Three Victorian schoolmates have turned their shared love of sport into a successful business generating $ 2.3m in revenue.
Dean, Dylan and Jon, friends for 12 years after meeting at the Mornington Soccer Club, were already in business together and happy enough running a Hudson Coffees franchise.
But the trio noticed a gap in the market among fellow sports fans who were making their own stubby holder dispensers with their teams’ logos on them.
“A lot of people do DIY stubby holder dispensers and put their team’s stickers on,” Dean says.
“So we had the idea that if we could buy the proper vinyl printer, professionally wrap them and try to get the licenses from places like the AFL and NRL, we could see where we could potentially take it.”
It was from that light bulb moment the Stubby Club was born, with the friends taking over a business producing stubby holder dispensers.
The company has ballooned since then, going from $ 130,000 to $ 2.3m in revenue in just three years.
The mates have secured the licensing rights to some of the biggest sports organizations in Australia and across the world including the NRL, AFL, Cricket Australia, A-league, NFL and the English Premier League.
Dean said they had no idea how far it was going to go.
“It basically started as a little side idea while we were running our cafe that we’re all involved in as well,” he said.
“I do not think we ever expected there would be this much opportunity in the market.
“It’s fun enough being a business that’s your own, but then to add in the fact it’s involved in sports… being in that industry is just the cherry on top.”
He admitted it was “difficult” approaching some of the country’s sporting heavyweights with their idea, but after getting their foot in the door with the A-League, a “snowballing” effect was created.
“We were lucky that we were able to get them (the A-league) on first and get a little bit of sales data, so when we did approach the NRL they could see we had already made some sales and knew what the licensing agreements were, ”Dean said.
“They (the AFL) did not really initially think the product was that great and would sell that well, so it was good having that sales data.
“We could say, ‘No, look, we have actually sold this amount of units and are doing this amount of revenue; it will go well. ‘”
The business has subsequently branched off into other sports licensed products like custom beer pong tables, mini table tennis tables and cornhole boards.
Constantly trying to find gaps in a packed market, the three friends have a simple concept for coming up with their next smash hit.
“Whenever we need to think about what licensed products to bring to market or if a product is going to be successful, we think, ‘Would I like to receive that as a gift?’ That’s pretty much what it comes down to, ”Dean says.
“If we want to receive it, if we’d love it as a gift, let’s do it, because I’m sure there are hundreds of other people who feel the same.”
The Stubby Club has launched a $ 1.5m Equitise crowdfunding campaign to help bring these new products and a range of NRL and NFL pet merchandise to market in time for Fathers Day and Christmas.
But Dean said they have a “long way” to go and still have more plans for the future.
“We’re just at the start of what we want to do,” he said.
“We love what we’re doing currently, but we know there are so many more avenues for us to go down and more products.
“We already love it, so I know we’re going to keep loving it into the future.”