Entrepreneurs

How this founder made boozy mini-golf a $50 million business in two years

Dominic Powell /

Holey Moley

FunLab chief executive Michael Schreiber. Source: Supplied.

If you take a tried-and-true mini-golf business model, add alcohol, and then push it towards a millennial market, what do you get?

In Michael Schreiber’s case, about $50 million in revenue over two years.

The doors of Holey Moley, Australia’s first cocktail bar and mini-golf course opened in 2016 in Melbourne, and since then another 12 stores have opened across the country. The bars are the work of entertainment giant Funlab, the parent company of bowling business Strike Bowling and trampolining business Sky Zone.

Schreiber, FunLab’s chief executive officer, founded Strike in 2002 and scaled the business to over 15 locations across the country before venturing into the trampolining market in 2012. A few years later, Schreiber decided to establish Strike under the umbrella of FunLab, with the goal of evolving the company to have a number of entertainment brands both locally and abroad.

FunLab has just recently celebrated the milestone of hitting $100 million in revenue, coupled with a forecasted 45% growth in its EBITDA for the coming financial year. Speaking to SmartCompany, Schreiber doesn’t shy away from the company’s dogged focus on the millennial market.

“We’ve found what’s resonating with the millennial market is reinventing fun pastimes and making them a great social experience. That thread runs through all our concepts, focusing on that social interaction between 18- to 35-year-olds,” he says.

Along with Holey Moley, FunLab has also opened two new brands with a millennial bent: Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq, an all-in-one indoor boozy amusement park, and B. Lucky & Sons, an arcade and games bar in Melbourne.

With over 35 FunLab venues in Australia, the business is now looking further afield, setting up bars in both New Zealand and Singapore. The business is forecasting $130 million in revenue next year, with Schreiber saying experiences are looking like the future of entertainment retail.

“We’re selling entertainment experiences, which very much plays into the retail landscape today. Traditional retail is under pressure, so landlords are looking for solutions to get people off the couch,” he says.

“Not many people are doing what we’re doing, and we’ve built up a lot of know-how and experience.”

The chief executive and founder also says FunLab has the goal of running the business as much like a startup as possible, despite its near 20 years of existence. For the celebration of the company’s $100 million milestone, Schreiber randomly gave away a brand new VW GTI car to one of FunLab’s 1,180 team members, which he says was a way to “do right by the people who make it all happen”.

“It’s critical for a people-facing business. What happens in the store directly affects repeat business and customer satisfaction,” he says.

Experiences set to dominate

Looking to the future, Schreiber says the business won’t be easing up on its relentless focus on experiences, saying FunLab wants to keep “pushing the boundaries” when it comes to new ventures.

Some of those new ventures will be in the augmented and virtual reality space, along with a delve into the eSports market. Immediately on the cards for 2019, however, is an expansion into karaoke, another tried-and-true market ready for a new take.

“It’s a great fun experience, and we don’t see enough venues providing it,” he says.

“We have to keep pushing the boundaries on our experiences otherwise people get bored. Social meeting is becoming very different, people don’t go to nightclubs to hook up anymore, they’d prefer to meet people and have fun in a social experience with buddies.”

“That’s where we are, and that’s where the market is growing.”

NOW READ: The top 10 mistakes entrepreneurs make according to Guy Kawasaki: Part one

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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