When COVID hit, my forum really talked me off the ledge.

When COVID shut down in-person events, entertainment and event company Trixstar was hit HARD. Company founder Mike Anderson faced a pretty dark time – both professionally and personally. It was only with support from his peers in EO that he made it through. We talked to him about being an EO member, surviving those dark days, and how his EO relationships helped Trixstar come back stronger.

How did EO help you survive the pandemic? 

Heading into COVID, our industry got completely annihilated. I went from $250K a month in revenue to $3K. It was brutal. I wasn’t in a good place: my anxiety was 12 out of 10, I was in constant fight or flight mode. But hearing the stories of how others made it through tough times helped. No one else in my forum had their business affected in the same way, but they shared what they went through when things went wrong. They really talked me off the ledge a few times.

After a while, though, I found I wasn’t relating to what was going on in my forum. You know, poor Mike coming in with the same story of how his business has been demolished. So I worked with our chapter head to start a sub-forum – we called it the “hardest hit” program. We identified 5 other businesses going through tough times over COVID and just started talking. Each month we brought in a mentor to tell a story about getting through hard times.

It was pretty inspiring. This group made a huge difference to each other: we watched our businesses grow together coming out of COVID. And it got me to a place where I could start thinking about the future.

How did you evolve your business? 

Most companies in my industry laid off all their staff, but we kept everybody. We wanted to be the first company to have a safe event experience. So when the second lockdown happened, instead of panicking, we started planning – and figuring out what a safe in-person event could look like. We relooked at every step of the event process, and realized the hardest thing was keeping people 6 feet apart – especially in the bar and merch lines. So we came up with a VIP table system.

We weren’t even allowed to do events yet, but we went to Costco and bought 1,400 tables. We booked the largest event space in Edmonton – an abandoned race track that can hold 25,000 – and mapped out the tables to be 6 feet away from each other. We sourced a barcode system that allowed people to order drinks and merchandise to the table. And when the market was ready for something exciting but safe, we launched the Great Outdoors Comedy Festival and the Together Again Outdoor Concert Series.

The week the tickets went on sale, our revenues were what we’d normally do in a year. And the feedback was amazing: people said “I don’t want to see a concert any other way.” So now we have 3 concert series planned for summer and are planning to take things across the country in 2023. The pandemic gave us time to really work on our business, and I’m grateful that EO helped me get to a place where I could start thinking that way.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking of joining EO? 

I took business in college, but I really didn’t understand the dynamics of running a successful company until I joined EO – learning from other entrepreneurs has been so valuable. Honestly, I  don’t think I’d be nearly as successful if it wasn’t for hearing about everyone else’s highs and lows and what they did when they came across opportunities.

If you’re looking to be a better person and a better business owner, EO is like a support group, but better. It has a lot of great tools to help you survive and thrive, and there’s so much to learn. Honestly, even after 16 years, I’m not even close to knowing what I need to know. EO keeps me inspired and excited, and pushes me to keep finding ways to move my business forward – no matter what the odds.

Mike Anderson, Edmonton Branch

President, Trixstar Entertainment and Trixstar Live

8+ employees (up to 700 in event season)

In business 16 years

EO Member for 10+ years

Posted on 2022-05-11