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Talk Straight | Think Smart with Jeremy Simmonds

Talk Straight | Think Smart with Jeremy Simmonds

What if one of the biggest challenges you had when starting a new business was managing demand? That was the reality for Jeremy Simmonds, co-founder of Swingers - the crazy golf club. And it hasn't slowed down since.
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This idea emerged for crazy golf, cocktails and burgers in a cool environment. The idea grew and grew and grew. That was the beginning of Swingers. We launched it as a pop-up in 2014 and it has been a wild ride.

Jeremy Simmonds
Co-founder Swingers

From day one Jeremy Simmonds and his co-founder were clear their business was all about fun. They don't have a list of corporate values but they make sure the customer experience is front and centre of everything they do.

Growing up in an entrepreneurial household, it's unsurprising that at school Jeremy had several schemes to make money, from trading football cards to washing cars. And with only eight hours of lectures a week when he got to university, he had plenty of time to indulge that entrepreneurial mindset.

Jeremy and a friend came up with the idea to take over a nightclub for a student event on a weekday. This benefited the nightclub owner too who usually only made money at the weekends. It was an instant success and eventually turned into a business running 20 events every week across the country. That's where Jeremy met Matt Grech-Smith and together they found their niche: understanding young people and what makes them tick.

Using this knowledge, their events business soon turned into a marketing consultancy, but that was just the start. After selling that business they had the idea to bring together crazy golf, cocktails and burgers in an immersive venue, and Swingers was born. And it wasn't just Jeremy and Matt who liked the idea, they had almost unmanageable demand, selling out the first five months of bookings in just ten days.

Listen to the podcast for more insight into the chaotic start to their business and how, despite the challenges of COVID-19, they're launching new venues across the pond in Washington DC and New York City. Subscribe to our Talk Straight | Think Smart with Howard Kennedy series to hear future episodes from a wide range of inspirational entrepreneurs.

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Quick fire round

Each episode we ask our guests quick fire questions. Hover below to see what this revealed about this week's guest, Jeremy Simmonds....

Favourite hole at Swingers?

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Giant oversized grandfather clock in Washington DC – it's bonkers.

Zoom: here to stay, or distant memory?

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Here to stay, but hopefully not as present in our lives.

Would you grow, sell or start again?

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Grow - way too tired to start again!

People or tech - where would you invest?

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People. Every day.

Perfectionist or launch and learn?

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Perfection can be your enemy in these types of businesses. Speed is key.

A little more about this episode…

Jeremy came from a family of entrepreneurs and he was always involved in helping run their businesses. Their entrepreneurial spirit started to rub off on him and when he was at school he started to think about how to make money for himself, starting with trading football cards and car washing.

With lectures taking up only a fraction of his time at university, he started looking around for ways to make cash. He persuaded his friends and contacts in the music and hospitality industries to take a chance on his idea to get people out clubbing on a Thursday evening. It paid off for everyone involved and before long, Jeremy was running up to 20 events every week at clubs across the country.

The insights Jeremy and business partner, Matt Grech-Smith, gained into young people’s attitudes and behaviours became a marketable commodity in itself. This led them to set up a consultancy business for brands targeting young people – a business Jeremy and Matt would later sell to media company VCCP.

Following their earn-out at VCCP and a fund-raising round, Jeremy and Matt brought to life an idea that had been growing and growing: a cool environment where people can play crazy golf, drink exquisite cocktails and enjoy fantastic food.

Swingers was born initially as a pop-up in a leaky 8,000 square foot warehouse in Shoreditch. Trying to manage the business from a kitchen table, with a website that struggled to meet the demands of thousands of people, was rather chaotic, but Jeremy and Matt made it work. The pop-up ended up being a huge success and led to the creation of London's first ever permanent crazy golf bar.

That was in 2014. Today, you’ll find two Swingers venues in London, with new venues soon launching across the pond in Washington DC and New York City. But expanding into the US hasn't been easy, thanks to COVID-19. After all, you can't put Swingers in a box and send it to someone. Thankfully with supportive business partners and by staying agile they've continued not just to survive but grow.


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