BDC Young Entrepreneur Award winners announced

In recognition of their entrepreneurial drive and growing success, the Business Development Bank of Canada’s (BDC) 2008 Young Entrepreneur Award winners will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Vancouver. The awards are a highlight of Small Business Week, which runs October 19-25 under the theme: “A world without boundaries, open to new markets”.

The winners are selected by a panel of business people, based on criteria including originality of the business concept, its success, growth potential and social involvement. The committee also considers the entrepreneur’s age when the business was started and any special challenges overcome.

While every province and territory has a winner, I’ve shortened the list here to include only companies that are part of the technology community:

British Columbia – Harry Chemko, 29, and Jason Billingsley, 30, Elastic Path Software, Vancouver

With a $15,000 start-up loan as their only outside financing, this pair has built Elastic Path Software into a $10 million company which competes with software giants like IBM and Microsoft. After starting out in 2000 as a consulting business for companies wanting to get online, Harry and Jason spotted a niche that led them to develop a mid-sized e-commerce retail software solution which they then brought to market. Today, their software is used by the online retail sites of some of the largest brands in the world from Google to Samsonite. Elastic Path counts more than 180 customers worldwide, with 91 staff in two countries.

New Brunswick – Dan Martell, 28, Spheric Technologies, Moncton

In just a few years, Spheric Technologies’ Facebook-type social networking innovations have become a hot property with Fortune 500 clients throughout North America. Dan started Spheric as a computer consulting company with a team of high-tech talent working remotely from locations across Canada. To connect with each other, the team developed extensive expertise in social networking tools such as video, podcasting, wikis and micro-blogging. Showcasing Spheric’s advances in this area, Dan pursued North America’s major systems integrators and demand for his team’s services skyrocketed.

Ontario – Sidney Sommer, 33, UCIT Online, Mississauga

An ad for a digital video camera that could be controlled live over the Internet led Sidney to create UCIT Online (pronounced You-See-It-Online), today a multimillion-dollar business. UCIT Online, founded in 2002, installs these cameras on construction sites and feeds the video to a monitoring centre where an alarm alerts the centre to any trespassing. Working directly with the police, the company averages two arrests a week, a record in the security industry. The company has branched into the transportation and manufacturing sectors and launched a new service called Remote Concierge that replaces building concierges with round-the-clock remote monitoring.

PEI – Dico Reijers, 34, InternetWorks Ltd., Charlottetown

From selling Web sites door-to-door to providing a sophisticated Web-based system for provincial tourism departments, Dico has come a long way in 12 years. A turning point came when he won a contract with Tourism PEI for an online accommodations reservation system. This led to a long-term relationship and a system that Dico has evolved and expanded to encompass all aspects of a tourism department’s business in one slick package. Today, InternetWorks’ innovative solution has also been adopted by the destination marketing organization that runs Nunavut’s tourism industry and has sparked interest in other parts of North America.