COMING up with a recipe for a successful venture is hard work at the best of times but it helps if your bright idea comes from an industry you have loved since you were a teenager.

Food and beverage had been meat and drink for Ms Ivy Woo for 15 years when that idea struck her three years ago.

Ms Woo, who was working in restaurant marketing at the time, started thinking about how Singapore's many small eateries manage to promote themselves without breaking the bank.

How could they reach out to the public with news of promotions or new menus without having to hire full-time marketing staff or engage the pricey services of advertising or public relations firms?

She had the answer: FoodNews.

So she quit her full-time marketing job almost immediately and began working on making her idea a reality.

'At the start, it was just my website and me,' said Ms Woo, 35.

She hired a firm to create a website where restaurateurs could upload news and updates for the public.

Journalists writing about food could also register with the website to receive daily or weekly compilations of the updates, along with photos.

Though it sounds like a simple enough set-up, it required a high amount of capital.

'It cost us about $80,000 to put together, because the website had to be able to send out automatic alerts and it involved a lot of back-end processes,' she recalls.

She received financial help from two partners, one of whom is no longer involved in the company. The other partner, Mr Shermin Cheong, is certainly still around. In fact he and Ms Woo married earlier this year.

'The truth is, if I didn't have him, I wouldn't have taken that first step,' she says. 'When you're about to put all your money into a business, you worry, you still have bills to pay and family to take care of. But with his support, I was convinced that I would be able to do it.'

All the start-up capital was poured into the website so she did not have money left over to hire anyone to help her with the business.

It was a 24-hour job and she began drawing a salary only after the first year.

'I survived on savings and, fortunately for me, my partner was my boyfriend then, so I lived off him.'

She used her contacts in the F&B industry to gain her first few clients.

When the site was launched, there were 30 restaurants signed up. Today, FoodNews represents about 80 restaurants, including Novus at the National Museum of Singapore, Pamplemousse Bistro and Bar at Dempsey Road and Rang Mahal at Pan Pacific Hotel.

About 300 journalists and editors have registered with the site to receive regular news alerts about the eateries.

The firm has also branched out into public relations at the request of some of its clients.

Ms Woo now has a team of eight - three public relations executives, three personal assistants for the executives and two employees who focus on social media services.

Instead of just using FoodNews as a conduit for getting their news out in the media, the restaurants who have signed up for public relations services also consult her and her team on a range of issues, from what to serve during Mothers' Day to how they should price the dishes on their menus.

It has been quite a journey for Ms Woo, who quit school at 18 to work as a waitress because she realised how much she loved working in the F&B industry.

But it is still just the beginning.

Now, she wants to spend more time in building up her website. She plans to hire a webmaster just to look after the portal, and she wants to team up with like-minded companies in a similar business so that she can expand the range of services that FoodNews offers to its clients.

'I think the site has so much potential. I'd like to build it up to the point where media all across the region are accessing it.'