Some 25 years ago, when I was a University student, I started a small business focusing on selling personal computers and related services. My company had kept me busy for seven years.
In the year 1999, I decided to move to Canada. 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 failed. 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 try 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 ten years of operating the IT business.
Business is 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), with the concept of a custom software development business. I was hoping I would be able to build upon my past software development activities in Slovakia.
Starting such a business was not feasible without Canadian citizenship. So, I had three years to find a strategy to operate such a business in Canada.
I started playing with concepts of finding customers. I started with a cost-effective email campaign. I collected essential 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 called SalesPro. Another campaign focused on finding a general software development project. I used my past Delphi applications as a reference. As past projects were obsolete, I created new Delphi programs specific to Canadian business rules. New programs were promoted either as part of my smartwebsoft page or other websites I had designed for those 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 SW development business in 2004.
The abovementioned projects are no longer live. 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 the development of database software. I created my initial applications in FoxPro 2.6 for MS-DOS. Later I continued with client-server software developed in Borland Delphi 5 as Windows-native applications. Typical customers for those applications were small companies.
The custom software development generated additional business:
The company also founded and operated two small copy&printing shops, strategically located at a student dormitory and a prime location in a small town.
The initial breakthrough product was the "investment funds agenda" explicitly designed for managing prospective small investors (called MIKs) during the 2nd wave of the "Coupon privatization" in Slovakia. The "MIK agenda" was the only such product on the market. 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 "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-person shop, those accomplishments would not be possible without the help or assistance of additional people and partnerships with other businesses.