Jessica Gardner Reporter

Jessica covers Australia's technology start-up scene, writing on breaking news and trends in entrepreneurialism, media and marketing. She was previously named Australia's best New IT Journalist for 2011.

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Pie Face cools heels on IPO

Published 19 June 2012 07:12, Updated 21 June 2012 04:16

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Pie Face cools heels on IPO

Hot franchise ... A $US15 million investment from billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn has given Pie Face owners Betty Wong (left) and Wayne Homschek (right) “flexibility”. Andrew Quilty

Founder Wayne Homschek says he is still considering a float in 2013 but a $US15 million investment from billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn gives the franchise “flexibility”.

“Maybe we don’t need to float now,” he says. “But if we do go public [the investment] is definitely going to help us.”

The chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts has taken a 43 per cent stake in the company’s US operations. The remainder is owned by Pie Face Australia. As part of the investment Wynn has a first right to invest in any other deal around the world, including a listing.

The deal proves that to snag a gambler, you need to take a gamble. Homschek says the investment wouldn’t have come about without first spending up big to get noticed.

The first US Pie Face store opened in a marquee position on New York’s Broadway in January. “I thought $2 million would get us three stores. Instead $4 million got us one. But it also got us $15 million in cash and a $35 million valuation.”

Wynn was introduced to Pie Face by Broadway producer Kevin McCollum, who first saw the franchise on a trip to Australia and has joined the company as a marketing consultant.

“[McCollum] organised for Steve Wynn to come into the store one night,” Homschek says. “It was 11.30pm and he was on his way to the airport. He spent 20 minutes in store trying the product and hearing the pitch. [He] said, ‘Come out to Las Vegas, let’s do a deal’.”

As well as the high exposure gained from its location, the Pie Face store also appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. Homschek says this activity has been integral to getting an investor on board but he also cautions that it is a “numbers game ...You never know who’s going to walk in the store or when you’re going to get a break like that.”