Trampoline park launches into business success

Antony MorellIt’s rare for a small business to jump in size and revenue to the lofty heights of big business in less than a year.

But that’s what indoor trampoline park Bounce is set to do.

The Melbourne venture is on the verge of expanding its only centre to three more venues in Melbourne and one each in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth by April 2014.

Co-founder Antony Morell says he and business partner Simon McNamara always expected Bounce to take off.

“It started with a family-and-friends night, and we were hoping our large and expensive experiment would pay off,” he says.

“People loved it from the day we opened. The pace at which it has been embraced has been a pleasant surprise.”

Morell and McNamara, who also co-own the Spudbar takeaway chain and Melbourne-based Hobba eatery and bar, hatched the idea for Bounce after visiting trampoline parks in the United States.

“While growing Spudbar we always said we’d love to create something from scratch, something we could conceive in terms of brand, the business model, something that would truly inspire and excite the world,” Morell says.

Although the American parks were uninspiring, Morell says the fact the trampolines were interconnected caught his and McNamara’s interest.

“Linking them up like they do in the US is a big revolution in the world of trampolines,” he says.

The entrepreneurs researched the concept for 12 months, visiting circus schools to take tips on trampolining and scouting warehouses with eight-metre-high ceilings.

They settled on an old computer storage shed in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris and opened their doors in August last year.

Morell says the initial set-up cost $2 million, and although he won’t reveal the budget for Bounce’s expansion, it’s estimated to be at least $5 million.

“We’ve learnt quite a bit about how to scale an existing successful business model, but it’s going to be a lot of work,” he says.

Trampoline parks are booming in the US. Sky Zone, which owns 27 parks, posted $16 million in revenue last year and projects $70 million this year.

While Morell shies away from disclosing the company’s revenue, he says Bounce has well and truly recouped its set-up costs.

Entry prices start from $10 for children and $15 for adults for the first hour, and $7 and $10 for the second hour.

Bounce now employs more than 100 staff at its Glen Iris centre and Melbourne head office, but Morell says a further 60 full- and part-timers will be hired to staff each of the six new sites.

“We have an amazing culture with a lot of young people who are really excited about the business,” he says.

Despite catering for a huge youth market, Morell says trampolining appeals to all ages.

“What we find really interesting is making an adrenaline rush possible for each audience group,” he says.

“Whether it’s a five-year-old doing a star jump or an elite skier doing tricks and flips.

“Trampolines have universal appeal. Everyone loves getting airborne. Remember what it was like to jump up and down on mum and dad’s bed?”

Bounce hosts 5000 visitors each week and Morell says its popularity has not waned.

The indoor activity centre has more than 100 interconnected trampolines and 500 square metres of padding and foam to land on, allowing users to continuously bounce or “free jump”.

Bounce hosts children’s parties, dodgeball contests and corporate sessions.

The company’s wholesome, healthy charm has fuelled its success. But as any recreational operator knows, there are user risks.

Morell emphasises the physical benefits, as well as a low injury rate.

“We have around, or under, one significant injury for every 10,000 people through the door, which is much less than widely adopted sports like footy,” he says.

Delivering an “awesome and safe customer experience” is the number one priority, and Morell says it is among three challenges for his young business to tackle in its next stage of growth.

The other two are designing and building the new venues and creating a support structure and processes to replicate the company’s current business performance.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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