within the industry.

Keshaka Perera

Keshaka Perera

Strategic Advisor

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Keshaka is a dynamic individual who is results oriented with a long-term vision. Educated in the US he was an investment banker before he decided to move back to Sri Lanka to offer cutting-edge solutions from US Based leading companies to the island nation. Keshaka and his organization is currently working with major companies in Sri Lanka providing advanced IT solutions, energy management solutions, water generation/bottling solutions, and customized microchip fabrications. Keshaka is a versatile, flexible individual and an effective communicator with the ability make timely and sound decisions. Keshaka has worked for: Sterne, Agee & Leach and Currently holds exclusive agreements with: Converge Technology Partners, Isalndsky, Cillium Corp, Fuerza Fuels and HitLab Inc.

Joseph Vangieri

Joseph Vangieri

Strategic Advisor

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Joe Vangieri is a serial entrepreneur who successfully raised capital and led the development, launch, and branding of "first of its kind" music performance products. He helmed the R&D, patenting, licensing, marketing and manufacture of the first digital DJ software package, and launched the karaoke industry’s premier streaming platform. He is now pioneering an Artificial Intelligence technology set to disrupt the music creation market with a patented, proprietary Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) engine that creates new, original, copyrightable music. In development since 2008, this AI technology has been granted 7 US patents.

 

This patented AI has  the ability to detect copyright similarity before a piece of music is released and provide feedback on what may need to be changed to minimize this risk, he additionally createdan  improvement in song or music recommendation that crosses genres in ways that has never otherwise been achieved. Our analysis engine is already able to derive the music data required for the advanced song recommendation.

Steve Owens

Strategic Advisor

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Steve Owens is a distinguished producer and executive producer with over 30 years of expertise in music, film, television & AI. He has a remarkable track record of success, having been awarded 43 Platinum and Gold Records, including multiple Grammy-winning albums. In addition, in addition served as consultant to Hitlab music AI.

Throughout his impressive career, Owens has earned recognition as a prominent figure in the entertainment industry, securing top positions as a DJ in the USA by Billboard magazine and a top 5 Program Director in the top 40 category. His experience extends to serving on the nominating committees for the prestigious AMA and MTV awards.

Faryal Khan-Thompson

Strategic Advisor

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Faryal most recently served as TuneCore’s Vice President of International, overseeing TuneCore’s international marketing, strategy and operations and was responsible for the brand’s growth and expansion into new countries and territories. She has a professional background that spans the areas of Localization & Globalization, General Management, International Business Strategy, Operations & Strategic Partnerships. Faryal is passionate about creating more opportunities for independent music creators to cut through the noise in today’s digital economy and democratizing the industry. She is thrilled to join the HITLAB Advisory Board and believes that this technology will help shape the future of hit music discovery.

Mirette Seireg

Mirette Seireg

Strategic Advisor

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Mirette Seireg, M.Sc. is a senior international nutrition / food security specialist with nearly 40 years of experience in Latin America, Africa, and Asia working with host governments worldwide to combat malnutrition and poverty.

 

In 2018 Mirette launched MPATH Music, pursuing her vision of managing a production music library, dedicated to the inclusion of exceptionally talented yet historically underrepresented composers, distributed and co-published globally by APM Music (Los Angeles) and Extreme Music (London), of Sony Music Publishing.  To date, MPATH released nearly 200 albums (~20,000 tracks) by 200 curated composers scouted from six continents, many of them award-winning. 

 

Mirette is a ferocious advocate of inclusion of diverse groups and gender parity.  Proudly, MPATH is the first and only production music company of its kind to achieve gender parity among its composers.

 

Mpath is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as a Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and by the federal System for Award Management (SAM).  Mirette currently lives in Los Angeles and serves as the President and sole proprietor of MPATH Music.

Michael A. Levine

Michael A. Levine

Strategic Advisor

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Composer, songwriter, and violinist Michael A. Levine is an 8-time ASCAP award
recipient for work ranging from the Jerry Bruckheimer/CBS dramas Cold Case and
Close to Home, to the George Lucas-produced Star Wars Detours animated Star Wars
parody. His theme song for the award-winning documentary, Landfill Harmonic, was
Oscar-shortlisted, as was his song Running with legendary vocalist Roberta Flack for
the feature documentary 3100: Run and Become. His theme song for Resident Evil VII
Biohazard became a viral hit as was his production of Lorde's version of Everybody
Wants to Rule the World. Michael also composed the theme for Scrat, the sabertooth
squirrel featured in the Ice Age shorts.
Levine provided additional music and violin on a number of Hans Zimmer scores,
including Dunkirk, The Simpsons Movie, Batman: The Dark Knight, Megamind, and
Rango. Michael's choir arrangement of Spider Pig was conducted by Hans at the
Hollywood Bowl in 2015. Levine’s concert music includes Anthem, performed by
piano virtuoso Lang Lang and, Double Crossings, an album of duets with percussionist
great Evelyn Glennie on mallets and Michael on electric violin. Glennie and Levine
performed together at the Wembley Arena in London.
Michael also wrote book, music, and lyrics for Orpheus Electronica, the world’s first
EDM opera, directed by Philip William McKinley.
Michael began his career in advertising where he composed the classic KitKat candy
bar “Gimme a Break” jingle. Levine is a former Governor of the Television Academy
(Emmys) Music peer group.

Béco Dranoff

Béco Dranoff

Strategic Advisor

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Active as an A&R, producer and creative in the music and entertainment business for over 30 years Béco Dranoff is connected to the development of internationally recognized projects and content. His triple citizenship, American-Brazilian-European and unique expertise and vision, positions him as a global producer for music and entertainment projects including credits in Grammy and Oscar nominated projects, as well as label founder, artistic director, record producer, festival curator, documentarian, Film/TV music supervisor, branded and corporate events producer and online radio producer. Notable projects include co-founding the Ziriguiboom music label, signing and co-producing albums for multi-Grammy nominated artist Bebel Gilberto, Red Hot + Rio charitable compilations, Beyond Ipanema documentary and TV series. Music Supervision credits include Oscar nominated documentary How To Survive a Plague (Dir. David France) and Next Stop Wonderland (Dir. Brad Anderson). Dranoff has developed special projects with artists such as Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, David Byrne, Angélique Kidjo, Margareth Menezes, produces Brazilab, a monthly online radio program for Spain’s Radio Gladys Palmera and does music consulting and curation for high-level events and brands. In November 2022 Dranoff launched Brasil Discos, a new music platform to produce and promote modern Brazilian artists.

Goran Anderson

Strategic Advisor

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Goran has over 40 years of experience in the international music, marketing, media, and entertainment business. he has produced over 100 albums and negotiated licensing agreements for all major record companies. recently involved in, telegram studios, and sonalytic.

Tina Singh

Tina Singh

Strategic Advisor

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Tina Singh, an entertainment industry professional, has worked with several world-renowned music composers, celebrated artists and entertainment power houses. Working on a wide variety of creative projects associated with names like Amitabh Bachchanji, Akon, Shakira, Wyclef Jean, Jerry Wonda, Sean Kingston and T-Pain along with many other luminaries and stalwarts of the entertainment industry in India and overseas. Tina gained momentum in international business development for entertainment with over 16 years of experience and rose to prominence with collaborations with successful artists and projects ensured success for many well-known entertainment endeavors.

Nicolas Pourcelet

Nicolas Pourcelet

Strategic Advisor

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Nicolas Pourcelet has over 28 years of combined Investment Banking and Capital Markets experience spanning across the key financial centres in North America, Europe and Asia. Mr Pourcelet spent over 18 years with Lehman Brothers where he held several key leadership positions including Managing Director – Europe, Chief Country officer for France and Head of the European Credit Business. He was a member of the firm’s European Fixed Income Operating Committee and Global Credit Steering Committee. He was a founding partner of Rosenquist Capital ltd, a boutique Investment Bank based in Hong Kong specialising in cross border M&A and Capital Markets advisory transactions. He subsequently joined the Mizuho Group, a leading Japanese Conglomerate, as a senior member of the Executive Committee, overseeing the Groups EMEA platform across Capital markets products. Mr Pourcelet started his career in Finance at Drexel Burnham Lambert, specialising in High Yield and Mezzanine Finance. He is a graduate of McGill University and holds a Post Graduate degree from the London School of Economics (Msc).

Jeff Hochman

Jeff Hochman

Strategic Advisor

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Jeff is a passionate investment professional with over 30 years stock picking and macro asset allocation experience, employed as a fundamental analyst/strategist/thematic expert for top tier global asset managers. Equally passionate about the mainstreaming and execution of ESG/SDG principles into investment strategies. Additionally, he is invested in, and advisor to, a broad range of technology driven early stage start-ups, from digital HealthCare, FinTech, SportsTech, and Media, including several excellent Music industry investments with cutting edge and very differentiated tech. Finally, investments in AR/VR and Gaming help him keep abreast of the latest trends in the rapidly evolving Metaverse and NFT space.

LEADERSHIP TEAM

Julia Kastner

Julia Kastner

Chief Strategy Officer

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Julia Kastner is a finance graduate from McGill University with deep knowledge of the music industry. Her role as Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Hitlab merges her unique capabilities of creating marketing and selling strategies with executing her B2B and B2C outreach initiatives. She is consistently monitoring the day-to-day pulse of the music and streaming industry analytics, in addition to the strategies in play by important and evolving market players. Julia came from a background working as a financial analyst at a New York hedge fund. Her deep analytical skills and financial analysis were used by portfolio managers and traders for real-time investment decisions in local and international markets. Julia also worked as the Operations Coordinator for Halcyon Brands (Furla) acting as the interface between Italian offices and North American centers as they opened and operated new retail locations across Canada.

Ysé Brisson

Ysé Brisson

European Managing Director

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Ysé Brisson is a media, entertainment, marketing and business development expert for over a decade, experienced in building business ecosystems based on a strategic communications plan and a good data organization. She is a skilled leader who knows how to identify the market trends and how to attract new talents. With a specific knowledge of the film industry and an international network, she has served as a consultant in numerous TV programs and feature films for different groups and various broadcasting companies such as Panini media, Endemol group, Vision Film, XII Tribes Entertainment, Lionsgate or Casablanca. Founder of the FDFC women rights film festival in Paris, Ysé is promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women in the media industry. For the last years she established herself as advocate for ESG and is recognized internationally. Through GEMM, a fund management company, she created a new label to ensure that both women and diversity will be respected during a movie making process. At the moment Ysé is collaborating with - VR 4 GOOD, a startup that provides immersive healing films for hospitals and retirement homes in order to reduce pain, anxiety and isolation; and - HITLAB, a digital media company that is revolutionizing the music industry by using a very innovative AI software.

Xavier Gauthier

Senior VP A&R

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Since the beginning of his professional career, Xavier Gauthier aka ZEEKY has managed to be an A&R, label, CEO and an artist himself. With guidance from multi-platinum selling artist Akon and music business mogul Master P, XAV started his independent record label ZEEKY ENT in 2015. The label went on to sign Sahbabii and its latest venture is ATL Artist & Producer Kc Da Beatmonster who has now reached the top 10 on billboard and collaborated with the likes of: Migos, Gucci Mane, Future and many more. Xavier has all the while been an A&R for music/tech company HITLAB. The Montreal tech-savvy singer/song-writer has managed to drop bodies of work, discover superstars, create groundbreaking platforms and keep an avant-garde business mindset throughout.

Tara Asbour

Tara Asbour

VP Strategic Affairs

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Ms. Asfour is an experienced executive consultant with over 10 years of management, investor relations, communications and marketing experience, specialized in capital markets. Ms. Asfour holds a Master’s degree in Business Management, a Financial Markets Certificate from Yale University, and Certificate in Alternative Investments from HBS. As Chief Development Officer for FairGreen Capital Partners and Managing Director of its Canadian regional division, Ms. Asfour has led over US$550 million worth of fundraising and strategic development initiatives. Ms. Asfour is the Director of Investor Relations of Auxico Resources. Ms. Asfour's previous positions include Investor Relations executive at Red Pine Exploration Inc., Communications Director at Dominion Water Reserves and advisor to various publicly listed firms.
Jocelyn Desbiens

Jocelyn Desbiens

Chief Technology Officer

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Jocelyn Desbiens Ph.D. received his M.Sc.(1977) and Ph.D. (1986) degrees from Université de Montreéal in Topology and Non- Linear Analysis. He worked for the Mathematics/Computer Sciences Departments at the Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean, Canada, from 1980 until 1995. He was a full-time professor at INRS-Télécom (Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique) in Montréal, Canada, from 1995 to 2002. While at INRS he helped launched a startup that was acquired later by Ubisoft, and in 2002, switched to the private enterprise working in Data Mining and A.I. He is currently working as the Chief Scientist of Intelligent Retinal Screening Systems (IRIS), a leading ophthalmic telemedicine company, in Pensacola, Florida. Jocelyn drives his research around Deep Learning disease detection from fundus images conjointly with Microsoft within the “AI for Health” initiative.

Tiffany Cifuentes

Manager, LATAM

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Tiffany Cifuentes graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor's in Political Science. She was born and raised in Colombia and possesses extensive experience in the Latin American music industry. She has worked with Canadian mining companies managing and facilitating projects in Latin America. She’s passionate about using music and art to positively impact communities around her. Her work and life experience give her a unique perspective on how to carry out successful projects in Latin America that generate an impact and appeal to the communities where the projects take place.