Austin area company goes from losing all business to building a new business in 10 days
Liberty Hill, TX – April 29, 2020 – The office of family owned Game Shows To Go was almost an instant business casualty of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Being in the live event business they lost three months of future bookings in just three days. “We had over $50,000 in bookings cancel on March 12th alone! That’s a lot for a small company like ours”, says C.J. Johnson, co-owner of the company. “We were in tears, I was literally throwing up sick knowing that I was going to have to lay off our 5 employees, who are more like family” he added. “I didn’t even want to answer the phone anymore as every time it rang it was more lost business.”
“As panic consumed us I looked into unemployment, to what it took to lay people off, we ran budgets to see how long we could continue to pay our fixed business expenses without any income. I told my wife (Kim) “we’re screwed”, I just don’t see a way out of this.” Says Johnson.
As a coping mechanism to get away from all of the depressing calls Johnson and his wife unplugged for the weekend and made a conscious decision not to check e-mail, news or social media for two full days. But before they unplugged Johnson texted his team and instructed them to meet the following Monday to pitch ideas on virtual shows that could keep the company afloat.
On the following Monday Johnson’s business partner Gus Davis and technical director James Caldwell did more than just deliver an idea, they delivered a fully functioning game show to be presented via streaming video. They put their 17 years and 2500+ live game shows of experience to work to create something completely unique specifically for the virtual world. “If we didn’t have that kind of experience and knowledge about game shows it wouldn’t have turned out nearly as well” said Davis a partner in the company and the host of the show.
They call it “Trivia Stream – the Virtual Game Show”. Davis hosts a live, private channel game show from his home studio, while three other team members run other aspects of the show from their own homes during this shelter in place phase of the pandemic.
You’d never know that Davis was playing to a camera surrounded by action figures, set up to look like an audience to him, in his home studio all alone. Davis’ energy and charisma are the driving forces behind the show and his ability to connect with players through the screen and through the chat is truly remarkable. The result is a TV broadcast quality game show, played just for their clients.
Once Game Shows To Go had proof of concept then Johnson and his team went into high gear marketing the show to their college clients who were struggling to find quality virtual entertainment to keep their students engaged and feeling a part of their community. The response has been incredible with over 75 events booked since the first show on March 25th, a mere 11 days after everything crashed! And they’ve been doing 2-5 shows daily since then. The Game Shows To Go team did 56 shows in April alone.
Our teams hustle saved our little company and kept 4 families from having to file unemployment. “Most of all”, Johnson says, “It was a morale booster for us to know that our team can problem solve and adjust”. “We’ve often joked that the team we’ve assembled is the exact group we’d want on our “Zombie Apocalypse Survival Squad”, and this is as close as I want to come to that. Without any one of our members, this pivot would not have been possible.”
I think we’re going to come out of this stronger than we went in, and we’ve already got big plans for this virtual show, even when the world gets back to normal”.
Game Shows To Go’s next pivot is to take the experience and refinements that have come from these scores of college shows and offer shows to their corporate clients for team meetings, virtual conventions and brand boosting sponsored shows. They’re also serving the High School Grad Nights who had to cancel for their seniors. Game Shows To Go focus’ on building and maintaining community through the chat element of the show and the way it’s uniquely connected to the host. It’s obvious from the opening screens that each and every show is unique to their clients so they’ve made a show that feels very personal.
“We’re truly excited about what we’ve learned and the new directions that necessity has pushed us” adds Johnson from his Liberty Hill home. We’re working with developers to improve the experience and make it, better, more interactive and versatile for our clients and we’re planning on launching something even more amazing in mid August.”