Online for a fortune
By EMMA CORNFORD
WHEN Zane Samuels forgot his little sister's last birthday, he had to make a quick save.
But instead of rushing to the shops and grabbing a CD or gift voucher like most brothers would do, he gave her a five percent share in his company.
Not your usual birthday gift to be sure ? but then, Zane is not your usual 18-year-old.
The Coutts Crossing resident runs Australia's answer to giant internet auction site eBay, www.auction-australia.com.au.
To look at Zane, a lanky teenager with dark, wavy hair and an eloquent manner, you probably wouldn't pick him as the next Richard Branson.
But Zane's entrepreneurial streak and passion for business are obvious.
"I was never interested in school ? I left in year nine because I didn't care about grades. I just wanted to get out and get a business," he said.
"The best thing about this site is that I could get into it so young, because there aren't a lot of businesses that you can walk into at age 16 and say 'I want to own this'."
For the past 18 months Zane, who attended Coutts Public School, South High and The Cathedral School, has been living with his family at the Sunshine Coast while he developed the site.
Ironically, he found the auction site template on eBay ? the company he aims to rival.
But now he, his family, his personal assistant and life-long friend Zade McLaren, and site programmer Shane Argo, have moved back to the Clarence Valley to run their blossoming business from an office at Coutts Crossing.
"It took him 12 months to convince me that this would work because I'm not that computer literate and I'm not a fan of eBay," said his mother, Christina Samuels.
"But he proved to me that it would work ... and I've been working for him for free for the past 12 months helping with the legal and marketing sides of things that he doesn't have a lot of experience with yet. It's meant a lot of cheese on toast, but it's been worth it."
By Zane's reckoning, he has invested around $20,000 in the site and although he hasn't yet made any money, he expects the financial ball to start rolling soon.
"We have free listings until June 30 and then we'll be charging per listing, but it's pretty cheap. At the moment we're getting more than 1000 listings per week so it's just getting bigger and bigger," he said.
So where does Zane hope to go from here?
"I want to perfect this site for the Australian market and then go into real estate or own a franchise.
"I'd like to own a Subway or a Maccas or something like that. I just really want to stay in the business side of things."