MURRAY BRACK, SEISWARE’S CEO, SHARES PART TWO OF HOW HE GOT HIS START IN GEOPHYSICS AND HIS JOURNEY TO BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR
In part one, I shared a portion my journey to becoming a reluctant entrepreneur. This is how I remember the events. I have been known to embellish from time to time so take it for what it is – my story as I remember it. This is how it all happened.
I had just agreed to start up a company with two of my friends, and now I would have to quit my job and ask my (about to be) former employer to hire my new company. I was tasked with booking a meeting with the VP to discuss leaving and if there was a possibility of continuing the relationship with a contract. I booked the meeting; it went as well as you would expect. There was a lot of swearing, a smattering of threats, a few attacks on my character, and it concluded with a resounding NO. As a result, I handed the VP our resignations and I got up and left the meeting. As I walked toward my desk I wondered, “what the hell have I just done?”
I recapped how the meeting went with Ed and Joe. Ed, positive as always, said “I still think they will come back to talk. What else are they going to do?” He was right. Later that day, we were all asked to join a meeting and then asked what it would take to contract our new support company.
With the contract negotiations complete, our new company Blue Castle Corporation (BCC) was official and operational. We had work, and we had no idea what to do next. We took care of the most important things first. We bought a computer, hired a lawyer, and, designed a logo.
We quickly realized there’s more to starting a company than those three things, so we hired a consultant to help get our corporate house in order. Who was going to do what? What is our business purpose? Why are we doing this? (By the way, these are things you should already know before you quit your job and start a company) We decided that BCC would supply software services and support across multiple industries, we would be the best at it, and we would be a people– first company. We would be a company driven by our values and a desire to be the best support and service company, and our employees would be challenged to grow beyond BCC and find their dream career.
BCC had some major skill deficiencies; marketing, sales, and running a business. A book by Michael Gerber, The E Myth, helped us understand what we were missing and what to do about it. I would recommend this book to anyone starting their own business. We really didn’t have a clue how to get our name out and how to drive new sales. Fortunately, we’d built strong relationships in the industry, and our former clients reached out with service work.
A few months in, I was feeling much more comfortable about my decision, and I was really enjoying the freedom of entrepreneurship. I was a business owner. There were many late nights and early mornings that led to contracts at many of the major oil and gas companies to do project–based, seismic grid balancing and data loading. BCC was growing fast, so we hired our first employee, leased a small office downtown Calgary, and thought about next steps. More companies signed on for support with us, and we received a major ongoing data loading contract, so we hired more geoscientists. Eventually, we signed an exclusive contract with Zokero Inc., whose founders also worked with us at our former company. The companies merged to create SeisWare International Inc.
I have had so many learnings and challenges along the way.
Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Having a great idea, concept or a partnership opportunity may not be enough. You should be prepared for long hours, large swings in revenues, lean times, growth, retraction, and challenges that kick your butt.
Think about how this will affect your family and your friendships. What if you are successful, or unsuccessful, what are your next steps? Do you need outside capital to get your business to the next level?
I am so impressed with the number of startups these days and the great ideas and innovations. I started as a reluctant entrepreneur and have grown to love being a business founder. At times, especially during our first major loss of revenue (80% overnight) due to circumstances out of our control, I questioned my decision; I was angry, depressed, and afraid. Fortunately, we got through those times and became stronger for it. I personally became more resilient, open to change, and continuing desire to learn. Many factors in and out of your control can play for or against your business, COVID is a great example. Things will happen, and how you as a business leader and/or entrepreneur chose to step up to the challenge and adapt will have a major impact on how well your business responds.
I am a reluctant entrepreneur, and while there have been struggles, loss (friendships, employees, and colleagues), there have been so many positives. I have been fortunate that I can make a comfortable living, establish friendships, watch careers flourish both at and beyond SeisWare. Mostly, I have become a better version of myself over the years. I am proud of our company and my coworkers. I am thankful for our many clients and partners. I still stand in awe of those that take on the entrepreneurial role. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy.
Murray Brack, a reluctant entrepreneur
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Here’s short video looking back at our year. Happy new year, we wish you all the best in 2020.
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