Leaving the surety of a nine-to-five job takes a lot of courage, but in 2005, Stephen Spence made that leap, giving up his job at the HEART Trust/NTA to form a company with some friends. While that initial venture was not successful, he started SMS Communications in 2007, which was only the beginning of great things to come.
Starting out with nothing but a laptop borrowed from his son in the living room of their home, the company has now grown to having more than 250 clients locally and regionally. Having studied information technology and computer science at the University of the West Indies, Spence had the foresight to see how the mobile technology industry would grow.
When SMS first started, there were no models locally for Spence to fashion the company after. A pioneer in his field, he advises other entrepreneurs to be willing to put their own money into their ideas. "Show the willingness and heart that you'll do anything to get the company off the ground," he said.
Spence's own sacrifices have paid off as today SMS does business in nine countries, providing services to the banking sector, insurance companies, the police force, schools, restaurants and airlines, to name a few. He believes that the scope for text messaging solutions is vast, which bodes well for the growth of the company. Spence also received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Scotiabank Technology Award in 2007, the year he founded his company.
The avid football fan supports Liverpool Football Club and also plays weekly. "Work hard and be healthy. It's not possible if you are not healthy," said Spence. Giving back and mentoring is also important, and he has established an entrepreneurship club as well as a five-year bursary for the "top student in each year group" in the area of information technology at Wolmer's Boys' School.
Spence credits perseverance as the key to his success over the years. "I believe in what I'm doing and as a result, even though there have been many hurdles I stuck to the task and it has paid off," he said.