The outdoor gamer turned award-winning entrepreneur

Nicole Lander - Laser Skirmish founder

As the 2012 Telstra Business Women’s awards open for nominations, Dynamic Business is speaking with twelve former winners about the impact the program has had on their businesses.

Nicole Lander is an entrepreneur of the outdoor combat industry, who grew her niche outdoor laser tag company into a successful international business. It was this contribution to live gaming that won her the Nokia Business Innovation Award in the 2009 Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

Here, she talks about the role innovation has played in the growth of her business and looks at the power of self-belief.

How important do you think it is for a business owner to have an innovative spirit, and why?

Entrepreneurs need an innovative spirit because we need to be prepared to look at the way we do things in a new light. We need to question the status quo – and that’s what my husband Peter and I did when we started Laser Skirmish. Our game is a new way to play.

We started the business with a few thousand dollars and an idea – to take a computer game and experience it live. Before our innovation, laser tag was played in a dark foggy maze and our innovative technology literally brought the game into the light. So we’ve continually innovated – our latest invention, our patent-pending SATR (small arms transmitter receiver) enables the gamer to know when they’re facing an opponent via instant feedback using light and sound effects.

We never stop. Each and every day we challenge ourselves and our team by asking: “Is this the best we can do?”

How has innovation has impacted on your business in the past year?

Without innovation we would be out of business. Innovation is our lifeblood – we live and breathe it and not only because we are a technology company, but because we have created a brand new industry sector. We are constantly striving to improve and re-adapt to the fast pace of business.

During the last year we have re-invigorated our business model by adding a rental option. So instead of people or organisations needing to purchase our equipment, now they can simply rent it. They can rent it for a day, a weekend, a week or a month.

What one piece of advice would you offer other aspiring businesswomen and female entrepreneurs?

Have clearly defined goals and believe you can make a difference. Then, together, your team can achieve astounding things.

I believe it’s a good idea to “flow help”. What I mean by this is that you should help others; always consider how your actions affect the team or the community. For example, I’m acting as a mentor to a woman who’s exporting in the arts/entertainment sector and she inspires me with her vision.

How has being nominated and winning a Telstra Business Women’s Award impacted your business?

The honor has helped boost my business’s credibility. Without a huge marketing budget, it’s a challenge to get one’s brand name out and well-known in the marketplace.

Today Laser Skirmish is a household name, and especially as an exporter winning awards boosts trust with prospects that you might never have met face-to-face.