Jamal Dashti saunters into the room exuding a good-natured confidence, making you feel comfortable while talking to him. With a firm handshake and a healthy, friendly smile, he jovially expresses how this is one of COZMO’s busiest times of the year, and how exhilarating the winter months always are in the COZMO universe.
With back-to-back holidays for both private and public schools, Kuwait’s premium entertainment outlet is abuzz with energy, bringing happy faces to families and youths enjoying their time with the facilities that the nine existing planets offer. In addition to the 2018 opening of Cozmo’s tenth planet, and the suspenseful planning of an event that will surely blow the people of Kuwait away.
“It’s set to take place for 38 days, starting February 1st.” Jamal says, with a twinkle in his eye expressing that we’re about to witness something like never before, courtesy of Cozmo. “You’re right about that!” he laughs, with an essence that suggests the child within is extremely tempted to spill the beans about his surprise. It truly does take a child within to do what Jamal does, as being the co-founder and CEO of Kuwait’s most well-known entertainment venue takes a lot of work. “But honestly,” he says, “I feel that we’re in the experience business – not the entertainment business.”
Experience business indeed, with all of Cozmo’s impressive offerings making for a pleasurable experience for all – not just the kids. But with fifteen years and ten locations has to come an amazing story! Jamal Dashti graciously shares the journey that found him behind the amazing Universe that is Cozmo.
What inspired the initial inception of the Cozmo universe before the opening of its first location?
In the 90s when I was working at the bank, all the banks of Kuwait formed respective bowling leagues and we would compete against each other. It was a lot of fun and there was a lot of interest, but bowling facilities were limited back then, and the tournaments would drag on from 7am to 3am in the morning. Because I enjoyed bowling so much, I knew that there was a need in the market to speed things up – because that would only heighten the fun in bowling. My friend, founder Zeyad Al Sanousi, was already in the entertainment industry, I had the financial know-how, so we teamed up and put a plan into action. Then in 2003, we opened our flagship location in Salmiya.
Did you expect Cozmo to expand into as many locations as it has today?
There are so many factors that contribute to the company’s evolution since the initial opening of our first location. The management’s evolution reflects on the quality control and consistent updating we have in our facilities. Before franchising within Kuwait, there was a lot of work to be done prior to decided when, where and how to expand.
You have to have the proper infrastructure before expansion, and we weren’t aggressive in it. We had a lot of dynamic ideas in those years. We had to take geopolitical and other attributes in the topic of expansion, so we really took our time weighing out the options.
How do you feel that Cozmo has done its part to benefit the lifestyles of Kuwait’s youth?
Since our opening, we’ve become Kuwait’s sole outlet for bowling, to the point where we’re major distributers in bowling gear for leagues, and all other bowling lanes have to go through us for lane repairs and technology. We are the first ones who made it in this market, and we’re also the most reputable one left standing. This gave us the good reputation and trust from schools to be able to affiliate our name and sport into their curriculums and extra curricular activities. When teachers include bowling as part of their lesson plan for PE class, they use our equipment. We are also a hot-spot for field trips.
Most importantly, we give the youth a fun and safe experience to enjoy during their time of leisure. Cozmo is as secure as it is fun, and offers something for everybody, so parents can always feel comfortable knowing that their kids are in good hands while they’re at any one of our planets.
But one of the greatest things we have done for the youth is provide them with a bowling camp! I’ve witnessed young bowlers from our camp turn into the fine, accomplished champion bowlers they are today as men and women.
In your opinion, why is Cozmo fun for the whole family?
What we offer in Cozmo goes beyond providing a space for entertainment. Cozmo in and of itself is an experience, but to be able to extend that to different age groups means that providing that experience is our focal point in the grand scope rather than merely creating a place to have fun. The beauty of Cozmo is that with each visit, both parents and their children have the freedom to enjoy themselves by engaging in whatever activity they choose, without compromising their own pleasure. Kids can engage in the trampoline while parents play billiards, kids can enjoy the range of VR games while parents dive into a competitive game of bowling – the list goes on, and the possibilities are endless, but in short, there truly is something for everyone.
Around 15 years after your first store opening, do you feel that Cozmo will remain a mainstay household name for entertainment in Kuwait? If so, how are you going to do that?
I think that we are definitely a mainstay in the entertainment industry. Kuwait will always need to have a venue for people to enjoy themselves that offers something different than shopping, culture and food. Those things are fun too and it’s great that Kuwait has an abundance of options, but we have proven ourselves to be the most sustainable outlet for good old fashioned pure FUN that’s easily accessible, lacking constraints for age groups, and that is simple enough for anyone to enjoy. To keep ourselves in the market at the level we’ve established, we’re doing so humbly. We have a “slow and steady wins the race” mentality at Cozmo, because we aren’t racing or competing. We’re genuinely in this to give people the outlet for timeless family fun.
If you could choose any new place in the world to open a Cozmo franchise, where would it be?
I’d love to see a Cozmo operating in a fun and warm international city, like Miami or Rio! I think that would be really fun, and I feel that both cities are extremely entertaining and are all about creating experiences. That’s exactly what we stand for.
What’s your favorite thing to do at Cozmo, when you get to visit?
Bowling! [Laughs]. I was in a league back in the day, remember? And no matter how much variety of amazing things we offer, bowling will always be closest to my heart.
2018 marks the first year that Cozmo opens up a skating rink. Are there any other excting features in different locations for us to look forward to?
The skating rink is exciting because it offers something to the Khiran-dwellers that they never had before. When people go to Khiran now, they have more options in terms of entertainment, rather than the confinements of their chalets. Suppose it rains, or it’s simply too hot to go outside? The Skating Rink in Khiran’s Norma Mall provides a cooling alternative – and I swear, once you experience it yourself, you’ll feel like you’re in another world!
And don’t forget about our anticipated Snowtown festival in February! I won’t say much, but that’s surely going to be our biggest surprise yet for the people of Kuwait to enjoy. We can’t wait to see you there!
For general inquiries, contact them by phone (188 5888) or email them at [email protected]ozmogroup.com. Visit their website at www.cozmogroup.com and follow them on Instagram / Twitter @cozmo_group or on Snapchat / Facebook @cozmogroup.