There once was a time when,
if ambitious adolescents wanted to make extra money, they
would take on a paper route, mow lawns or wash cars.
But no longer. These days, they're turning to a more
lucrative pastime than doing odd jobs -- they're becoming
Webmasters, turning to the IT world or starting tech-based
Take Keith Peiris. He's only 13 and in the seventh grade,
but as president, founder and CEO of the Web design,
e-business and marketing company Cyberteks Design, he's
already a veteran businessman, having founded his company in
Don't think that his company is a small, one-person
operation turning out cute little Web sites for friends and
family. The company, in Canada, had $130,000 (Canadian
dollars) in revenue last year and was named as one of the top
50 Canadian Web development and services companies. And Peiris
was chosen by the Canadian Prime Minister, Joseph Jacques Jean
Chrétien, to join him and other Canadian businessmen on a
trade mission to China.
You might think that finding success at a young age would
go to his head, but Peiris is unassuming and disarmingly
articulate. And he started using computers at a very tender
"I started using computers when I was 3," he recalls. "When
I was 9 or so, I started learning about building Web pages. I
thought it would be really fun to do Web design and wanted to
try something new."
Peiris didn't learn his skills in classes--everything he
knows, he taught himself. He taught himself Macromedia Flash,
for example, by spending 2 hours a day at it for 30 days.
A month after he started his company, he had his first
client, a public school. And the clients have been coming back
ever since. Companies such as KEWL, a hockey apparel company
founded by Shayne Corson and Darcy Tucker of the Toronto Maple
Leafs, signed him up to create their site.
Peiris spends about 2 hours a day after school working with
his company, and from 2 to 10 hours on weekends.
While you might expect he would face ribbing from
schoolmates, he said, "My peers don't really care...I keep my
two lives separate." If anyone has problems with his success
at a young age, it's a few misguided adults, not other kids,
"A minority of adults say that I'm too young to be doing
this or that by doing it I'm taking money away from adults...
My advice to other kids wanting to do this is to ignore what
adults like that say."
As to whether he'll be doing this job when he's an adult,
Peiris said, "I'd like to stay with this company when I grow
up, but the field might change. I'd like to be with whatever
the next technology will be."
Given his success up to now, there's no doubt he'll be
there. And by then, he might even be starting to shave.