27/08/2014 - 16:41

Monkey’s business is child’s play

27/08/2014 - 16:41

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What started as a hobby is developing into something Funky Monkey Bars creator Shane Roberts calls “Ikea, but for playground equipment”.

Monkey’s business is child’s play
CLIMBING THE LADDER: Shane Roberts (right) and Colin Burdle are focused on marketing playground equipment for the home beyond WA. Photo: Attila Csaszar

What started as backyard innovation is developing into something Funky Monkey Bars creator Shane Roberts calls “Ikea, but for playground equipment”.

Funky Monkey sells monkey bars and play equipment that can be put together by families without the need to dig holes or use cement.

Mr Roberts developed the idea three years ago when he realised the cost and time impost associated with installing traditional play equipment at home.

He financed the start-up phase of the business through his work in corporate consulting.

“Both my daughters Maia and Lila, they fell in love with the monkey bars at school and as a dad I love that they were outside playing,” Mr Roberts told Business News.

“My oldest daughter, Maia, wanted one for her birthday.

“We couldn’t find anything strong and challenging enough that didn’t need to be permanently concreted into the ground. The only option was a monkey bar from a commercial playground company, which was just too expensive.”

The result was a product that is easy to put together and take apart, strong and robust, Mr Roberts said.

 

In its first year, the company sold 30 to 40 monkey bars, but a redesign and expansion of products has led to significant growth, with sales totalling 200 last year and 200 so far this year, with the Christmas rush yet to arrive.

The addition of Colin Burdle, who comes from a steel fabrication background, has been a major part of this growth, according to Mr Roberts.

Last year, Funky Monkey Bars redesigned the product and cut shipping size by 90 per cent, lowering costs and improving ease of usage for consumers.

An entire play set can be put together with one Allen key, and now comes with increased versatility that includes soccer and hockey nets, netball hoops and gymnastics bars.

Mr Roberts said the company was expanding into more commercialised markets, such as schools and occupational therapy providers.

Funky Monkey also exports equipment to New Zealand and the US, and is receiving interest from around the world via its website.

Mr Roberts said while product development was at a mature stage, marketing was the next challenge.

“We’re at the stage with the product where we’ve got it refined. Our business challenge is to get the brand and product out there and market it,” he said.

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