At the age of 29, Corbin Lowe has three startups to his name
When he's not starting new ventures, the Hoovest Asset Management co-founder officiates off the ice at Canucks games
Talking to Corbin Lowe, it takes about a minute before you realize he’s not your average 29-year-old.
That’s when he says, “I have this weird dissociation with money that I’ve learned–if you focus too much on the amount, you get paralyzed by fear.” He’s describing Hoovest Asset Management, the investment firm he co-founded in early 2018 that now oversees about $45 million.
Again, many of Lowe’s peers would likely be happy with just that, but in the years since starting Vancouver-based Hoovest, he also helped launch two other ventures. There’s Planted Meals, a ready-to-eat vegan meal delivery service that he calls his “try-and-save-the-world business,” and Ocalink Technologies, created in the wake of COVID-19 to make affordable, high-end ventilators.
Oh, and Lowe also works as a part-time official for the NHL at Vancouver Canucks games. So yeah, the Burnaby native keeps busy. We caught up with him to see exactly how.
Like anyone on the West Coast who is heavily invested in the stock market, Lowe wakes early so he doesn’t miss out on any trends. Days usually begin with charting stocks and sending trades. On this day in June, he’s not exactly overjoyed with his performance. “I went long, and the market went short,” he says plainly. “It sort of sucks, but that’s fine.”
Lowe takes some time to write his priorities. And he has his daily call with Peter Fang, his co-founder in Hoovest and Ocalink. The two met in 2017 when Lowe, who has a business management diploma from Langara College, took an interest in launching an investment house.
“Everyone laughed me out of the building–Oh, you want to start a firm, that’s cute,” he recalls. “And then someone said, ‘I think I know this other young guy who wants to start a portfolio management company.’ It was just one of those things where you meet someone and you’re kind of friends before you even realize it.”
Lowe takes pride in the fact that he and Fang have no formal contract between them: “Everything’s on a handshake.”
Lowe and Fang take a call with prospective Ocalink investors from Toronto whom they and co-founder Adam Morand are hoping will improve their capacity to make ventilators. The company, which intends to be certified by Health Canada in September, is aiming to produce 5,000 a month.
“I kept seeing in the news that the world was short ventilators and didn’t want Canadian doctors to have to choose between patients,” Lowe says. “I was just reading a manual on what a ventilator was, and it didn’t seem very complicated. It’s basically just a fan with software on it to synchronize with a patient’s breathing. Build some sensors in, some software that adjusts to breathing–that’s it.”
Lowe gets into his car from his Vancouver home and heads over to the Old Spaghetti Factory in New Westminster for another meeting, this one with a potential Hoovest client. Over heaps of pasta, he argues what he’s believed since he and Fang launched Hoovest: “We started it because we wanted to manage friends-and-family money. And we thought we could do it better than other people.”
Planted Meals operates out of Commissary Connect off Main Street, and while Lowe’s plate has been quite full these days, he still tries to take the time to check in on it. Vegan for about four years, he founded the company with friends Natalie Young and Michael Lee in 2018. Though Planted Meals hasn’t emerged unscathed from the pandemic–Lowe admits that the 20-person operation “dropped about a third” of its profits–the trio have stuck to their vision.
“Going vegan is the easiest way to lower your carbon footprint, so we just decided to start something that made it affordable and convenient for people to do that,” Lowe says. In the future, he hopes to build out a kitchen facility with its own farm. “The whole idea is to get 90 percent of everything we need for the recipes in the same building.”
For about half of the Canucks’ home games, Lowe serves as an off-ice NHL official, sitting in the press box and helping keep track of statistics. He got into it by volunteering to be part of the Olympic Games back in 2010. It’s not quite as complicated as tabulating stock information, but it’s also a good thing he’s hardly ever wrong–professional sports isn’t exactly a breeding ground for the timid.
Which brings us back to Lowe’s necessary dissociation with money: “It’s scary, but you can’t be scared. If you have to make a trade that’s $2 million, you’ll never click the button.”