Bowlero CCO on bowling expansion, keeping bowlers safe
Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi speak with Bowlero CCO, Colie Edison, about Bowlero’s expansion into adding parties, alcohol, and leagues to its bowling games.
BRIAN SOZZI: This isn't your grandpa's bowling alley. Bowlero has expand the idea of traditional bowling and added in parties, alcohol and leagues. Let's bring in Colie Edison, CCO of Bowlero and CEO of the Professional Bowlers Association. Colie, good to see you again. So listen, we talked pretty much at the height of the pandemic, and you were charging hard to reinvent the bowling experience. Where do things stand right now?
COLIE EDISON: Yeah, so thank you guys for having me on again. It has been a crazy summer. Like you said, we were able to come back with the PBA in June and July, and this past few weeks, we've actually almost completed our season, and we're heading into the grand finale of that, which is the PBA Playoffs. And on the Bowlero side, I'm happy to announce that we have about 250 of our 300 locations back up and running at this point of the year.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Now, you also are out with a bowling app, right, for iOS and Android phones. Tell us the strategy behind that.
COLIE EDISON: Yeah, we're really excited. We partner with Skills, who's one of the top app developers, to launch Strike by Bowlero, and this is a really unique online and offline experience. So you can actually play the app and win real life prizes at our centers. So we love it, because you're going to be able to deeply engage with your audience and then drive them back into the center, so it's a win-win for both online and offline experience.
BRIAN SOZZI: Colie, you know, I'm a longtime watcher of the PBA Tour, so I've been watching every weekend throughout this pandemic, how have you kept bowlers safe? I'm sure you're watching other sports, people are contracting COVID-19. Have you had any incidences inside your league?
COLIE EDISON: Thankfully, we've been able to keep everybody safe, and I think the key to it is just limiting our risk by limiting the exposure. If you come into a PBA telecast, we have only essential staff, only the bowlers. I mean, these bowlers, as you know, Brian, are used to bringing four ball racks and their families and their friends, and we have audiences of 250. We have no audiences. There's 1 ball rep per brand, which means one person is helping 5 to 10 people.
It's only our essential operation staff and then the crew, and you know, we're doing temperature checks. We're doing PPE. And so we're really just trying to keep our set closed, and it's only open to people who are checking in, getting their temperature checked, filling out a health survey, and then as you've seen in the telecast, we're wearing masks. We're wearing masks the whole time, except for when the bowler is actually bowling.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Colie, you a pretty cool experience recently. I know that you're going to be on CBS' "Undercover Boss." I think it's airing tomorrow. This was all done, of course, pre-pandemic. But what was that experience like for you?
COLIE EDISON: Yeah, so it's crazy. We actually filmed it last October, and it was 10 days after Bowlero acquired the PBA, so it feels like it was-- it was October 2019, it feels like it could be October 1919. That's how long ago it feels with so much has changed, but it was a really great experience. Going undercover, I hadn't been at that, you know, on the ground level in many years, although I had worked the desk before. It had been 12 years. So it was really great to not only just meet these incredible people and hear their stories but to see that everything that we've done, you know, from headquarters is actually being implemented, or in some cases not, right, down at the center level. So it was an eye opening experience that I'm very grateful I was able to do.
BRIAN SOZZI: Colie, before I let you go, last time we saw you, you said you got a new ball, you got new shoes, and your high game was 135. Have you beaten that score?
COLIE EDISON: I've got to tell you, I've been behind the scenes, Brian. I have not been bowling that much, but I will tell you we have a really cool partnership coming up with the WWE, and so if you tune in on Saturday, I think you're going to like what you see in that the first time ever, our players are actually going to be winning a WWE belt when they win the PBA playoffs, so I've been polishing the belt versus polishing my ball.