Looking Towards a bright future

10th October 2002
from Stornoway Gazette - by Maggie Fraser

As the Lewis-based company ReefNet prepare for the finals of another national business award, Maggie Fraser talks to its founders about their thriving business. One fledgling company in Lewis has demonstrated that it is possible to live and work in the Isles and successfully compete in the challenging world of e-commerce.

Alex Tearse set up his company, Reefnet, in May 2001, along with his business partner, Anne Buchanan, 28, to provide advice and services for Internet and e-business needs.

Although business was fairly busy last year, it has 'boomed' in 2002 and the pair now have many new clients.

Not satisfied with the accolade of Shell LiveWire Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Western Isles, Alex has also won his way through to the finals of another national business award.

Alex, 29, completed the Royal Bank of Scotland sponsored Business Growth Challenge in April, along with 16 other young representatives from businesses across Scotland. He was subsequently invited to compete for the £1,000 prize and the title of 'Champion of Champions' on November 10.

"We have certainly been doing more than just competitions," Alex stressed. "We have been working as well. In fact, we haven't had time to stop and think about where we are going. We also won the Winners of the Web award out of a lot of entrants, and there have been jobs coming in every day."

Since May last year, Reefnet have produced more than 30 websites for a wide range of customers. They recently finished 10 sites for the Western Isles Tourist Board's Visit Hebrides initiative, and also produced this year's Hebridean Celtic Festival website.

Reefnet has also been involved with many mainland based companies over the past year, including recent work for London-based training company, Communicashone, and lighting designers in Nairn, i-Light Productions.

"A significant proportion of our work comes from mainland-based companies," explained Alex. "It is important to us to keep this trend going and try and bring money in from outwith the island, and to show people that you don't have to be based in a big city to produce work of the highest quality."

He added: "We are also busy just now looking to expand, especially our premises. We want an office with our names above the door."

Reefnet currently works from an office in Anne's house in Aignish, but the pair are looking for premises to allow them to expand.

"We've outgrown my house now, and need room to allow us to start thinking about tak ing somebody on," said Anne. "As our reputation spreads, the volume of work is steadily increasing, and it looks like we'll be even busier this year then we were last year. We will eventually be looking into the possibility of employing some people, but we are still in the initial stages of that idea."

At the moment, the pair are concentrating on preparing for the Business Growth Challenge final in November.

Looking forward to competing for the title of 'Champion of Champions', Alex said: "I'm going to go into it, not trying to win, but aiming to enjoy it. The value of it is going to be getting to sit down and think about things, especially the future of the business."

Anne, however, is positive that her business partner will bring home the title next month. "He simply has to win!" she said.


Shell LiveWireShell LiveWire winner: Western Isles

W@W Winner : Highlands and Islands

Shell LiveWire



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