The Sneaky Peaks Flow House Project

  • Ride
posted by James Willmott

Picture one of your all time favourite dreams forming the perfect building blocks to become a reality. Just imagine the excitement of a project you have brainstormed down to a tee but never quite got around to working past pen to paper, finally breathing life and fitting the exact description you once had only panned out in your mind. For young Gold Coast entrepreneurs Corey Vogt and Ryan Mulhern, their dream of developing their own flowrider facility is fast becoming a reality, each day finalising further steps towards the bigger picture of their own unique, fun and exciting venue, based around the one sport we all love, surfing.

With investors knocking at the door and going hand over fist for an opportunity to be involved with the exciting venture, the 4 million dollar project, known as Sneaky Peaks Flow House, is closer than ever to once again putting the Gold Coast community on the worldwide surfing map.

As well as providing positive economic impacts for the Gold Coast and freeing up the growing congestion at popular line ups, Sneaky Peaks Flow House aims to be a family based and eco-friendly venture, with plans to incorporate local surf shops, food stalls and other fun amenities for everyone involved.

We at SurfStitch caught up with the two brains behind the operation to discuss potential locations, the incorporation of a mobile venue, the exciting thoughts of potential investors and much, much more.

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Boys, thanks for taking some time out of your schedules to catch up and have a chat about this exciting new project.
No worries! Glad to do it!

Can you tell us when the flow house idea and the name Sneaky Peaks first came to mind?
The Flow House idea came about around Christmas time 2013. I was working away doing FIFO in a Gas Water Treatment Facility in Miles doing three week stints with one week off for my RNR. Some of the times, or should I say most of the times I came back the surf was either one foot puss or blowing it’s ass off, so we hired the FlowRider at Dreamworld for a few hours privately for myself and a few mates to go nuts on. While I was taking a break and watching the other guys have a crack I thought it would be unreal to incorporate this machine into an environment where you could have a meal, a couple of beers, enjoy the atmosphere with a band or DJ playing while the misses spends the rest of your coin at the surf shop which is also incorporated into the venue.

I (Corey) am 26 now and the name Sneaky Peaks came about when I was around 18 years old. After a few beers over the weekend we always used to finish the night off with a couple of “Sneaky Pete’s”. “Sneaky Pete’s” to us was “Bundy Rum” I have no idea why we called them this but I’m pretty sure the beers might have had something to do with that. After a few more weekends with “Sneaky Pete” we were all talking amongst each other that this would be the name of our future business. We had no idea at the time what that business was but it was always going to have some sort of involvement within the surfing industry. My mate Sam Little suggested one night that we change the name to “Sneaky Peaks” as in the PEAK of a wave. If our future business was going to be surf related this made much more sense as there was no “PETE” among us. Everyone we have spoken to loves the name.

You also said you want it to be a family environment similar to that of a surf club, etc? What else is the flow house looking to pride for the general public?
That’s correct. Our main goal is for Sneaky Peaks to remain a family friendly environment that also welcomes cultures from all over the world. We do not want to turn this venue into a place where you can come and get smashed drunk. No one would want to take their family to a place like this. I certainly wouldn’t.
It’s still going to be a place where you can come and have the time of your life, party, watch people succeed or even better fail on the flowrider. Like anywhere you just need to retain control and have set rules.

We are very proud supporters of Beyond Blue who work to reduce the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide. Cancer Council QLD have stated they will let us become involved with them once we are operational. This is where a HUGE portion of our drive, passion and determination comes from. With personal experiences with friends and family currently battling and with some unfortunately losing the battle is what gets us through any hurdles we face. Holding an event for these organizations is what I look forward to most. I am a chippy by trade and have worked in any environment you can think of, good, bad, awful. I have taken these experiences on board and I hold them tight to ensure I implement these experiences into the venue we create.

How have the meetings with potential investors panning out?
We have been in discussions with a couple of investors in the space and are still in constant talks with them. In saying this there has been no form of real commitment as of yet. Personally I do not believe we have found who we are looking for. I know we are close, I can feel it. The individual partner/investor needs to share the same vision and belief that we do. Whoever he or she is, it may be a couple of them, but I know for sure that if they share the same passion and believe in us and our project one meeting would have them sold.

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You’ve spoken to Mick Fanning about placing the facility next to their new brewery. What’re your thoughts on this and the chances of a potential partnership coming to life?
That’s correct, I spoke to Mick a week before he left for Fiji and he thought the idea was great and said it would be epic if our Flow House was next door. The two business would be complimentary to one another. It would create a destination on the coast with the two being side by side. Would be great. Run the lines straight from their brewery to the taps ha-ha. Their beer could be our house beer.

Really, I would love it to be in this area and it would be great to form a partnership with Bede, Mick, Joel & Josh. It would be great if they could get behind us and endorse our project in some way. Unfortunately with some of the parties we have spoken with regarding investment, they believe Sneaky Peaks needs to situate itself in or close to the Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach or Southport areas where the tourists are. I agree and disagree with this. I believe Sneaky Peaks will be a success regardless and I agree that placing our venue within or close to the tourism hotspots will give the business a better chance to get people through the door. In saying this I have seen establishments right in the center of all the action receive very limited customers through the door and it all comes down to what you make of it. Why does everyone travel to Mikes Kitchen? Because the guy knows how to cook a great steak and a mean stack of ribs. It all comes down to creating that atmosphere and experience that people will want to come to time and time again. This is one thing we know we have sussed.

If it can’t happen down there next to their brewery, where is next on the cards?
We currently have our eyes on a couple of sites in Surfers Paradise, Southport and Burleigh Heads. We were recently contacted by an individual who has a great property in Burleigh near the Billabong Factory. Again this comes down to that last hurdle….finding that like-minded investor willing to partner with us and become involved in our projects journey. I have been in heavy discussions with members of the GCCC who are all very supportive of this project. It would be unreal if the GCCC were to invest because it’s going to be great for tourism and especially with the games coming up it will get a massive worldwide audience. We have never ask for anything for free. If a potential partner/investor where to invest and help with start up tomorrow we could have them paid off in 5-8 years depending on what scenario we were to go with. We have been conservative with this too.

If I won $4 million tonight on the lottery I would put every cent of it into this project. That’s how passionate I am about this venture and much I want to see this come to life.

What impact do you think this will have for the amount of surfers currently at Gold Coast line ups such as Snapper, etc?
The Gold Coast is in a bit of a predicament with this. It’s one of those things that’s going to be nearly impossible to control. But there are controls we can put in place to reduce the amount of surfers in the lineup. Rabbit is right that artificial waves and wave pools are the only solution and it’s something that should be looked at very seriously.  Once we can get the first one over the line and are operational we can then look at placing multiple venues in smaller or larger scales from the Tweed Coast and head north.

I understand that this one Wave Machine isn’t going to solve this problem completely, but at least it’s a start and will give people the option to either surf with 200 people or 15 of their close friends and family. The establishment of Sneaky Peaks will also open the doors to a new sport for current and next generations, the sport of flow boarding. If some of the younger kids take this up then that will in turn release some of the numbers in the lineup. Flow boarding has become a huge sport in the states, Asia and Europe because flowriders are so readily available. That opportunity can exist here too if someone gives us a kick start.

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What makes your waves so different from the others we have heard about in the past ready for Australian shores?
Sneaky Peaks Flow House can fit itself on an 800m2 block and would cost around $4,000,000 if we were to lease the land. This would include all site infrastructure from start to finish and be ready for trading. This includes a surf shop, F&B, events and the FlowRider.

Other wave pools that I have read about such as the Webber Wave Pool are great projects I’d love to see get over the line and would visit for sure. But these projects require a lot of land and a lot of money. The Gold Coast simply doesn’t really have that much land to offer that is close to these hotspots. It’s just incorporating everything into a compact venue with a great atmosphere. Sneaky Peaks is a place you could escape to for the day or for a few hours.

Any chance the SurfStitch team come do some ‘product testing’ before the general public get to try it for themselves?
First to ask is the first who shall receive. You guys are the first to ask and we would love the SurfStitch team to give it a crack. Only if we can join in!

Besides the obvious need of money, what else is driving this project?
There is no doubt there is money to be made with Sneaky Peaks as we do have our financial model to prove that, but the need for money has never been a driving factor for me and I speak on behalf of all when I say that. One thing my father Kris has always said, is that money is just the by-product of a business driven by passion. I can honestly say I had no idea what this meant until we started this project. We have been working on this for well over a year spending our personally saved funds and time while still working the 8-10 hour grind. I’m stoked now that I have found a new job that gives me more time of the day to focus on this. As I mentioned above about beyond blue etc. that’s the other thing driving this project. From day one we have always wanted the success of Sneaky Peaks to be utilized in a way so that we can reach out to those in need in the general community and charity orgs to make a difference.

Where do you both see yourselves in 5 years’ time?
In five years’ time I see myself finally marrying my fiancé Grace with a couple of kids in a nice little house on the canal in Palm beach with couple of dogs. Our goal is to be open a year before the Commonwealth Games, so hopefully we will have been in successful business for around 3 years. If we can really get the ball rolling we hope to have our second or third flow house open either in Brisbane, Sydney and another on the Gold Coast.

Who gets to surf the first wave out of you two?
Corey: Might get Ryan to, haven’t seen the poo man style in ages.
Ryan: Haha, well 
watching Corey Fall off brings me a lot of joy, I’ll be pushing him to get on first haha!

Any shout outs?
I’d like to start off by giving a shout out to everyone that’s been involved so far, supported and pointed us in the right direction. All the support from all, and you know who you are, has just been outstanding!