Former NRL player Denan Kemp isn't just a bloke in a bar


Former NRL player Denan Kemp started his sports network business in 2015 with the launch of his podcast The Locker Room, now one of Australia's top sporting podcasts.

The catalyst for The Locker Room? Kemp felt he had insight into other players who he felt were being wrongly portrayed in the media.

Kemp has since launched his own beer and the Bloke in a Bar sports bar. He is the archetypal "bloke in a bar" and his podcast, beer and bar are aimed at people like him.

denan kemp bloke in a bar

What was your first job?

I was working in a bottle shop as a delivery guy. We'd deliver cases of beer to smaller stores around our bigger bottle shop. The job was given to me because I went straight from school to rugby league and getting $8000 for the season and so I needed a job. I'd wake early, work there for six to eight hours, drive an hour to training which was between 4pm and 9pm then drive home to the Gold Coast and then do it again.

What's the best money advice you've ever received?

The best advice for me was that it doesn't matter what you're worth financially as long as you are a good person. Money should only be used as a resource for your family. If you earn it you should be able to keep as much as you want but it's all about impacting the community in a positive way. I drive a normal car now but might get rid of it altogether and ride a bike to get everywhere. I don't always draw a wage; I just want the company to grow.

What's the best investment decision you've made?

Easily this business is the best investment decision I've made. Real estate for me is not the same value - I feel the potential earnings of creating your own business is much more important than grinding your way through a mortgage. I want to build an asset that can build a greater income. As a pro athlete, I'm an extremist - I'm either all in or all out. I think that, for me, I'm not the guy who thinks things won't go right if I throw everything into it.

What's the worst investment decision you've ever made?

Probably buying my house - I bought it nearly 10 years ago and it's not worth more than I bought it. I know it's nearly impossible for that to happen — maybe I overpaid for it? It's in a nice development area with a lot of new units so will be worth it in the long term but not right now.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

PC gear, a new monitor, PC and all for the business. If someone said to me here's $20,000 and go and splurge it, I would take my partner on a holiday.

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

Straight back into my business. We are going to be one of the biggest businesses in the country - our sports network already competes with Fox Sports - and we're the number one sports podcast in Australia. In 10 years' time, our online sports network's goal is to be the number one sports network.

What would you do if you only had $50 left in the bank?

Go to the beach with the missus and just chill and work on ways of making more money through the business. I could also invest it in the missus - a happy partner is a happy life.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

I want my kids to earn it but without having kids I don't know exactly how I feel about it. I'd like to leave something - to charities or family - whatever the situation. Any way I can help others - the long-term goal is to have enough money where I can go around and help people, like Bill Gates. I'd like to use sport to help disadvantaged kids and people better live their lives.

When will you be satisfied that your business has succeeded?

There is no end goal, it's already successful, we've positively impacted rugby league but we can always do more. it's an ongoing thing where we want to provide value to the community we are a part of. The business should be a success when my family and I never have to worry again. Happy, healthy and safe.

Would you like to see any changes with the way people look at money post-COVID?

Our education system has failed us miserably in educating us about money. Money should be seen as a resource and not as something negative.

Finish this sentence: money makes... and security. It provides safety for you and your family because you don't have to worry about basics - medicine, food, clothing, rent and home.

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Julia Newbould was editor-at-large and later managing editor of Money from November 2019 to February 2022. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.