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Wednesday   7/27/2001
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Digital prodigy eyes Guang dong
  I am a CEO who happens to be13 years old. I got my logical mind from my mother. She read from15 books every night when I was younger. Keith Peiris, who has received 50 awards for his web design technology and gained fame as the youngest CEO in the world, is committed to developing his career in China. And he said Shenzhen is the ideal destination of business.

WHEN Paul Lau, Canadian Consul General in Guangzhou, formally introduced Keith Peiris as Canada's youngest entrepreneur at the Festival Canada 2001 in Guangzhou last week, the entire audience erupted into thunderous applause to welcome the smiling 13 year old Canadian boy.

Keith Peiris, CEO and Chief Creative Director of Cyberteks Design, has become a legendary figure thanks to his innovative interactive Web technology. In an exclusive interview with Shenzhen Daily, the young entrepreneur said that he is committed to developing business in China, especially the Pearl River Delta region.

Peiris indicated that talks with a company in Dongguan are not yet finalized. I hope to get in touch with more local friends to seek mutual development. Peiris said that he is also actively seeking partnerships in Shenzhen, which he describes a technology city.

Peiris was invited as a VIP guest by the Canadian Consulate General in Guangzhou to attend Canada Day celebrations. Canada Day is normally July 1, but this year ceremonies at the consulate were rescheduled for July 18 .Peiris said that he and his father also took this opportunity to explore the Chinese market and meet potential customers in Guangdong.

This is Peiris's second trip to China. In February he was one of the 600 strong business and political leaders accompanying Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien on a trade mission, which took him to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

He was introduced to Premier Zhu Rongji in Beijing. In Hong Kong, he was presented with the Outstanding Digital Youth Award by the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) and the Hong Kong Junior Chamber (HKJC) in recognition of his achievements and contribution to the IT industry.

China is a great country. And it offers great business opportunities. By 2020,China will be the country with the largest number of Internet users. The huge potential of the Chinese market is attractive to anyone in the Internet business, Peiris said with a smile.

I have identified the market. Hopefully I can get ahead of others in developing business here in this great country. Looking smart and fit in his business suit, Peiris demonstrates surprising maturity. Instead of talking about the wonderful Internet tools that fascinate young technologists, he concentrates on business opportunities.

Peiris has already set up branch offices in Beijing and Shanghai, in addition to its several existing branches in New York and other American cities.

I am the boss with seven employees and drawing six figure yearly salary from his web design company, the young CEO is not content with his achievements. Peiris said that he must constantly learn new things and make the right decisions to move his business forward.

My objective right now is to make my company as successful as it canbe, Peiris said. Though a boy of13,Peiris has already learned the skill of decision making. He talks like a well trained businessman and always knows what to say. His father, Deepal Peiris, a soft spoken gentleman originally from Sri Lanka, smiled with pride as his son took questions from journalists last week.

People may think that my father makes decisions for me. In fact I am solely responsible for all business decisions. I discuss problems with my father and other colleagues. But it is always me who makes the final decision about what todo, The boy CEO said.

According to Deepal Peiris, he is an employee and consultant for his son. Except setting up Cyberteks Design Company and providing initial investment, he has always played a subordinate and supportive role.

Though I have quite some business experience, I leave all decisions to my son. He is used to independent and analytical thinking. And I am pretty confident that he is capable of doing the right thing, the elder Peiris said.

The boy admitted that he sometimes has debates and arguments with his father. But I am the boss, Peiris said firmly.

In recent months, Cyberteks business has increased 600per cent, an incredibly speedy growth for a small company.

From play to work Despite his busy work schedule as a CEO, Peiris spends most of his time at school. He likes English and maths and is a goalie in the regional youth league.

I usually spend two hours in the afternoon and some time at night managing my company, he explained.

The young CEO takes a detailed approach to management, making sure that all the coding and functionality are up to expectations.

For me designing web sites is fun. It is simply play that some how generates revenue. According to his father, the boy received a far from cutting edge desktop computer when he was three years old. The father, not knowing what the machine would bring to the boy, He told him not to be afraid to breakit.

The computer opened up a new realm forme. I then learned to use the DOS system to write simple programmes. In the next few years, the boy became a young computer specialist, carrying off over 50 awards worldwide. Despite his fame, though, the young CEO still downplays his creative work as simple fun.

According to father, the boy has an insatiable obsession with technical excellence in the same way as any boy who wishes to be best in his favourite games.

Show me the best web site out there, I will do better, the boy once told his father. Now Keith Peiris has a large customer base in North America and other parts of the world. He has been invited as a VIP speaker to many academic forums in Canada and America. He will also travel to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Sri Lanka to meet business and political leaders there.

According to his father, the boy will address a high level forum where former US president George Bush will be a keynote speaker in Hong Kong later this year. However,the boy does not view himself as a celebrity. I am simply turning my hobby into a business. And thats it. I am working with a lot of fun. Peiris said.

Fam ily support

Deepal Peiris does not hide his pride of his son. We are proud of the boy. I do believe that he is smart. But the family support has always been a necessary help. His parents, Deepal and Sryia Peiris, left Sri Lanka in1981 to settle in Canada first Montreal, where Sryia was working on a doctorate in organic chemistry, then London, a city, 200 kilometres southwest of Toronto.

The father did all kinds of small jobs to keep the family together. And when the boy was born in1988,Sryia gave up her job to stay home and raise him. As a scientist, she understands the importance of analytical thinking. In the first few years of the boy s life, Sryia read him stories and articles every night.

The boy has an insatiable desire to learn, always demanding she finish the bedtime lectures before going to sleep. It is big sacrifice on the part of her mother. But we both feel it was worthit, his father said. I believe that I got my analytical skills from my mother. She shaped my mind while reading me books when I was younger.

Keith Peiris allotted five percent of Cyberteks Design' s stake to his mother and made her as his trustee for his 95 percent stake.

Already planning ahead, he is saving money to study business and computer engineering when he is older. In closing, he said he is excited about being in Guangdong.


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