By David Russell
Business innovators often talk about the light bulb moment that changed their lives. For 21-year-old entrepreneur Sam Dickinson it was stepping off a plane and wanting to get a drink.
“I thought there should be one place to find out where to get a drink, or lunch… one place to find out everything there is to do without having to search through a bunch of different review sites and blogs,” Sam told Inside South Australia.
A serial entrepreneur already, Sam wasn’t going to let an idea stay an idea. He got to work on City Brief, a curated city guide for Adelaide cafes, bars, food spots, shops, cultural events and neighborhoods. There’s no paid places; City Brief is “an independent guide of local goodness”.
Sam’s vision for his street mag and website was a well-designed, stripped back product.
“I wanted something simple and easy-to-use… where we could showcase good stuff and unique places. We don’t do reviews, we use tags that focus on unique characteristics.”
While Sam may be driven by a desire to help people discover the best of Adelaide, there is something in it for him as well. Sam’s revenue model involves selling full-page ads in the magazine. The first issue of City Brief, which comes out quarterly, hit the streets in March. By issue number three Sam was breaking even.
““I would like it to turn profitable,” says Sam, “I would also like to grow the sponsorship base and circulation… maybe even set up in other cities.”
Sam was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug when he was just 15. He set up a news stand at the Adelaide Farmers Market and operated the business for a year. That venture paid for his lunches for the rest of the week.
Then in year 12, Sam offered some unsolicited feedback to Virgin Australia that would result in Virgin flying him to Sydney to discuss his ideas with senior management.
“I’d been tracking the rebrand online, how people were receiving it, and came up with a number of ideas. I sent my ideas to John Borghetti at Virgin and he emailed back the next day and offered to fly me over after my year 12 exams.”
One of the ideas Sam went to Virgin with was the magnetic rope between business class and economy.
“They wanted a flowing design (not a curtain) but there was a safety issue with a barrier. So I said ‘How about a magnet, if you ran at it the magnet would break’.”
The magnetic barrier is now used on 110 Virgin aircraft.
Next the 17-year-old Sam launched jaunty, a successful shoeshine stand in Adelaide Arcade. You can see Sam at his stand 11.30 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday. He’ll have a copy of City Brief for you to read while he shines your shoes.