Some 25 years ago, when I was a University student, I had started a small business focusing on the sale of personal computers and related services. My business had kept me busy for 7 years.
A decision to move to Canada was made. An obvious choice was to try the same activity that had worked in Slovakia. I started activities that would help me to gain some customers. But I did not succeed. 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 and I decided to give a try to IT Consulting & IT services activities. I managed to get a few contracts via personal agencies. I decided to stop consulting business in 2010.
Below is a review of my projects and past activities. It totals to 10 years of operating IT business.
Business is incorporated in Ontario. I provided IT professional services to various clients located 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) with a concept of a custom software development business, which would expand my previous software development activities in Slovakia.
Starting such business was not feasible without Canadian citizenship. I had 3 years to find a way how to start operating my business in Canada.
I started playing with strategies on how to find customers. I started with a cost-effective email campaign. I collected basic data, including email addresses of various businesses operating in Toronto, freely available in business directories. Those data were the basis of my CRM database of prospective customers. My CRM database contained close to 5000 addresses.
My first offering was an application SalesPro. Another campaign focused on finding a general software development project. I used my past Delphi applications as a reference. As past projects were already obsolete, I created new Delphi programs, specific to Canadian business rules. New programs were promoted either as part of my smartwebsoft page or additional websites I created for applications. Some of those projects are listed below:
These 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 as part of my online presentation. Experience gained can be discussed and used in new projects.
The primary business activity was database software development. Applications were developed in FoxPro 2.6 for MS-DOS, later client-server software developed as Windows-native applications in Borland Delphi 5. Typical customers for those applications were small companies.
The business provided additional computer-related services, primarily sale of hardware and software, computer upgrades, installation of software, and user training.
My company also funded and operated two small copy&printing shops, strategically located at a student dormitory and a prime location in a small town.
An initial, break-through product, was an "investment funds agenda" designed specifically for the management of 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 3 years. This 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 sale of the "MIK Agenda" program.
Business applications supported specific lines of business (billing/inventory/customers/leasing agreements), focusing on operational and taxation agenda. 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 "Leasing Company agenda" were customized and installed to multiple customers.
Although the perceived size and advancedness of whole business, core business activity (SW development, partially HW sale) was a one-man shop. Most accomplishments were possible thanks to the help or assistance of additional people and partnership with other businesses.