CHARLOTTETOWN, Oct. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - From selling Web sites door to door
to providing a sophisticated, Web-based system for provincial tourism
departments, Dico Reijers has come a long way in 12 years. Today, his company
- InternetWorks Ltd.- is creating a buzz in P.E.I. and beyond with its
flagship solution that enables tourism departments to manage all their
operations online. Dico, 34, who has won BDC's Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Award for Prince Edward Island, will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in
Vancouver, British Columbia.
An avid computer buff, Dico was in university in 1996 when he decided
that he could create Web sites for local businesses and started selling his
services. "The Internet was not very well known at the time," says Dico. "I
didn't have a laptop that I could use to show clients what I could do, so I
just printed out Web site pages and went knocking on doors." Businesses began
to subscribe to his service and, over time, he branched into Web-based
programming solutions, including an online tee-time reservation system for the
golf industry. Several years ago, he won a tender to create an online
accommodations reservation system for P.E.I.'s tourism department.
For Dico, winning that contract with Tourism PEI was a turning point.
"When you're really young and working by yourself, it can be a challenge to be
taken seriously," he explains. "A contract with government increases your
credibility. It showed that they had confidence in us, a small island shop."
Today the InternetWorks system for Tourism PEI has grown to tie together,
in one online package, everything the department needs to keep track of. At
the touch of a button, employees can find out who and where the province's
tourism operators are, whether the operators have renewed their licences and
filed their reports, what the hotel occupancy rate is and so on. "For example,
if a hotel changes its phone number, it is automatically changed on all the
documentation about that hotel," says Dico. "The end user doesn't see the
technology that makes all this possible," he adds, "but it is really slick."
This system is so distinctive that InternetWorks has provided it to
Nunavut's destination marketing organization and has demonstrated it to the
tourism departments of British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and
Labrador, and Hawaii.
Besides offering the innovative system for tourism departments and
destination marketing organizations, Dico continues to provide Web sites and
Web applications for businesses in both the private and public sectors in
Prince Edward Island. His business has grown to include four employees and
some part timers, all focused on what Dico refers to as topend customer
service. "When people come or call here, service is a priority," he explains.
"They know when they need something done that they don't have to worry about
it; it will get done and done well."
"Dico has carved out a niche for himself and created a solution that is a
boon to tourism departments and destination marketing organizations. His
innovation, perseverance and focus on customer service have earned him a
growing reputation that reaches beyond his province," says BDC President and
CEO Jean-René Halde.
"I believe some people are born to be entrepreneurs," says Dico. "It's
like a horse running the Kentucky Derby-you are looking straight ahead and
always focused on your end goal."
Highlighting young leaders
BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards are a highlight of Small Business Week.
They recognize the entrepreneurial spirit, and the business and leadership
accomplishments, of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners from each
province and territory are selected by a panel based on the originality of
their business concept, success, growth potential and social involvement. The
panel also considers the entrepreneur's age when the business was started and
any special challenges that were overcome.
Small Business Week partners
Contributing to the success of this year's Small Business Week and Young
Entrepreneur Awards are the following national sponsors: Rogers, Western
Economic Diversification Canada and Export Development Canada. Privileged
partners are the Pan Canadian Community Futures Group and the Canadian Chamber
of Commerce, which has been a privileged partner of the event since 1981.
BDC is Canada's business development bank. From 94 branches across the
country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing,
venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. BDC works with
entrepreneurs in all industries, through all economic cycles and focuses on
helping small and medium sized businesses in their development projects, local
and global. BDC manages a $10.6 billion loan and investment portfolio and
serves over 28,000 clients. Small and medium sized businesses make up 99.7% of
all employer businesses in Canada. Visit www.bdc.ca for more information.
Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.
For further information:
For further information: or to arrange for an interview on October 21:
BDC Media Room: (604) 893-7343, 1-877-232-9321; After October 21: Johanne
Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929