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Bringing fine arts to product management

Bain Public founder Paul Ortchanian is a problem solver who found his winning combination at Concordia
June 23, 2022
By Julie Barlow, MA 94

Paul Ortchanian wears a sleeveless puffer vest over black sweater Paul Ortchanian | Photo: Mathieu B. Morin, Holt Portraits

When Paul Ortchanian, BSc 99, GrCert 03, began his studies at Concordia, his choice of combining mathematics and fine arts baffled friends and family. “Everyone asked me why I was doing it,” says the founder and CEO of tech consulting firm Bain Public.

Ortchanian’s hunch about developing and refining both his left- and right-brain skills paid off. After graduating with a major in mathematics and statistics, and brushing up his design skills with a graduate certificate from Concordia’s Department of Design and Computation Arts, he worked in the startup world in Silicon Valley for 10 years. In 2018, after returning to Montreal, Ortchanian founded his consulting firm Bain Public. The company was recently acquired by the Montreal artificial intelligence firm XMachina-AI.

“We are the only firm in Montreal that does product management, which is not to be confused with project management,” says Ortchanian. Product management mixes strategy and market analysis, giving companies “product roadmaps” for what to build in the short, medium and long term.

“We are the glue that unites sales, marketing, the CEO and the engineering team,” he adds. “Once we figure out what a client is going to produce, we have to make sure the engineers are building it, the marketing team is promoting it, the sales team is selling it and that the support team is supporting them.”

Using art to define the process

Studying art taught Ortchanian to define his process, an essential element of product management. “Art students have to explain and defend what we are doing with a project and why — it’s the fundamental question. At Bain Public we help tech companies get clarity and define what they are doing and why they are doing it.

“Every three months the landscape changes, the market changes and the competitors catch up so you have to redo the whole process,” Ortchanian says, citing the example of Montreal online media company WatchMojo, founded by fellow Concordian Ashkan Karbashfrooshan, BComm 99.

“They came up with a unique internal software product that allows them to make mini-documentaries. But now there are NFTs, AI and more. We can’t do it all so we watch market indicators to see what’s shifted and come up with a plan.”

‘Everyone needs to be heard’

Bain Public’s name — which translates as “bath house” — reflects the “cleansing” process Ortchanian prescribes for his clients. Ortchanian also likens his role to being a doctor using a combination of information collection, effective communication and psychology to help clients create and carry out plans.

“To convince a patient to lose weight, a doctor needs to make a human connection with that patient but also back their case up with blood tests and other metrics. It’s the same in a company. Everyone needs to be heard. Data needs to be collected. Then you can make a decision.”

The entrepreneur lauds Concordia for being a groundbreaker in combining fine arts with 3D, virtual reality and the web in what was then the Digital Technologies in Design Art Practice program.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Concordia for accepting me into a fine-arts program with zero portfolio and giving me the chance to participate in a future that became reality. The world was changing and I don’t think I realized back then how interconnected the web would make us.”

Ortchanian volunteers as a mentor at Concordia’s District 3 Innovation Hub, where he relishes helping students with an entrepreneurial bent. “I like solving problems but I mostly like solving other people’s problems. I love being able to say, I believed in this startup, I helped them out, and today they are this big company.”


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