Entrepreneurs scanning business opportunities

Dr Lisa McNeill, from the University of Otago, chats with Master of Entrepreneurship students (from left) Buks Lundt, Jonathan Daley and Martin Haanen, about the launch of their new business. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dr Lisa McNeill, from the University of Otago, chats with Master of Entrepreneurship students (from left) Buks Lundt, Jonathan Daley and Martin Haanen, about the launch of their new business. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Three entrepreneurial Dunedin men have a goal - to create jobs.

Jonathan Daley, Buks Lundt and Martin Haanen are behind the start-up business Qntfi, while studying towards Master of Entrepreneurship degrees at the University of Otago.

Mr Daley, a quantity surveyor and builder, came up with the idea of a mapping service.

Following a start-up weekend at the beginning of the course, Mr Lundt gave it some thought, contacted him and said, ''Let's do it''.

Mr Haanen, who was recently made redundant from his job at Perpetual Trust, later joined the two men and Qntfi was born.

They now had a hand-held 3-D laser scanner which could be used to scan everything from buildings to ships and tunnels. They had already received inquiries about aerial scanning.

Describing it as cutting edge technology, Mr Daley said time saved in assessing buildings or infrastructure was money saved.

''As fast as you can walk around a place, we can scan it,'' Mr Haanen added.

The trio have lofty goals - ''We want to go global, simple,'' Mr Daley said - while continuing to work from Dunedin.

They have established an office in Auckland, but said their head office would always remain in the South.

Dr Lisa McNeill, from the University of Otago's School of Business, said the Master of Entrepreneurship programme gave people the tools to create a job and that was very important in today's economic climate.

The number of budding entrepreneurs who started a business while still on the course was increasing and she believed the economic climate was behind it.

''Part of this course is about giving people a practical toolkit to get out there and be business people. Not get out and work for a business, but set it up for themselves,'' she said.

It was exciting to see many of those who had been through the programme, which was established about nine years ago, end up with ''a really good business''.

Dr McNeill believed a lot of people were not aware that Dunedin had everything that a start-up business needed.

There were lower costs, it was very accessible, there was the support of the local community, including the university and Otago Polytechnic, and a strong network of business people.

''It's magically together here,'' Mr Daley added.

Dr McNeill said one of the benefits of starting a business while still studying was that the business school was set up to provide contacts and it supported its students into the market place.

Those who successfully launched businesses were later brought back to the classroom to inspire the current crop of students.

Originally from South Africa, Mr Lundt has been in business all his life, including in the hospitality, logistics and telecommunications industries.

He described the Master of Entrepreneurship course as ''most probably the best thing I ever did''. He had learnt a lot and was thoroughly enjoying it.

Coming together for an intensive four days every six weeks, the ideas just seemed to flow and some of those ideas were ''unbelievable'', he said.

Those on the course came from all sorts of backgrounds - ''we've got dreadlocks and we've got suits'', Mr Daley quipped - but shared a similar passion.

Mr Haanen appreciated that a fear about ''putting your ideas and taking it forward'' had been ''stripped away'' and he believed that establishing the programme was very far-sighted of the university.

''We're not talking about it, we're actually doing it. I just think that's the most important thing ... that fear of 'Oh gosh, should we?'.''

It was also a very practical course, he said.

The Qntfi team had already made connections in the United States, Canada, the Middle East, Papua New Guinea and the United Kingdom.

The aim was to provide a nationwide service and potentially become a knowledge exporter, Mr Daley said.

The trio planned to run an online auction for the first 3-D scan of a property in New Zealand, with 50% of the proceeds going to Diabetes New Zealand.


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