'We lost it all' - Omar Anglin bounces back from business collapse to carve niche in BPO market
The business process outsourcing business, BPO, continues to grow in Jamaica and new entrants are cashing in on the growth spurt with both the Government and private investors building out additional space at a fairly rapid pace.
One young Montego Bay-based investor, determined to get a piece of the action, has learnt his lesson from a failed bid at being an outsourcing operator.
Bouncing back from a heart-rending collapse of his first start-up in 2014 at age 24, entrepreneur Omar Anglin has now carved out a niche and is turning a profit from outfitting BPO spaces for turnkey rental. He also readies operating space on contract for local and international operators entering the BPO market in Jamaica, and matching investors with outsourcing clients overseas.
Anglin's renewed approach to business came after bitter experience having done work for a client who refused to pay after making only a small initial deposit on the outsourced job. He tried desperately to keep the just months-old business ACTEC Outsourcing Solutions afloat, keeping workers on and paying salaries out of his own pocket before soon calling it quits, having dug himself into a $5-million hole.
"We lost it all," he recalled of the failed venture that was seeded with $2.8 million of his own money and with a few friends having pitched in "their little savings", comprising only about two per cent of the start-up capital.
"When we started we were doing so well. We were the talk of the talk: a 24-year-old with his own call centre, only to find out that it was short-lived," Anglin said of the business that lost about US$30,000.
With savings depleted and car loan and credit card debts piling up, he sought unsuccessfully to get a debt consolidation loan from the banks. Short-lived, too, was the financial demise suffered by the William Knibb Memorial High graduate, who initially dreamed of being an architect, but soon discovered in high school his love for business.
"I closed it down in October 2014. I was in deep debt," he said. "I was always known as a risk-taker, but at that time, I didn't know what my next step was. I went to Florida for a while to clear my head and decided to sell assets to clear debts."
It was in the liquidation of the failed business that he saw the business opportunity that would eventually refloat him and enable him to stamp his mark again. Anglin called up other BPO operators and found a ready market for his computers and office equipment.
"Within a week they were selling like crazy," he said, noting that he took in more than he had spent acquiring them.
"I realised there was a need for someone to supply equipment to call centre operators. I said this is what I should be doing - supplying call centres. I shouldn't be operating them, because I am a natural salesperson," Anglin recounted.
The new business
From this realisation, a new venture, Sales James and Liquidation Services, was born in 2015, buying computers, workstations and office equipment at a discount from liquidations in the Florida, then reconditioning and reselling them to more than 20 of the growing number of BPO operators in Jamaica and even to one Florida-based company.
Soon the business included renting offices and outfitting them with furnishings, cabling, and information and communications technology (ICT), in readiness for would-be BPO operators. The recruitment of staff for investors and the provision of computer network servicing, accounting and scouting for outsourcing business overseas for local BPO operators were later rolled into the services he provided.
From this, the now 27-year-old chief executive officer of the expanded company, Anglin Global Affiliates, which he created in 2016, has built out, owns and now has eight turnkey call centre outfits with a total of 360 seats on rental in Montego Bay.
In addition, he has outfitted many more operating space on contract for BPO investors in Montego Bay, Westmoreland, Ocho Rios, Portmore and Kingston, and readied more than 600 seats in this way.
All told, Anglin says he is proud to have helped to create more than 500 jobs in the sector.
He also told the Financial Gleaner that, to date, he has invested some $30 million into his business ventures with not a dime coming from bank credit. Capital has been built up from multiple incomes, including accounting services to other companies while reinvesting to build his enterprises.
His own ventures have been assisted by state investment promotions agency Jampro, which has been helping to link Anglin Global with overseas businesses looking to either outsource to Jamaica or set up parts of their operations here.
"We just built 52 seats for some clients and are scheduled to build another 72 seats," the businessman said.
The latest dimension of the business is the manufacture of workstations and cubicles.
"The manufacturing operations are based in Montego Bay and Kingston. When we have supply jobs in Kingston, I rent a workshop there, hire skilled people and make the cubicles there," Anglin explained.
He is weighing plans to expand his turnkey operations to Kingston, Portmore, May Pen, and St Ann, and even entertains thoughts of getting into the building construction side of the business.
The entrepreneur and investor sees his key advantages at this time being his ability to help operators start up their BPO ventures with as few as 10 seats. The spaces he owns are of various sizes, including 30-, 60- and 100-seat operations. In addition, he provides integrated services including space preparation, equipment supply and service, staff recruitment, janitorial services, bookkeeping and outsourcing business brokerage.
These achievements are the fulfilment of the entrepreneurial attributes Anglin has nurtured from high school. While he did not study any business subjects at William Knibb in Trelawny, he made a name for himself selling technology gadgets such as mobile phones and accessories to other students.
He later took a course in ICT at the Pre-University Institute in Montego Bay, and started a business administration degree at Northern Caribbean University majoring in accounting. He abandoned the degree programme to devote more time to the demands of his then fledgling business, but not before absorbing substantial accounting knowledge.
The road to business ownership for Anglin - even his first venture that collapsed - was not a direct or easy path.
His first job interview after school was for a kitchen staff position at the Wexford Hotel in Montego Bay. During the interview, he noticed that the hotel's managing director encounter a computer-based problem, which he volunteered to solve. He was hired not in the kitchen, but as a cost controller in the accounting department, later becoming the cost controller, purchasing manager, then hotel accountant.
After Wexford, Anglin entered self-employment, offering accounting services to several small businesses in Montego Bay while teaching himself computer coding. It was the experience of his friends who were employed as call agents, trainers and supervisors in call centres in Montego Bay, coupled with his burning desire to set up his own business, that stirred his interest in that sector.
To acquire hands-on experience in the field, Anglin joined major BPO operator Xerox in 2012, where he did accounting, process improvement and systems building. He soon resigned to start ACTEC Outsourcing.
Angling does not foresee the bursting of the BPO bubble any time soon and plans to be a player in the industry for the long haul.
"With BPO being one of the fastest-growing industries, I plan to spend a lot of time there," he said.