It’s not often you get to talk pizza with one of the world’s largest sellers of fast foods.
That’s the opportunity that came the way of QUT entrepreneurs Jackson Grant, Greyden Scott and Oliver Collins through the QUT foundry.
The nascent entrepreneurs have taken two favoured Australian habits - munching pizza and betting with each other and turned it into a business interesting enough for the global food company, Yum!
It stemmed from the visit to QUT of Yum! Brands’ CEO and QUT alumnus Greg Creed.
He visited the foundry where he heard from two student start-ups, Pizza Roulette, being one of them.
The Pizza Roulette was born at a QUT Start-up weekend in 2017 from a hunger for pizza. The concept is simple.
Up to 15 pizza-hungry players sign on to a website, commit $2 each and wait for a randomly generated number to identify a winner. The winner gets a pizza delivered.
The game is played nationally and interest has picked up since it went online daily. More than 600 players have registered since it went live earlier this year.
These are still early days for Pizza Roulette. Any profits left after paying for pizza go back into the business, usually for digital advertising to attract more players.
The team members of Pizza Roulette have experimented with a range of start-ups since being at QUT and they identify QUT foundry as the place that has brought them together.
Their early exploration tells them there is an opportunity to scale the business and still keep within Australia’s gaming laws.
“It can apply to pretty well anything that can be delivered,” Jackson Grant who pitched the idea to Greg Creed said.
“We’ve chosen pizza because it’s what appealed at the time and has a good delivery system but there’s no limit.”
Creed advised them to buck the traditional path young entrepreneurs aspire to - which is to take their idea to the large American market. He told them there was benefit in building a business in the more protected Australian market where they had the advantage of knowing the laws and the ways of doing business.
Greg talked to them about they could refine their idea so it might fit in with Yum!’s Australian brands which include KFC and Pizza Hut.
Creed has been a regular at QUT, the university he studied at in the early 80s, for the past five years. His recent contributions have included matching $1 million raised from students, staff and the community to support the QUT Learning Potential Fund.
He concedes he has no experience with start-ups and is more familiar with the world of global brands. Yum! has 50,000 restaurants in 140 countries and continues to open them. Its most recent additions have included bringing the Taco Bell chain to Australia.
But he told QUT foundry starters there was an important lesson they could carry through their business lives. And that was the importance of brand and culture.
He described his principal role at Yum! as protecting each of those - because they were the key to to business’s profit and loss statements.
He encouraged the starters to always keep in mind why they started (the key to culture) and to concentrate on their offering (the key to brand).
So, what does this mean to the Pizza Roulette team.
Grant says their immediate aspiration is to get the business to the level where it can pay them salaries, a common enough goal for entrepreneurs.
And, as for pizza, it’s still on the menu. But not as often. You can have too much of a good thing.