After qualifying as a programmer in the UK and completing mainframe training with IBM, Mike Bloomfield donned a backpack and went off travelling around the world. He arrived in Australia in 1994 and took a job in corporate telecommunications sales with AAPT before starting his own reseller busines, MB's Computer Brokers, in Bowral a year later. In partnership with his wife, Michelle, he spent a large part of the next five years servicing the technology needs of public and private schools, consumers and small businesses in the region.
"We built our own systems and the business was about 80 per cent product sales," Bloomfield said. "But by 1997 we noticed it was becoming difficult to move the volumes so we started to move to a services model. Whenever we found a faulty machine, we would take it out and put one of our own in."
In 2000, he moved to Sydney and took his reseller business to Mosman before opening in further locations including Castle Hill, Frenchs Forest, Darlinghurst and Glebe.
Two years ago, MB's Computer Brokers became A PC Genius. It is now run on a sub-contractor model and currently has five offices operating in and around Sydney. Bloomfield still has a hands-on approach to business and can regularly be found crawling under desks to check network cables. It was while he was carrying out a routine job that he had a chance encounter with 2UE Radio presenter, Murray Olds.
"I was fixing this guy's computer in April 2004 and just happened to ask him what he did for a living," Bloomfield recalled. "He told me he was a radio presenter and I told him he should have me on his show offering technology advice.
"Two weeks later, I gave him a follow-up call and it turned out a massive worm had just hit. He asked me if I could go on that night."
That initial 10-minute troubleshooting spot on Murray Old's Late Show quickly grew, and the next nine months often saw Bloomfield on air for up to one-and-a-half hours a week.
He even launched a website that collated the information and gave people a central repository to go to when they needed to download free advice. It covered a wide range of topics from the basics of buying a PC and conducting hardware checks to cool technologies like wireless broadband and online gaming.
"We were picking up listeners in Canberra, Nowra and all over NSW," he said. "The show was being relayed to seven other radio stations across the state. It was meant to be a 10-15 minute slot but [2UE presenter] Mike Williams started giving us a full hour and I had to bring other technicians in to help me.
"In the nine months the show was on the air, the website captured the details of 400,000 unique visitors."
In August, Bloomfield had sold his troubleshooting vision to Netgear managing director, Ian McLean, and was making a half-hour corporate video for the networking vendor. It wasn't long before friends and customers were calling Bloomfield to say they had just seen him on a big plasma screen in Harvey Norman or Officeworks. Satisfied with the end result of its project, Netgear was soon helping him put together a pilot television show.
At the end of January, Murray Olds was moved to a Saturday news slot and A PC Genius left the airwaves. But by that time, Bloomfield had his sights on changing channels from radio to television.
"We want to create a television space for our industry to communicate the amazing innovations available in this country," Bloomfield said. "There's plenty of T [technology] but not enough I [information]. We need an established forum where we can let people know what's available and tell them how it will help their business or make their lives easier at home."
So what's exciting him at the moment?
"Wireless broadband is very exciting - the iBurst [Personal Broadband Australia] product is an absolutely amazing breakthrough technology," he said. "The implications are huge for real estate companies and other businesses with a large online presence."
Bloomfield said his team has invested a lot of time and energy in working out the most appropriate format for a technology show and is negotiating with a couple of major vendors to secure the $800,000 it will cost to get a series through production. But he would also like two more vendors to become silver and bronze sponsors of the project.
"It would be nice to partner with a big software company that would be prepared to offer prizes at the end of every series," he said. Provided he can successfully conclude talks with major TV networks and senior IT industry figures, Bloomfield hopes the show will hit our screens in March.