By Bart Gummere, Associate Head of School for College Counseling and Alumni Relations

The typical progression for our alumni is to attend and graduate from college four years after their Eastside Prep graduation. Henri Beaudoin, Class of 2013, took a different path to success. Following his entrepreneurial spirit, which was developed in his time at EPS, Henri left college after a year to work and ultimately then started his own business. Now the President and CEO of Elite Automation, he runs a company with eight employees and is highly optimistic about the future.

I recently spoke with Henri to ask about his company and the path he took to get here. During his first year at San Diego State, where Beaudoin was pursuing a Computer Engineering major, Henri realized his current skills were already in demand at businesses. He left school and began doing contract work in software engineering at Microsoft and other Seattle firms. It was, by some measures, a bold move. But for Henri, it was an easy choice, “I was following my heart, doing work I really enjoyed.” Beaudoin continued with this work until 2018. At that time, Henri was finding the software projects increasingly unfulfilling, “I was doing the same thing over and over.” While he enjoyed programming, he desired something that incorporated more creativity and hands-on work. His creation of Elite Automation met those ideals.

His concept was a company that would aid customers in adopting new technologies into their homes and businesses. Henri’s passion for technology, experience in technical installations and his gregarious nature was a perfect blend for serving people regardless of their prior technical expertise. As he helped people develop smart homes, he found the challenge of each project to be unique.

I asked Henri how Eastside Prep influenced his path and success. “The flexibility and freedom to pursue my interests at EPS was huge. I took programming with Jonathan Briggs and developed my initial knowledge there.” Briggs remembers that what Henri learned during class paled in comparison to the knowledge he gained pursuing his own projects. “Henri became interested in Minecraft. Not just playing himself, but then creating and maintaining a multiplayer server. He would come down to the tech office daily asking questions.” His thirst for understanding and solving practical problems was remarkable. He eventually turned the Minecraft server into a small business with users all over the country. “I sometimes worried about Henri getting his schoolwork finished, but I never worried about his ability to make money out in the world,” says Briggs.

Henri believes his senior project, where he designed and installed the EPS intercom system, was the experience that best readied him for the business world. In that process, Henri pitched the school on his services and won a competitive bidding process for the job. Bob Baldwin, Director of Operations, worked closely with Beaudoin on the intercom project. He remembers, “It was clear Henri was going places and was willing to go the extra mile, which is what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.” That work gave Beaudoin a sense for the type of work he most enjoyed, and a taste of what could be done. “I never really felt I could restrain myself to a standard path after that.”

As the company grows, Henri is increasingly pulled away from much of the on-the-ground work. In our discussion he commented, “Unfortunately I am pretty much back in the office full-time.” Henri spends most of his time on sales, while still doing some of the system engineering and leading his teams. His work has not gone unnoticed. In 2021, he was named to 425 magazine’s 30 Under 30 list of impressive young professionals.

His goal for his company is growth. “I’d like to take Elite Automation to a level where we are a multistate player. On some level, we are already there, with a growing presence in Texas and specifically the Dallas area.” That expansion requires a lot of Henri but no one is betting against him.

In our College Counseling Program, one of our most important points of emphasis for our seniors is to lean into their interests. “Look  through course catalogs and pick classes you’ll be excited to wake up and attend each day,” is a common refrain from us. Really that extends to good life advice, and Henri is a great example. “My days are really long and I dedicate time to the company seven days a week. I don’t feel like I really work, though,” states Henri. “I wake up looking forward to every day.”