Some 25 years ago, when I was a University student, I had started a small business focusing on selling personal computers and related services. My company had kept me busy for seven years.
A decision to move to Canada was made. An obvious choice was trying the same activity that had worked in Slovakia. I started activities that would help me to find local customers. Unfortunately, my actions did not generate any leads worth following. So, I eventually gave up.
After several years of permanent employment, I started exploring new options again. I discussed several ideas with a few people. Eventually, I decided to try an IT Consulting & IT services company. I managed to get a few contracts via personal agencies. This activity had produced promising results for a while, but I eventually decided to close the business in 2010.
Below is a review of my projects and past activities. It totals ten years of operating the IT business.
The business was incorporated in Ontario. I provided IT professional services to various clients in Toronto and USA/offshore. Contracts were arranged through personal agencies and a consulting company.
Information about specific projects and assignments is available upon request (pending non-disclosure provisions in contractor agreements).
When I moved to Toronto, I was looking for a way to promote myself. I created a website smartwebsoft.com (mirror), introducing my concept of a custom software development business. Such a company would build upon and expand the previous software development activities I had already practiced in Slovakia.
Starting such a business was not feasible without Canadian citizenship. I had three years to find a way to start operating my business in Canada.
I started experimenting with strategies to find customers. I started with a cost-effective email campaign. I started building my own CRM database data of prospective customers. The primary data source was various businesses operating in Toronto, freely available in online business directories. My database contained close to 5000 addresses.
My first offering was an application called SalesPro, created as a demo offered to selected companies from my database. Another campaign aimed to find customers for a custom software project. I promoted my past Delphi applications and customers from Slovakia as a reference. The IT field is demanding and instantly progressing. My past projects became obsolete. I created some Delphi demo programs following Canadian business legislation. New programs were promoted either as part of my existing smartwebsoft page or websites I started explicitly for those applications. Some of those projects are listed below:
My email campaigns produced little response, with no leads worth following. I abandoned additional attempts regarding the business in 2004.
The abovementioned projects are no longer live sites. I created partially functional demos available on the old version of my web page. Valuable experience gained can be discussed and used in new projects.
The primary business activity was the development of database software. Initial applications were developed in FoxPro 2.6 for MS-DOS. Later, after completing several projects, I moved to the client-server and Windows environment: Borland Delphi 5, Paradox, and a Microsoft SQL Server database for data storage. My typical customers were small companies.
My company also provided computer-related services, including the sale of hardware and software, computer upgrades, installation of software, and user training.
I founded and operated two small copy&printing shops, strategically located at a student dormitory and a prime location in a small town.
My initial breakthrough product was an "investment funds agenda" designed specifically for managing prospective small investors (called MIKs) during the 2nd wave of coupon privatization in Slovakia. This software dealt with a step in the privatization process whose lifespan was three years. My application was the only product on the market focusing on the "MIK agenda" (otherwise, in-house solutions were used). An estimated market share was around 20% in both: "funds active in the 2nd wave" and "registered prospective investors (MIK s)".
Further "SW development business" grew thanks to contacts and referrals gained via the sale of the "MIK Agenda" program.
Business applications supported specific lines of business (billing/inventory/customers/leasing agreements), focusing on operational and taxation agendas. The most revenue was generated from customers in the financial industry.
I developed and installed some 40 small and mid-sized applications. Applications "MIK Agenda", "Magazine Authors compensations", and "The Leasing Company agenda" were customized and installed to multiple customers.
Although the perceived size and advancedness of the whole business, core business activity (SW development, partially HW sale) was a one-man shop. Those accomplishments were possible thanks to the help or assistance of additional people and partnerships with other businesses.