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