A Ph.D. in software engineering, Chris Rudram channeled his love for games and the performing arts to create his experiential events company, Enigmatic Events Collective. With his firm belief that when you play better, you work better, Chris produces and hosts what he calls ‘unusual’ team-building events, that include murder mysteries, scavenger hunts, quizzes and theatrical productions. We chat with Chris about the power of games, the growing pains of a bootstrapped company and his experience of using Ownr to register the business.
Ownr: Introduce us to Enigmatic Events Collective
Chris: The Enigmatic Events Collective is dedicated to creating better interactions between people. We do this by combining our love of games and theatre to create a playful environment for people. This means we put on murder mysteries that get people talking to each other, treasure hunts that get people solving problems together, and training that dives into trust-building and communication styles.
Ownr: What inspired you to start Enigmatic Events?
Chris: I started the company to offer murder mysteries as a part time business. It became clear early on that there was something powerful in those games, with attendees having new interactions with people they hardly knew. This led to new conversations outside and beyond the game. I decided to look deeper into this, and soon realized that game-play was a useful tool to help people learn and experience new things together. I could offer something that would allow people to be playful and to learn, and then use those experiences in their every day jobs, and lives.
From there I took the business to a more professional level. Recently, I added a partner to the business. My colleague Natasha Guerra brings a wealth of experience from theatre, a key component needed to put on larger productions. She also brings a different voice to the conversation, and a new set of experiences helping us cater to and understand a far wider group of people in our designs.
Ownr: What do you love about being your own boss? What keeps you motivated?
Chris: Results. I love putting on successful events, and seeing groups interact. I love setting team-challenges and seeing how they respond. But I really love the debriefs afterwards, where we get to see what new insights came out of the sessions.
Ownr: What has been your biggest success or earliest win with Enigmatic Events?
Chris: Writing a murder mystery for sixty guests and seven actors! I was part of a team that transformed a restaurant into a heritage house into a clue-like game. We had six actors playing the traditional clue suspects and a police inspector to make the arrest at the end. The guests got to wander the rooms of the building, ask questions to the suspects, compare clues – all the while having appetizers and drinks. It was my first experience of writing a mystery from scratch with a fixed and focused brief. The event went down very well, and the client was very pleased with the experience he had with his team.
Ownr: What do you remember about the initial days of Enigmatic Events? Anything you can share about your experience of using Ownr to set up Enigmatic Events?
Chris: The early days were mostly finding my feet as a small business owner. How do I do accounts? How do I market? What am I doing? After three years, converting to an incorporated company was super easy with Ownr. It allowed us to convert simply, structure the ownership in a way that made sense, and lead the conversations that we need to have about the legal and financial side of the business. We knew we wanted to work together after many conversations about our shared values and goals – Ownr did the work we needed to make it formal.
“When you’re bootstrapping a company, the immediate challenge is to create twice the income.”
Chris Rudram, Founder, Enigmatic Events Collective
Ownr: What’s the hardest part of running a business of this nature? Is there anything you wish you knew before you started Enigmatic Events? Anything you would approach differently?
Chris: Finding clients who fit what we deliver has been a challenge. What we do is a little unusual, so getting people to understand what we can offer is not always easy. I’d certainly have tried to bring a partner on earlier if I could do it all again – that extra viewpoint is a really valuable. Also, when you’re bootstrapping a company, the immediate challenge is to create twice the income.
Ownr: What does a typical day look like for you at Enigmatic Events?
Chris: For me, checking emails and addressing important paperwork comes first. Then I deal with leads and incoming requests. I follow that with writing content, training outlines, new proposals, murder mystery scripts or other packages of work. Unless it’s an event day, then it’s a lot of preparing, printing and checking that we have everything ready to go!
Ownr: Are there any tips you’d like to share with other entrepreneurs starting their business journey?
Chris: Have a clear idea of why you do what you do. Be adaptable to change. And have someone to be accountable to.