Category: Utopia Image (2006)


UI_logo_002In the months following my departure from my permanent job, while prospecting potential customers, I was setting up servers; in order to develop basic services to sell. I contacted Adrien Claude Bance, an old colleague I met while working at Fusepoint, to help me with the configuration. I met with several potential customers around the region of Quebec with little luck. The ball began rolling in the month of July 2006, which also happened to be the month of my birthday, when I got a call from one of my contacts. I was asked if I was interested in conducting Satisfaction Surveys for Videotron, a Canadian Cable Company. In that moment, it didn’t matter that I had never worked in a call center environment or that my operations were limited. I was convinced that I was going to offer the best survey solution that ever existed! On July 28th 2006, I had a meeting with the Vice President of Operations at Videotron to show him how I was going to deliver our services. A couple of days later, early August, I got the green light, and was told that our services needed to go live by September 11th 2006. With an incredible amount of work needed to be accomplished and a line of credit almost at its maximum, I took on the task. The challenge was just beginning….

The following day, finally being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I told my wife the entire story on what had transpired throughout the last few months. As much as she was angry and disappointed that I had lied to her for so long, and for something so important, she understood exactly the reasons why I did it. She acknowledged that, had she and my family been aware, the likelihood of me leaving my job to start a company, especially considering all of our responsibilities, would have been slim. In that moment, an incredible sense of relief and a surge of positive energy ran through me and I was ready to start putting together the pieces that would allow me to start operating Utopia Image at a different level.

There were 3 major parts to assemble in order for my solution to be offered: an office, call center agents and a survey software solution. The first two parts were time consuming but not really difficult to accomplish. I found a fully furnished office in Laval (Qc., Canada). Not having to do any renovation work or make any initial capital investments in a telephone system and office furniture, helped me save a lot of time and money. I then hired 10 agents, trained them and had them ready to start working as of September 11th 2006. The hardest part, and most crucial to our success, was coming up with the survey software. With my line of credit running low, I could not afford to invest in a very expensive software solution. While working towards my bachelor of law, I met a fellow law student who was also a software developer. He was able, in a very short time, to deliver an initial solution enabling me to get the project started with little capital investment. Utopia Image’s launch was being executed effectively and as planned. When September 11th 2006 arrived, the team was ready to launch our services. Initially, there were some technical issues with the software and IT infrastructure, but we were able to effectively resolve them as we progressed in delivering our services.

In retrospect

What I experienced from April 2006 to September 2006, was without a doubt a perfect example of what Life is all about for me: The opportunity and privilege we all have of experiencing what is available to us to the fullest extent. Challenging and taking a chance on my dreams gave me the opportunity of working towards realizing my full potential. If you don’t do it in this lifetime, when will you? Entrepreneurs view failure differently from the majority of people. We see it as an additional building block, helping us define who we are and build better and stronger projects in the future. Failures and successes are experiences that are used differently but hold equal value.

There are a couple of very important pillars that helped me secure and deliver our solution effectively. The first was the relationship I had with the contact who introduced me to Videotron, and his belief that I was able to deliver a solution that would help Videotron gain a strategic advantage. The second is that having never worked in a call center, I brought forth a very unique perspective in my solution, in contrast to most of my competitors. The third was simply luck! Finding the right office space and someone to help me develop my survey software in such a short period enabled me to deliver on time. Finally, and maybe the most important one of all, is that I surrounded myself with people who sincerely wanted Utopia Image to succeed. Therefore, a lot of credit must be given to Videotron and to all of my initial employees, including Adrien who joined me full time when Utopia Image was officially launched, in September of 2006.

Next: Frozen in time (2006)

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UI_logo_002 August 2005, two months after I completed my MBA, I started to think more seriously about starting my own company. I guess I was energized by all the business and management courses I had followed during the last 2 years. My vision was driven by the idea of building a company, and using its success to benefit the society within which it would operate.   The type of business was not initially clear to me; therefore I started with the easier task, finding a name for my future company: Utopia Image. Everyone, whether it be in business or in their personal lives, has an idealistic view of their projects, products, services etc. But, reality often paints a very different picture. Utopia Image understands these pressures and helps bridge the gaps between what is idealistic and what is realistic. That is the foundation and definition of the Utopia Image brand. Once my corporate name was defined, I spent the following months trying to develop my potential products/services and defining my strategic advantage. During that period, I was all over the map, going from marketing, to IT, to business intelligence. I really had a hard time trying to distinguish myself from what was already out there.

I incorporated Utopia Image in April of 2006. After many weeks of hesitation, without any savings to fall back on or a strong idea of what my company would offer, I left my employer and comfortable salary for a corporate name, Utopia Image Inc. At that point, I still hadn’t discussed anything with my wife. Now, how do I tell my wife, who had been home for the last two years  raising our son, and who had just given birth to our daughter Victoria two months earlier, that I had left my job in pursuit of my dream. How can I reasonably explain to her, knowing that we didn’t have any savings, had just bought our home in December of 2005 and no longer had a source of income, that everything would turn out ok and that Utopia Image would be successful? I knew that by sharing what I was going through I would only have generated more stress for my wife and our immediate family, which would have hindered my ability to focus on the development of my company. Therefore, I decided to keep it to myself. I had always wanted to become an entrepreneur and at that time, I had a strong feeling that the timing was right.  I decided to give myself 6 months to succeed (until October 2006).

The months following my departure, I would leave my home in the morning, pretending I was going to work, while instead spending my days in cafés and in my car making cold calls to potential customers. I was trying to sell anything from website hosting to network management services. I had reached a point where I just wanted to operate a company.

I was using my personal line of credit to pay for all of our personal bills and expenses including a vacation with friends and family that had been booked before I had decided to leave my job.  Although it was a very intense time for me, I was able to support the pressure, and work towards my goal: to sign my first customer. Only then would I be able to share with my wife and the rest of my family everything that I had been living.

In retrospect

There are three main reasons, crucial to any new project, why I think I was able to succeed in starting Utopia Image. The first is the need to put oneself in a situation creating a sense of urgency. By leaving my job, I put myself in that exact situation. Second, one must be able to manage and control the external factors that could greatly impact the project. In my case, it was the pressures and insecurities my wife and family members would have put on me. By keeping my decision to myself, I was able to maintain control of my environment. Finally, in the event that the project is not a success, a realistic timeline should be put in place so as to allow recovery.  I knew that if I was not able to launch Utopia Image by my six month deadline, I would still be able to pay off my debts with any future employment I would find.

Next: Utopia Image’s First Contract

Structuring my Dream

UI_logo_002The thought of becoming an entrepreneur and being able to create something that would have a great impact on my environment has been within me for as long as I can remember. But, it’s on an evening in September of 2001, as a system engineer at Nortel Networks, where I decided to officially take the first step towards what would be a very demanding journey in pursuit of my objective. I can recall watching television while my wife, an elementary school teacher, prepared her lesson plan for the following day, when I realized I was wasting my time. I should have been spending it working towards my goal: starting my own company. Having already completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, I structured a 5 year plan where I would assemble most of the pieces I thought were important to obtain before starting my company. My plan consisted of acquiring a legal, financial and marketing background enabling me to be independent and capable of communicating effectively with all stakeholders, which in turn would help me with the development of my future company. At that point, the type of company I would create was not an important factor.

The following day, I went to the University of Montreal and registered for a Law Certificate, which I would start in January of 2002. After completing the majority of my Law Certificate, I decided to register at the University of Quebec for an executive MBA in Finance/Marketing. As I received my acceptance letter for the MBA program, which I would start in September of 2003, I was also accepted to transfer to the Bachelor of Law program at the University of Montreal. That is when the intensity and complication rose, as I understood the value and opportunity of both programs. After discussing with my wife and selling her my 5 year plan, I got her full support to move forward and complete both programs. From September 2003 until June 2005, I was progressing towards my Bachelor’s Degree in Law during the week and my MBA degree on the weekends while working full time and becoming a proud father to my first child, Matthew. After completing my MBA in June of 2005, I went on to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Law in June of 2008 (Utopia Image was created in 2006).

In retrospect

Picturing myself within the project, even before its realization (i.e. developing a company), and understanding its potential environment and dynamics was key to the project’s success. This let me understand the potential flaws and the necessary resources that were needed. Therefore, I was able to effectively invest my time and efforts in the right places. Furthermore, having the support of my wife during that period was crucial in accomplishing my degrees.

Next: Utopia Image’s Launch

While reading the book “The Alchemist” from Paulo Coelho, I was really amazed to discover that my ambitions and what I want to accomplish are defined by realizing my Personal Legend. It’s a great title to define the objective of this blog.

Here is an extract from the book:

“It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.” … “It’s a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend. It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

Thanks to my sister Christina for recommending this book.

Anthony.

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Pourquoi le titre “Réaliser ma Légende Personnelle”

En lisant le livre « L’Alchimiste » de Paolo Coelho, j’ai été fasciné de découvrir que mes ambitions et ce que je veux accomplir sont définies en réalisant ma Légende Personnelle. C’est un excellent titre qui définit bien l’objectif premier de ce blog.

Voici un extrait du livre :

“It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.” … “It’s a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend. It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

Merci à ma sœur Christina qui m’a recommandé ce livre.

Anthony.

Introduction

I have created this blog to share with you my ongoing experiences with Utopia Image Inc. You will be able to understand its beginning and its everyday challenges. You will also be able to get an in depth view on how I am progressing in developing Utopia Image into a company that has meaning for all stakeholders. Join me as of June 23rd 2009.

Anthony.

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J’ai créé ce blog afin de partager avec vous mes expériences en cours au sein d’Utopia Image Inc. Vous serez en mesure de comprendre ses débuts et ses défis au jour le jour. Vous pourrez aussi avoir une vue approfondie de la progression et du développement d’Utopia Image en une compagnie qui offre de vrais valeurs à toutes ses parties prenantes.  Joignez-vous à moi dès le 23 juin 2009.

Anthony.