Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Central Florida since the age of seven, Hector Torres, owner and founder of Horizons Live, has built a business that combines his passion for giving back and supporting new startups with his extensive knowledge of web design, communication, infrastructure, networking, IT management and engineering technologies. Torres shared the story behind his journey and what he ultimately hopes to accomplish with his business.
"After high school, I went to Seminole State College and then Valencia College where I studied Computer Engineering Technology and Networks, earning my Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certifications while at Valencia" he said. While I was in school, I worked for Custom Masters in Longwood. I did a lot of programming, setup and operations around Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) Machining and was primary POC for all IT related issues. I spent a total of fifteen and a half years with Custom Masters before going to work for TeleSpeak, a leading developer and provider of hosted contact center software solutions and virtual presence."
For Torres, the decision to start his own business was partially based on the need for stability, but also fueled by his love of working on computers and his desire to make a difference.
"When the recession happened, I saw how my employer was impacted," he said. "That experience made me think, 'What can I do to have income for my family wherever I go?'. I knew I had to do something online. In January of 2007, I decided to launch Horizons Live."
Horizons Live focuses on consulting with small businesses and helping startups get off the ground. They offer a variety of services through partnerships and by leveraging Software as a Service (SaaS). Services include HR consulting, web design, marketing, communication services, infrastructure, networking and tech support. If there's something Torres can't do, he'll outsource the work to a handful of trusted partners. For example, if someone wants a full call center solution, Torres can provision the job and handle the software side of things, but would outsource the hardware piece.
Torres shared how he got the business off the ground and some of the early challenges he faced along the way. "My friend Michael had a business and needed a website," he said. "I did the work for him and then a friend of his asked if I could do one for him as well. From there, the business just continued to grow. People asked if I could do different things and, as a result, I kept expanding my list of services. If I had more funding early on, I could have grown the business faster, but I didn't want to take out a loan. Time management was also a challenge. I was working a full-time job with TeleSpeak, raising a family and working on Horizons Live whenever I had free time. It was a busy time."
Part of what Torres enjoys most about running his business is also what helps to differentiate the business from others. He takes great pride in building the company and challenging himself on a personal level. He wants to be the firm that encourages their clients to strive for greatness. He derives a lot of personal satisfaction from helping others achieve their goals. To that end, he works hard to get to know the businesses they work with and to truly understand their challenges.
Looking ahead, Torres is focused on growing the business, but would also like to create an internship program. During his time with TeleSpeak, he hired and oversaw the activities of many interns. This was an impact-full experience for both sides and one that Torres would like to replicate at Horizons Live.
What advice does Torres have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Don’t give up on your dreams," he said. "Starting a business is a step by step process that takes time. It's important to be satisfied with your efforts and to not just focus on making money quickly. Follow your dreams for the right reasons. When you fight through your obstacles and you make it, because you will eventually make it if you keep going, you'll look back with no regrets."
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