It’s easy to forget that businesses have real people behind them. Not your business of course, YOUR processes and YOUR teams are driven by real people; they collaborate, worry about retirement, eat Chipotle and get sh*t done. But when you interact with other businesses, it’s faceless advertising and “functional interactions.” Could we do better?
I love interviewing the people behind team building companies because they have a fundamentally different understanding of business; they know it’s people that drive every organization, and they work to help improve the communication, collaboration and functionality of how these people work together.
Today’s review of Cashunt is a great example of an idea that thrives by acknowledging businesses are made up of people, and that when you invest in those people they build strong teams and strong companies. I interviewed Chris Damianakos, Head Game Coordinator at Cashunt, about their company team building activities. Chris shared his passion for people, creative ideas and great customer service.
Here’s the review…
Cashunt is like a mashup between a scavenger hunt, trivia night, amazing race and your favorite circus, i.e., it’s a creative and energetic blast. From the interview with Chris and my research I learned about the advantages of doing a team building event or “Urban Competition” with Cashunt. The highlights include:
- one game can include 250+ people, split into teams of 8;
- every event is heavily customized, e.g., a newspaper printout “clue”with a story about your company that you follow to reach the next step;
- Cashunt is an all ages team building activity, i.e., it’s fun whether you are in your 20s or your 70s;
- while many scavenger hunts rely on apps and clipboards, Cashunt’s Urban Competition is about exploring spaces and interacting with people;
- the event is split into a series of activities that are designed to improve your team dynamics, e.g., a time restricted photo hunt that requires collaboration and a trivia portion that shares fun facts about team members;
- the core event is two hours long, so this activity can easily fit into most work days;
- Cashunt has a Bad Weather Policy, so if there is heavy rain, snow, etc. you can cancel or reschedule your event without penalty;
- this is a good choice for a repeat event because the company operates games as unique seasons, with a creative overhaul each year;
- the event wraps up with an award ceremony, and everyone likes prizes;
- the whole thing is infused with elements that promote team bonding;
- it’s really fun!
How to Find Cashunt
As of November, 2016, Cashunt operates in six cities, including Boston, Salem, Charleston, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City. You can find an up to date list of operating cities and contact information on Cashunt’s website.
Team Building Activities at Cashunt
Cashunt’s main team building activity is an Urban Competition. If your team likes doing scavenger hunts and similar activities then you will love Cashunt. The main difference between Cashunt and a scavenger hunt is the heavy focus on interactive activities. Here are some examples of activities your team will participate in:
- The 100 Photo Challenge: each “target” is worth a different number of points, so it takes strategy and collaboration to maximize your results. Some teams will rush off to beat the clock, others will split into groups with photo hunt missions and other groups will take a very cerebral approach. There isn’t any right or wrong way to tackle this collaboration, and no real penalties, so it’s a good opportunity to show your team that they can share their opinions, make compromises and still get the work done.
- Follow the Clues: your team building adventure is a series of a clues and trivia items that lead to the next step. Cashunt incorporates custom trivia about YOUR team, including icebreaker type questions and fun updates.
- The Coin Rush: often a bonus round to scoop some extra points, each team can find hidden coins along the route. This bonus activity is a great way to encourage exploration and is a series of “happiness boosts” every time you find a coin.
- The Award Ceremony: Cashunt’s team building activity finishes up with an award ceremony where the Game Coordinator tallies up each team’s points and awards special prizes to the groups. One of the best things about Cashunt is performance is 100% merit bases – the team that collaborates best will win and be recognized for it.
Interview With Chris Damianakos, Head Game Coordinator at Cashunt
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So with that being said what we do is other than the core challenges that we put in this game we throw in a bunch of cryptic secrets. So something that might look like an article and it just might look like it’s there cosmetically speaking but actually it’s another challenge. So in essence all our Cashunt games but primarily the corporate version, the team building version of it, you know, we advertise it as 6 core challenges but in the actuality from front to back it’s literally like 13-14 different challenges because some of them might require QR codes, we use Tekken involved in these game booklets, others just like simply the naked eye.
But it’s a 2 hour event and it doesn’t get played in sequence so it’s not a scenario where you need to do one challenge in order to get to the next challenge. It’s really kind of like this 2 hour madcap game race where they’re playing the game, where they’re being exposed to the city. We really expose the city in regards to a lot of things a lot of people don’t know about. And you know, it’s comical. There’s just a lot of different elements and like as in any team building type of scenario it’s an icebreaker but we take a lot of elements from pop culture. So old film noir, comic books, the city, board games and we just kind of embed it into one big giant game.
So yeah, so it’s a fun event, we do about close to 350 games a year, started here in Boston like I said 16 years ago, we branched out to Charleston South-Carolina, Philadelphia, Chicago and starting to reform again in New York.
Michael: Wow, there is a ton there and I’d love to kind of unpack it, reframe it a little bit to make sure that it’s clear to anybody listening or reading.
Chris: Sure. Yeah.
Michael: So I appreciate that you’re not just a normal scavenger hunt, it sounds like there’s a lot of other things going on…
Michael: But is it correct to say that you at least present it in part as a scavenger hunt? Because people will recognize some of those core elements of following clues and kind of the teamwork and the rushing around?
Chris: You know, it’s a great question. The one thing I would probably say is when we first started out yes, you could elaborate that it would be a scavenger hunt. Now it’s taken a life of its own. So it’s pretty much what we like to call it kind of an urban game experience because there’s a lot of – you know, in other words I think the best way I can say, the city becomes the game board in some cases. So yes, there are elements of a scavenger hunt but it’s more of a game experience. And I hope that’s going to make any sense but it has just a variety of different types of game elements, one being a scavenger hunt intertwined into this type of product.
Michael: Got it. I think there’s of course a lot of different categories of team building that companies can do. They can do a retreat out in the woods; they could go on a vacation together. They could go and make specialty chocolates or learn how to make pizza.
Michael: Would you say that at least we’re in the same kind of category vertical as scavenger hunts? If somebody is looking into scavenger hunts would they also be interested in something like this?
Chris: Oh yeah. Because the one thing when it comes to the corporate, I mean we have pretty much in the company we’ve done it for them and sometimes on multiple occasions. But we also embed the company’s DNA into the game as well. So there is items like such as company trivia, there is something that we call the missing item challenge that is something – you know, something is missing from their “office” that is related to what they do or it could be very general, it could be very light-hearted.
So we definitely take like I mentioned the DNA of that company and we request for a few or sometimes several aspects of their company that they deliver to us, maybe depending on the size of the group but relatively two weeks or sometimes a month in advance and then we take that element and then we just kind of intertwine it with the games that we currently offer them.
So it depends. You know, every company is very different in our experience of doing this for so long. Some of them just want kind of like a light-hearted approach and enjoy. Others literally – there are some aspects that they’re sending over to us that is literally – they want to kind of… how can I put this? – re-educate or kind of follow through like in the fact that they send trivia questions.
A lot of companies will look at it as just general 10 questions about their company, or whatever. Other companies will actually – I mean there’s this company that I’m not going to mention but the questions were probably the equivalent of an SAT and they’ll really look at it and say okay, I remember specifically where a game has finished and after we presented the medals and talked about the game, who won and whatnot, I remember specifically that the group and I think it was about 12 teams, after we did our thing, after the game was over one of the bosses that were there they were concerned why every team got 7 out of 10 questions wrong. So I mean that’s a little bit extreme because it’s just supposed to be a fun event but I guess sometimes certain companies kind of look at it a little bit more in-depth.
Michael: Right. So of course there other companies, there are other aspects, you mentioned a team, things like quarterly reviews, things like annual meetings to make sure everybody is line so perhaps they were combining the elements of those.
Chris: Right, so yeah.
Michael: I would love to – you’ve touched on different elements of the scavenger hunt game and I would love if we could kind of compact it into one segment of this interview. Can you take me from start to finish what a team building activity, what a team building event looks like for a group?
Chris: Sure, absolutely. So what we do, you know, like literally from the straight out details of the product as well?
Michael: Yeah, let me give you an example. It’s like step 1, they arrive at 11 am, there’s a 15 minute like warm up session followed by…
Chris: Okay. Yeah. Absolutely. I can tell you that. So I went right from the – literally from the inquiry call right up to literally the award presentation. So you know, we get an initial inquiry call sometimes a month, maybe 2 months prior. We get some general information about that company to really understand it. Again, there are companies that were really kind of used to doing it quite a few times. So with that being said they’ll supply us with certain information.
And then what we will then go ahead and do is produce the game. Now, how we produce the game in regards to how many teams we create? We kind of go in intervals of 8. Our minimum is as low as 8 people and it can go right up to – we just had one for 250 players, literally last week. So what we like to do is we take a group and divide them into groups of 8, sometimes maximum of… groups of 10.
What they will then, when they arrive, it’ll be about 20 minutes if anything, maybe around 15 minutes of actual briefing the instructions. They’ll usually come obviously to us premeditated as far as everybody knowing what team they’re on. And that’s primarily for the pure factor of they’re creating the teams, all we care literally the team names. So that way they have people that normally might not communicate with one another during a regular workday and they’ll form their teams. So there’ll be like introverted and extroverted people together just for that dynamic.
And then with that being said we’ll supply them with all the game materials. So they’ll have – we’ll give them the Cashunt game bag, with the logo on the outside, the name of their team will be printed on there. Again, the name of the team is customized. They’ll also appear on the front page of their game booklet as far as the team tags as well. They’ll get either an I-Touch or a Nikon Camera that will be there specifically for the photo and video challenges, the actual game booklet and like I mentioned that’s a lot like an old comic book that will contain the 6 core challenges just typically found in the game, customized team badges, props. Everything is there for them within the confines of that game bag.
So basically what they will be doing is there is 2 hours of gameplay. There is no way of completing this game. So like I said there’s – and the reason that all the challenges in this case the 6 core challenges all have different types of point structures. So there’s a little improvisation in the strategy when ultimately team building comes into play. Ultimately the bottom line is, the team with the most points wins the Cashunt medals for this upcoming year so to speak. So each of our medals are literally collectibles in that you know, repeats have brought their previous medals from when they won at the last outing. But the game is devised by a variety of different challenges. They have a 100 item photo scavenger hunt while they’re looking for a variety of different locations and funny situations that they all have to appear in in order for points to count. All the photographs that all the teams take that day, we’ll send them over to them 2-3 days after.
All the photographs and all the videos are theirs to keep, they’re free, there’s nothing that they have – you know, it’s not one of those things that they have 24 hours to download them, they can do whatever they want with them. And depending on how many teams it’ll also translate to you an abundance of photographs and videos that they can share.
There’s trivia about their company that will lead them to certain locations that are associated with the line of work or their company or it could be simply a write-in answer. There is the missing item challenge where one of the pages in the game booklet is going to resemble, you know, a lot like a front page of a newspaper that will be a headline in regards to something is missing from their company or their office per se where the teams need to go and find. Mind you, our scenario is not like we need a physical item in the company but they would read the article and the article will lead them eventually to a Cashunt bonus card that will represent that missing item for additional points.
And then lastly you have what we call a coin rush which means that we’ve scattered quite a few cash on game coins within the area, teams shall find as many as they can for additional points. There’s video challenges that they have to do for additional points. They get those videos on top of the photographs and there’s a bunch like I mentioned, again, the booklet looks like an old-school like 1963 old comic book and inside we have a slew of secret challenges. One and that’s either inside the book or outside or they’re both. They’re inside the book and outside the book. Some of them might require QR codes, some of them just the naked eye.
One of those secret challenges is what we call Pandora’s Box where there’s a page in the game booklet that looks like a Cashunt cardboard box that you have to zap using a QR code which will unlock 50 other Cashunt boxes, some of them having hidden challenges in there, some of them having points and some of them having what we call zippos which means there’s nothing in there.
So it’s pretty much like I said it’s just a variety of different branches to this tree of the game that we have. After the game is done in typical fashion of a team building event, you know, teams will arrive, they would then continue on to wherever they’re going, mostly dinner and drinks and then we go ahead and tabulate the scores. And with that being said after the we’re done we’ll then come to them, make the announcement of the winners, talk about the game a little bit, hand out those Cashunt medals and then everybody knows how to get the photos and videos. And like I mentioned 48 hours after the event we’ll send all photographs and videos so they can do – you know, every company is different, slide shows, end of the year type of holiday park, whatever the case might be. Again, it’s all free. So just to give you an idea a group that we had this past Friday, it was quite a bit of teams, they had well over a thousand photographs and videos for them to keep so there’s no hidden cost pretty much. It’s all within the package.
Michael: Awesome. I love the level of detail you’re going into but it also, as I’m listening I was like all right, I’ve got 20 more questions now about how this works. This is cool, it sounds like a lot of fun.
Chris: Yeah, it is, yeah.
Michael: The first thing I started wondering was you talked about the initial inquiry call, you talked about how the event is customized, what kind of questions are you asking to the companies, the people that get in touch with you?
Chris: Well, we kind of just – to be honest with an initial inquiry call what I just kind of explained in detail is what I give them just because they’re basically – you know, obviously it’s common that you hear of the game so I can give them a detailed scenario in that regard of the game. But as far as the questions, I always try to get an understanding unless it’s a very common company like a Google or a Ford or whatever you kind of get an idea of what they do but there’s a lot of small businesses well out there that you’re not familiar what they do, especially in tech industry if anything now because it’s very vast.
So I kind of get a little bit of an education about the company and then also get an idea of the age range, how young, how old. Our games are ageless, it’s nothing like – I always say a 70 year old person could probably run as quick as a 20 year old these days. So age has no relevance to us. So we get a little bit of an education via them. And also we always make the client feel as comfortable as they can in regards to our customer service.
So I’m going to give a great example. Our weather policy is outstanding. And in what way? Now, we do this 12 months out of the year and here in New England, you know, you find all different types of weather. So the one thing that we don’t look at is the 5 or 7 day forecast because it’s really not even accurate. But we look at it 24 hours. So let’s say there was a game tomorrow and it was, I don’t know, SONY and they had a game. And let’s say it was a huge game. Let’s say it was like, I don’t know, 25 teams, and they were like almost 200 people. And let’s say the weather was horrible and let’s say it was going to be rain primarily. I’m not like I said downfall just say just a steady rain during their game.
So all the materials have been printed, everything’s been produced, you know, there’s time, there’s money involved in that but the weather has not been great. And so what we’ll then do is we’ll give the client a call a day prior and simply ask them “what do you feel like doing? They say it was going to be rain. Do you want to still play? Do you want to reschedule? Or do you want to cancel?” We throw the ball in their court. Now, let’s say they turn out – again, there have been many times through the 12 month so either from high heat or extreme cold or snow or rain that the client will still say “Yeah, we’re still with it.” Are you sure now? “Yeah, we’re still going to go.”
But then there’s the client that says “You know what? It is going to be pretty bad; I think we might want to cancel.” We’ll just ask them just because of the typical in New England scenarios like “Okay, before you cancel can you just call the day of the game, like maybe 5 hours prior to the event? Just because you know with the weather here, it could say rain tomorrow and it might end up being a nice day.”
But let’s say that you stay with that initial idea of canceling because of the weather, that’s perfectly fine. Okay, totally understood, it is raining, it’s legitimately raining, we want nothing from you. There’s no penalty, no financial penalty like you owe us this amount of money. It is what it is, the only thing we say keep us in mind in the future which is a big plus in regards to – it gives the client that comfort that “oh man, we’re screwed.” It’s snowing out. It’s 20 degrees with a wind chill of 10 below. It’s high humidity. We take that so that way it really kind of makes the client feel that comfort.
The other thing that we try elaborate as well is whatever you’re confirmed for as far as you know, we’re not going to go – so if let’s say someone says I’ve got 20 people coming and 18 show up we don’t charge them for people that are missing. So that’s a key thing that we tend to find out in our history of doing these games that some companies go by the headcount that was set. If you say 20 people and 18 show up they’re still charging for 20 people. Again, we don’t work that way. We work in such a way that, again, it tries to make the customer happy.
So the initial inquiry call is informative on their end, informative on our end so we both understand each other and a level of comfort between us and the client. So that way they’re not worried about any kind of weather situation or lack of an individual not being able to show up or whatever, so we’re totally understanding about that. And that has driven our customer service through all these years, more and more so every year. So yeah, it’s pretty cool.
Michael: Got it. I love that level of customer service. I also love that it addresses what I expect are two of the main concerns your potential clients have. One being, well, this event has elements outdoors, we’re concerned about the weather, what if we picked the wrong day? You’ve removed that fear. And then the other one is, you know, we don’t know how many people are going to come. What if somebody is on vacation? What if some people are stuck at the office working on something? So that’s cool.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. You know, you have to – I mean it sounds corny but we’re all customers at the end of the day. You’re a customer, I’m a customer, there’s not a person that’s not a customer. Even the highest of highs as far as a business person is concerned, like a CEO, they’re customer. So we know how we want to be treated, you know what I mean, and obviously treated fairly so there’s a friend of mine, a very old friend of mine that taught me one thing and he called it – and I live by this now and I teach this for the people that work for us and it’s called the rule of 500. Which basically means that you treat a customer not so great then it’s going to get to 500 sets of ears literally within hours. And if you treat a customer extremely well, give them a great experience, give them great customer service it’s going to get to 500 sets of ears but on a very, slower pace, you know what I mean? So as the old saying goes “Bad news travels fast” good news travels a little bit slowly but you have to give them that because that way it’s good word of mouth and even though we live in a tech society that old word of mouth moves a lot quicker than ever.
Michael: Do you have a general refund policy if people come and actually do the event and they’re not satisfied with it?
Chris: As far as a refund; you know what? To be honest, we’ve never run into that. The refund policy that we have in a corporate environment as odd as it sounds and a lot of people scratches their heads. Other than a social game, if you’re doing a wedding party or whatever, you do ask for deposits but when a corporate environment comes about we ask for nothing, like zero. It’s like we just need your general information just to book you. So if there’s a scenario where someone wants to book with us and they say “okay, where do we put down the deposit?” You know, there is none.
The key factor of it is there hasn’t been – I’ll be honest, we’re almost at 2,000 games, we’ve never been in that scenario where it’s been like “We want our money back.” We’ve never had it. If there was ever a scenario that we had to refund somebody, again, it doesn’t fall into a corporate field because again, we don’t ask for deposits but if this was let’s say a birthday or a wedding party where they in turn do put in a deposit then at that particular point the only time we would refund a deposit back is in turn again, going back to what we were talking about maybe a few moments ago in regards to weather because it’s an uncontrollable scenario.
So again, let’s say you called up 2 months ago to set the game up for today and the weather is crappy out, all right, there was no money exchanged so there’s nothing that we have to physically refund back, just keep us in mind in the future, that’s what we always say. But luckily and fortunately we’ve never had that scenario where anyone said this was horrible. We never had it.
Michael: That’s incredible at 16 years of business. I think it says a lot about what you’re doing and kind of how you’re treating customers in general.
Chris: Yeah, I mean our philosophy is we try to make it as complaint-free as you can possibly make – yeah, I mean I think it’s the best way. And that’s by catering to them, you know, catering to the client. So in other words let’s just say it is raining and we say “Hey, too bad, you’re playing.” Well, they’re going to be ticked off. You know what I mean? Inside they will – you know, that’s the person that would be like “You made us play in the rain. We want our money back.” Absolutely, that would be understood but we’re never in that position because we throw it back to the clients like “Alright. It’s going to be kind of crappy out. Do you want to do it or do you not want to do it?” And they have the final say.
So we’re not force feeding anybody to do our games or throwing their feet into the fire if you will in regard to that. It’s just we try to make – and again, going back to you, we have 30 people coming, and that’s just a confirmation and 25 show up, and if we said “alright, then we’ll charge for 30,” then obviously at that particular point you would refund them or whatever, charging the correct amount but there are other companies like I said. They’ll say 30, 25 show up and they’ll still charge them for 30. That leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth, I mean that’s just not a good thing. I mean not a good thing at all. I mean I can respect other people’s businesses and if they run it that way. That’s totally understood but in my case why would you want to put yourself in that scenario? You know what I mean? I got too much of a conscience, Mike.
Michael: Totally. I love it. Alright. So you talked about the minimum group size, I believe that’s 8 people. Is there a maximum group size?
Chris: Yeah, maximum can be as high as you want. Whatever – like you know we like to try and cap it in and around 250, sometimes 300, that’s probably what we can handle. But yeah, we go from – you know, even though sometimes we might have – even though sometimes when we say naturally it’s a minimum of 8, there have been scenarios where someone has called up and they’re a small office or whatever, like a small startup and say “Hey, you know I’d like to do this team building event that you’re holding but it’s only 7 of us and you said that it’s a minimum of 8.” Heck, bring it on. You know what I mean? No worries. We’ll take care of you. And we’ll do it like a 4 versus 3. All our games are private so it’s not one of those things that you go and get some members of the public but…
Yeah, so we cater to all different types of numbers. I mean average on a corporate event nowadays is believe it or not, our corporate or office party or like a team-building game is anywhere nowadays believe it or not, 8 to – I’d say average 8 to 60. I mean you do get those big number games but the average is usually between those two areas of pinpoint. But yeah, we’re not one of those things, you know, “we need 20 people or we’re not doing the game for you.” It doesn’t matter. You have 6? Let’s do it! You know what I mean? So not a problem.
Michael: Got it. And I love that you have that flexibility. I want to talk a little bit more about the customization because I’m not sure I totally get it yet. I get the concept, right? You have this cool newspaper piece, you have different like trivia etc. Could you give me a really specific example of a trivia question? I think you mentioned that it’s like trivia and if they get the answer it leads them to a certain clue.
Chris: Yeah. So the way that the trivia is conducted it depends on the customer. So for example there could be general questions about their company. You know, when was the company founded? Who are their founders? So those are really right in questions. Sometimes they’ll be light-hearted. Who’s always late to meetings? Who just had a baby? Who just got married? Those are the light-hearted questions.
Then there could be a scenario where they have a vice president of their company or a president of their company or even the CEO of their company… he or she is at a pub and such a certain location. So the trivia sometimes becomes a clue, where to find them. So you know, John Doe is at The Bell In Hand having a drink. Go take a photograph with them for a 100 points. Or if you’re Staples – go into the Staples and take a picture with the “that was easy” button. Or if you’re at Google go find something outside of your cellphone that represents either SEO or Google or he is wanting to know how much [inaudible 28:26] of Google but Google interns before they – I think interns in general they have to wear what they call a Noogle hat which is that old school little cap like a hat, it’s a cap with a little propeller up, it’s really old school.
Chris: So they actually come to us as far as when we do a Google internship when the interns come so it’ll be something that might represent something of that. Like you have to go find a kid cap or whatever. So it could be again, so the trivia sometimes it can be a scavenger hunt, sometimes we embed trivia in regards to the area, to the city. So it just goes into a variety of different – the trivia can be very customized. It really kind of depends a little more about what they want. Some of them was like “Now, we just want to write in answers about our company and just kind of see how they’re answering these.” Other ones could be very light-hearted like I said. Like actually they can have a physical scavenger hunt. They have to go to that location and take a photograph or something like that, that relates to their company or their specific line of work.
Michael: Got it. I love those specific examples. That is much more clear now. Another element that you talked about for the event is the idea of taking up to a 100 photos, right? Like 100 photo scavenger hunt. I heard that number and I go “that’s a lot” and my understanding is the core part of this event is…
Chris: No, yeah. No it’s not, they don’t do 100 of them. They can do as many as they want from that list. Because what it is out of that 100 you have photographs that are worth 25 points and others are 50, the other ones are 100, then there’s 250 and 500. So they actually, again, this game is not a scenario that you have to do let’s say – I’m just saying for the sake of discussion, a 100 photographs in order to move to the next challenge.
Again, they will play – you know, when you have those 2 hours, play whatever challenge you want, however you want. Basically the final outcome is like the team has to accumulate as many point as they can for victory. So basically what ends up happening is those photo scavenger hunts, the photo scavenger hunt aspect of the game is that again, everyone, every item on that list has a different type of point total so they have to as a team try to figure out okay, well, if we take a picture in front of this abstract piece of art in the city they’ll be 500 points so go take a photograph of that or let’s go take a picture of us jumping into the air, that’s 25 points.
So it’s kind of like a level of difficulty as well as the exposure of the city. So it kind of – when it comes to the exposure of the city a little bit is that there might be things that we want you to see. Like literally. So there might be like a really – like what we do each and every year is we re-scout our area because there might be something, a new structure that’s been built or a really cool piece of art. So what we’ll tend to do is put that at a high point value and in essence the players will say like “Oh wow, we’ve got to go to this thing, it’s 500 points. We’ve got to take a photograph of it.” But what you’re doing in the same regard you’re playing a game because remember, all the photographs and videos come back your way but you’re also making a really cool Boston scrapbook in this case. So it’s really we’re exposing the city.
So just to give you an idea, we had a client that worked for [inaudible 32:09] So he worked in the financial district I guess for the last 15 or 17 years and he was amazed that he didn’t know half these things existed in the city. You know what I mean? So we kind of enlighten that and we expose that. So it makes for a really cool thing in that regard. So it kind of has a double-edged sword; you know, make a cool scrapbook while you’re playing this game. So that the points are – the points become a scenario where they’ll lead you to those locations to expose.
Michael: Got it. Is it fair to say that it’s intentionally time constraints, it’s intentionally a little bit rushed to force people to collaborate? Got it.
Chris: Yes, exactly. So basically it’s the old adage of tourism here, right? So some teams – it really kind of depends on their competitive level. Some teams after we’ve briefed them and handed out the game bags, some teams all they see is dust because they’re gone. Other teams work cerebrally. You know, they’ll just say “Hold on, we’re not going to run yet, let’s just kind of dissect this book.” And at that particular point they’ll look at the challenges and then they’ll delegate. Okay, I say we go for this first and we go for that second or I’ve seen scenarios where they’ll delegate like “You 3 go there, us 4 will go…” You know what I mean? So every team is different on how they approach the game but in the same essence they are going against the clock.
Michael: Right. You’ve mentioned this concept of seasons and the core of your product changing. I believe when I checked on your site that you’re in the 17th season now which in my understanding is the 17th year of your business as well. How much does the core service offering change each year?
Chris: So we as far as the games in itself?
Chris: So what we try to do is we try to change the game a little bit. We try to – like in other words we might take let’s just say this is one of the ideas like for example the coin rush. You know we have a bunch of coins in and around the area. We might take that challenge out and replace it with what we call the secret envelopes. This is specifically something we’re thinking about for next year where there’s a bunch of envelopes in and around the area. And again, they would open them up and either it would be a dud or it would be an actual challenge.
Pandora’s box is a great example of that. That didn’t exist in the last year’s game, it does exist in this year where we really kind of implementing the tech aspect by QR codes. There’s something that we call – so in that regard we always try to refreshen it.
Not only refreshen the game itself but also refreshen the video challenges, you know, there’s some video challenges that we might want to keep, like there’s one challenge that’s called musical snort, where the team would have to sing a melody of a song for 15 seconds just by snorting it out so that’s always comical. We always kind of pay attention to what they enjoy and we keep it in there. But there might be some things that we might want to change, like take the dynamic of the game board as far as the city is concerned, and re-examine it. Boston being such an old city, any day of the week when you walk down that street and you walk down those streets, primarily the historical area, I always say look up, down, left and right, you’ll always discover something.
So we never want the game to be predictable because the factor of it is there have been many companies that have come back to us and it might have been – like there could be a company that completed last year, and they might want to play again this year. Or they played last year and they might not come back to us for two years from now. There are other companies that the management department from XYZ company played and now they just told the marketing department, “Oh wow, we did this game.”
So the key thing about it is we never want the game to be predictable we never want the group come to us and say I know exactly what’s happening here; absolutely not. There will be a twist, there will be a turn, I have seen people really come back to us with last year, the game booklet from two years ago, whatever, put it away. It’s not even valid in regards to that song. Yeah, so the one thing in this type of line of work as far as like what I like to call the act of gaming, is that quite honestly you’ve got to make the game unpredictable and enjoyable but for the most part everyone usually comes with a very competitive spirit.
So even if I have a scenario where someone comes – and I usually say this once in a while. Like when you have a corporate client and it’s not a common thing. So when we’re briefing you always get that, you know, you look out of the corner of your eye and you always say this guy with his arm crossed like “what are we doing? This is going to be silly.” And then what ends up happening is 2 hours later that same person that had their arms crossed and was very skeptical, well, he kind of got reintroduced to his kid side, and then he’ll tell us what he found, how he found it, how many points we got, how he got this thing nailed.
I’m like “aha. Weren’t you the guy that had his arms crossed and was skeptical?” Because at the end of the day I’m like we’re all kids. You know what I mean? Just in grown-up bodies. That’s all of us.
Michael: Totally. And especially I think in the last few years, more and more people recognized that element of play and the need for it, right? To unwind and to get away from the stress of the office.
Chris: I think it is, I think also the key thing is like kind of going back to how the teams are formed. All we care about – whatever you name your teams, but always – we don’t even do it the same, they usually ask us, “do you form the teams or do we form teams?” I’m like “you guys form teams” because the key thing about it, there have been scenarios I can tell you that they could be 2 individuals that could have worked on the same floor of a particular company, one for 5 years, the other one for 4 years and they never even said a hello to each other.
You know what I mean? They probably saw each other during a conference meeting, or whatever, but this kind of game and other types of team building types of activities will force you to communicate and then it’s going to sound corny but that’s how friendships are created, right? So I say it all the time, everyone thinks like high school and middle school, that exists more so than ever also in the corporate level, too. That people say oh my god, that’s Mary, or Bill, I never got to know them, they’re really cool.
Well, yeah, you work together, so it’s another element so it is the epitome of an ice-breaker.
Michael: Totally. I know that when I’ve worked in office environments in the past there was this weird factor where you’d get maybe like 6 weeks or a couple of months in and if you haven’t met somebody, yet it’s actually uncomfortable to go introduce yourself. It’s embarrassing that you don’t know their name yet. And so again a game to bring them together is great.
Chris: Yeah and it’s also cool, like we do an international company so to speak so there’s like a conference and you have people, which is typical, you know, just in general that you have people from out of the state or out of the country, they don’t know each other or whatever, you know, it’s just, there’s just other types of formations you know of interaction or friendships or whatever. Or it is cool, I mean sometimes when someone could say to me, they were introverted this game forces you to be a little bit extraverted. You know what I mean? In some cases. And then you just kind of laugh at yourself a little bit. You know what I mean? And have a good time.
Michael: Totally. I’ve got 2 quick questions to wrap this up. The first one is can you tell me a little bit more about your creative process and the way that you re-develop these new kind of ideas and implement them?
Chris: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I get inspired by a variety of different things. Kind of going back to what we were talking about. So inspiration comes to me by anything. It could be an old movie, like a [inaudible 40:27], comic books, current movies, a game board, a really cool-looking, the cover of an old Vanity Fair magazine. I mean so the inspirations will come from a variety of different avenues. And what I’ve tried to do is take all that old pop culture and all the newer pop culture – to be honest with you the old pop culture is more interesting, and try to imbed it in a cool-looking product. You know what I mean?
So the materials that they receive in their hands, it’s just the coolest thing. So the inspiration comes from a variety of different avenues and trying to dissect it and look at it, how it can make that form of pop culture in the form of a game. So if you watch like a – I don’t know, like what’s a good example, like an old film noir and there is mysteries and I’ll be like “wow, it would be cool to do a little mystery” and that’s how Pandora’s Box came out and so we have like you know 20 boxes you know when everyone is watching these 20 boxes and some of them are duds and some of them are challenges. So it can come from anything. I get inspired really quickly from all different forms of pop culture and then just kind of embed it into the product.
Today there are scavenger hunts out there and there are great businesses out there and I’ve been approached by certain app development individuals, some of them have actually been clients that have played this game and they will ask “Why don’t you ever do this and that?” I’m a firm believer in never say never but I’m a very firm believer that people want to really touch the product. You know I think it’s a – touch it, flip through those pages; really kind of get involved in it. And app is cool but it’s just a little bit more – I don’t know, it’s not – it’s real but not as real so to speak as most of the process. So materials to me is key.
I mean there’s other scavenger hunt companies that do a really good job. I’m not a believer of charging people – we like to call it clipboard scavenger hunts, you know, it’s a piece of paper. And find us some stuff. Really, you’ve got to put some effort into it. I mean make it a feeling, make it eye-catching. And develop it.
Michael: Totally. And I think that can often be the difference between a business that you know runs and a business that thrives. And it sounds like yours really is thriving.
Michael: Alright, last question to wrap this up which is just any best practices that you found and applied in team building maybe with your own team, maybe with the groups that you work with, just kind of advice that other companies could follow.
Chris: Take your time with the client, get to know the client, you know, stick around a little bit, talk to them after the game is done, learn from it, so it’s kind of like learn from their experience. And just when the game is over, don’t say thank you very much and leave. Enjoy what you’re doing because if you don’t, it will be very transparent during your briefing or to the conclusion of it. Really love – this game even though we’ve been doing this for so long, it’s passion project and it continues to be that.
The fact of it is that you’ve got to love what you’re doing period. And that will show. And if that shows, then the product enhances a little bit even more because you make it comfortable. But stick around, you know, chat a little bit for ten minutes like you know, usually the key thing about it, I don’t care if I have 10 people or 250 people, there’s one key person outside of making sure that everyone had a fantastic time and everyone enjoyed it. It’s that first person that called you on the inquiry call. The person that actually hired you. And so I usually take that person and don’t say one of those things “Hey, thank you very much, I’m gone.”
“Sit down, hey did you have a good time, what do you feel? How was the experience? What did you hear from other people?” You can tell if I can – I always say you can always tell about the product and the customer service and the connection, I always say at the results. Because if you can blow the roof off the restaurant, or the establishment that you’re in, it always shows that and so it kind of gives you, it still gives me goose bumps when that happens because it tells you how much they really had a good time but you really have to engage with everybody. Make it a little bit more personal I guess, don’t make it that much of a business so to speak. Because business sometimes becomes that and that becomes a little bit more transparent. But take your time with it, enjoy it. That’s the key thing.
Michael: Right, I love that, to cap this off I think that wraps it up pretty well, so thank you so much for this interview, thank you so much for chatting with me.
Chris: Oh it was a pleasure.
For the most part, I only found VERY positive review of Cashunt. The company has great customer service, and a fun team building activity that has withstood the test of time, so it’s not surprising that it has great reviews. For your own research, you can find Cashunt reviews on Facebook, TripAdvisor and Yelp.
Here are a few that stood out to me…
Awesome Afternoon with Co-workers – We used Cashunt for a company wide team building activity. There was about 100 of us split into 13 teams. It was a gorgeous fall day in Boston and it was an great way to get to know co-workers who you don’t usually spend time with on a daily basis. Everyone got super competitive and into it. We got to be silly and laugh but at the same time being challenged and strategizing together. We all met at a bar at the end to have drinks and laugh about what we all did, while we waited for the results and announcement of the winners. I highly recommend doing this with your team at work or friends. It’s a lot of fun! There’s so many different challenges that kept it interesting and it was great that they included specific trivia about our company too.
– Marcieous, 5 Star TripAdvisor Review
Great Corporate Team Building Activity! – Cashunt was an excellent experience for my company team building event this summer! We had 4 teams of about 6 members each, and unleashed our competitive spirit as we walked (and at times, ran!) around the city to collect points. It was especially great that we got to capture the memories with all of the photos and videos we got to keep as part of our package. It was a great opportunity for the new folks in our work group to get acquainted with Boston, for the more tenured folks to lead, and for everyone to get to know each other better in a fun setting. We did the Boston Hustle which included some questions customized to our company and work group, which everyone loved. The scavenger hunt challenges brought everyone outside their comfort zones in a great way, creating lots of laughs as well as being very informative. The care taken by the Cashunt team down to every last detail was incredible! They helped us make sure the experience would be a legendary one that the group will be talking about for years to come. Thanks, Cashunt!
– midwestNEsterner, 5 Star TripAdvisor Review
My workplace used cashunt as a part of our management meetings to promote group work. Honestly it was a blast! You’re given a camera and a list of things to do in a certain time. The goal is to get the maximum amount of points. For 2 hours we walked, sprinted, posed for pictures, made videos, sought the help of total strangers and much more. It was a lot of fun and I have to say, a great way to build good relationships especially between people who don’t work directly with each other on a daily basis. You also learn a lot about the city that you normally wouldn’t even go to. Our guide, Chris was very quick to give us the results. He’s great at what he does and always has a smile on his face. They then you give you a URL where all the videos and pictures that were taken are there to download for free. I definitely recommend using cashing!
– Abir H., 4 Star Yelp Review
Have You Done an Event With Cashunt?
If so, I’d love to here about your experience. Please share the specifics of your story: how many people in your group? When was your event? Which team building activities were included and which one did you like the most? Who would you recommend this style of team building for? Did you notice any changes in your team after the event?