With volleyball running through his blood after playing elite level for Australia, Greg Jury took a leap of faith in opening Geelong’s first beach volleyball Centre after a call about a vacant block in South Geelong.
Ten years after first witnessing the vacant land the business is thriving, with previous experience establishing Vic Beach Melbourne and an understanding of the sport helping Greg establish what players wanted from the centre.
“I was passionate about it and I was coaching all the time, and that was pretty much the secret to me,” Greg says. “All I had to do was to have retention and make sure we had really good customer service and then all I did was live my life really.”
Located next to the well-established Geelong Basketball Netball Centre, you could assume establishing a clientele would be an easy process, however Vic Beach Geelong had to start relatively from scratch.
“It helped in the aspects that it exposed us to those who loved sport, but we really had to go out there and get that retention. We knew that was the secret. Giving our clients the time and giving them customer service they don’t often experience in other centres,” he says.
With all going well in the centre, Greg came across another business venture by pure chance – and one that would see him reach for international exposure.
“I was on my way back from an event in Japan and I was at a noodle bar and this guy pushed down on something and opened up a beer and I thought, ‘This was really cool’,” he says of his introduction to the product in 2003.
“So I bought one home and used it behind the bar [at the centre] and every time I used it people would say, ‘Where did you get that from?’. So from that we decided to import them as trophies and we would give them out at the end of the competition. At the end of that week I think I had about 20 or 30 people come in and ask for them.”
Becoming aware of the products potential, Greg researched patents and branding in his first steps to bringing this product into the Australian market.
When someone from Repco approached Greg with the proposal of ordering 10,000 products, the possibilities of Bottlepops really came to light. And of course, the experience on Shark Tank in 2015 helped open the doors to the business even further.
“Originally our focus was in the trophy and sports industry, and now we’ve become focused on putting different heads on them to what we’re going into now which is going into licensing which is the main reason why we first went onto shark tank,” he says.
Now with a two-year contract with Marvel, Bottlepops is looking at breaking into the American market, with a clever ‘Mr.President’ creation bearing an uncanny likeness to the current President of the USA.
“We are doing this as a strategic thing to break into the American market,” he laughs.
With a clear vision for marketing and branding opportunities, the challenges for Greg personally lied in the numbers behind the business. Initially “over his head” when it came to figures, he taught himself, understanding the importance of knowing them in a business. “Those things are really important for shareholders,” he adds.
It was understanding the numbers that helped Greg and his business partner Stephen Brooks land a spot on Shark Tank and succeed in gaining a $150,000 investment from Andrew Banks and Steve Baxter.
“We couldn’t have ever asked for better exposure. We had the biggest two weeks of online sales you can ever imagine. It was a great experience,” he says before adding, “I am who I am today and better for it because of that experience.”
Read more stories and entrepreneurial tips here.
This article was written from the insights during Greg Jury’s breakfast event with us. Purchase tickets to our next breakfast event here.