We normally only feature companies that have proven concepts in the Entrepreneur Journeys series. This concept, however, is not entirely proven. It is interesting and bold.
Sramana Mitra: Benoit, where are you from? Where were you born and raised? Give us some back story of the Azzimov journey.
Benoît l’Archevêque: It’s a rather peculiar story because I’m a French Canadian. I come from a very low class family from Montreal, Canada. I was actually raised by a plumber and my mother was a Customs Officer – very creative people but not really much into businesses. I was surrounded by people that never really did anything to create a company. They’re not entrepreneurs. I come from a weird place where I didn’t know, at a young age, what an entrepreneur was. The only thing I wanted to do in life was cartoons. I studied Art.
Sramana Mitra: All you wanted to do was cartoons?
Benoît l’Archevêque: Yes, doing cartoons.
Sramana Mitra: That’s why the company is called Azzimov. Now I get it.
Benoît l’Archevêque: I wanted to tell stories. Since I was seven, I was actually drawing comic books and inventing stories. I was going to be the biggest and the most famous cartoonist in the world. That’s my background.
Sramana Mitra: Did you do college in Canada?
Benoît l’Archevêque: Yes, I did all my schooling in Canada. I was a good student but not really the best. When I was 14 years old, I wanted to do programming. I remember buying my ColecoVision. I worked at farms during the summers. I took all of my money and bought this 80K computer for $440. I was trying to do animation using a computer. It’s really ludicrous that I was going to be able to do something with an 80K computer. I did learn to teach myself how to do my calculations and maths. I tried to come up with some formulas to be able to make things move around by itself. I was writing line by line in my code. I was not good at all, for one reason. I hate to debug. When I had to go to school, I decided to go with Arts because at that time, there was no school for computers in Montreal. I studied Graphic Arts but was always interested in programming and communication. I’m a serial entrepreneur. Azzimov is actually my eighth company.
Sramana Mitra: Eighth company? Wow!
Benoît l’Archevêque: I’m still running those eight companies. Usually when I see a problem, I don’t say, “Oh, no. Not another problem.” I usually say, “Yes, another problem. How am I going to be able to solve that?” I have this attitude of looking at things from a different angle. I did work for an advertising agency. I was a Creative Director and Art Director. I won a lot of prizes. I even won prizes at the New York Film Festival. I won bronze there for different commercials I did.
Sramana Mitra: When you came out of college, what happened?
Benoît l’Archevêque: When I came out of college, I actually became a billboard artist. I was a portraitist. I was one of the three artists in Montreal who was doing that. Two years later, the company was shutting down, so I shifted to advertising. I worked in advertising for four years. I started my company the day I was fired. On Wednesday night, I was signing for my first mortgage. The day after, I lost my job.