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Marc Toledo started the very high-tech Toledo Telecom in a very low-tech manner: no office, no employees, no flashy marketing tools – just himself, lots of long weeks, a bit of courage and a little luck.

Marc Toledo started the very high-tech Toledo Telecom in a very low-tech manner: no office, no employees, no flashy marketing tools – just himself, lots of long weeks, a bit of courage and a little luck.

  
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Profile: Toledo Telecom

A Telecom Success Story

By Nick Klenske

Marc seems to be one of those naturally born entrepreneurs – the ones who clearly stand out by lasting as a traditional employee for no more than three months following graduation. “I began working but wasn’t happy with the salary or the direction I saw my career going,” says Toledo. “I had a friend who was a college dropout working on his own and he seemed to have more money, more time and more fun.”

He asked his friend the secret to his success, in which he was told, “Marc, I’m selling wine”. So several days later Marc began his career as an independent wine seller.

Now of course this isn’t where this story stops – after all, this is our Technology Issue!

A New Way of Communicating

It was in 1996, while busy selling wine, that Marc heard about a new system for making phone calls at remarkably cheaper rates. So he ventured to Antwerp to see for himself.

“I immediately knew that this is what I wanted to be doing and right there made it my next challenge,” says Marc. “I had a lot to learn. I was writing software by night, selling during the day, invoicing when I could and providing customer service around the clock.”

Clearly the hard work paid off, as today Toledo Telecom is a leading telecommunications provider in Belgium and is keen on growing further yet. “The key to success in this business is always being at the cutting edge of technology,” says Marc. “This is a matter of life or death for a company.”

Which is exactly why Toledo Telecom is launching the latest in high-tech telecommunications technology.

The new system revolutionizes business communications. With cell phones, iPads, laptops, landlines and PCs – today’s office is becoming more and more mobile. In this sense, the traditional landline is becoming obsolete. In response, Toledo Telecom is launching a telephone system that matches the realities of today’s business needs.

Toledo has really cracked the challenge of remote telephone access, and this gives companies the opportunity to look at home work as a future development, with the key benefit being that telephony traffic is now directed to where it needs to be – and all at €70 per month, including unlimited phone calls to fix and mobile lines throughout the world.

“Our Voice in the Cloud system lets you have one phone that connects to all your places of work, whether that be a GSM, landline, iPad or computer,” explains Marc as he provided AmCham Connect a demonstration at the Toledo Telecom headquarters. “More so, with this system, you can have numbers from around the world, all diverting to your dashboard.”

From the dashboard, one can control voice mail and make calls from various numbers – both landline and GSM. In other words, you have a traditional switchboard available with you all the time, everywhere.

“This is the beauty of cloud computing, you can send and receive calls via the Internet, eliminating the costly and burdensome need for landlines,” says Marc. “The future is now and it is with cloud computing. And via the cloud, Toledo Telecom is turning the voice into an application.”

With a Little Bit of Luck…

Marc Toledo is a clear example of a successful tech start-up that developed into a substantial business player. So what’s the secret?

“Hard work,” says Marc.

“It wasn’t until after three years in business that I finally stopped working on Sundays, and not until five years that I gave up Saturday office hours!”

Offering advice to other entrepreneurs, Marc says: “You have to be willing to work hard. The key is to always be thinking about the customer. If they like what you do, they’ll be your best sales person.”

In addition, Marc, who is also a member of the AmCham Belgium Board of Directors, says starting your own tech business requires a lot of courage and a little bit of luck.

“Often times the difference between a great business idea and a successful business is luck – or being in the right place at the right time,” says Marc. “For me, my luck was having an article about my new technology published in

The Bulletin, which got me one of my first major clients.”

The name of that early client: AmCham Belgium.

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