Twenty-four-year-old entrepreneur Daniel Williams has launched a campaign to create more people like him.
The west Aucklander has formed NETwork (New Enterprise Today), which aims to find 20 young business leaders to coach 40 businesses headed by IT entrepreneurs.
Five years ago, Williams and a group of friends formed webhosting company Webdrive with just $500, after he built a website for his favourite US rap metal band Korn. Since then, Williams claims Webdrive has grown to have a turnover of $25,000 a month. Its site claims to serve over 2000 domains in more than five countries, including web-based software sites like WebScriptWorld and providing online content for websites like Shoutweb, a large rock music site.
Williams says the growth of Webdrive was slowed by a lack of advice. “Because it was such unchartered territory and such a new industry, nobody knew how to help,” Williams says. Having someone to talk to “would have been of immense help”, he says.
“I want to share with others the experience I’ve gained from starting out on my own ... and provide that opportunity for young people, who are going to be tomorrow’s business people and our future customers.”
Williams believes today there are young people working in IT businesses capable of offering advice, assistance and support to other young people starting out. “There are people still in school who have great ideas for IT but don’t know where to start. So I’m wanting to get this group of people together and say: ‘Hey, you’ve got a great idea and you want to start your own business? Come see us’.”
The director of the four-employee firm has contacted various agencies such as the Young Enterprise Scheme and the NZ Enterprise Trust to discuss his ideas. He says he wants mentors in the 25-35 year-old bracket who have been in an IT business for more than three years.
Computerworld has featured older business mentors, but Williams feels they are not as adaptable to today’s technology. His scheme won’t compete with them, he says, because they cater for existing businesses, while NETwork aims to encourage new businesses and guide them through the process.
Williams says he plans to approach schools and tertiary institutes to spread the NETwork word. In recent years, he says, he has met many teenagers writing software and coding web pages and have ideas “wanting to come out”.
"My mission is to have 40 new businesses set up by January. From there, who knows what else is possible,” Williams says.