Ant Morell, 43, is no stranger to success. Alongside his business partner, Simon McNamara, they have, between them, been involved in the High Street juggernauts Boost Juice, Grill’d and Spudbar.
They opened BOUNCEInc, a group of global indoor free-jumping centres, in 2012 with the goal of promoting health and wellbeing. What started off as an Australian-based business has quickly gone global and branches in Dubai and South Africa are now open with Hong Kong, Portugal and Sweden launching shortly.
Morell is a Director of the company and Head of Strategy and Brand, alongside BOUNCEinc’s Digital Marketing Manager Ach Ratnayeke, 28, in the Melbourne-based HQ to oversee the rapid expansion of the business. Here they discuss why they feel that BOUNCEinc’s success is intrinsically linked to the company’s staff culture and the importance of their employee-employer relationship.
ANT: At BOUNCEinc we have a clear workplace philosophy, which is based around passion and the harnessing of free spirits. Over the years I have worked in many organisations where I felt that people were pushed into being the same in order to have the same company values and ideologies and so, when it came to starting BOUNCEinc, I wanted to create a staff culture that was completely separate to that traditional way of thinking.
An early learning for me that things could be done differently came from a leadership-training course where the speaker talked about how great leaders need to first be experts in themselves. This notion spoke volumes to me and I began to think about how I would like to work in a more authentic manner and employ people based on ‘who they are’ and ‘what they can become’ rather than ‘what they currently know’. So, when it came time to build the team at BOUNCEinc we decided that principle would be an important part of our philosophy.
Ach was employed following this rule of thumb as, at first glance, he didn’t have all the ‘right’ qualifications or experience, however, I met with him and the rest is history. Our Head of People and Culture / HR is also a great example as when she first applied for her role it was through a recruitment company and she didn’t get past the first hurdle but she was passionate enough to contact us directly, I met with her, her personality and vitality shone through and she got the job, which she does brilliantly.
We have a different employment process at BOUNCEinc. For many roles within our venues we don't look at CVs but, instead, we talk to people, which can sometimes be upwards of 500 people when we’re looking to recruit 100. We work with the phrase ‘takes one to know one’ and so we get our trusted staff to do the recruiting for us. They start out in a speed-dating scenario and speak to all the applicants for a couple of minutes and if they recognize a passion or a spark in them then they’re moved onto a shortlist and we invite them to a day of role play, team work and discussion. It’s here that we are able to spot people who are confident, easy to be around and full of passion and spirit. And whenever I think of someone who has the passion and spirit that we look for at BOUNCEinc I think of Ach.
As I mentioned, when Ach first applied for his job it was clear that he didn’t have the same amount of experience as other candidates but his application was so clearly full of enthusiasm that I instantly wanted to meet him. And when I did he just exuded passion and excitement for the business, plus, as I talked to him I saw that he was essentially a walking manifestation of our culture and ideals and had a shared belief in what we wanted to achieve. We made the decision to employ him because a job, whatever it may be, can be taught but the fit has to organically exist.
Ach is now such an integral part of the business and the BOUNCEinc culture and I think it has a lot to do with him being in an environment where he is supported, mentored and encouraged to be himself. Through all this, and his hard work and dedication to the business, he has become a trusted advisor when it comes to our digital strategy. He also breathes light and positivity into the office on a daily basis and that’s the kind of thing that can’t be taught.
ACH: I was BOUNCEinc’s third employee when it was still in start-up mode and now the company has more than 1,000 employees on a global scale, it’s been a sharp learning curve of success for everyone involved.
When I first heard about the company I had just graduated from University where I had studied accounting and marketing and was in my first job, which was in sales. I was straight out of a graduate programme and was feeling a bit stifled and unhappy in my role. I made the decision to leave and while looking around for jobs came across the ad for BOUNCEinc. It just stated that the person needed experience in sales, marketing and events and I thought ‘bingo!’ At that time there was no real job description so I contacted them and they sent me links to indoor trampoline centres in the States and told me that they were looking to open something similar in Australia. I remember looking at my then girlfriend, now wife, and saying: ‘I have to get this job’. So, I got help crafting my CV and, before the interview, did my research.
I remember my first impressions of Ant really clearly as I turned up to the interview, in the old warehouse that’s now our Head Office, wearing a suit and tie and found him sitting at a trestle table wearing a T-shirt with his thong-clad feet on the desk. I felt like such an idiot. But once we got talking and I told him all about how passionate I was about the company’s goals and all about my experience running and marketing nightclub events I felt that we were talking the same language.
For me Ant is more than my boss, he’s my mentor in life as well as at work. His support in the workplace has always ensured that if I’ve ever struggled with something he’s the first person I go to and he will always sort out external help or extra training for me. I’ve learnt so much from him workwise and he’s got a real knack for dropping little nuggets of helpful life-knowledge into the conversation! Being inspired by my colleagues is one of the reasons I love working for the company, we all encourage each other to say ‘yes’ and to get out there and experience what life has to offer.
For more information on BOUNCEinc, visit the company website.
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