After having finished work on an international film production I discovered the Apple Macintosh computer. This was around 1992. I became quite fascinated by the abilities and the visual interface of that platform at a time when the PCs around the office where I was working still didn’t have the Windows interface.
Soon I became involved with graphics software like Photoshop, Illustrator and Pagemaker. I noticed I had a talent for very quickly learning all this software. And a bit later, around 1995, I became active as a freelance graphic designer working at the time mostly with Quark Xpress.
Through my work as a freelance graphic designer I noticed I was always solving software and computer troubles everywhere I went. Everyone came to me for the solution. It didn’t take long for me to be aware that I had a talent at solving problems and helping people out with their Apple computer troubles.
So, in 1999 I started, together with two business partners, a computer sales, consulting and servicing company in Belgium. This company is called MAC.C and is still active and successful today.
Since 1996 I have regularly visited Barcelona where my good friend Anna lives. And recently we decided to team up and start giving to Barcelona Apple users the same services I have been giving since 1999 in Belgium.
2. How long did it take to get your business off the ground?
Presently we are just starting here in Barcelona. But in Belgium when I started in 1999 it actually took us only about two years to build a nice client base. 2003 was one of the best years we had, which was only after four years of business.
3. What do you wish you’d known when you started?
I am pretty happy the way things have been going. It is nice to have the knowledge and experience I have now as it comes in handy. I can’t say I have faced many surprises when running my business.
4. How easy was it to get the financing for your business?
My business started off with a small initial budget funded by two friends privately. It was paid off with an interest quite higher than what the banks would give and this over a period of four years. Currently my bank has been very flexible and cooperative with everything I wished to do. We have had a very good business relationship for nearly 20 years.
5. Did you find the paperwork difficult?
I always find paperwork boring and therefore difficult. But every month I have to go through it sadly enough. I prefer to help people with their computers. But paperwork is part of doing business.
6. Did you get help from any particular official organisations or associations (e.g. Chambers of Commerce)?
I received no help except from the friends who gave me the loan.
7. What is your business experience / background / qualifications?
I have been working as a freelance most of my life. I have been getting assistance from qualified accountants when necessary. The experience came through the years. It has been easier little by little to make use of the fiscal advantages by making the right decisions business wise and privately.
8. What are the positive aspects about having a business here?
Our business venture is just starting here in Barcelona. I can imagine in a big city like Barcelona that there are a lot of Apple users, private users as well as companies, who would like to get decent advice, help, support and care which they won’t get by going to a shop. I have a lot of experience in a variety of areas related to the Apple platform. And I am multilingual as I speak fluently English, French, Dutch and I also manage Italian conversation.
9. And the negative aspects?
There is little negative about doing what I love doing. I love to help people with the knowledge I have and to share this in an understandable way. The only negative comes from people who are using up my time and are not giving anything in return. Also people who aren’t grateful. Luckily I am good at avoiding these type of customers. If you value my support correctly you will surely be taken care of. No worries.
10. Are there any other useful contacts, tips or information you think would be useful to other foreign entrepreneurs in Barcelona?
With ‘Mac In Barcelona’ we are at the start of establishing our business here. So, at this point in time it is more my colleague Anna and I who are willing to receive feedback on any useful contacts, tips and information to build up our business here in Barcelona.