INTERVIEW: Making a mark with GroundWOW

GroundWOW, the world’s first full-colour autonomous ground printer, has enjoyed a busy few months since its official launch in October. As part of its delivery for The Festival™ presented by Magners, the Jockey Club commissioned GroundWOW to create a large scale Magners Irish Cider logo in the middle of the world-renowned Cheltenham racecourse earlier this month.

TheStadiumBusiness.com caught up with Tony Rhoades, GroundWOW’s founder, chairman and CEO, to find out more about the trajectory of the company ahead of its appearance at TheStadiumBusiness Summit 2020 later in the year.

TheStadiumBusiness.com: For readers who do not know, what is GroundWOW?

Tony Rhoades: “GroundWOW is a technology company enabling stadia and venue owner/operators to turn any ground, in or around their facility, into advertising real estate quickly and easily. Imagine being able to print any image, any size, any colour, directly onto any ground surface immediately – that’s GroundWOW. We make printing on ground as easy as printing on paper with the world’s first full colour autonomous ground printer.”

TSB: Why is this sort of service important to stadium and venue operators?

TR: “Globally, every day, sponsorship breathes life into sports and other live events. Because GroundWOW prints directly onto ground, facility owners can offer more (and bigger) advertising locations to more brand sponsors to maximise revenues.”

TSB: So, how is it currently done?

TR: “Mainly manually. It requires significant pre-planning, the manufacture of pre-ordered plastic stencils, and large teams of workers to decipher instructions, prepare, lay out, and complete a site for a branded event. They cannot print full-colour images, direct to ground, in the patented way that GroundWOW does. GroundWOW therefore maximises flexibility, minimises lead times, and offers unrivalled time and cost savings.

“At its heart, GroundWOW is an autonomous vehicle combined with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and an end-to-end Cloud SAAS (Software As A Service) platform that work together to create ground-printed images as accurate as a blade of grass – all underpinned with a user-centred ad-management and client interface.”

TSB: Is it easy to use?

TR: “Yes. GroundWOW is ‘out of the box’ and printing in under 10 minutes, and functions like any home printer. Simply send an image wirelessly to the machine from the companion app, confirm settings – such as resolution, location, size, perspective – and GroundWOW does the rest.”

TSB: Stadium operators are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of being ‘green’ and sustainable. Is GroundWOW environmentally friendly?

TR: “Yes. GroundWOW’s onboard machine learning, its vision system, network of sensors and intelligent paint monitoring system, enables it to apply just the right amount of paint for each surface type, in an entirely repeatable and systematic way. Linked to this, there are therefore also real savings in terms of time and resources applied to image removal.

“GroundWOW also prints faster and has zero waste. Our batteries are rechargeable, enabling all-day (and night) printing on a single charge, making GroundWOW amongst the most efficient and low-cost electric vehicles. Even our paint cartridges are 100% recyclable.”

TSB: What is the structure of the customer relationship with GroundWOW and what sort of return on investment (ROI) can they expect? 

TR: “We offer a simple monthly subscription. GroundWOW operates a cloud-based SAAS business model, making it possible for customers to have the latest full-colour ground printer technology in an easily upgradeable and fully maintained package.

“A stadium achieves an ROI quickly and easily. We help customers to save money through time and cost efficiencies and make money by enabling them to convert underutilised ground into advertising real estate.”

TSB: What does the future hold for GroundWOW?

TR: “Well, this is the first of several GroundWOW product innovations geared to drive sponsorship revenue in all sports venues around the world. We also have other deployments of the GroundWOW autonomous system and cloud architecture. Watch this space.”


Tony Rhoades and GroundWOW chief commercial officer David Pritchard will make a presentation at TheStadiumBusiness Summit 2020, which will return to Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, UK from September 28-30. Click here to find out more.