Business brings home the bacon

David Booth (left) delivers the flat meat to Cameron McQueen (21), a third-year physical education student, of Hyde St. Photo by Jane Dawber.
David Booth (left) delivers the flat meat to Cameron McQueen (21), a third-year physical education student, of Hyde St. Photo by Jane Dawber.
University of Otago students David Booth and Harrison Uffindell were "meating" a need when they launched a delivery service earlier this year aimed at students.

The pair identified a market for quality meat at an affordable price in North Dunedin, and it was an opportunity they "jumped on", Mr Booth said.

Although MeatMail, a subscriber-based home delivery service, has now wound down for the student year, there were plans to grow the business and also take it to other cities.

Initially, the law and commerce students saw it as an opportunity to become involved in a small business and to make some pocket money. But it had evolved and they acquired a peak of 86 customers; a customer being a student flat of five to seven flat-mates. In any given week, they would usually get between 50 and 60 orders. The most they ever delivered was 70.

Mr Booth attributed MeatMail's success to the condensed, intimate nature of the student area.

The enterprise was second in this year's Audacious student business plan competition.

The meat was sourced from a butchery in the city and the pair picked it up in a refrigerated truck, making the deliveries on Sunday afternoons.

It had been a restricted delivery area, focused on the central and north end of the city, as they were doing it themselves.

However, the model they were now working on allowed them to deliver outside that area for a small delivery fee.

The plan was to take it to other centres, including Christchurch and Palmerston North, and area managers were being recruited.

By having area managers taking over more responsibility, it would mean Mr Booth and Mr Uffindell could focus more on administration.

The payment system was developed after a possible issue was identified, that students were traditionally unreliable.

Subscriber sign-ups and billings were outsourced to payment solutions company Debitsuccess.

The pair had committed a lot of time to the project and they now had a very strong brand.

Next year was going to be a big growth phase in the business while, beyond that, there were a lot of opportunities, Mr Booth said.

They had been "very pleasantly surprised" at the pick-up rate, saying they could have justified doing it with 20-30 people. That uptake had turned it into a more serious project, rather than it being for pocket money, as originally intended.

The venture had also been a lot of fun and the resulting message was that as much as it was a realistic business opportunity, it was also a great learning opportunity, he said.

It had also been good to have the support of the Audacious programme and the $6000 prize-money would be very useful.