FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF EVENTS COMPANY RIZER
My father founded a drama group in Dublin when I was a child and I remember at the age of seven men turning up in our garden with large canvasses and painting the sets. I remember being asked to do things like pull fly lines when Dad would be rehearsing and I think that’s where my interest sparked. I didn’t realise until later in life, though.
I studied communications but I was very much in the practical side. When I finished university on the Friday I ended up starting work on the Saturday for a company called Windmill Lane in Dublin. U2 owned the studios and I went straight into doing camera work for them and spent a lot of time in the music area. I really I cut my teeth there, I was very much the junior but I learned a lot about how music and visuals worked together.
In 2000 I came to Australia. I kept doing camera work but I realised I wasn’t a very good cameraman so I decided I would look for a job somewhere else. I was on a bus from Melbourne to Sydney and I saw a job in a newspaper in a theatre in Sydney and I thought I’d give it a go. That ended up being the State Theatre. They actually sponsored me to stay in Australia and then when I set up Rizer our first contract was to take over the running of production at the State Theatre. That was 2003 and today we still run production there where we have a second office.
I love the idea of theatre and what I learned in my time in Ireland doing camera work. I really wanted to create a world where I could combine the theatre and camera work and I really wanted to bring that to the events industry here. I’d been to a few events that didn’t have much going on and I just wanted to create a bit of sparkle and pizzazz. Rizer is an events company in the true meaning of the word. We like to create events that people want to attend and with big moments – we want to give people something to remember.
In 2012 we worked at the Olympics in London doing some hospitality for Austrade and that was a key turning point for us. Since then we have been working with a lot of luxury brands because they are really trying to tell stories about their brands and to celebrate their art forms. When someone’s got a story to tell, that’s where we excel.
One of the great stories we got to tell this year was being involved with Bulgari in Rome and the company’s renovation of the Spanish Steps. There are not many times in your life that you will get the opportunity to shut down the streets of Rome and have 100,000 screaming Romans with a 100-piece orchestra and a hot air balloon taking the silk off the steps – that was a pretty special moment for us. There was actually people gasping and crying as the silk was coming off. And one of the reasons we do it is to see to the reaction of people.
With a lot of the luxury brands we work with, the relationship started with the European office. With Bulgari, our initial contact with them was through Rome. They were doing their 130th-anniversary celebrations and we tendered for the Asia-Pacific event and were fortunate to win it. It was held in Sydney and we did three brand events for them – the final one was at the Sydney Opera House and we had some Bulgari family members there, they said they loved the event. They went back to Italy and two weeks later they called us and asked us to do their official birthday party in Lake Como four weeks later. That was 2013 and we have worked with them every year since.
The special events world is pretty small and people talk ... referrals is a big part of our business. We have worked with Cartier, Chanel, Bulgari, Paspaley, Range Rover, Audi. Out of all the luxury brands I would say we work with about 80-90 per cent of them.
We have four quite big events in Europe coming up in the first half of next year so we will open a London office in the new year. We are going to keep it small for the first six months but I think it’s going to explode after July. We think London will be a good base purely from a supplier perspective. We really want to bring over the DNA we’ve created here over the last 12 years and make sure we grow it steadily, so we hope to build from four to 12 people in 12 months.
We are going to hopefully take on two more markets in the next four years: a New York base and a Hong Kong or Singapore base. Our clients need consistency and they have asked if we could look at these markets and for us we just want to take it a step at a time. We want to service Europe and Australia and then in four years we hope we will have the world’s largest boutique events agency.