06/03/2015 - 14:36

Toastface gets a Killah reception

06/03/2015 - 14:36

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Perth entrepreneur Michael O’Hanlon is surely the envy of many hip hop fans, not only meeting US rapper Ghostface Killah, but becoming his business partner in the process.​

APP WITH BITE: Michael O’Hanlon is planning three new Toastface Grillah stores overseas. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Perth entrepreneur Michael O’Hanlon is surely the envy of many hip hop fans, not only meeting US rapper Ghostface Killah, but becoming his business partner in the process.​

Two years after Mr O’Hanlon opened Perth CBD sandwich shop Toastface Grillah in honour of the prominent member of the Wu Tang Clan hip hop group, the singer has signed on as an investor in his events guide app, Hipflask.

Mr O’Hanlon has pursued several businesses since selling out of live venue The Bird in Northbridge, including founding O’Hanlon Electric Motorsport, which won the national electric superbike championship last year and was featured on the cover of Business News last month.

The mechanical engineer is now focused on growing his Toastface Grillah and app businesses (self-valued at $3.2 million) concurrently.

He plans to open three new Toastface Grillah cafes globally, starting with a store in New York to be followed by a food truck in Austin, Texas, and a store in London.

He has stepped back as chief executive of Hipflask, the app he founded three years ago that allows registered users to find exclusive live music events and parties for free, handing the reins to partner Ben Lim.

Mr O’Hanlon plans to be the app’s full-time promoter of events to be organised in London, Oslo, Berlin, Amsterdam and Perth.

He plans to leverage off the synergies between the two businesses to grow both, just as he did in December when he convinced Ghostface Killah, who was touring Australia, to make a surprise guest appearance at Toastface.

Some last-minute text messages led him to securing an even better deal that resulted in attracting about 500 new Hipflask users, who downloaded the app to gain free entry.

“I was on the dance floor at his gig the night beforehand renegotiating with his guys to try to get a longer performance out of them,” he said. “I (texted) ‘I’ll agree to what you just said but you’ve got to announce it at this gig’.

“It was good because it meant that the people who were down at (Toastface Grillah) were proper fans ... that’s a beautiful crowd.”

Mr O’Hanlon said he planned to keep holding surprise gigs at Toastface’s cafes and handing over control to trusted colleagues so he could continue growing the cafe and app businesses.

“When I say trusted, as well as trusting their integrity and ability to handle a commercial directive, very importantly it’s about trusting their idea of what is and is not cool,” he said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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