Awesome Story FT. Flipout Christchurch
Andrew Moss is the owner and operator of the Flipout trampoline arena in Christchurch, one of the largest of its kind in the world and part of the world-renowned Flipout franchise.
Andrew was a former computer engineer and high school technology teacher. He moved to Christchurch from Canberra about two and a half years ago with his family. The reasoning behind the move to Christchurch was to become part of the city’s thriving entrepreneurial and innovative post-quake community. He and his family were attracted to the can-do attitude and passion-filled perseverance that Cantabrians displayed throughout the post-Earthquake rebuild process.
Q: What inspired you to start Flipout Christchurch?
A: Before I moved to Christchurch, my son spent at least 3 days a week jumping-about at Flipout and we were a fixture there for about 3 years. When we decided to move to Christchurch, I jokingly told the owner of our local Flipout in Canberra that — sorry, he was about to lose one of their greatest customers because we’re moving to Christchurch! That’s when he mentioned Flipout was looking to open a branch in Christchurch.
The Flipout parent company was set-up about 5 years ago in Australia by Brent Grundy who rapidly built the franchise numbers up to about 35 of them across Australia. There are now 5 in Australia and they’ve recently opened up 17 stores in England now. They are rapidly growing internationally.
Q: How did that franchise model work for you? Did you feel that there was enough support in getting started in Christchurch?
The only reason you go into a franchise is because the systems are already in place to actually get the business up and running. I felt it was really good to have that backup and assistance behind me. It meant that I felt I had extra confidence in actually being able to do it properly
A: It has worked out quite well we’ve got a whole network of Flipout’s around the world that we can bounce ideas off (pun intended!). Additionally, the equipment actually gets built in a Flipout factory in Poland so again you’re not dealing with a whole pile of unknown suppliers.
Q: What are you most passionate about?
A: My background is in teaching actually, I taught in Australia for 8 years before starting Flipout, I taught years 11, 12 and 13 and I like working with younger people. Flipout is definitely a good outlet for children both physically and socially and it’s great exercise in a good controlled environment.
Q: Why did you think Flipout would work in Christchurch?
I like the idea of trying new things all the time. I’ve been a computer engineer and have worked some huge military, space, and submarine projects.
Teaching was sort of a whole new thing for me, something I came to later in my journey. This business is also new. I’ve never done anything like this before and I’ve learnt a great deal over the last few years. That’s probably why I like it so much, because I don’t really know what I’m doing but I’m learning on the go all the time.
Q: What is the target market for Flipout?
That’s what’s been so interesting actually I’ve been quite surprised at who the audience is. Basically, what I found is it really depends on the time of day.
A: We open at 9 and within the hour we’ve got 25 two year olds bouncing around on trampolines. But by 1 PM we’ve got primary schools and intermediates coming in. Once school’s finished, we’ve got the pre-teens and teenagers showing up and by 7 PM we’ve got the university crowd and some adults coming in. So it really is a wide range of society which was surprising to me at first but it makes sense. The trampolines we have at Flipout are industrial-sized so it appeals to everyone!
Q: How has your idea developed since the start?
A: Unfortunately, when you start a business you have to make some assumptions and make some design choices that you have to live with. When we designed it, we incorporated my experience with the Flipout parks in Australia. Things like the layout, locations, and building specifications were already something for which I had a point of comparison.
Fortunately all those decisions we made in the initial design phase worked out really well. There’s a few things we do need to tweak. One example is how to make better use of the large space for the duration of the day.
We’ve added a free-running parcour area within the last month or two which has been extremely successful. We’re putting in a trampoline basketball arena which we allowed for in our original plans.
Q: Tell us a bit about your entrepreneurial journey so far.
A: It’s been really good in that I’ve learnt a great deal. My background has been very technical in a lot of respects. The teaching experience was very helpful because it helped me understand how kids learn. Flipout is completely different in that it is understanding how to turn something I enjoy into profit. That’s an interesting challenge for me.
I also found that, as a business owner, you have to be so talented at so many different parts of the business. You have to multitask a lot of the time and that’s made me realise what I’m really good at and the areas I’m not so good at.
In the areas for which I was lacking in skill, I was able to bring in others to help. Having a great team behind you is is definitely the key to running a successful business.
It’s not always about staff. I mean take Ministry of Awesome for example, it’s about bouncing ideas off of people who have heard these issues before and share in their experiences. It’s about finding people that have more experience in areas that perhaps you don’t know much about.
Flipout is a huge project, a multi-million dollar project. And — at that scale — there are a lot of pressures on you to get that to work properly. It’s still that way. Every day I am thinking of how we can increase revenue.
Constant re-evaluation is required when you run your own business. You’ve got to look at the expenses incurred and what improvements can be made. That’s what we’re dealing with now, looking at areas we can optimise so that we can scale the business, make it more sustainable, all while increasing profitability.
Q: How has Ministry of Awesome helped you on this journey?
Ministry of Awesome to me is the centre point of a strong and collaborative community of entrepreneurs and that is useful for me. Ministry of Awesome has built a strong community over the years with connections, contacts and networks that are well curated and that provide opportunity and connection to entrepreneurs in Christchurch and Canterbury.
An example of this is how I was introduced to the Foreign Students Association who have more than 10,000 members all of whom — when in Christchurch — are my target customers and a useful network to work within.
I value Ministry of Awesome because they are a great cornerstone to the entrepreneurial community in Christchurch.
Q: Was there a particular person who suggested Ministry of Awesome to you?
A: I found out about Ministry of Awesome by visiting the EPIC Innovation Centre and picking up a flyer! I went to one of the early Coffee and Jam’s and the amount of enthusiasm and passion that the audience and the members of Ministry of Awesome had about entrepreneurial projects and helping others attain their dreams was fantastic to see.
One of the reasons we wanted to move to Christchurch was because of the rebuild and the effect that the earthquake recovery had on the city. Because I wasn’t here during the earthquake I didn’t have that negative memory attached to the event.
Post Earthquake Christchurch is really exciting. We are designing what Christchurch is going to be like in the next 50 years and each of us is part of it! This is really cool when you think of it from a futuristic perspective, the scale of things to come.
And yes, I have lived in some really nice places round the world but not many places have the passion that they have in Christchurch or the resilience.
They’ve had to sustain that idea of positivity for such a long time and will continue to do it as the rebuild will take a decade at least. That’s a long time to maintain vision and positivity!
Q: What’s your newest achievement?
A: My current challenge is how to keep Flipout’s offering dynamic and fresh.
We’re changing what Flipout has traditionally been known for from its original ‘trampoline arena’ to a ‘movement arena’. We’re going to take a lot of different activities things like surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and break-dancing and martial arts and be able to take all the movement that occurs during those sports and bring them into one building.
Q: So you’re combining these other sports’ movement training with trampolining?
A: Yes, we want to provide different surfaces that allow those movements to happen. So we’ve got some ideas we’ve obviously got some trampolines here, air-tracks, were putting in a spring floor which is for a dance studio.
So the idea is to revive the foundations for anyone to come and do movement. That movement might be applied to a sport that they do or it might be applying their sport to another sport or activity.
A good example is we’ve got snowboards there that are encased in foam, so snowboarders that need to practice a particular move can come and safely try and land in the foam pit. That’s where we’re headed away from your standard trampoline arena to a movement academy.
Come on over to Flipout Christchurch and have a jump around at 230 Maces Road, Bromley Christchurch open 7 days a week from 9am. Visit the website here to book and for more information.
Andrew Moss, Owner
MOBILE: +64 21202 5022
Interviewed by: Imogen Loakman, Awesome Intern at Ministry of Awesome