Chris Thierry: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Chris Thierry, whose company, Etelesolv, was recently named one of the 50 Best Small and Medium Sized Employers in Canada by Queen’s University’s School of Business. What was the inspiration for his career route? Find out in today’s profile… 

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Etelesolv helps companies get a clear picture of their telecom and IT spending and assets. Big organizations – those with over 1000 employees – tend to overspend on telecom and IT by 9 to 15 per cent a year. This can equate to millions of dollars in waste. Via a platform we’ve just completed, called Cimpl, we help some of Canada’s biggest organizations, in every major vertical, get a handle on their telecom and IT costs. It’s about connecting information, clarifying data and getting our clients in control of their resources.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I had the opportunity to work closely with a successful serial entrepreneur early in my career. The experience left an indelible imprint upon me. It was the late 90s/early 2000s, and telecom companies were just starting to sell their services online. We saw an opportunity to help them with their ecommerce platforms.

From there, it went beyond ecommerce. We began loading invoices into web-based platforms to improve the cost visibility of telecom for companies. It started with cellular phones then we added  wireline, and today IT technology. We now can connect more than 80 different telecom and IT assets and service types on our platform.

Back in the .com era, I was 23 and wanted to retire at 25. As the market shifted I realized there was value in keeping the company going. The idea I could do something, build something and help others pushed me to continue.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is the people. We’ve built a great team across the country and I love interacting with them – it makes work not feel like work. When you love what you do, it takes the work out of work. I wake up daily without an alarm clock.

In terms of challenges, we’ve grown rapidly from a team of just a few into the biggest telecom and IT expense management company in the country. Thankfully, we’ve put a lot of time and resources into building first-rate technology, like our new platform Cimpl, so growth and costs are manageable for our clients.

We are living up to our potential. People are aligning to the potential that we see in Etelesolv, and we all want the company to keep on going. Seeing us achieve this potential is what drives me everyday.

Where do you see your business going in five years?
Etelesolv will continue to invest in technology, people and its clients. To date, these investments have all come organically. With the upcoming launch of Cimpl we want to revolutionize the way companies manage IT and telecom and become the Canadian and international leader.

There are so many disjointed systems in companies and the fundamental changes in cloud, mobile, big data and social have a dramatic impact on how firms operate. I hope Etelesolv will have a major role in helping companies adjust to the new environment and revolutionize the way they manage their telecom and IT.

In terms of our clients, I want to continue collaborating with them to overcome the problems associated with telecom and IT management in big organizations. This means connecting data, clarifying the picture and getting them an unprecedented level of control over their resources.

What does success look like to you?
If I link it back to what I hold close to my heart, I would say that I am proud of what we are doing. We have great employees, a great company, great clients and great partners. People like coming to work and that is what gives me a sense of accomplishment.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Definitely when we landed our first customer with our first product, Telemanager. It was a year-long process and they’ve remained our client, acted as a reference, and have believed in our potential.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Follow the opportunities. Many come along in your life, and you’ve just got to take a hold of them. Take opportunities over money. Travel, follow what seems to be right for you. If you do this, the success and money will come afterwards.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I’m proud of our involvement with the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Big Bike event. We’ve been involved since 2010, and it’s a great cause near and dear to my heart and the company’s heart.

Beyond supporting an important cause inherent to our core values, we decided to get involved in honour of our colleague who had passed away. We were deeply affected by this tragic moment and wanted to do something special in his honour.

We have recently signed up as an organization to participate in Movember. Recently one of my friends passed away at a young age and I want to make sure men don’t take their health for granted. It took the sudden death of my close friend, at age 36, to make me realize this on a personal level.

What is Notable to you?
Being transparent, there are so many people that hide the truth. Be honest with people and yourself. People follow those that they trust.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone…but soon to be Windows Phone.

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
I have two kids who keep me quite busy. I’m also a big time Habs fan and love getting out on the rink for a game of hockey a couple times a week. Been playing with the same bunch of guys for the last 15 years.