Ajay Shah FCCA: CFO of Bounce, the table tennis bar chain

Ajay Shah FCCA: CFO of Bounce, the table tennis bar chain



So Ajay, here we are in one of the two
Bounce bars in London. You've got a history of working for entrepreneurial ventures.
What's the attraction? Entrepreneurs constantly generate ideas and that creates for a dynamic environment. It's always all go, constant change and so it creates a very exciting place to work. I see you don't play table tennis all
day, so can you paint us a picture of your role and responsibilities. I'd love to be able to play all day. I was an ex county player. I can tell. But I spend a lot of my time working with the CEO of the business working on strategy
and then working with new and existing investors to raise the money to execute
the projects to deliver the strategy, but on a day-to-day basis I have a team of
four in my finance function who help me with all the normal accounting functions
you would expect in a company. So Ajay, tell us about the challenges of
working in this kind of business The challenge is picking those ideas
that will be the best for the company. If we make a mistake we have quite a big
setback. Bounce is an incredibly innovative company. It takes traditional
aspects of food, drink, music and activity and it connects them together through a
social entertainment wrapper, and it presents something completely brand new, and its appeal is very wide. So tell us some about your plans for expansion. I heard something about Chicago? Yeah we opened up in Chicago almost a year ago today. It's a project that took us 15 months to build and Chicago's doing
extremely well. Again for a small business to go out to America and open
up a venture out there is pretty brave. And I heard that you're moving beyond table-tennis?
We are constantly pushing the boundaries and so we have another concept lined up,
and it's an idea of darts that everybody would know and understand using
traditional oches, traditional darts, but bringing a technology angle to the
floor. And so the darts are actually tracked by technology, they
automatically score the game, which is often the hardest part of darts, and they
invent brand new games. Not just normal darts, so it involves a wider audience than would ordinarily be the case. How did you end up here? How
did you get this job? I think it's an interesting story. I sold my last business and we were celebrating in a hotel with our financial advisers and
the hotel happened to have a table tennis table in it, and I happen to
mention that I was an ex county player. Next day, the financial advisor
called me up and said to me 'we've got an interesting role that you you might find
very interesting, it's for a company called Bounce. They're looking for a CFO.
Would you be interested?' And what's it like coming back to work in an environment with table tennis, your sport from your youth? There's some kind of serendipity, I think, with all of this, because for me I really truly wanted to be a professional table
tennis player in my youth. And then to actually gave it up fully for a good 20
years knowing that I could never perform at the professional level. So to come
back in the capacity of a finance director, and to really grow a business
that I'm passionate about, couldn't be any better for me. And what has the
ACCA Qualification meant for your career? How has it helped you? The flexibility of the ACCA Qualification was really the foundation to my success, because it
allowed me to choose the industry that I wanted to work in, and the pace at which
I wanted to study. So what advice have you got for younger people starting
off in their careers today? Don't stand still. Seek out opportunities. Don't wait for things to happen. Also learn about the softer skills that you require to be
successful in later life in more senior roles, because it's really about people
management. so AJ, now it's time for the quickfire questions. Are you ready? I'm
ready. Your favorite table tennis shots?
Backhand smash. A winner every time. What book are you reading at moment? The Boy with the Topknot, and the author is Sathnam Sanghera, and it's
about life for an Indian boy in the 1970s, crossing cultures. Have you got an
unusual skill, apart from table tennis? My flourless saffron-infused orange syrup
cake is legendary amongst my friends and family. What about a pet hate? Not pushing
the boundaries. What did you want to be when you were 10 years old? A professional table tennis player.

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