Looking to build close-knit, quality relationships among your employees? Are you wary of team building activities after some awkward experiences? Don’t worry: TeamBonding has you covered. TeamBonding believes in “harnessing the power of play” to create activities which build strong bonds among even the most stubborn of co-workers. This company has true expertise in innovative programming, totally customizable to your needs, to create a one-of-a-kind experience for your group. Also, we ❤️ TeamBonding because they do awesome charity events.
“We do not quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
TeamBonding is a national company, so you will find them in cities across America. For example, they do team events and team building activities in Austin, Houston, Denver and San Francisco. Check out the companies website for the full list of cities.
- TeamBonding works with your organization from the very first stages of planning to create an experience that works best for you.
- Since the needs of our workplaces are constantly evolving, TeamBonding is committed to staying on the cutting edge of best practices. This means that innovation is to your program.
- One of TeamBonding’s biggest assets is how customizable their programs are. They have worked with groups as small as 15 people, and as large as 1200! TeamBonding’s talented staff can provide a few hours of activity or an entire day of experiences. And best of all, they can come to you! Their goal is to make the experience work with exactly what you want to accomplish as a company.
- The wide array of programs offered by TeamBonding makes them unique in the industry. You can choose from escape games, high-tech scavenger hunts, music-oriented events, culinary programs, charity-based activities… Where else could you do anything ranging from “Escape from Werewolf Village” to “Corporate Project Runway”. What do all these activities have in common? They are high energy, totally engaging, and designed to build strong, lasting bonds among your team!
- TeamBonding led over 900 events last year; they are true experts at crafting great experiences for your group!
How to Find TeamBonding
TeamBonding is based in Boston, and has offices in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, and San Francisco. The company provides event services nationwide, and they’ve even created events as far away as Singapore! You can plan to do your activity at locations ranging from outdoors, to hotels, to your office!
TeamBonding not only offers a wide array of options that can be customized to fit your needs, but they also are constantly developing new activities! Here are a few of the options available:
- Live-Action and Escape Games: Corporate groups love the exciting live-action, escape, or scavenger hunt games. These activities utilize technology and the environment around you to create fast-paced experiences that require problem solving and team-work!
- Charity Events: There is nothing quite like working together to give back to your community or making change in the world. Whether you are building bikes for children, or creating care packages for soldiers a world away, these activities not only bring your team closer together, but also allow them to go on a powerful emotional journey together. TeamBonding can introduce you to some amazing existing charity partnerships, or can connect with your favorite charity!
- Innovation Lab: How do new programs get developed? With YOUR help! At a special price and with twice the adventure, your group can be part of the Innovation Lab. You might be the first group ever to try a brand new activity!
Interview with David Goldstein, Founder & CEO of TeamBonding
Check out our interview with David from TeamBonding below, about how the company got started and how they create unique, hands-on experiences that bring people closer together.
McKenzie: Today, I am really excited to be interviewing David, from TeamBonding. It’s really great to be talking with you today, David.
David: You as well. Thanks for the call.
McKenzie: So, my first question for you is really simple: what is TeamBonding?
David: I can answer that question in many different ways – but the simplest way is that we are a nation-wide corporate team building company that offers, at this point, somewhere between 90 and 100 different options, designed for clients looking to bring their teams closer together.
McKenzie: Okay, very cool. How did you get started with team building?
David: So, I’ve been – TeamBonding is a little over 20 years old. I’m an entrepreneur. So I guess, in that scenario, my first business was a murder mystery dinner theater. And so, at the time, the murder mystery dinner theater was in Boston, but I also licensed it so there were 21 similar dinner theaters licensed to me all over the US, and a few other places around the world. And it was a public dinner theater, but it also had a corporate side. The corporate side kind of led us into a different world of corporate entertainment, and corporate entertainment was kind of a nice crossover into team building. So we were doing customized corporate murder mysteries, and then we started doing team building events, and then when we did enough of the team building events, it was one of those things where it was like “wow, I really like this business, I like what it does, I like what it feels like, I like what we’re able to do with it, I like working with the corporate clients.” It was just a lot easier than working with the public clients. So we created a number of different team building events designed to – some of them were things they were familiar with at the time, others were new and different. So we kind of needed a combination of things that companies were familiar with, like scavenger hunts – the one at the time was a limousine scavenger hunt – and new things that they hadn’t heard of. So we created a business – we created TeamBonding, with the idea of offering enough of a selection of programs, not necessarily for what we wanted to offer, but to meet the needs of what clients are looking to accomplish. So that’s always how we started. It isn’t “hey, we are a scavenger hunt company”, or “hey, we do this”, it’s a little bit more of “what are you looking to accomplish?” And once we determine that, we can help them figure out the best solution that we have.
McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. So what does that process look like? I imagine, you know, somebody from the company – like in human resources – comes to you and says “we want to put on this event”. It seems like y’all have a really diverse array of options available to them. How do you develop the best plan for each specific company you work with?
David: Well, it’s two ways. So there’s the ongoing effort to continually explore new trends and new activities and new programs. And then there’s the sales process, which is a little bit – I’ll tell you a little story. I used to have two sales people when I first started. And one of the sales people would say “Sure! You want a scavenger hunt? Here are the scavenger hunts we have. You want a cooking program? Here’s the cooking program we have.” The other sales person would say “Why do you want a scavenger hunt? What are you looking to accomplish?” And understand a little bit more what the client was looking to get out of the experience. And once she determined what the client was looking for, then she would- if the scavenger hunt was one of the things that made sense, then by all means, she’d send the scavenger hunt – but she’d send options that fit a little bit better with what they were looking to accomplish. So it’s a little bit more of a needs assessment in the beginning. It’s more consultative than sales.
McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. So you’re starting with their goals, basically, then developing from there.
David: You’re starting with their goals, and as the owner of the company – there’s no incentive for them to sell one thing over another – because it’s all about the client getting what they want. And if they get what they want, they’ll use us again. You know, trust us, and we build a relationship from there.
McKenzie: Yeah. So what are companies usually looking for from activities like this? Do they usually have kind of the same goals, or do you work with a lot of different needs with different companies?
David: Well, we work with a lot of different needs with different companies. Because the needs change as the time of year changes. So this time of year, you know, we’re in the middle of kind of company kick offs. You know, beginning of the year, sales meetings, conferences, things like that. In the spring, we’ll get a little bit more into interns, and then we get into summer outings, and then we get into holiday parties, so it really depends upon the time of the year, and the client, and what they’re looking for. And also the kind of a group, whether it be an onboarding type program with new employees, or whether it’s- they’ve combined with another company, so they need a little bit more of ‘getting to know each other’. Our model has always been to have the right programs to meet the needs that they have. And it’s worked. It’s something to the point – I think we did somewhere around nine hundred events last year.
McKenzie: Wow. That’s a lot.
David: It is a lot of team building events. It’s a lot of any kind of events. It’s bigger than we ever thought it would be when we started. But it’s a very enjoyable business to be in.
McKenzie: Yeah, I imagine so. I imagine it’s a lot of good energy a lot of the time, because you’re working towards really positive goals, it seems like.
David: Yeah, I mean it’s- everything we do is not so serious that there’s not fun involved. There’s a lot of fun involved in both planning it and delivering it. So the client is getting, and the team is getting, the benefits of both.
McKenzie: Yeah. So how do you develop what activities are available? Is it always the same set of things, or do you add new ones? Or take ones away periodically?
David: That’s funny- we just finished that. I think everything, at least in the way we do it, it’s kind of like the 80/20 rule. Are you familiar with that? You do 20% of your programs 80% of the time.
David: So what I actually just did, is I went through our programs and looked at what we’ve done over the last couple of years, and I got rid of the bottom ten, so I could add new ones. Not because we couldn’t have capacity to add new ones, but I didn’t want to clutter it up with things that just weren’t working, or that we hadn’t done in a while. So I took out ten, and added ten more. So then some of the new ones are a little bit more what I think the trends are going to be, and what I hear about, and what I think people want to do. So, if you look at some of the other interviews you’ve had, for the most part, we’ve done some part of all of it. It’s a matter of trying to match the right program. And to come up with programs that not only anticipate their needs, but try to stay not too far ahead. If that makes sense.
McKenzie. Yeah, absolutely. So you mentioned trends in team building activities. Where do you think trends are going as companies evolve? What are popular activities right now?
David: Right now, popular activities – there’s kind of a combination of tried and true, and- we just added an innovation section of the website, which is where- you know, clients are funny in a way: they always want the latest, greatest thing. And you say, okay, this is what we’ve created for the latest, greatest thing, and they say “okay, great. Now what I need is references from the last couple of companies that have done it.” So we need a place to put new programs where we can test them out before charging full price, to make sure that it was good. So right now, what we’re working on, we’re working on escape room games. Escape room type events. And that, I think, is a trend just everywhere. What’s different about our approach is – you go to an escape room that you’re typically locked in, for you know, 8 to 10 people. We’ve done it in a way that instead of them coming to us, we can go to them. So we can bring the escape game to a bank or a ballroom or even a hotel, using the hotel rooms as escape rooms.
McKenzie: Oh really- that’s interesting.
David: So, it’s looking at trends and seeing different twists. And because we’ve been around so long, we’ve seen a number of different twists. Scavenger hunts have gone from Polaroid cameras to iPads. Cooking has gone from, you know, fairly simple chili cook offs to very complicated Iron Chef kind of programs. So the next thing I think that is coming up, other than technology, is- there will be virtual reality, in some way, a little bit more involved in team building.
McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. Cool, so- it seems like a lot of these activities are pretty active, like the outdoor activities y’all have listed. How accessible are these programs? Do you ever require a certain skill level? Or ability level?
David: Well, it’s interesting – what we have now is designed for everybody. So, even if people can’t participate in the corporate Olympics, or outrageous games, there’s something that they can do to be involved with their teams. Whether it be scoring, or team captain, or some way to be involved. We’ve always gone to be extremely accessible to everyone, but we’re making a change coming up – we’re adding a new division, a new company, which may be good for a separate story. So we’re going to be adding adventure activities. And those are not going to be as accessible.
McKenzie: Right, a little more challenging.
David: A little bit more challenging. You can look at Tough Mudder, and some of those things that people are doing out there. We want to have things like – we’re going to have things like axe throwing, and giant stand-up paddleboards, and mobile rock walls, and things like that that are a little bit more physically challenging. So that’s a departure for us as far as being- as far as everything being, what we have now, is more accessible. Not that the other one will be less accessible, but it would just be a little bit more specialized as far as who we are targeting.
McKenzie: Yeah, definitely. So, let’s see. What demographics do you think these activities are best for? Do you think it could be applied to pretty much any demographic that comes to y’all?
David: Nowadays, there are four- what do you call it – four different groups of people working in the workplace. So because millennials are working with baby boomers, and Generation X, and all of the people that are working together, I think team building needs to take into consideration all of these groups and figuring out how they can communicate and how they can work together, and what they need to hear and what they need to say, just so they can continue to be productive. It’s more generations that have worked in one work force than have ever happened. And they’re very different, as far as their motivations and such. So coming up with programs that meet the needs of all of them is one of the things that we’re constantly kind of seeking out.
McKenzie: Yeah, I imagine a huge part of what y’all do is building those links between people that come from very different – very different walks of life, I guess, but all have to work together in one cohesive work setting.
David: Yeah, absolutely. Because we all work differently, whether it be technology, or texting, or- you know you have to come up with something that is inclusive, just like what we are offering. Because companies have to deal with that on a day to day basis.
McKenzie: Right, for sure. So I know you have a lot of different events available, but like on average or generally, what’s the duration of one of your team building events with a company? How long would something like that take?
David: An average program is 2-3 hours. We are typically brought into an agenda, you know, late in the planning. Where it’s like “okay, here’s the meetings, here’s the lunch, here’s what we’re going to be doing as far as speaking, but we have this three-hour thing – let’s do some team building. So then it’s not only matching up what they need, to accomplish what they’re trying to do during that meeting, but it’s where they are. The venue definitely adds a lot to what we do.
McKenzie: Do you offer any events that are site specific? Like, they need to go to a certain place to be able to do them? Or can y’all bring your team building activities pretty much anywhere you go?
David: We’ve tried it a number of different ways, where we’ve created venue partnerships, like the ice sculpting was at an ice bar, the museum hunts are specific museums, but people seem to like the flexibility to taking us to where they’re going to be.
McKenzie: Yeah, I’m sure that’s very – I mean, especially if they have a whole rest of the day planned, like a big bonding adventure, it makes sense that y’all could come to them – that would be convenient.
David: Exactly. For the most part, we’re not – it’s not like they choose a team building event and build their agenda around us. It’s usually the other way around.
McKenzie: So how many people do you need to have a good team building event? Like, can you work with small groups or larger groups? What’s kind of the range of size you work with?
David: Typically we’ll work with groups as small as 15. We do have a “do it yourself” that we have on our website for people that either don’t have the budget or don’t have the group size, and either they can download programs or we can ship something to them. The other part of it is that we’ve done as many as 1200 as far as large groups. But that’s a little less team building and a little bit more corralling.
McKenzie: Sure- I can imagine that can be hard to navigate. What kind of activities can you do with groups that large?
David: We just did an indoor scavenger hunt at one of the Gaylor hotels, so scavenger hunts are good in places like an indoor facility like that, or in a city like the Las Vegas strip, we’ll do a large event there, and then within that, there are themes – you know, Amazing Race scavenger hunts, we’ve got a new one coming up with kind of a Monopoly theme, a charity scavenger hunt, so there’s a lot of different things within the different events. For large events, it’s usually – you’ve got to keep simultaneous groups working. It’s our own little pyramid, where we’ve got the lead, and then we’ve got sub-group leaders, and then team leaders, and it’s a lot more staff and stuff.
McKenzie: Yeah. No, absolutely. So a lot of your activities are led by facilitators, right? Can you talk a little about their experience, and what kind of training or preparation they have to go through to work with your company?
David: Sure, yeah. When we first started, as we talked about earlier, I had a theater company. So our original facilitators were actors. And actors were amazing in the sense that they could entertain a crowd like nobody can. They were also flexible as far as their time frame. But as we did more serious work, and with bigger companies, the actors didn’t see the whole picture. So facilitators – or, our facilitators – are trained to handle multiple audiences. The audience that you’re performing or delivering to, those that are part of the activity, the venue that you’re at, the client that hired you, potentially the meeting-planner that hired them. So there’s multiple audiences that they have to be aware of at any given time, as far as who they’re trying to keep happy. So in some sense, they are trainers with background in development and such, in other cases, depending on the activity, they’re disc jockeys. Because they understand that there’s a lot of people you have to keep happy, and how you keep them happy, by balancing, whether it be the sound, or whether it be the stuff, there’s always ways to keep everybody on the same page. So we still have some actors, depending on- for some of the lighter activities, like the scavenger hunts or things like that. Depending on the program or the size of the program, we have a – how do I say it – I guess we have a nation-wide staple of facilitators we’ve been using for years. So we’re not flying people all over – we have people, typically where the clients are hiring us for.
McKenzie: yeah. So I know that there are going to be a lot of factors that go into this – into pricing. But I was wondering, do you have an average price-per-person that your activities usually cost? Or does it vary a lot depending on what activities it is?
David: Because we’re not kind of a one trick pony, we have- everything is based on the number of people, the activity that they’re doing, the level of facilitation. So a chef that does a culinary program might be more than an actor that does a scavenger hunt. So it typically starts at about $2,500, and it goes up from there.
McKenzie: Right, definitely. Awesome. Is there anything else that you would be interested in going deeper into, or that we’ve missed, or that you would like to say about TeamBonding?
David: One thing I didn’t talk about is probably my favorite part of what we do. Right after 2008, during the Recession, we had a – just like anybody else – business almost came to a complete halt. And what took us out of the complete halt, was charitable team building events. So in a typical team building event, you’ll be doing an event for a particular group, and that’s the audience. But in a charitable team-building event, you’re doing something in a team building event with a group that gives back to the community. So we have a whole lot of things that either build bikes for children who have never had bikes, or cancer care kits for people who are going through chemotherapy, or Toms shoes – we paint them and decorate them for people in different countries, so the whole charitable team building offerings are another real component of what I think is the best of what we do. It’s a trend that is not as new as it once was, but I think it’s staying really strong, because it’s- you know, you’ve heard “win-win”, this is what I call a “win-win-win”. Because, you know, you’re building a team, and you’re giving back to the community, so – the first time we did one of these, we were giving teddy bears for kids with Down syndrome. And the facilitator came back and said “David, you will never believe it, but at the end of this event, everyone in the room was in tears.” And I said “well, you have the only job of anyone I’ve ever met that if that happens, you’ve done your job.” Because that really – it gets, the emotional impact of these type of programs, whether it be a soldier coming and talking about what it feels like to receive a care package when they’re in Iraq or whether it’s the cancer care- which is actually inspired by my brother’s battle through cancer, for what it means to get the book or the card or the project or the stuff that will help you. That’s probably the coolest thing that we do, and I want to make sure we don’t miss that.
McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. And I’m sure for the participants in these activities, you know all of them going through that same emotional journey together too, I’m sure brings them very close together, because they’ve had this shared experience of getting to do something really powerful
David: It really is. It really is the best of what’s come out of this business. You know, the scavenger hunts and the other stuff are fun, and they have their purpose, but the charitable programs are just amazing.
McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s all of the questions I have for you for today, thank you so much for taking the time and talking to me!
David: Alright, McKenzie!
McKenzie: Alright, have a great day.
David: You too – take care.
Want to check out what other organizations thought of their experience with TeamBonding? Here are some great reviews. If you’re interested in reading more reviews, you will find these on their Clients page and Facebook page!
“We had about 350 to 400 people attend and I’ve heard wonderful things about it so far. Everyone seemed to have a great time and the games were a huge hit! Your staff in particular were especially professional, thorough, and very kind to work with through the entire event planning and function that evening”. –S. G., Financial Executives International
“We were absolutely delighted with the School for Spies program. It exceeded all our expectations. Without exception, everyone in attendance participated. No one felt awkward or embarrassed. No one felt silly or singled out.” –J.G – Goldman Sachs, New York City
“We heard nothing but great things about our Charity Bike Build! It touched a lot of people and they were truly surprised when the kids came through the door. We look forward to future events!” –A.L. – The Dolben Company, Inc.
“The event was great. Our lead was great. It kept a fun atmosphere and everyone really enjoyed it. We received a lot of good feedback the next morning. We appreciate your help as usual. Great job!” –Siemens
Have You Attended a TeamBonding Event?
If you’ve worked with TeamBonding for a corporate event, then we would love to hear about your experience! Did you do a fun scavenger hunt or participate in one of their charity oriented activities? What was your experience like developing a customized experience that served your organization’s individual mission and values? How did your team grow closer from their programs?