How a Enterprise Constructed on Laser Tag, Bowling and Arcade Video games Pivoted to Digital

How a Business Built on Laser Tag, Bowling and Arcade Games Pivoted to Virtual

15, 2020

6 min read

Who are you and what is that to you?

I'm Sarah Beddoe and the Chief Brand Officer at Main Event Entertainment, the Plano, Texas-based, 44-center, social entertainment brand in the United States, known for its huge multi-stage laser tag venues. State of the art bowling, virtual reality, arcade games, billiards, events and great food. More than 95% of our locations have opened in the past four years as we now operate in 17 states and have virtual experiences available to guests nationwide.

How has the pandemic affected your business?

The events of 2020 changed our daily lives in many ways, especially social behavior and interactions. When we closed our locations in March, we immediately worked to not only put together the strictest safety and disinfection plan in the industry, but also began to see what our unique experience outside the four walls of our centers could be like. We got a glimpse of hosting live virtual birthday parties on Instagram every day our locations weren't open. The commitment we received and the joy we experienced in this initiative inspired us to think about how we could help people make connections and create memories with us outside of our physical space. At this time, we started putting together virtual experiences of the main event. Essentially, we could envision a way for our guests to connect with their co-workers, family, or friends through a range of games ranging from trivial happy hours to team building escape rooms to mind-boggling board games. The virtual events test guests in different ways, using logic, skill, strategy, direct knowledge and pop culture know-how. The four group-based games include The Main Escape, The Brainy Bunch, WFH Challenge, and So Trivial.

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What are you most proud of?

Our brand is considered an innovator of the category. We are constantly trying to find new ways for people to connect through our brand. As the first family entertainment center to create custom virtual experiences, I'm very proud of it because it's so important to our work. Additionally, I am so proud of how our team came together during this pandemic to create solutions not only for the health of our business, but also for the health of our millions and millions of customers. What the Covid-19 pandemic showed us is the need for human connections, and I couldn't be more proud of our brand's ability to bring this to life every day in our centers and now practically across the country.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking for funding?

It's your idea so believe in it! Sometimes it's just about finding the right like-minded partner to bring an idea or initiative to life. My starting point is my own network. They say the sixth degree of separation is real. So start very close and you'll be amazed at what you find a step or two away.

How do I prepare for a place?

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. You are the expert on the subject of your company. Have that, but also adapt to the right opportunity.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was the decision to close all of our centers across the country and the impact this would have on our team members. Ultimately, the most important thing is the health and safety of our team members and guests. I'm very proud to work for a company that took this challenge as an opportunity to find new ways to connect with guests both during and after the shelter was set up. Our new strategy “play smart, play safely” is really world class. The feedback from our guests confirmed the hard work and investment we put into the cleanliness and safety of our centers for everyone when they were ready to return. In addition, the introduction of “Food & Fun” delivery packages via UberEats and DoorDash was a new innovation for the industry. Virtual Experiences by Main Event was a concept that nobody in our business followed. Our contactless ordering and gameplay came early in the “new normal” when many brands weren't there, and the launch of the very first Main Event app with the “Dinner Bell” feature continues to focus on our guests' time to give to connect while we take care of everyone else.

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Where do you see this company in a year? In five years?

Our focus remains on building and growing a world class team that will enable us to grow to the point where we are the most admired family entertainment company in the country. By investing in our people, we know they will invest in our guests, which allows us to continue investing in the business. We're still a very young brand with a long runway ahead of us!

What does the word "entrepreneur" mean to you?

Being an entrepreneur takes courage. I believe that courage combined with brain is a very powerful combination. Many entrepreneurs have that in them, and that is what makes them so successful.

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Is there a specific quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?

“When you're working on something that is really important to you, you don't need to be rushed. You are drawn to the vision.” – Steve Jobs