Jeremy Pastel- How to succeed in business?
Hello Jeremy Pastel Flashmag and its readers are pleased to have you as the guest of the economic page this month. We will tackle the topics without further ado. How does Jeremy Pastel get to business do you think there is something that predisposed you to become a businessman?
It is not really a question of knowing whether we are predisposed or not. The question is not whether one is born entrepreneur or one becomes entrepreneur. In my ordinary life I felt confronted with needs that of course had to be satisfied. And to satisfy them at best, I had to undertake to find solutions to my needs as early as the age of fifteen I got into it. Entrepreneurship came to me in the most natural way possible, getting older I had just to develop my skills
From a simple ice cream seller, on the beaches of Martinique, your life changes overnight when you decide to settle in Paris to pursue your studies, after your academic studies of course you work for others as they often say, why did you decide finally to build your own enterprise? I know some careerists who would have been satisfied with a good salary in a big corporation?
It is a question of temper, and I also believe a question of needs. In fact I could be satisfied to work for the big corporations, I had a promising future there, but what is interesting to me is always to improve. I took the opportunity to develop the products that were perhaps more sharp on certain aspects. anyway I always had the courage to move on. I have the passion to undertake, I could have been satisfied to be a successful corporate manager, but I knew that I had a potential that I could better exploit working for myself.
So, what it gave you? More freedom?
Freedom is a big question. This is often what some say, I'm going to start my business, I will open businesses and I would have less pressure. But actually it takes a lot of work, if you are not used to work hard, it won’t work. When you develop a business you become free of all managerial authority but at the same time you end up being constrained to the realities of the market. Freedom. Yes, in a certain sense but it does not imply that one will do what one wants, as one wants. You have the flexibility of schedules, of course, but you must meet the productivity requirements. One does not go into business just for freedom. You also need to have a vision and a certain passion to undertake, to offer a product that will satisfy the expectations of the consumer, and even create new demands, allow the consumer to have a product that offers him prospects that he did not suspect. Do I have a certain freedom? yes, the freedom to do what I love.
After a diploma in information technology development, you decide to settle in Canada in 2008; Why? France did not offer you better opportunities?
I have always thanked France for the education it gave me, and the professional opportunity it gave me. I believe that France has a formidable education system, but there is a certain failure somewhere that is verified by the brain drain. The French market did not respond favorably to the first company I launched. I then studied the Australian market, the English market and the North American market, and the latter responded favorably. I didn’t settle here because I liked North America but because it was the right place to develop my business. France in my field of activity was saturated and I am part of a visible minority, which is a bit complicated sometimes. What is certain, is that I found an advantage on the economic side, on the development potential, and the social aspect.
In Canada you have known what is commonly called hard time. Why have you persevered? what allowed you to hold on?
We do not have a choice. When you leave your country, and you come to a foreign country, there is no safety net. There are some who have had tremendous support to launch their venture. I arrived in North America with a few thousand dollars, the money was used in the installation fees, and I ended up with 20 dollars in my pocket, and I had to take care of my family, my wife and my two daughters. So we come to a point where we know that we have to fight even more, take our responsibilities because actually we have no choice. And those who will read us should know that often not having a safety net, should be taken as an asset, an additional motivation for success.
Your first product is Vox Sun how did you successfully created Vox Sun and what do you offer as products?
Entrepreneurship means, listen to your market and know how to adapt to better serve your market. Vox Sun at the start was a company that provided telecommunication products, but very quickly we realized that this was not enough we had to do more. We decided to launch a business telephony solution, realized in the cloud. And this immediately worked, we launched Vox Sun with a knife and a fork, while it was necessary to use industrial shovels. It was done with the means we had on board. whereas it needed half a million dollars at least to start. we did it with some few thousand dollars, we grew in credibility, and today we have reputable customers, trusting what we do. We are a telephone operator, we also provide Internet throughout Canada and the United States.
As an Afro Caribbean entrepreneur who emigrated to Canada have you had some problems of adaptation?
The advantage I got was that I had to adapt very quickly. However, the first adaptation that I advocate even in my book, is to change one's mentality. Instead of getting lost in analyzes and the introductory remarks one has to be concrete. State clearly what one has and what one wants, is paramount. In North America, whether francophone or anglophone, there is a desire for pragmatism. what you know and what you can. What do you put in the table to make things work?
The second obstacle that I had, was related to networking, you need to have contacts create opportunities to move forward and integrate to the level of Canadians and Americans.
And your relationships with a society white in majority, how do you deal with? have you ever been reminded that you were black in the wrong way?
Laughs… yes it happened ... but I think it's a gift of life to be born as a visible minority. I love my skin color, I love my origins, I love my culture. I allow myself to have a motivating view of what we have experienced as a people, because it has made us stronger. I often say we are a people with incredible strength we have suffered terribly, we have experienced a tragic history. Despite that, we are still standing. Of course, they remind me that I’m black, every time in a glance a misplaced joke ... but I think what makes the difference is the skill. In North America, what makes the difference with other parts of the world is that when competence is proven a respect sets in. Our color must be used as an asset and not as a disadvantage.
I received a Martinican writer who has just committed a tremendous work entitled Zaire and Theophile No Mercy for the Negroes, a book that I invite you to read ... during the interview she made me understand that the islands were emptied of its black youth and that there was a genocide by substitution that took place in a sneaky way. Do you think about investing in your country of origin to contribute, to compensate this problem?
It’s a very pertinent question it was also asked to me a few weeks ago when I was in Martinique, while I sat next to the mayor of Fort of France he spoke to me of these figures. Most young people leave the country for the metropolis and North America. The question I was asked if I wanted to invest in Martinique? the answer is Yes. I’m I investing in Martinique? The answer is Yes as well. But beyond that we should analyze the environment because on the spot there are political realities, there are realities of partnership and it is very complex, but there are possibilities of openness with the discussions with the French Caribbean who could soon better integrate the North American trade area by dealing directly with the US and Canada. Investing in my home country is my most precious wish, but at the same time it should be profitable.
You have won several awards in entrepreneurship. How these successes, have influenced your career?
This is a question that young entrepreneurs often ask me or those who want to launch their businesses. Awards, in general are a benchmark in credibility. Credibility is important because it allows the potential customer to trust us, is it not measurable in numbers, but it is always good for the mind. It is also a personal satisfaction that recognizes that our work has been well accomplished. Sometimes it is very moving, because it rewards all the sacrifices that one makes, all the pressure that one undergoes in secret, all the struggles, all the setbacks that have been overcome.
Beside Vox Sun, you are a shareholder in several companies and sits on the board of directors of several big names of the Canadian economy. What motivate you? profit or something else?
It is not just a matter of money, and I think that even if one is a businessman, one should not prosper in selfishness. It is the disease of the 21st century. It is true it was already present in the 20th century, but it is reaching unmatched peaks this century. I think we should be in the sharing. What motivates me is not money. What motivates me is the realization and the surpassing of oneself. Why should I stop when I still have the strength and talent to bring to the international community of business? It is true we can earn more, while creating more jobs, helping each other, and showing that it is possible. Today we are in a world where we need examples. In the French-speaking world, there is a shortage of businessmen who are doing things right and moving forward. But I think there is good hope through, for example, journalists like you have to tell to the youth and those who arrive after us that it is possible, and that they can go even further than us.
The most important also is that you have wrote a book titled in French “Comment cartonner dans les affaires” (How to be successful in business ) that explains some of your methodology for success in entrepreneurship, if you have to give advice to those who want to get into business, what will you say?
Three things. First, to identify what is their passion, it seems to be a cliché
but it is true. Why? because the way is so difficult that you really must be a passionate to stay up. Secondly discipline, it’s not always the talent but the discipline that adds to the credibility. We are in a consumer society where we want it all right away, it is true in movies we see success story but it is not always like that in reality. One must be patient and orderly. Third we must to be well surrounded when one is well surrounded then one is able to compensate for shortcomings. And the most part of entrepreneur that I know are badly surrounded and it sometimes begins in the family I do not speak of the family cell, partner and children, because they are indispensable. But, I speak at the level of the wider family, some parents who sometimes do not support us. And then you have to sort through peoples you are hanging out with. know those who have real words of encouragement and those who always criticize your choices not always in the positive sense. it makes the difference when you have a long way to go.
At the time we are closing this interview do you have a word for the public, the black diaspora worldwide?
The word that I would say to them is courage, because after what has happened in Africa or which continues to happen, with the history that we know in the West Indies and the Americas all we need is a good dose of courage to meet the challenges of the present and the future, we have since remained strong despite all the pitfalls. And today in the black community worldwide one cannot say that there are not remarkable individualities in all the fields, culture, sports, science or entrepreneurship. So, we must continue to work brilliantly with excellence. And the last point and not the least is the solidarity. other communities are helping each other better, it’s the only point where we still have a lot of effort to make. We need to mount as a block to prove to the international community what we can do.
Jeremy Pastel Flashmag and his readers thank you for this interview.