Francesco “Frunch” Nazzari is what he calls himself a serial entrepreneur. “I love starting a business. I love to see an opportunity. But not only do I love an opportunity, as all entrepreneurs do, I also love to see a niche, an actual community. I like to have a visceral experience around that community,” the Managing Director and Co-founder of Rooftop Cinema declared.
There are eight to nine businesses under his tutelage, not to mention that he’s a family man, an EO Melbourne member, a cinema lover, a publisher, and a runner. It seems he is always on the go, and those who want to run with him have yet to increase their pace to keep up. But Frunch has not achieved his full speed yet. Besides, the finish line is still nowhere in sight. What he knows, however, is that he committed himself to this path of becoming an entrepreneur, and there’s no turning back.
Frunch may have found his tempo along the entrepreneurial track, but it is not an easy race. In fact, there’s nothing easy with either a race or the entrepreneurial journey. Both are challenging. But Frunch does them, anyway, because he is passionate about the things he brings himself to do. “Being in business is like running a marathon. You’ve got to prepare yourself. You have to put a lot of training to have the endurance and stamina to go the whole way,” he opined.
One can say that the business route is an inevitable road for Frunch because the entrepreneurial spirit runs through their family. It also exhibited early on, as he already wanted to work and earn money during his teens. When he came of age, he followed his brothers to a job where they were working part-time, but things turned out differently, which became a motivation for him to do things on his own. “I was quite angry about not getting that job. I made a little promise to myself that I would never go through that again and that I would carve my path in life. And so, I forged my way. So, yeah, from a quite young age, I started thinking about how I could make money,” Frunch narrated.
He started his career as a promoter for various events. “I slowly built my way up from there. But that taught me the spirit of hustling. So, I became a little hustler from a young age,” he quipped. In the events and promotions space, he progressed to a sole trading capacity. “I started working my services and selling my networks. I started off in events, and then I went off to study media, which then led me down the path of setting up communications agencies and that kind of things,” he added.
Among all the businesses he owned and founded, Rooftop Cinema is the longest-running one. According to Frunch, “Rooftop Cinema is the jewel in my crown. I love that business because it personifies me. It is the creative use of space. It is about community, and it's just a beautiful business. It is the longest relationship that I've had with a business. I think I'm into my 11th year of the cinema as founder and as managing director. And I'm still obsessed with that business as the first day that I was running it.”
Before that, Frunch worked in his 20’s for a company called Moonlight Cinema, where he was able to merge his skills in events promotions and sales. In that company, he met his would-be business partner. They discussed various ideas, such as how to improve experiences in the city, audiences, and niches. “Then we were talking about the fantasy of having a cinema on a roof. We started expressing that to people. All of a sudden, we were told that there was an opportunity on a building in the city. And we looked at that. Lo and behold there was Rooftop Cinema,” he recounted.
The idea kept rolling despite his reservations. Frunch remembered how it was back then. “I was always the glass-half-empty kind of business partner, whereas my other business partner was like glass half-full. He's like, 'this is going to happen.' I'm like, 'this is never going to happen.' Nine months later, we launched Rooftop Cinema, which is arguably the world's most beautiful outdoor cinema experience. It's unparalleled in this country.”
The journey was not always smooth-sailing. There were heartbreaks, missteps, hiccups, potholes and stumbling blocks that were constant issues on the entrepreneurial lane. Frunch was not spared of these as well. For him, “There are not many entrepreneurs who haven't had failed. I probably had more failures along the way, than I have had successes. I've had multiple initiatives and ideas that have lost me money. I've had some that have made me great money.”
He’d been on the brink of bankruptcy and other difficult situations. Nonetheless, Frunch learned to accept these as the realities in the life of a business owner. He pronounced, “I could tell you tomorrow I'll have a low, and I'll probably have a high on the same day as well. That's just the way that comes with the entrepreneurial journey.”
But he used those challenges to flex his entrepreneurial muscles and build himself up. “I've learnt my lessons. There's not necessarily a particular experience that I look back and say, 'Oh, I failed,' because each one of my failures has defined me as a person. I look at all of them, and I can say that there's something I've taken from every single one. They shaped me,” he bared.
One of the major concerns he encountered was cash flow, a ceaseless worry among business owners because it is the fuel that keeps a business running. Frunch points out that apart from money, lack of knowledge, experience and expertise are factors that can also pose a huge challenge, especially when starting out a business. “Having a particular understanding of your industry is very important. You need to understand what it is your expertise that you're selling and also the community that you're trading within,” he commented.
That mindset is useful to Frunch in starting more businesses. While there are some who are aggressive in setting up a venture, he sees himself as more of a businessman who lays the foundation slowly and steadily. Then, he looks at opportunities and adds value to them. “Over the years, that's led me down a path to becoming a publisher and looking at the media industry. I think what's important is understanding what it's going to take to get a business up financially,” Frunch articulated. He iterated as well the significance of understanding the product one is selling and knowing all about intellectual property.
With regards to best business practices, Frunch considers Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) Melbourne as a huge advantage to his journey. “I thrive within the EO environment. Sharing my business stories and successes with like-minded individuals and being able to give back to those individuals have been wonderful for me,” expressed Frunch. Surrounding himself with the right people has helped him in his growth. His openness to learning new things also enabled him to get as much value from all his EO experiences.
These learnings he brings to his businesses and applies them to his enterprises. Frunch acknowledges that people are the biggest resource of a company. He explains, “The greatest asset that an entrepreneur has is the people that he surrounds himself. It is important because you need to build a team. I see myself as a coach.” Despite having several ventures to oversee, he can cope because of people that seamlessly fit into his team. He has a group, composed of individuals with businesses that provide similar service or product offerings. “Predominately, we're within media, and we are speaking to a very clear-cut audience. We know the products we're selling, and then we work as a group to develop efficiency,” he added.
They divided their responsibilities into different areas: strategy, execution, and distribution. “Instead of running everything under one banner or one brand or one business, what we've done is we've built a group. I work with these like-minded individuals. They share the same vision and passion as I do. Then, I've got them responsible for one area of the business. I'm only as good as the people with whom I work. And I work with some amazing people – people that I think are better than me and stretch me every day. We have a fantastic team,” he enthusiastically said.
Thus, working efficiently with one another allows them to engage in their other undertakings. For Frunch, it means time with his family and other interests. “I love my family. Being Italian, we're all about family. I'm very much involved in my family, and they're a big part of who I am. The reason why I have these opportunities is that they helped me and lifted me up to where I need to be. So, that's something that I'm passionate about.”
He’s also passionate about publishing, films, niches, communities, and running. “I love running. It's something that I've found recently. One of the challenges that I put to myself was to run a marathon. Off the back of that, I saw an opportunity to create a running publication,” he shared.
As he runs towards his goals, Frunch has a clear vision of what’s ahead of him within the next three years. “We're just focusing on our cadence, and how we can increase our tempo and feel more comfortable with moving faster and being swifter,” he stated.
For Rooftop Cinema, they were at a point many years ago when they were considering doing multiple venues. But Frunch felt that developing a network of cinemas wasn’t right. Recently, they underwent a refurbishment, which has cemented their place in the outdoor cinema sphere. “So, I'll continue to work on building that business and making it the best it can be.”
He also has distinct plans for his other ventures. “From a media network perspective, we will continue to create relationships with like-minded publications and launch publications that the market wants. And then from an agency perspective, we will work with brands to make them the best potential publishers for themselves. We want the service offerings of our business, which is called Single Double, to help brands turn into publishers. We're in an era of content, and that's what we're going to do. That's where we're going over the next three years.”
Frunch looks forward to taking the rest of his entrepreneurial journey. He strives to continue to grow and become better to be able to offer greater products and services. “Where will I be in three years? Hopefully, a very successful businessman who has built a very successful group of companies,” he imparted.
If one would sit back at the Rooftop Cinema to watch Frunch’s entrepreneurial story on film, or browse through the pages of a publication that features his experiences, the moviegoer or reader will find that the theme of Frunch’s journey is all about passion. “Be passionate about what you're doing and love it because things are going to get tough. If you don't love what you're doing, don't do it. Have passion and everything else becomes endurable. It's going to be hard no matter what you do,” he advocated. And that’s how you will find your pace on the path of entrepreneurship.