Vuly Play CEO Joe Andon first sold trampolines from his bedroom, but now his innovative outdoor play products sell in 13 countries.
When Vuly Play CEO Joe Andon launched his now globally successful trampoline business at age 19, he was already a seasoned entrepreneur.
While still at high school in Brisbane, Andon sold second-hand books at a market stall. He then started his own marketing business creating websites, brochures and billboards for clients he found by cold-calling names in the phone book.
“I used to get my name marked off the roll and run away from school to go to my office,” recalls Andon, whose family moved to Australia from Palestine when he was three.
“I learned a lot of skills then that I use every day today.”
Leaving school in 2005, Andon set about building another business. He picked a random product – trampolines – from a list, built a website and soon “the phone started ringing. I didn’t have any stock but I started taking pre-orders until I had enough to fill a container,” he says.
“I was selling thousands of trampolines from my bedroom.”
There was room for improvement, however. Andon had long had an interest in design, and he turned his attention to improving the trampoline’s form.
“I get really easily annoyed with things that aren’t right,” he explains.
He eliminated nuts and bolts and developed a safer trampoline free from pads and exposed springs, both common sources of injury for inattentive trampoliners. The first Vuly trampoline was on the market by December 2008.
However, it’s not all been plain sailing. Andon’s first foray overseas – to the US in 2010 – failed. He couldn’t get an office or a bank account until he had insurance, and he couldn’t get insurance until he had an office.
“It was an impossible situation,” he says. “I had to give up and come back to Australia licking my wounds.”
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Undeterred, two years later he opened an office in Los Angeles. Today, Vuly Play sells in 13 countries, employs 75 staff (mostly at its head office in Brisbane), and has expanded its range to include trampolines, basketball hoops and the 360 Pro modular outdoor play set for kids.
While Andon chooses not to disclose sales figures, he says Vuly Play’s revenue is in the tens of millions. Yet such success brings other issues.
“Growing quickly is very difficult, because you need cash quickly. You get punished for growing, especially in a business like mine where you have stock. If I double next year, I’ll have a cash-flow problem,” Andon explains.
“I get really easily annoyed with things that aren’t right.”
However, his hard work is earning him accolades. In 2016, then aged 28, he won Business Person of the Year at the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Awards – the youngest person to do so. Lord Mayor Graham Quirk praised Andon for revolutionising the industry.
“Joe and Vuly are now recognised as global leaders in trampoline safety and aesthetic progress,” he said.
Innovation still looms large on Andon’s agenda. “In the next 24 months, we’re going to introduce more products than in the last 10 years,” he says – and the backyards of the world are waiting.
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