Nicole Lander has postgraduate qualifications in computer-mediated communications. She has even studied how artificial intelligence computer systems could take on human-like personalities, but these days Lander is more comfortable in battle gear developing and marketing live video games. As co-founder of Battlefield Sports, she and husband Peter have developed games under the corporate umbrella of Battlefield Sports.
Starting out as a hobby, the two have built a business around Battlefield Live, a game that uses guns based on infrared technology in an outdoor setting. There are now Battlefields in 33 countries, with the UK being the biggest export market. The company has had some 15,000 customers through their Queensland forest fields. Meanwhile Laser Tag Hires, their new profit centre, is growing rapidly and, according to Lander, is set to become "our future star."
The events profit centre, covering corporate events for the likes of Cisco and Westpac, continues to grow. Fees range from $37 per person for the outdoor forest venues up to $50 per person for events.
Battlefield Sports markets its "weapons" for around $1,000 up to $1,500 each, with each one complete with real time hit and feedback technology (patent pending.) Its franchise division offers franchisees a complete business in a box. Typically, a business buyer will purchase 20 to 40 guns, and get access to the company's marketing collateral through a member-only online portal.
Over the years, the company has won a long series of awards, including a raft of Queensland government export and tourism gongs.
"Awards are really good at building credibility, especially with overseas prospects," says Nicole Lander. "If the Government of Australia endorses you, people think, ‘They must be real -- they must be doing what they say they are doing.’ This is especially the case when they are dealing with your company online and they don't know you."
Lander says government support has been invaluable.
"The EMDG (Export Market Development Grant) is one I particularly endorse. It's really straightforward. They have a strict list of things you can apply for reimbursement: airfares, trade shows, and we run a bi-annual conference. For example, hotel and airfares for trade shows in Las Vegas, and an annual one in Birmingham. As long as you keep really good records, you can request reimbursement. The good thing about the EMDG is that the more you spend, the bigger the grant. However, the percentage you can spend reduces over time."
Lander says the company received grant funding amounting to $105,000 over the years spanning 1996 to 2010.
Battlefield Live is a team combat game system played in a variety of locations such as forest, bush land, around buildings, and in huge warehouses. Lander claims their small arms transmitter receiver has the "world's first" real-time hit feedback system and compelling real-time in-game statistics.
"The game is completely mobile and versatile, so we can also run at your fair, theme park -- practically anywhere. It shoots our amazing 'ghost' bullets from our realistic gaming guns.” Scenarios provide team members the opportunity to overcome adversity together, and gain greater understanding of the team cohesion and the value of communication. "It's is a military simulation. The laser tag is more tongue-in-cheek, more fun. Our tagline is ‘Ready…Aim…Fun!’”
The company is now actively marketing its new inflatable 'mobile training centre' to the military market. "It allows the military to use for training purposes, a force-on-force drill exercise simulating troops walking though a building in a village. At around $4,000, it's a lot cheaper than building a whole village." She says the marketing to military requires having agents on the ground dealing with military buyers and investing in specialist expos.
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