From living on the dole to running a million-dollar business: One of Australia’s most successful ‘bogans’

Darren Hilsley

Darren ‘Daz’ Hilsley went from a Traralgon country boy living on the dole, to the millionaire founder of a multi-national business, Bogan Bingo Entertainment, running more than 400 events each year.

Bogan Bingo events run as a game-show-meets-disco, complete with faux-mullets, air-guitar competitions and jokes that celebrate the never-ending fascination with this Aussie subculture.

The self-confessed new aged bogan launched the business at 30, after years spent managing a bar in Cairns, running game nights five nights a week.

Relocating to Melbourne with a deep-seated hatred of trivia, he began running regular Disco Bingo nights at the Elwood Lounge, while DJing as a side hustle. Bogan Bingo was thrown into the mix when brainstorming ideas for new themes and he quickly realised the unlimited comedy potential of embracing the Aussie bogan.

With a budget of $600 and 4 weeks to make the show work – Bogan Bingo was born.

He said: “I had disco balls, a kick arse safari suit and enough jokes that rhymed with numbers to give it a shot.”

What started as a small pub night in Melbourne, quickly grew to a team in every state except Tasmania, and a global expansion in Canada and the UK. Now running corporate events, hen’s nights, charity events and sports club fundraisers, Darren and his team have booked as many as 80 shows in one month.

The Body Shop, Westpac, Flight Centre, AFL, Expedia and Bupa have all donned their best flannies and Bintang singlets for a night of Bogan Bingo.

“The biggest pinch me moment was when my dad and I were travelling in the UK and stumbled into a pub only to find Bogan Bingo rocking out in full swing!”

“A lot of people had their doubts and thought it would have a shelf-life, but it’s come a long way and helped me live the ‘Aussie’ dream with four properties and a great business.”