The one thing that’s truly fascinated me is the will of people who bring great ideas to life through a belief in building something greater than themselves. Find purpose — then find believers.
Ryan Hogan is the co-founder and CEO of Hunt A Killer. Hogan is an entrepreneur with a career-long dedication to finding ways to merge fictional storytelling with real-life experiences through event activations, responsive membership boxes, obstacle racing, film and premium content platforms.
Hogan manages all growth and marketing initiatives for Hunt A Killer and takes the lead in listening to its community to deliver unexpected scares through innovative mediums. Prior to and in conjunction with pioneering the interactive entertainment industry and building a multi-million dollar organization within its first year of business, Hogan served in the U.S. Navy for 15 years and is now a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Hogan’s entrepreneurial and event contributions have been recognized by top news publications such as BizBash, 2013 Event Innovators, and The Baltimore Sun, 10 People To Watch Under 30, among others.
Where did the idea for Hunt A Killer come from?
Hunt A Killer was founded to create experiences where passion and purpose intersect. It started as an immersive, live-event experience centering participants in the midst of a 200-acre crime scene. We then quickly pivoted the company in fall 2016 to contain storytelling that envelops members in episodic content through monthly deliveries filled physical clues and correspondence from a “penpal” mailed straight to members’ doorsteps.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I spend my time answering emails, on calls, in meetings and writing and completing to-do lists. But, I try to focus on leaving the white noise (emails) for before 8am and after 5pm, while spending my mind’s natural primetime for tasks greater than $500/hour. These include working on business strategy, company culture and marketing, and ensuring the purpose and vision are always wholeheartedly integrated into our content.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By constructing a team around the implementation of great ideas we’re able to conceive innovative content. The one thing that’s truly fascinated me is the will of people who bring great ideas to life through a belief in building something greater than themselves. Find purpose — then find believers.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Podcasts promote fresh and exciting content. We even integrated this trend into our business strategies and have emerged in the podcast market with groundbreaking concepts. Recently, Gnomish Hat, the parent company of Hunt A Killer and Empty Faces, welcomed the Euphomet Podcast to our family of brands and have some game changing plans for launching us into what we are branding as “immersive audio dramas.”
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
A deep understanding of feedback loops in order to achieve scale. Incorporating feedback into my creative and managing processes allows me to establish a receptive and open environment which promotes dialogue, innovation and necessary growth.
What advice would you give your younger self?
“Start sooner. You knew it all along, but your path was slow.”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
To skip college and develop your business. I ran a company while attending University of Maryland and learned more about business and marketing from building a global company than any textbook.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I’ve come to learn that you need to take risks often. Acknowledging that you should accept failures as a learning curve helps in the entrepreneurial process, as well.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I strongly encourage using the feedback loop. We accomplish this by listening our customer and then iterating our offering based upon common trends. We consistently use our customer database and highly engaged social community as a way to gather constructive criticism, praise, ideas for improvement and more. Our community plays a key role in helping us refine our direction and performance.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had my fair share of ideas that didn’t work and companies that failed hard and fast. With those failures, I had to pull myself out of some tough, dark times and did so by writing blogs and surrounding myself with like-minded folks that kept me motivated and inspired. In the grand scheme of things, I just didn’t stop (and won’t!).
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A scalable team building subscription for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs). There is so much opportunity here, and a tremendous amount of strategic partnerships available. (This is actually real and I have plans on it for my next business should my current endeavors pass.)
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A cheese basket for my wife. Finding ways to show appreciation to those that support you the most are critically important to the success of any organization.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
EVERNOTE! My life lives on two platforms: Google calendar for daily schedule and Evernote for every task, idea, strategy in my brain.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Start with “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries — I still reference this monthly and use a ton of principles to launch new concepts. Ries advises readers on how to initiate their startup plans by engaging their target customers and their interests, which is something that Hunt A Killer focuses heavily on and has been successful at.
What is your favorite quote?
“Great companies are built on great products.” – Elon Musk
I’m a marketer at heart, but I never forget that great sales dictate future trends. Business longevity starts and stops with great products. You can only sell a pet rock for so long. Advertising cannot sustain positive returns when selling awful products and poor services/experiences.
- Find a core team of believers that will support you in continuing to bring your innovative ideas to life and show appreciation always.
- Yesterday was probably too late. Start sooner.
- When things get tough, get stronger. Don’t stop.
- Don’t be afraid of feedback. You’ll never grow.
- Read “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries to get a firm understanding of exactly what it takes to launch and optimize new concepts.