By the time you read this, TikTok, the “new” popular mobile video site, may be a thing of the past. You know how fickle young people can be. But it doesn’t matter. Rock the House Entertainment Group of Oakwood Village jumped on the social media sensation immediately, when its apparent addiction was just developing.
Rock the House is an interactive entertainment and production company founded in 1999. It uses the social media phenomenon as an inspiration to create TikTok-style games and competitions at some of its events, including bat/bar mitzvahs.
“This is something that might last a year, or two years, or four or five weeks,” says COO Ryan Konikoff, who last year bought a majority stake of the business from the original owner, Matt Radicelli, who remains as CEO. “But during those four or five weeks, we are going to offer something that no one else will be able to do. We’ll create something that those kids will remember the rest of their lives.
“We are not afraid to roll something out that has a short lifespan if it is an impactful lifespan,” says Konikoff. “So many companies say, ‘Well, we’ll see where that goes, and then in six months we can build a program,’ and then it’s a year out from there. We can roll things out very quickly. And when it’s over, we just pull back … and it’s over. Some ideas work, some don’t. But you learn from the failures as much, if not more, than the successes. We pride ourselves on being large, but nimble.”
What began as a small home office-based business has grown into a national multimillion-dollar company with 125 employees. That record was good enough to land Rock the House at the top of the 2019 Weatherhead 100 Winners, as designated by Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management.
The list honors the 100 fastest growing companies in Northeast Ohio based on revenue from 2014 through 2018. Sales must have been at least $100,000 in 2014 and more than $1 million in 2018. At least 16 employees are required to be eligible for the honor.
Sure, recruiting talent and employee retention are important to any company’s success. But Rock the House has an extra scoop of innovation that creates a dynamic environment and culture for employees. Konikoff encourages employees to “think big,” and lets them know what that means. He’s also proud of his company’s acknowledgement program that sends out more than 70 “thank you” messages a week to deserving employees.
You might not have heard of the company by name before this year, but there is a good chance if you attended a memorable conference, wedding reception, school dance, corporate celebration or holiday party in Northeast Ohio recently, Rock the House was probably pulling the strings. Konikoff also has trained his telescope on houses of worship and institutions of higher learning. He believes the magic of entertainment and technology can save people from what can be long, boring hours. His philosophy: If you can get someone’s attention, he or she will learn more.
“We will also most likely have a presence at both national political conventions this year, as well as rallies and events,” says Konikoff, who graduated from Orange High School and majored in psychology at Lynn University in Boca Rotan, Florida.
But meetings and business conventions comprise the majority of Rock the House’s work. Konikoff says his company’s ability to think quickly and move forward sets it apart. Conferences or conventions that might once have been live for everyone are now hybrids. Some people are attending in person, others via technology. With the new public health paradigm, the trend toward technological attendance is sure to increase.
“Our job is to give those people who are sitting in their offices some of the same touches they would get if they were there live,” says Konikoff, explaining that can include robo cameras that allow people to look at different camera views throughout the conference. “Imagine if you are in a regular conference room. Sometimes, you’d be looking at the speaker. But sometimes, maybe you would look at the person next to you or around the room. We want people to have all those experiences.”
Rock the House has its own photo department and manager, another innovation and advantage, according to Entertainment Manager Kelly Clymer. Clients choose from six photo experiences “to give their guests a really great experience,” says Clymer. Ring Roamer is billed as a selfie photo booth which “goes out into the people,” eliminating long lines at the photo booth in the corner of the room.
“We do different when we can enhance or tell a story on a different level,” says Konikoff.
Rock the House leaves no loose ends, and every detail is decided before the day of an event, according to Clymer. That doesn’t mean everything goes exactly as planned. If partygoers don’t seem to appreciate a line dance or the cupid shuffle that a company’s entertainment committee thought would be perfect, it’s not a disaster. Clymer says Rock the House event employees are cross-trained and can do more than just punt to ensure a successful event. That training also gives Rock the House an edge and never leaves employees feeling unprepared for the unexpected.
Of course, there are times when even the best companies can’t compete with Mother Nature. Last fall, severe storms ripped through Northeast Ohio and left several wedding receptions in the dark.
“We were up and running with generators in 20 minutes,” recalls Clymer. “I told everyone what a unique experience their evening would turn out to be.”