The Zoom game that turned into a six-figure turnover business in six months
Chris Stylianou, CEO and founder, The Adventure is Real, shares how going virtual has helped his business turn over £750,000 in six months.
Escaping to the virtual world
Chris Stylianou, former finance manager, launched an escape room in Hackney in late 2019 that was forced to close its doors in March 2020 when the pandemic hit.
Stylianou said: “At the start of the first UK lockdown, we were faced with two choices, either close down the company entirely as we could no longer do in person experiences for the foreseeable future, or pivot. We chose the latter and it ended up being one the best decision we’ve ever made.”
Faced with the dilemma of losing the professional actors he had hired, Stylianou decided to transform his business to run virtually. This virtual offering is now turning over £750,000.
This created Agent Venture, an online live performance game that over the pandemic has been enjoyed by over 7,000 people, supported by a growing number of West End actors who bring the game to life via Zoom.
Since its launch, Agent Venture has been described as one of the best online experiences by Time Out.
Stylianou commented: “We wanted to create a way for families and friends to spend time together and keep our small team of actors employed throughout the pandemic.
“Agent Venture was born out of the need for a contemporary interactive experience. We decided to adapt the entire operation so that the need for it to be virtual enhanced the experience, rather than just being necessary due to social distancing. Players have to interact with digital puzzles, floorplans, blueprints and spreadsheets, and the actor’s face is never shown - so the players can really believe in the characters. The entire game was designed in just two weeks, but we knew we wanted to work fast to meet the demand for virtual events that was emerging from the pandemic.”
Agent Venture has three different heist themed missions available for participants to enjoy over the video conferencing platform Zoom, bringing the challenges to your living room. The game is designed for four to five players per session.
Increase in demand
Stylianou stated: “We advertised tickets for it and by the time of our launch in May 2020, they sold out. It wasn’t long until we brought out a second version of the game and had to hire more actors to meet demand for the time slots we were selling.
“Christmas and New Year’s Eve saw a huge increase in interest from corporate bookings where we were hosting up to 60 players per game.”
One year into launching the company, Adventure is Real anticipates to turnover nearly three quarters of a million in 2021.
As well as Agent Venture, The Adventure is Real plans to launch other online live performances other the next six months.
Stylianou concluded: “I never could have predicted that the company would end up like this, but this year, people have discovered the power of virtual and the ability to connect with family and friends across the globe no matter where you are. I now believe that virtual will have a firm position in the future of experiential entertainment.
"Companies like Netflix and Deliveroo have shown us that many people like to experience high quality activities with their families within the comfort of their own home. I genuinely believe online experiences will go the same way and The Adventure is Real will be at the forefront.”