Lymington's £100m pizza oven magnate Tom Gozney hoping for bigger slice of US market
LAST time Tom Gozney spoke to the A&T he was crowdfunding for £500,000 to take his stone oven company, Gozney, to the next level.
That target was reached in less than an hour with pledges topping £1.7m with a company valuation of £20m.
Now – just over three years later – Tom reveals the latest valuation of the company: a whopping £100m.
He said: “We had a goal we would get to a £100m valuation for the business by 2025 and we’ve actually surpassed that.
“It is good news for those investors who we promised to deliver returns to within five years and are now seeing them within two-and-a-half to three.”
The Lymington-based entrepreneur, who runs the business with wife, Laura, is now looking to sustain momentum and continue to grow the Gozney brand globally while propelling the pizza oven category to new heights with an array of pioneering new products in the pipeline.
If the success of his latest product, the Dome, is anything to go by, Tom will have no problem achieving that aim.
The Dome, a professional-quality outdoor oven, sold out in the UK, Australia and USA within just eight hours of being launched on pre-sale last year.
He said: “We had sales of $8m on the first day via Gozney.com. The reaction was just phenomenal.”
Described by Tom “as if Apple had a baby with a 200-year-old Napolitana oven”, the Dome operates on gas or wood.
It can steam, smoke and cook at low and high temperatures.
He revealed: “I spent three years obsessing over its aesthetics.”
Tom was inspired almost 10 years ago after a disastrous night cooking soggy frozen pizza for pals. Annoyed, he set himself the challenge of designing his own oven.
The result was a huge success, selling to restaurants all over the UK.
The portable Roccbox oven followed, then the Dome which the San Francisco Chronicle called “an absolute game changer”.
Tom said: “The success of the Dome was the pivot, really, where we realised we could take the brand and really blow it up in the US – a chance to grow it into a much bigger business than we’d ever really imagined it could become in the early stages.”
He has established an American HQ in Park City, Utah, after being approached by figures he describes only as two “business rockstars”.
Tom said: “They were responsible for taking two businesses – headphone company Skullcandy and barbecue makers Traeger Grills – on a significant growth journey.
“After they bought Traeger they grew that in seven years from a circa $80m valuation to $3.5bn when it went public last year. With Gozney, we’re aiming to follow in their footsteps and go on a similar journey.”
The pair are now non-executive directors of Gozney and assist Tom in heading up a growing team operating in America.
Tom said: “We have a brilliant team in the UK who have been fully behind us from the beginning.
“What we’ve now created is one global team that is focused on growing the brand globally.
“My ambition is to grow Gozney into the largest premium outdoor cooking brand in the world.
“I think the massive success of the Dome proves we have the ability to do that.”
His role in growing the Gozney brand in the US is to become the face of it, something he is looking forward to.
Tom said: “Consumers really want to feel part of the story instead of buying from a faceless, big corporation.
“Instead, they want to know all about the people involved, where it came from. Me telling my story of how it all started will be a big part of it.”
That will involve him talking about “his troubled years” as he puts it, involving addiction, expulsion from school and “basically being on a path to nowhere”.
Fast forward to today, and he says: “Sometimes I take a step back and think, wow! This beyond my wildest dreams.”
He and Laura spent seven months last year in the US establishing their American HQ.
They intend to buy a house “probably in Los Angeles” where they will spend half their time. The rest will be in another new home in the Lymington area.
Tom reveals: “We have two children, and it is very hard for our parents, having grandkids and us just being away constantly.
“We also have good friends here, so we will always have a home in Lymington.”
For the future he hopes to be able to “go on adventures with the kids and Laura and just really have fun with them”.
But when the company becomes a billion-dollar success, Tom does not see himself slowing down.
He said: “My unbelievable passion is for product design and innovative products. That is where I want to devote my time and focus.”