Boy wonder Keith
Peiris expands his business into China
By Kara Kuryllowicz
fast-trackers. Since launching his Internet design firm Cyberteks
Design Inc. 18 months ago, Keith Peiris has attracted an array of
corporate clients, won a slew of awards and boosted Cyberteks'
revenues to six figures. Peiris's most recent win: while
participating in Team Canada's recent trade mission to China, he
scored a lucrative contract that will see Cyberteks open an office
this summer in Zhangmutou.
Not bad for a Grade 7 student who
turned 13 in February.
Peiris may be too young to drive, but
he's an old hand at computers. He started tapping on keyboards at
age three. At six he was installing software for family and friends.
By the time he was 11 Peiris was designing interactive websites
using Macromedia Flash.
Keith's hobby turned serious in June
1999, when he and his father Deepal launched Cyberteks in the
family's basement. His tech-savvy designs, along with his age,
attracted plenty of media attention and cool clients. Cyberteks has
signed on customers such as Interep, the largest radio-advertising
agency in the U.S., and Kewl Threads, a Toronto-based clothing firm
founded by Toronto Maple Leafs Darcy Tucker and Shayne
But being a whiz kid isn't easy. Peiris, who is
Cyberteks' president and CEO, has had to deal with some pretty
grown-up issues: how to balance school, business and being a kid;
convincing prospects to take him seriously; and setting the future
direction of his business. As he told China's Xinhua news agency,
"It was not easy to start with... but things are getting
Indeed, Peiris's success has even generated hate
e-mail, messages that accuse him of not knowing what he's talking
about. Like all entrepreneurs, Peiris is learning to tune out the
static. "Sometimes I ignore it, other times I let it motivate me to
do even better." Still, he says, "I'm getting tired of proving
Peiris prefers to let his actions speak for him. He
takes primary responsibility for Cyberteks' designs, while his
father, who is VP of operations, handles marketing and finance.
While the two say they discuss every issue, it's Keith who makes the
final decisions. (After finishing his homework, he insists.) When he
needs help, Peiris can call on five part-time staff, who all work
So why go to China? "Information technology will
be a powerhouse in China in the next 10 to 20 years," says Peiris.
"We went on the mission because we wanted to get Cyberteks' name in
there now, before it erupts. It's serious long-range planning that
will pay off."
Perhaps sooner than expected. Peiris and his
dad left China with a contract that will see them open Cyberteks
Design Asia Ltd in July. Better yet, the Chinese government will
foot operating costs for the first two years.
© 2001 Kara