CHARLOTTETOWN, Oct. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - When Jared Stretch was a student at
UPEI, little did he imagine that his part-time job at a cycling store would
determine his career path. Today, Jared, 27, owns Smooth Cycle, which he has
turned into a thriving business that attracts Islanders and tourists alike and
for which he has earned BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for Prince Edward
Island. He will receive the award tonight at a ceremony in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Smooth Cycle is a full-service bicycle store which sells bicycles and
accessories, and also handles repairs and rentals. Smooth Cycle's bike rental
services include shuttle service from tip to tip of Prince Edward Island. The
store caters to a wide-ranging clientele, from serious racers to tourists, and
people looking to take up the sport as a pastime.
After obtaining a degree in history from UPEI in 2003, Jared was working
at Smooth Cycle and planned to return to university to get his teaching
credentials. His career took a new direction when the opportunity to purchase
the store came up. An avid cyclist who believed the sport was poised to grow,
he decided to become the owner of Smooth Cycle.
Pedaling in the right direction
"It was a rough go starting out," he says. "I was only 23 and I had no
business training. I had a hard time getting people to give me the time of
day." Undaunted, Jared moved the store to larger premises. He expanded the
service department and started selling fleets of bicycles to clients like
hotels and garages, which would rent them out. He also redeveloped and grew
the Smooth Cycle Web site to increase traffic. "Our Web site focuses on
attracting tourist dollars," he explains.
Smooth Cycle has become a visible participant in cycling events across
the province, sponsoring the Cycling PEI road racing series and the Canada
Games team, as well as the Triathlon By the Sea and the Children's Wish
Foundation Duathlon series. Jared is vice-president of Cycling PEI, a member
of the host committee of the Women's World Tour de PEI and also supports Rigid
Riders, a mentorship program that gives young people the opportunity to learn
the sport and develop their skills.
Jared hires only people who are as avid about cycling as he is. "If
you're a cyclist, it's a dream job," he emphasizes. The staff at Smooth Cycle
consists largely of students, some of whom are in graduate school and will
soon be moving on. "Last summer, I hired two young people who were turning 15
and 16 so they could learn the business and be prepared to take over when the
others leave," he says.
As the business grew and prospered, Smooth Cycle moved to an even larger
location on the busiest street in Charlottetown. "My advice to any young
entrepreneur starting out is 'don't quit'," says Jared. "I never gave up, was
always honest with my suppliers and discovered that communication is the most
valuable tool you have."
"At a very young age, Jared recognized a great business opportunity and
has used innovative techniques to take his company to a whole new level. I
congratulate him for his success," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
Jared has never looked back since he took over Smooth Cycle. "I have the
opportunity to have a career that I'm passionate about in a fast-growing
industry," he says. "I plan to take the business a lot further yet."
Young entrepreneurs in the spotlight
BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards are a highlight of Small Business Week,
providing the opportunity to honour the entrepreneurial spirit and business
success 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, its success, growth potential and their community
involvement. The panel also considers the entrepreneur's age when the business
was started and any special challenges that had to be faced.
Small Business Week partners
Contributing to the success of this year's Small Business Week and Young
Entrepreneur Awards are the following national sponsors: Western Economic
Diversification Canada, Export Development Canada and Rogers. 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 a financial institution wholly owned by the Government of Canada.
BDC actively supports the development and growth of Canadian small and
medium-sized businesses through its complementary financial, investment and
consulting solutions. BDC is one of Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2008. 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 16:
Media Room: 1-866-515-6033, (204) 985-6251; After October 16: Johanne
Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929