Update: Back to Live Events in a Post-Pandemic World
Company name: Interactive Entertainment Group
Revenue: 400K/ Month
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I am Gregg Dukofsky and I’m the visionary and founder at Interactive Entertainment Group, an event production company. I started my business in 1988 with one idea, and since then have grown my business to include hundreds of unique products ranging from sports simulators to virtual reality to giant games.
Some of our most popular offerings include a Giant Human Claw, Augmented Reality Gaming Wall, Virtual Graffiti Wall, VR Soar, and Urban Hoops.
Since launching my first product at an amusement park and being written up in a local newspaper, my company has come a long way. From this initial buzz, event planners began to inquire about having entertainment options white-labeled at their event. This led to the expansion of my inventory to accommodate bar and bat mitzvahs, fundraisers, college orientations, and high-end social gatherings.
In 2008 when the stock market crashed, disposable income became significantly limited. To recession-proof my business, my team pivoted to focus on corporate events rather than private ones. More specifically, the bulk of my business transitioned to activations involving team building, product launches, experiential marketing, trade show traffic building, brand initiatives, and holiday parties.
To paint a picture of our growth, we have ranked in Inc. 5000s fastest-growing private companies three years in a row in 2018, 2019, and 2020 as well as Inc. 5000 Regionals for the NY Metro area in 2021.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since my last interview about a year ago, a lot has changed. Thanks to breakthroughs in treatments as well as widespread testing and vaccinations, we saw a plunge in cases resulting in a surge of hope and renewed interest in live events.
While your idea may be revolutionary today, the world is constantly changing, and you must change with it if you want to be successful in the long term.
After almost a year of strictly virtual events, our clients were eager to begin planning in-person experiences, and business was finally nearing what we had seen pre-pandemic. Despite this newfound hope, there was definitely a higher demand for certain products over others. The majority of bookings featured products that could be used outside or involved minimal touch.
With this in mind, we knew we weren’t in the clear and that we had to be strategic with how we spent this influx of revenue. This strategy involves two main categories: investing in the future and saving for a rainy day.
The first way we’ve begun to invest in the future is with our CRM, allowing us to become more efficient and in tune with our client’s needs. Specifically, this has significantly facilitated our sales pipeline, marketing efforts, and even production schedule. We’re more buttoned-up than ever, giving us an elevated feel that reflects where we’re heading as a company.
Another thing we’ve invested in over the past year is our rebrand. From a new logo to an entirely redesigned website coming soon, we have invested heavily in how we portray ourselves moving forward. We’ve changed significantly as a company over the past several years, and we wanted our brand identity to reflect that.
Launching our newsletter
Along with our rebrand, we’ve also launched our NEXT NOW Newsletter, giving our clients a taste of what’s new in the events industry today. By establishing ourselves as thought leaders in the industry, we’ve become a resource rather than simply a company selling its services.
New products & offerings
As we have continued to grow and evolve as a company, our product inventory has done the same. From an experiential vending machine to a synthetic ice skating rink, we’ve continued to innovate with products designed to flourish in the post-pandemic era. Beyond our advancements in the live events space, we’ve also continued to invest in our virtual experiences. Remote work isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and we feel strongly about the importance of bringing teams together regardless of their physical location. Some of our latest virtual experiences include a Bank Heist Escape Experience, Social Hour, and Crowd “Says.”
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
As we continue to see an increase in live events, it’s important to note that we are living in a changed world and we must adapt our product offerings accordingly. With this in mind, there are a variety of factors we take into consideration when expanding our inventory.
Things like minimizing touch and maximizing spacing are paramount to ensure that guests feel comfortable partaking in the experience. Beyond live events, we can’t forget about the virtual events that got us through the pandemic. The reality is, remote work will never fade completely.
Even in the post-pandemic era, working from home has proven to be mutually beneficial for companies and their employees. With this in mind, there will always be a need for virtual events to bridge the gap between coworkers who don’t have the ability to meet in person.
By establishing ourselves as thought leaders in the industry, we’ve become a resource rather than simply a company selling its services.
Another lesson involves the importance of investing in the right people. While there have been plenty of ups and downs over the past two years, my staff has stood by me through it all. Even when there were no live events taking place due to covid-19 mandates, they persevered and found a way to bring events to hundreds of teams working remotely.
With live events making a return, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. If my team could survive a pandemic together, there’s really nothing we can’t do.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
While we’ve already put in the groundwork, we would like to delve even more into the experiential events space, acting as a resource for the latest cutting-edge technology. Despite what’s going on in the world, companies will always need to come up with new ways to keep their brand top of mind. And with the pandemic coming to an end, brands are finally able to create in-person experiences to deepen their connection with their customers.
Rather than traditional commercials and advertising, companies are beginning to recognize the importance of personal experiences. If the activation is creative enough, customers will feel inclined to share the content, allowing it to become viral on its own. Even those who were not at the event become part of the experience when they share it online, making it more about the experience and less about the sale.
By the end of 2022, we’re hoping to exceed our monthly revenue numbers from pre-pandemic. In five years, we expect to be a leader in the experiential events space, being the go-to resource for experiential agencies nationwide.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
If you get too comfortable when things are good, your business will inevitably become obsolete. While your idea may be revolutionary today, the world is constantly changing, and you must change with it if you want to be successful in the long term.
Looking back to when I started my company over 30 years ago, it’s hardly recognizable. However, what people don’t see is that my core principles have hardly changed.