by Gloria Welton
Recently UPEI held a Career Day with the Faculty of Business. A variety of speakers talked about their career choices and the steps they took along the way and offered advice to others.
One speaker was Michael Thompson, who co-founded a media production company called Odyssey Virtual while in his second year at UPEI.
In his final year of university, Michael purchased the remaining 50 percent of the business, becoming the sole owner.
He graduated in May 2020 from UPEI with a Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing. Within just two years Michael grew his company to become PEI’s top drone company and top real estate marketing company.
The company continues to show incredible growth through hard work, dedication, and entrepreneurial expertise.
“Six years ago, I was a student at UPEI listening to professors and doing projects. The concept for Odyssey Virtual began while volunteering with a UPEI engineering team. The team built and raced an off-road vehicle in an international competition.
“As part of the engineering competition, the idea was formed to use virtual reality and drone videos to show the vehicle’s safety features. The sites and perspectives captured inspired the idea to create a business using this technology for the real estate market, private sector, and government entities.
“At the time, these combined services were not offered on PEI. We ordered a drone and a couple of VR cameras, and I went on YouTube to learn everything I could about Photoshop and video editing. I was a full-time student and a full-time entrepreneur for three years. By graduation, I had built a full-time business for myself which I continue to run years later.”
Michael’s advice to students who are thinking about starting a business is to take action and to do it now. “There is never a better time to start a business than when you are a student. Students who have a business idea have access to seasoned experts every day.
“I went to professors after class and told them about my business and asked for advice. They were eager to help.
“Never in your life will you have access to so much expertise, consulting, and mentorship. Business students have a great opportunity in their years at post-secondary to start a business, take the business off the ground and create networks before they graduate.
“It has also been my experience that PEI government agencies love garnering young entrepreneurs. I got lots of business support after contacting the right people.
“The biggest change I have seen especially since COVID-19 is the digitalization of businesses. Upgrading websites and increasing the amount and quality of digital marketing has certainly impacted my business positively.
“People want their photos to be professional and videos to be of good quality and effective. A lot of people have asked me to create videos for TikTok and Instagram Reels. TikTok has seen a huge increase in activity.
“Marketing has evolved into a lot of analytical work to see how each post is performing. It is more than posting on different platforms – you need to watch how it performs and make changes to increase the reach.”
Michael says his experience with operating his own business has been very fast paced. “I don’t have other employees, so I am going all the time covering areas such as accounting, marketing, and sales. I do it all – I go to worksites to get the content, I edit the work and send it to clients.
“It is a lot of work. I can’t make my own schedule. I have to be available for clients, so I am on their schedule. I do my best to balance work and life but being in business is very time consuming.
“However, working 14 hours a day for myself feels better than working an hour for someone else. I wouldn’t change what I have.
“I would say you don’t have to start the biggest business. You can start small and work your way up. You can start at something part-time and look for ways to learn and increase your skills. Start small and you will find your way through it.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about Odyssey Virtual, visit www.odysseyvirtual.ca