In a black V-neck t-shirt and high-top shoes, Jeff Platt, 32 is seen gliding his Tesla to an abrupt stop. Then removes the sunglasses, and steps into his 30,000 square-foot paradise located in Los Angeles outfitted corner-to-corner with trampolines. Workers wearing orange shirts with the word Sky Zone tend to the game arena, which includes dodgeball courts and jousting. It’s opening time is fast approaching and hundreds of youngsters–most between 6 and 17–will shortly arrive to play ball in chaos.
Platt Sky Zone’s CEO has been in charge of the business since he was just 22. Under his direction Sky Zone’s trampoline parks has grown beyond a shrewd idea with just two locations to a franchised company with the 176 parks spread across six countries. Twenty million people are expect to go to the parks this year, and they will bring in over $300 million of revenue. In the previous the year Sky Zone corporate’s revenues was $50 million, and a the profit margin of 20%.
In a space typically used for birthday celebrations of children. Platt shoehorns his action-figure body into a table and explains his master strategy. “We want to create a world where everyone plays every day,” he states in a sincere manner.
However, while Sky Zone has created its own business, its growth has drawn competitors. Rivals have now a foothold in about 75% of Sky Zone’s 600+ trampoline parks in the United States. One of them, CircusTrix has millions of dollars of venture capital and operates more than 80 locations under various brands.
In an effort to keep in front of threats like these The marketing team at Platt is working on engaging teenagers. Through enlisting YouTube influencers, and creating excitement on Snapchat. The latest technologies, like the wearable device that can monitor activities on obstacle courses, as well as during dodgeball games are an element of a plan to make gaming a part that comprise Sky Zone. Sky Zone experience.
As Platt is leaving the party room The warehouse vibrates with the sound of screaming children. He smiles and says: “This is fun.”
Sky Zone did not get off to a great beginning. In the early millennium Rick Platt, Jeff’s father, had sold his scrap metal business situated in L.A. and was looking for a new business. The opportunity came during one of his son’s volleyball games at high school and he came across an idea to create a sport that was played on trampolines, where players would try to leap through an hoop suspended in the air while playing with the ball.
He sought out a site located in Las Vegas, then spent an entire year building a facility and another one for recruiting athletes. The money was sourced from friends of the family, who requested that he not reveal to anyone who gave the money in case they appear insane. Sky Zone, the “sport,” called Sky Zone was a complete failure. Platt immediately abandoned the idea before opening his trampolines up to the public.
His first customers were young kids at a nearby skate park that were charged eight dollars per person. In the first month of his business, in the year 2004, the admission fee was a whopping 1,000 dollars. The next month, it was the second, 2,000. Then Platt ran a TV commercial that lasted for three months, and 10,000 people were in attendance. “It was like, ‘Oh my God, we have revenue,’ ” Jeff remembers. The first year, the company’s revenue was nearly $1 million.
Jeff was at the time a student at the college who was a student at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, decided to promote the company in an entrepreneurship course that he was taking. In the course the class, he had a meeting with investors from the local area. Surprised, they liked the idea and suggested he set up the first location within St. Louis to see whether it could work out of Vegas. Platt initially hesitated before he went for it. Armed with $600,000 of friends of the family, which was granted on an agreement to stay at St. Louis and manage the business, he established Sky Zone 2 Sky Zone in 2006, shortly after his graduation. The site generated $220,000 in the first month. “It blew our expectations out of the water,” the owner says.
In the six months after the opening his mother-in-law, Jan, was diagnose with cancer of the ovary. The father of Jeff resigned from the business to take care of Jan and leave Jeff at the age of 22 with the responsibility. Rick Platt never resumed a daily job, even after Jan died in 2009, even though Rick Platt still holds a board seat.
While his father stepped away, Jeff immersed himself in Sky Zone, running birthday celebrations and managing teenagers. “I had no idea what I was doing,” Jeff says. “It was learning on the fly. All of my buddies were at Goldman Sachs or lawyers or going to business school. And I was the GM of some indoor entertainment park.”
However, the parks were thriving. In 2008, just two years after they opened in St. Louis, he relocated to Sacramento to open the third location of the company. A few months later after that, he returned to Los Angeles, where he had been raised and approached his dad with a proposal to begin franchising. They decided that it would be the most effective way to grow. “We had a big list of people that had inquired already about franchising,” Jeff states.
In 2010, the first franchise was operating in just three years. Within three years, many more were opening across the United States. The business model was easy each franchisee is required to pay an initial fee of $40,000-$60,000, which includes the upfront costs, and 6percent of sales, with the additional 2 percent of the proceeds to the National marketing fund. The owners also agree to purchase products and most of the equipment in the store through Sky Zone corporate. With an average store bringing more than $2 million in sales annually. There have been a few complaints direct to Sky Zone headquarters, which is often know as”the “Home Zone”. “They’re very collaborative and transparent,” says Caroline Irving, a franchisee with four parks across Canada.
The business is now based in a grey office building located in L.A.’s financial district. In which the floor is share together with an agency for animal talents as well as an academy for modeling. Office offers types of amenities you’d expect to find at tech startups: free food, video games and the liquor cart. It’s interesting to work at a company like this that’s more freewheeling,”. Says the chief marketer Josh Cole, whose team creates a dodgeball tournament every year that attracts thousands of participants. The event, with broadcast announcers, as well as TV-quality video production, is air through ESPN along with Snapchat.
These marketing strategies are crucial in a market that is fill with rivals. And many of them with identical name (SkyWalk, Sky High Sports, Aerozone). Global prospects are also difficult, given that rivals have established their presence across Europe, Australia and Asia. “In the next three years we hope to have taken indoor extreme sports to every continent,” states CircusTrix Chief Executive Officer Case Lawrence, whose company has raised more than 30 million dollars in venture capital.
Platt states that he’s turn down on numerous buyout offers however he is aware of the lure of cashing out. At present, he’ll be evangelizing about the importance of playtime. “We created a billion-dollar industry from scratch,” he declares. “There’s a lot of left to accomplish.”