Youth was no barrier to two Auckland teenagers who have produced a CD-Rom restaurant guide to the Auckland market.
Auckland University students Laura McDonough and Michael Scantlebury, both aged 19, created Dining Insights with full menus, wine lists, Web site links and 300 photos of more than 50 restaurants. Scantlebury says agreements have been secured for it to be the exclusive dining guide at major Auckland conferences throughout 1999.
Dining Insights has sponsorship and naming rights deals to help cover running costs, but start-up capital came from the pair's own savings. The CD-ROM had its beginnings in 1997, when McDonough was finance director of a Young Enterprise company called Impero formed while she was in the seventh form at Diocesan School. Impero produced a CD-ROM called Dining Out In Auckland.
Scantlebury says they made enough profit to cover their costs at university and to continue to expand the business. Revenue is primarily earned from advertising fees from the restaurants featured, as well as from major sponsors. The CD-ROM has been distributed free with the business newspaper National Business Review. Scantlebury says the financial return has been worth the time involved, but he believes the profit made so far is small compared to what could be earned.
"Our focus last year was more on building a reputation of a reliable advertising medium, but will become more profit-focused as we grow."
They encouraged restaurants to become involved after displaying their product on a laptop at each restaurant. They believe the latest version of the CD-ROM is far superior to their first in terms of the technology, user-friendliness, production and quality of information.
The pair will be producing the CD-ROM at least once a year, and are discussing the possibility of more seasonal editions with restaurant owners. The CD will remain the main focus, but they are looking at building an Internet site to provide more up to date information. They have also been approached by other businesses for contract work to produce multimedia products.
Dining Out In Auckland won the Computerworld Honour Award for Youth IT Achievement and Impero won the Computerworld Young Enterprise Award for Overall Excellence. Impero was wound up at the end of last year, but McDonough re-established Impero with Scantlebury, who is another Young Enterprise Award for Excellence winner. The pair are studying for double degrees in their first year at Auckland University.