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Level 1,
Manchester Unity Building, 220 Collins St, Melbourne

Dr Kia Pajouhesh accepts the 2014 Telstra Victorian Business of the Year Award.

Dr Kia Pajouhesh accepts the 2014 Telstra Victorian Business of the Year Award.

Dr Kia Pajouhesh of Smile Solutions accepts the 2014 Telstra Victorian Business of the year award.

Acceptance speech transcript:

Presenter: The 2014 Telstra Victorian Business of the Year is Smile Solutions

Dr Kia Pajouhesh: Thank you so much for this.  I’m truly humbled. Yes, my business started from scratch. $2800 I paid for my first dental chair. And my dental nurse would leave at lunchtime – even though we had patients right through to the end of the afternoon. We couldn’t afford to pay her past a certain point. So yes, it was tough.

But I just want to share a little story. And why I think it’s so important to rely on your instincts and believe in your path. 12 or 13 years ago I was certain that I’d find my location to put Smile Solutions into.

Three years I searched up and down Collins Street – as a dentist, you want to be a Collins Street dentist. Nothing came up. The buildings were all lifeless, soulless. And one night during massage, I had an epiphany – and I’ve had the same massage therapist for 23 years. And I turned around to her and I said “Vic” – which is also my wife’s name as well – I said “Vic, I’ve just had an absolute vision”. I said my vision is that my practice is going to be in a church. And so the next morning I drove my car outside of Currajong House, 175 Collins St, and I parked the car. And I started walking around looking for this church. And I went up towards Scot Church on the corner of Russell and Collins Street and I looked around and at the little library underneath it and I thought, I can’t see myself fitting a dental practice in this church. I need something bigger. And I walked around the block and saw St Paul’s Cathedral – and I know by now you’re probably thinking, ‘who the hell have we given this award to? (laughter) This guy’s an absolute nutcase! (laughter)’ But I was absolutely convinced in my instincts that what I had seen, was true.

And so I walked into St Paul’s Cathedral and I looked around and I thought I wonder if I can talk to uh… the right people here, you know? Maybe a little corner? All I need is two or three chairs. Maybe we work towards quality rather than quantity. And I left the St Paul’s Cathedral feeling quite despondent. Feeling a little bit like a dick (laughter)

And I walked down Swanston Street, holding on to my wallet. And I came towards Collins Street and I looked up and I saw the Manchester Unity Building. I don’t know if you guys know the building I’m talking about? It’s on the corner of Collins and Swanston St and it’s that magnificent art deco building – and I looked up and I said ‘Jesus Christ, that is my church’.

I called up the agents and said ‘Is there a space available?’ and they said  ‘oh there’s space available for lease on level one’ and I said to them I will have bought that space within a week.

One week later I had purchased level one. Ten years later we have five floors in the building. And we have 27 dental chairs on the go.

It’s as simple and complicated as that.

Thank you very much.

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