Singer. Dancer. Photographer.Businessman. Techie. Boy wonder. Eric Sit is one of those people who seems to excel at whatever he tries.
Sit started Cyberwave Technologies — one of Calgary’s first Internet service providers (ISP) — in 1995 after attending a seminar about the Internet as a computer science student at the University of Calgary.
“I saw what it could do and I went for it,” he says. “I had had my own online bulletin board system since I was 12, and [Cyberwave] was the perfect extension of that.”
By 1997, Sit recognized the Internet would go mainstream, and ISPs would take on utility models and be mostly provided by cable and telecom companies.
“I sold that part of my business to Cadvision, and instead started developing software applications over the Internet,” he says.
Cyberwave now builds custom web-based applications such as file transfer and gas compressor-optimization software for oil and gas companies.
Cyberwave continued to grow through the 1990s along with Alberta’s boom, and Sit couldn’t find enough staff to keep up. That led him to open an office in Shenzhen, China, in 2004, giving him the staff he required and a market share in one of the world’s largest economies.
The company now has six full-time staff in Calgary and another 10 in China, with revenues of almost $3 million a year.
Despite his IT success, Sit does not spend every waking moment at the computer. He’s just as likely to compete with his wife in ballroom dancing, belt out tunes at karaoke or enjoy being a new dad to his nine-month-old twin boys. And he has won accolades in many of these pursuits — including first prize at the 2007 Stampede karaoke competition.
Sit has also started his own photography business, Xtreme Photography, which has had clients including Elle Canada and Flare magazines, and generates revenues of about $3,000 a month — not a bad hobby.
But nowhere will you find him more passionate than in his community work. “It gives me a very different view of the world; everything else is very business like,” Sit says. “Community work comes from the heart. It’s just a very different feeling and I love that feeling.”
In 2008, as chair of the We Are the World fundraising committee, Sit helped to coordinate a multicultural event that raised more than $80,000 for the Canadian Red Cross’ relief effort for the Sichuan earthquake in China.
“It’s a lot of fun bringing different communities together for a unique cause,” he says. “It was challenging because we only had five weeks to do it. It was the biggest event I did in the smallest amount of time.”
Why he’s the top: Eric Sit made his mark in the IT world by helping to lay the groundwork for Internet service in Calgary. He has also helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for communities locally and worldwide.
The key to his success:
“Success is being able to enjoy every aspect of your life, whether it’s family, work or community,” says Sit. “Relationships are key to success.”