Passions get innovator on his way

By Gill South

Aucklander Sam Thom is just 25 years old but already has two businesses with bright futures. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Aucklander Sam Thom is just 25 years old but already has two businesses with bright futures. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The beauty of being young is you don't know what you don't know. You just go for it and there are other options if things don't work out. This can make young entrepreneurs fearless competition for their more seasoned counterparts.

Music Quiz's Sam Thom was in the middle of an arts degree at the University of Auckland when he thought: "I'm not enjoying this, I feel like I want to get on with things."

He is now 25 and has two businesses. The main one, Music Quiz, runs the Ultimate Music Quiz, in which teams interact using wireless electronic handsets. Answers and leader boards appear in real time on big screens as music plays.

The other business is a boutique stationery outfit, Note to Self, selling recycled paper notebooks, made and distributed by Croxley New Zealand, with which Thom has partnered. He has also finished his degree.

Thom spent three months researching the market for Music Quiz, getting the technology and the programming together and creating the website, and brand.

The quizzes cover numerous genres and current event music questions.

"It pleases everybody, it's very diverse," says Thom, who DJs at the dancing afterwards.

In August 2010, the first Ultimate Music Quiz was held at an event for 100 people. "We started off hosting for corporates like Air New Zealand, Vodafone and Toyota."

Big companies have generous budgets, he says.

The largest group he has catered for was 500 at a school fundraiser.

The Music Quiz idea is not a complete surprise, given Thom's background. He is the son of Murray Thom, the record producer and music marketer behind the successful Great New Zealand Songbook and the Great Australian Songbook.

"I have always had a passion for music," says Thom.

According to Thom's business coach, Zac de Silva, his background stands him in good stead.

"Sam is a great example of growing up in an entrepreneurial family and then applying his family learnings to good practice in running a successful business."

Thom was still living at home when he launched the businesses, doing sailing coaching while the start-ups were young. He has represented New Zealand in yachting.

There are now 50 Ultimate Music Quiz events a year and Thom has sold his first franchise in Melbourne. The next step is Sydney, and Britain is also in his sights.

Thom is taking advice on franchising. "I'm doing a business coaching course at the Icehouse. I'm not making any hasty decisions."

He is proud of Note to Self, which sprang from another of his interests, writing and keeping journals.

However, there was much to-ing and fro-ing needed to take the stationery idea from conception to reality.

"When you are young, you don't realise how much work goes into making something. It took many meetings and emails."

For now, Music Quiz is his main focus, with taking it international his aim. "Clearly it would be a wasted opportunity if I only made a half effort," he says. "I am certainly open to going and living in the UK. I wish there could be 10 of me."

- NZ Herald

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