When he was an 11-year-old growing up in Quebec City, Dominique Brown told his mother he was going to run his own video-game company. It wasn't the idle boast of a boy who spent a lot of time gaming. By the time he was 16, he had a business license and he incorporated just before he turned 18.
"I've had this passion for entrepreneurship for as long as I can remember," Mr. Brown said. "For some reason, it just stuck and I couldn't think of anything else. By the time I was in high school, I was learning how to program software on my own and I was writing games on the Internet."
Financial backing came initially from his parents, who watched how he progressed in his ideas and business plans, with his father taking his plan to an accountant for scrutiny.
The result, Beenox, the video-game development studio, was started when Mr. Brown turned 21, with six staff. He was more than ready.
"I was super convinced of my ability to [succeed]and the reason for that is that I had no idea what I was doing. It is always easy to feel confident when you don't know what to expect," he said.
"We started doing games for Macintosh computers and eventually we created a specialty, where we would take a game that was working on a given platform and we'd convert it to other platforms, like PC to Macintosh or console systems."
This skill led to Beenox becoming a leader in the industry for such transferences.
By 2005, the company was purchased by American interactive entertainment giant Activision Blizzard, and is now divided into two studios, the first concentrating on full-scale game development and the second on the quality assurance of games, testing games created by both Beenox and Activision.
Today, the company is nearing 390 employees. In April, Mr. Brown was presented with an award for outreach outside Quebec by Quebec City's Chamber of Commerce for being the local entrepreneur with the most international outreach.
"I feel very strongly about Quebec City's potential. … A couple of my close friends moved to Montreal because they felt they would have more job opportunities," he said. "I felt like somebody had to stay behind and believe in the city. I was pretty much the only business in Quebec City doing this sort of thing at the time. We're a pretty big company for a city this size and people want to help us make it work."
Mr. Brown lives in the rural idyll of the protected agricultural island Île d'Orléans on the St. Lawrence River, and spends his downtime with his three young children, twin six year olds and a three-year-old.
"I spend my downtown week in a super high-tech environment and my place is surrounded by farms. I live in a small wooden house and have goats, chickens and rabbits," he said. "I take care of the animals every morning. I have this weird life, where it's very technological and then very close to nature. It's how I balance my life. The kids really love that."
Another passion is boxing. Mr. Brown spars four times a week, and is due to take part in a boxing match gala between businessmen for charity - his third fight.
"I swore that I would never do another boxing match after my second one," he says, laughing. "My cause is La Maison Dauphine, which helps kids and young adults get back on their feet. And they accepted it, so now I am stuck, but it is for a good cause."