A returning expat robotics expert has plumped for the very soul of the Kiwi dream as the basis for his Internet start-up: the family bach.
Peter Miles launched Bachclub.co.nz this week. The free Internet service is aimed both at bach owners and holiday renters.
Bach owners – typically extended families – can form their own clubs via the site and use them to co-ordinate occupancy, schedule special dates and gatherings and post messages for others in the club.
Miles says administering a shared holiday home "can be a real hassle… BachClub provides a private, secure facility for bach communities to jointly look after a holiday home. The tools we've designed take the pain out of having friends and family share a bach - so everyone's guaranteed a great break."
Later this year, Miles plans to launch BachRent, while will allow owners to place their baches in a rental database with automated search and booking facilities.
"The average New Zealand bach would be lucky to have 20% occupancy throughout the year. Baches constitute a significantly under utilised asset. By using the planner features built in to BachClub we can seamlessly integrate rental management," says Miles.
"We're not just providing a holiday home rental service- we're becoming an Application Service Provider for holiday home owners. It's a completely different model. When you start digging into it there's an endless list of related services."
Revenue is initially coming from onsite advertising, which can be targeted by region. When BachRent launches, it will take a percentage commission from the renter and a "nominal" registration fee from owners.
Miles - who returned to New Zealand last year after 12 years abroad, during which time he specialised in high-end robotic automation - says he came up with the idea while camping in Leigh, north of Auckland.
"I was with a New Zealand friend of mine who lives in the UK and works as an Acoustics Consultant. He's faced with the same dilemma that I have in terms of wanting to move home - but knowing that, chances are, we won't get to work in our respective specialisation. We were brain storming about things that we could do back here. I wrote up a short business plan and it'd been sitting on my laptop."
Last July Miles returned to the idea and entered it in the Great New Zealand Venture competition run by the McKinsey consulting firm – it didn't win, but he funded its development from his own pocket.
"The budget's definitely been shoestring. Fortunately, my secondary goal was to expose myself to the various technologies involved in this style of project - so I didn't mind pouring hours into it and enjoyed taking an active roll in both the design of the site and the HTML and scripting."
Miles developed the site with the Takapuna-based development firm ThoughtBubble, which, although it has a relatively low profile here, is well established in the UK and has development expertise with ColdFusion.
Miles has partnered with Aucklander Amanda Kabel on the venture, and also got back in touch with local photographer Jocelyn Carlin, who he met a year ago on a flight to Los Angeles, just after she had completed her book 'Beach'. Carlin's beach pictures are now a feature of the site.
Miles is currently in the US seeking partners for a localised – and, given the indigenous nature of the word "bach", rebranded – version of the service there.