Today we’d like to introduce you to Branden Carmody.
Hi Branden, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I started Charm City Trivia in 2006 as a hobby and side-hustle. Demand required me to begin hiring and expanding soon after. We developed a solid reputation and, after growing it for over a decade, became the largest and most award-winning bar trivia company in the region. We enjoyed well over 6,000 weekly players in our trivia league across the state of Maryland. In addition to trivia, we branched out into other entertainment games like Music Bingo, which is growing rapidly in popularity today. At the beginning of 2020, we held our annual staff planning retreat to map out our goals and strategies. We were at an all-time high and 2020 was going to be the best year ever. Built into the plan was adding core staff members and expanding our charity endeavors. Then Covid hit.
What had been a company of 58 total employees (5 core) that executed over 4,000 individual events in 2019 (that’s not a typo) was now reduced to nothing. There was no end in site and our partner restaurants were in financial jeopardy along with us. It was sobering. It was scary. I thought we might be done as a company. After the reality of the situation fully hit me, I took a night to lament the loss of something I had worked so long and so hard to build up. One night and then it was into survival mode. My staff and I developed a virtual game that we initially broadcast over FB Live but then monetized by using Zoom and creating an even better product. Then we created a new website called PlayVirtualTrivia.com and began attracting players from all over the world.
After a challenge to get at least one player from each state, we took on a challenge of one from every continent. Virtual trivia, with special events, team building, and all that came along with it – became a thing. This thing got us through Covid. In the early months, we talked about potentially cutting some of the core staff and/or taking pay cuts. Thanks to our ability to pivot, we didn’t have to do either. I’m very proud that we were able to shield our employees financially from Covid. I’m very proud that we didn’t have to lose anyone. Now that restaurants are starting to have us back and we have the virtual component as well, we’ve actually added another core staff member. We are moving forward confidently and growing back what we have lost. It’s going to be a long way to get back to pre-Covid, but with my staff I know we will get there and beyond.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In addition to Covid, there have been many struggles along the way. Early on, we were growing rapidly but still not generating enough revenue to hire the staff we needed. That along with developing a marketing budget were big challenges. It was a leap of faith to allocate money and time hoping that both would pay off in the long run. It was necessary because we would have stunted our growth and not been ready for opportunities that would present themselves.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Charm City Trivia creates quality game shows for bars, restaurants, work outings, & private events. Trivia is our specialty but we also produce Music Bingo and other formats. PlayVirtualTrivia.com is our online platform. It’s like playing pub trivia online. There’s music, team breakout rooms, and an entertaining host to run the show! We are very proud of the content we produce (that’s the questions) and our hosts. Those two facets are what set us apart.
Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
We spend a lot of time on content, hosts (getting and training), and are very reliable. Our promotional ability is also a big plus.