Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

October 21, 2008 23:59 ET

UCIT Online secures a niche market - Sidney Sommer wins BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for Ontario

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Oct. 21 - Losing his job in 2002 may have
been the best thing that ever happened to Sidney Sommer. It prompted him to
come up with an ingenious idea that uses sophisticated surveillance technology
to secure construction sites from theft. He has grown UCIT Online (pronounced
You-See-It Online) into a multimillion-dollar business. In recognition of that
success, Sidney, 33, has won BDC's Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for
Ontario and will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Vancouver, British
UCIT Online installs camera equipment on construction sites and feeds the
video to a monitoring centre, where an alarm alerts the centre to any
trespassing so the police can be contacted. "We work directly with the police,
so we have quick response times," says Sidney. UCIT Online currently monitors
hundreds of sites around southern Ontario and averages two arrests a week.
That's a record in the security industry and a factor that has made the
company popular with clients.
The firm has successfully branched into the manufacturing and
transportation sectors with their "Remote Guard" and "Remote Gate Control"
services; they have even gone one step further with the recent launch of
"Remote Concierge". This innovative new service replaces building concierges
with round-the-clock service that can control resident and visitor access to
buildings, accept deliveries and make emergency calls - all from a
state-of-the-art monitoring centre. UCIT Online has also recently expanded
into Alberta and has no intentions of slowing down.

Seeing the opportunity

Sidney started his career in the aviation sector. In the aftermath of the
9/11 terrorist attacks, the company he worked for closed down its North
American operations in 2002, leaving him without a job. When he saw an ad for
a sophisticated camera that could be viewed and controlled live over the
Internet, it sparked an idea for a business. "I thought of so many
applications for the camera," says Sidney. "I borrowed the money to buy one
and installed it in downtown Toronto. I designed a Web page and flyer that
directed people to my demo camera, and I started to get some sales."
As demand for the product grew, Sidney identified a niche market: the
construction industry, where theft and vandalism on building sites are major
problems. "I was able to talk a big builder into using us. The next hurdle was
getting approval from most of the major insurance companies to replace
security guards with our system," he explains.

Focusing on service

Today, UCIT Online is a 14-person company that works with a monitoring
centre-Meglan Technologies, of which Sidney is part owner-and has not lost a
single customer since starting in 2003. "We provide exceptional customer
service and that is key," Sidney points out. "Early on, I would even sleep out
on some of our sites." Another key to his company's success, he says, was
timing. "Currently there is a huge shift in the security industry from analog
to IP products. We've focused on IP since the first day five years ago. A lot
of security companies are still using analog equipment. That has put us way
ahead of the game."
UCIT Online has given back to the community by installing and monitoring
systems free of charge to help the police with special cases. Sidney is the
security consultant for his local business association, and his business
donates regularly to local charities and associations.
"Sidney is a true entrepreneur. He came up with an innovative idea, found
a niche market for his product and developed it into a flourishing business
that is a leader in its field," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
"This business literally started in my mom's basement," says Sidney. "It
took a lot of hard work to get where we are now, but I have always believed
100 percent in what I'm doing."

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.

About BDC

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 for more information.

Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.

Contact Information

  • BDC Media Room: (604) 893-7343, 1-877-232-9321; After October 21: Johanne
    Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929