A beer with the Bizness - episode 1
Welcome to our very first installment of a beer with the Bizness!
It’s exactly as it sounds. Each month we’ll be dragging Matt Bisset aka the “Bizness” away from his computer and whiteboard to have a beer at a pub around Richmond and share his knowledge and insights, not just as CEO and Founder of Register Now, but also his 20+ year event management experience.
For our first foray into brains of Biz, we ducked up to our nearest and dearest PA’s. Cheers.
Matt’s choice of beer for this interview: A Pint of Kosciuszko Pale Ale
So Matt, it’s been 12 months since you shifted your concentration to focus solely on running Register Now, give us a brief take on that journey?
Well just to give you some context, prior to October 2017 I was wearing multiple hats - running two tech businesses out of the one office in Camberwell, whilst still being involved in a West Coast event business (we presume this multitasking entrepreneurial vibe is how Matt attracted his moniker). I was forever under the pump and not really ever feeling like I was nailing it so to speak.
It was at this point that I made the decision to step back a bit on the day to day management of the two tech businesses and really concentrate on one - and that’s how it happened!
“Since then I have really just thrown everything into Register Now”
With this new focus we decided to hit ‘reset’ on the company, we moved the office from Camberwell to Cremorne (Victoria) and went from 12 people back to two people and completely rebuilt the business from scratch in terms of people, vision and brand.
We were very aware at this starting point that as good as our technology is, our value has always been in our people so with this in mind in the first 6 months we really concentrated on recruiting the right people - ex-athlete services with events experience.
Our primary focus going forward is to be able to support our clients and their customers in the delivery of mass participation sports events, so providing first class customer service and solutions through our product is a top priority.
So how did you handle this reset, sounds like completely starting over?
We definitely treated it like a startup. It made the whole process more motivating and inspiring, because beginning again when you've been following a similar trajectory for the past 12 years is a huge and exhausting exercise!
So we quite literally put the company back into full startup mode, with everything stripped away we were able to sit back, assess all of the elements of the business and say:
“Okay, this is where we are, let's draw a line in the sand now and change the direction of where we are going, who we’re going to be and how we’re going to achieve it…”
That was really the starting point of the new Register Now. Since then we’ve been on a massive journey with a new brand and new website; whilst at the same time overhauling the whole backend of the platform.
The re-invention of the backend platform involves a whole lot of fun technical stuff in the background but in a nutshell it means that the business will be more people orientated - looking at event goers / athlete’s experiences finding and registering for events and their on the day experience - rather than being completely event and client focussed like we have been in the past.
Sounds like a very big event!
Funny you say that - restarting the business has been very much like running an event. Anyone in the industry would know that anytime you take on a new event or a new project you have to start somewhere. That starting point is the decision. After the decision comes the planning, the organising and an incredible amount of hard work!
“You work a lot of crazy hours and wear a lot of different hats and you eventually work out who the next most important hire will be - who will bring in either more money for the business or more time for you.”
Well we know a bit about your back story and how you founded Register Now but it would be great to hear a little more about how you got to where you are now?
It started quite a long time ago. Before and during uni I was heavily involved in running, triathlons and other mass participation events at a reasonably competitive level. I was a typical uni student that didn’t have much money so I started helping out at events on a Saturday and my payment would be to race in them for free on the Sunday - win win really!
I did that for a season and was then offered a position. Later down the track, the very guy that offered me that position decided he’d had enough, so I took out a loan and bought the business myself! Madness! My father loaned me the money and he is very gracious and was a big influence in helping that business grow and get it off the ground - he even commentated a few events!
“I’m honestly not sure how I got away with it, I was only 22 and had no prior business experience besides working at Mcdonalds for a couple of years and helping out at a few events. I guess you’ve got to start somewhere!"
Well you certainly come across as more of an event guy than a tech propellerhead - do you miss the thrill of delivering a big event?
Absolutely! It’s one of those industries where you get great satisfaction by delivering something that is at a really high level with a good team of people! The positivity that comes from creating an opportunity for people to have a really good time and do something they love is quite addictive too.
As a job it’s a fantastic way to stay motivated and strive to continue delivering at such a high level. Even just the sheer simplicity of working in a team, surrounded by people that are all committed to the same goal - it can really help you go a long way in terms of your own personal and professional development and getting ahead in the industry.
Having been involved in the industry since you were 20, you must have seen the industry evolve and innovate like nothing else. What have been some of the more significant things you have seen happen in the industry?
There’s absolutely some things that will never change. The run always has a start and finish point and the triathlon will always be swim, ride then run. What we have seen change in the past 20 years is the explosion of different types of events that are more fun-oriented, rather than the traditional race styles. Mud Runs, Colour Runs and Bubble Runs, just to name a few.
That’s been the major shift for the industry and for an event manager there’s probably more interest and cache around being innovative - creating and proving event concepts, packaging it up and then delivering it. I mean, it’s every event manager’s dream to deliver “the next big thing”. Especially in today’s incredibly competitive market where there is so much choice for people.
In terms of what I have seen go the wayside - I would say the less professional side of the industry, 20 years ago there was not a lot of compliance in what was delivered. Now it is a major focus across the whole industry.
“It’s not as easy as saying hey we’re hosting this event in the park waiting for people to rock up, it’s now a very complex process involving insurance, risk management and so much more. Plus the months and months of planning, approvals and meetings with stakeholders.”
It might not be as easy as it once was, however, in saying that, it has helped the industry to evolve and become much more professional and safer for participants. There will always be risks involved in any event but they are better managed now than ever before.
Wow, it’s all so fascinating and it will be great to dig deeper into some of these topics next month, but just to wrap this up I’m going to start a sentence, and you can finish it off for me… Ready? Let's go!
If I wasn’t spending my days running Register Now I would be spending time... with my wife and kids, riding my bike or surfing
The next big thing for the mass participations events world will be... I’ll have sit down and charge you a consulting fee to answer that one!!
My favourite leg in a triathlon is. . . the bike
On Sundays you can find me. . . in bed, on my bike or if it’s in the afternoon then at the pub drinking a pint of Kosciuszko
Right now I’m reading. . . Hustle by Neil Patel, Past Tense by Lee Child, Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps by Nicole Forsgren
My next holiday will be. . . a trip to Perth for Xmas with the in-laws!
I do the cooking when. . . I’ve got time
Got a question for the Biz? Next month we’ll dive into a new topic, so if there is anything you particularly want to know then please comment below. Pub and beer suggestions welcome too!