We believe in entrepreneurship and the will to overcome all obstacles to successfully realise one’s projects. We believe in the courage of men and women who have decided to innovate and create their own businesses to make their dreams come true while creating jobs. Charles-Albert Gueury is one of them.
Charles-Albert Gueury is a self-made entrepreneur and he became one of the French experts on digital video monitoring (known as IP video monitoring) which allows us to obtain videos in high resolution.
All beginnings are difficult
Aware of the important opportunities offered by the development of Internet, Charles-Albert decided to create his own business specialising in web design, then headed towards the installation, maintenance and audit of specific hardware. But his career was not without obstacles. Here is his story:
"In 2006, when I decided to explore the area of digital video monitoring, I discovered a sector that was developing very fast. So I created my business, ‘Clicview’ with the slogan ‘To see without being seen’. Rather than simply installing cameras, I chose to offer tailored solutions to meet the specific security needs of special customers, such as large hotels and embassies.
I wanted to expand my business so I started looking for subsidies, but then I encountered the first difficulties: on the one hand, the lack of information on existing subsidies was blatant, and on the other hand, the administrative burdens were highly discouraging. I did not receive any guidance on the available subsidies, which were anyway very scarce for young entrepreneurs. Most importantly, to build a file to obtain these subsidies took a considerable amount of time which, as an entrepreneur, I did not have.
This is why I decided to start raising funds to introduce my company to the open market, which then seemed easier to me than finding subsidies.
It was then that I entered a period of great difficulties. I had underestimated the difficulties of management and I was surrounded by people who were not, in the end, reliable. We quickly came to the brink of bankruptcy because we did not reach the results we had set. It was a fast descent into hell; banks did not support us and I had to face the labour court when I had to separate myself from some of my employees. As a boss, you know, you are always seen as the bad guy.”
Learning from your mistakes
Charles-Albert found himself in a position that almost 200,000 companies in Europe face every year. A vast majority of cases end in liquidation taking the much-valued jobs with them. In these times of crisis, it is more important than ever to offer people like Charles-Albert a second chance.
According to the European Commission, evidence suggests that failed entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes and are generally more successful the second time around. Up to 18% of all entrepreneurs who go on to be successful have failed in their first venture.
Until recently, bankruptcy was viewed with despair by entrepreneurs in Europe. Insolvency laws were geared more towards punitive measures rather than helping companies restructure. Entrepreneurs would look to banks to save their failing businesses, and banks had tightened their belts in the midst of the crisis.
Harmonised cross-border insolvency proceedings to save jobs
But this started to change with Member States realising that helping companies better manage bankruptcy was a way to save jobs rather than lose them. National laws started changing and the EU launched efforts to harmonise insolvency laws for companies that do business cross-border.
People like Charles-Albert were the reason for this change.
“I did not give up. Straightening out my business took me two years. During that time, I reduced charges, my own income, I fought in order to have several repayment schedules and most of all, I developed a unique approach into a field where there was not much competition, that is to say the use of ‘smart cameras’ for infrastructure that require a perfect mastery of video monitoring solutions. My company then expanded and now has seven employees. I also plan to hire three people before the end of the year."
The European Parliament has now voted into law measures that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of cross-border insolvency proceedings, affecting an estimated 50,000 companies and 1.7 million jobs across the EU every year.
Helping companies better manage bankruptcy
This legislation is a first step towards a European 'rescue and recovery' culture to help companies and individuals in financial difficulties: The new rules favour restructuring distressed businesses and thus also favour the creditors who are more likely to get their money back than in the winding-up of the bankrupt company.
They also help clearly identify jurisdiction for the proceedings as well as help avoid multiple court cases encouraging the different national courts to work closely together.
Bankruptcy should not be a life sentence. It wasn’t for Charles-Albert Gueury. After overcoming his difficulties, with courage and tenacity, he is now recognised as a reference in his sector.