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‘Until now, the amusement industry has been starved of tech advancements’, says ROLLER CEO
Luke Finn, co-founder and CEO of ROLLER
Fri 1 September 2017 - 9:56 amEntrepreneur | Featured | Profiles
Despite being a $50 billion industry, the amusement and leisure sector has been ‘starved of advancements’, according to Luke Finn, the CEO of Melbourne-based tech company ROLLER. Determined to be at the forefront of the industry’s tech evolution, Finn along with his co-founders – brother Mark Finn (CFO) and Will Nicholson (COO) – have seen their digital solutions embraced by venues in fifteen countries, including New York’s iconic Coney Island, along with strategic partner Fairfax Media.
Luke Finn gave Dynamic Business the rundown on ROLLER. He also spoke about the state of the entertainment and leisure industry (including the challenges faced by venue operators) and why – despite rapid growth of ROLLER – the company is only “at the tip of the iceberg” in terms of market penetration.
DB: What is the Roller elevator pitch?
Finn: ROLLER is an all-in-one software platform for entertainment and leisure venues, providing digital solutions across ticketing, POS, CRM and waivers, right through to gift card management and web development. Our mission is to empower amusement and leisure venue operators with seamless digital solutions to enable a superior customer experience. Our addressable market includes museums, zoos, water parks, amusement parks, trampoline parks, family entertainment centres, golf courses and more.
DB: What is the ROLLER origin story?
Finn: Will, Mark and I hatched ROLLER in a small cafe in Prahran, Melbourne in late 2012. Although we began exploring opportunities for better technology in the leisure and entertainment industry in 2010, it wasn’t until a couple of years later that we really got clarity around the model and the platform was born. Since then, our focus has been on building a really great business, and to quote Jeff Bezos, it’s still (and will always be) Day One!
DB: What pain points do you address?
Finn: We’re helping operators address three major pain points. Firstly, operating a venue has typically involved many different systems and suppliers. Secondly, venue admission control is complex. Thirdly, in an increasingly competitive landscape, it can be challenging for operators to differentiate themselves and build real relationships with their customers – it no longer ends with the ‘here and now’ of selling tickets and getting people through the door; instead, operators need to focus on understanding their customers, including their likes, and build loyalty. ROLLER drives the three e’s of an operator’s business: their efficiency, effectiveness and earnings.
DB: Is your industry ripe for disruption?
Finn: It’s VERY ripe. In fact, the entertainment and leisure industry thrives on continuous evolution. For instance, we’ve seen a huge rise in trampoline parks across Australasia, the UK and North America, with operators introducing fitness and activity classes for different age groups to reach a wider audience. Over the next twelve months, we’ll see technology play a major role in the industry’s evolution. Already, customers are researching and purchasing tickets online and managing their accounts and loyalty programs through apps – park owners have an opportunity to capitalise on this.
DB: What success have you achieved?
Finn: We’ve experienced two years of rapid growth, during which we expanded into North America, the UK and Europe with offices opened in London and LA. Not only have we added hundreds of new clients across 15 countries, we’ve seen bookings grow by a factor of 20, we’re processing tens of millions of dollars in bookings per month and we have 40 staff and counting. Further, we’ve become the largest supplier of trampoline park software in the UK with over 100 venues – and we expect to be the largest globally within the next year or two. From an operational perspective, trampoline parks require a comprehensive technology solution, so they’ve been a great testing ground for our suite of solutions.
We count iconic venues such as Coney Island Luna Park (New York), Twinlakes (UK) and Aussie World (Queensland) amongst our key clients, and we’re in the process of signing on a number of large franchise groups, which will ensure our growth trajectory continues over the next few years. Just recently, we announced a strategic partnership with Fairfax Media for our technology platform to be used exclusively across their entire events portfolio, including Kidtopia, Open Air Cinemas and the Good Food Month. Having a large, listed Australian media company as both a strategic investor and partner has certainly bolstered our credibility and financial fire power.
DB: What has driven these results?
Finn: We’ve built out the full stack of solutions for entertainment and leisure venues and deliver them at scale in one integrated, cloud-based platform. This has really differentiated us in the market, though we are not complacent and are continually investing in innovation and new capabilities for our clients. PLUS, we have a team of passionate tech geeks, many of whom have a background in the entertainment and hospitality industries, which helps us understand the everyday challenges faced by our business in leisure and entertainment. We’re very fortunate to have Andrew Brodie, our CTO, as the head of our development team. We’ve been working with Andrew since the early days when he was at an agency, and recognised his deep technical capabilities along with his reputation in the industry. Since he came on board he has attracted some amazing talent, which has helped accelerate our lead in the market from a product standpoint.
DB: Can you name some key milestones?
Finn: Signing up Adventure Park in Geelong, Victoria and Scenic World in the Blue Mountains really took things to the next level. It proved we were able to successfully service large enterprise accounts and since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength. A big win for us recently was signing on New York’s iconic Coney Island. Although the US is a relatively new market for us and we were up against larger, more established solution providers, we came out on top following an extensive due diligence process – this was a real testament to our team’s technical capabilities.
DB: Where to next for your company?
Finn: Even by conservative estimates, amusement and leisure is a $50+ billion industry with hundreds of thousands of venues worldwide. So, we’re at the tip of the iceberg in terms of market penetration. With a relentless commitment to innovation, we aim to pioneer the market and continually bring the newest technology to a truly global industry which has, until now, been starved of advancements. Put simply, we aim to change the way people attend and spend at these venues and in the process help take our clients to new heights. In the process, we’re intent on building a truly great Australian tech company. We have made a lot of progress, and sometimes need to take a step back and reflect on this more than we do, but as you climb one mountain, you quickly set your sights on the next one. The journey is something that we love. We love what we do. It’s challenging, dynamic, impactful and incredibly rewarding.
DB: What’s it like working with a brother?
Finn: Well, here’s a telling sign… at family dinners Mark and I get asked, from time to time, NOT to sit next to each other – the reason being, we just talk about ROLLER all the time!
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