www.alive.cz - first website aimed exclusively at Czech students

Wednesday saw the launch of a brand new website - www.alive.cz - aimed at the Czech Republic's large student population. Czech students are already entitled to the same benefits and savings as any other students, their ISIC and IYTC cards being passports to cheap travel and discounts in shops, museums and restaurants throughout the world. But for the first time information about these special offers and savings will be co-ordinated on a single website, which will also offer students free e-mail, discussion forums and job offers. Rob Cameron was at Wednesday's launch, and joins me now in the studio.

Yes it was champagne and smiles all round on Wednesday, at Prague's Legends sports bar just off the Old Town Square. Matt East is alive's General Director, and this is what he had to say at the launch of the alive initiative.

"At the end of last year, GTS International - the ISIC and IYTC license authority for the Czech Republic - requested us to keep the cardholders of the Czech Republic up-to-date, up-to-the-minute with information relevant to the cards. Well I have to say the thought of a 160,000 telephone calls a week somewhat frightened us. So thankfully a slightly less frightening solution was born: the alive initiative. Thanks to the diverse nature of the Internet, as of today Czech cardholders will be able to not only receive up-to-the-minute information about benefits and advantages, but they will also have access to their very own communication platform. This will be primarily through the free e-mail and SMS messaging services, and unique alive feedback and discussion features."

There is of course a commercial side to alive.cz - snazzy websites don't come free, and the alive initiative is sponsored by big names including MacDonalds and the Czech Republic's third largest mobile phone operator Oskar. So I asked Matt East whether alive wasn't taking something of a commercial risk by launching a website targeting the country's student population - hardly the wealthiest section of Czech society.

"We like to think that it's not so much a commercial venture as such. Because the whole project is not based on any sort of e-commerce, or any sort of advertising-generated revenue. That's why we have the support of a few sponsors to begin with, and in that case we don't consider the project itself as being a risk."

What's the main ethos behind it? What's the driving principle?

"Well basically there were two things that we really wanted to achieve. Number one was to communicate to the student market - the cardholders - on a regular basis. To communicate to them new benefits available to them, because we have a really fantastic benefit network across the country now, like free ski passes, free hamburgers, free pizzas, free food. And the second thing is we really wanted to create a communication platform for them, allowing them to communicate between themselves all in one location. And at the same time as getting that information, they would also be able to communicate that information to friends and colleagues."

For more about the alive initiative, simply check out the alive website - www.alive.cz