Doing deals the Halobiz way

23:57, Jul 19 2011
Business buzz: Julie South launched her Waikato business website earlier this month, aiming to bring like-minded customers and businesses together.
Business buzz: Julie South launched her Waikato business website earlier this month, aiming to bring like-minded customers and businesses together.

A broken dishwasher was the catalyst for a new Hamilton-based website that went live this month in the hope of putting the heart back into business.

Halobiz is the brainchild of former business manager Julie South, who saw an opportunity after moving to Hamilton in 2008.

"The dishwasher broke down a few years ago and I had trouble finding advice on where to find someone to fix it and I thought, wouldn't it be good to have a place or organisation you could go to find people with the same values and beliefs that I did," she said.

As a recreational cyclist, South thought it would be good to find a tradesperson who not only fixed things, but had a passion for cycling.

"[It's] a way of bringing people together who have more things in common than just a business transaction," she said.

She spent the next three years developing Halobiz, an online business directory that connects businesses with community organisations such as schools, churches, sports groups and charitable organisations.

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"For example, someone with a daughter at Hamilton Girls' High, who might be looking for a plumber or electrician, can either search traditionally for a plumber in Hamilton, or they can search to find what organisations or schools the plumber might support, which may lead them to someone with an association to Hamilton Girls'." South has worked on the Halobiz project fulltime with help from her husband, Alan Breen, a Hamilton-based pilot with Air New Zealand.

Together they have targeted more than 700 community organisations and 2500 small businesses between Kihikihi and Huntly to raise awareness about their website and encouraging them to get involved.

"Seventy per cent of advertising fees from any business that chooses to advertise with us will go directly back to organisations they support and that are also linked with our online service."

While a nominal fee is charged for organisations to join Halobiz, South describes the site's business model as "low cost but high volume".

"A business can come on board and advertise with us for $349 and for that they get presence on Facebook and links to other sites.

"We polish the halos wherever possible, including tweeting about our businesses and linking them with like-minded groups."

South said Halobiz had launched a four-week promotion this weekend, asking Facebook friends and site visitors to vote for their favourite charity.

"The charity that receives the most votes throughout New Zealand will win $500, but they need to be part of the Halobiz community to participate," she said.

Together with her husband, South is hoping the Halobiz concept will lead to a nationwide model, but for now they are concentrating on getting it working well in the Waikato. "Our next plan is to target the greater Waikato region and Bay of Plenty before moving further afield, but it remains a work in progress."

For more information, go to halobiz.co.nz.

Waikato Times