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Meet Chris Sinclair of The Anthem Group

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Sinclair.

Chris, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I had explored entrepreneurial activities as a kid, such as (up)selling chocolate to classmates in middle school and the cliche lemonade stand attempt in elementary school. However, in high school I started to organize groups for laser tag: negotiating a steep discount from the venue, then doing a complete buy-out so no outside people would be in our group, followed by selling tickets to anyone and everyone in my high school. I paid older kids with licenses to drive freshman and sophomores and then purchased Wendy’s and McDonald’s in bulk so that there was a “hospitality” element. I generated a healthy margin in between the venue discount and the “ticket price” to the fellow students, in particular, the “all-inclusive package” that included a ride, food and of course the laser tag games.

In college, I turned a summer job as a promotional model handing out samples of chai tea into a small marketing agency, quickly increasing my responsibilities to include budgeting, warehouse/inventory control, hiring personnel and client facing duties. The story is too long to tell her but that first summer was a whirlwind, moving from a flexible college summer gig to self-employment and with a team surrounding me.

Eventually, the company’s experiential programs became more sophisticated, larger and frequent. Soon the company would shift its focus to creating its own events, which started as tiny local music nights. It was literally events 101: local bands with half the cover to the band and the other half to the house. But soon those shows became bigger and so did the venues. Eventually, I found myself in concert promotion, which spun off into a multitude of different types of events: corporate functions, brand-focused events and more. The lines in between events and event marketing became blurred, which led to the establishment of two different entities. Then came catering, then concessions, festival management/production, tradeshows and all along with our client work there was an underlying, risky yet rewarding, emphasis on self-created properties. While we may be hired to manage one thing, I was also leading the charge on creating from scratch another, funding it, executing it and then repeating it.

Great, 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?
It never was a smooth road – and I think that is a common trait among many entrepreneurs. There is that saying about being an overnight success that was 20 years in the making. There was, and still is, a grind. Yet in the earlier days, when I wasn’t sure how payroll was going to be met the following month, I still slept soundly at night and never panicked. I always had good people around me and now I have some of the best in the world. They make the challenges easier and worthwhile.

Some of the early struggles were always around financial resources. I started the business with a student’s life savings of around $500. I didn’t have any family money to fall back on and no idea (or at that time interest) in borrowing or having someone invest. And honestly, there was nothing to invest in during the earliest days. It is difficult to compete with those that have a head-start but it is doable.

Today the challenges are reflective of the company’s growth. But there can still be a bit of that two steps forward, one step backward. As long as there are more steps forward and they are big ones, it is always enjoyable.

Please tell us about The Anthem Group.
The Anthem Group is a collection of internationally recognized entities in the live entertainment, event production, experiential marketing, hospitality and placemaking industries. The Anthem Group is the parent organization of all Anthem-related properties.

We focus on creating experiences and bringing ideas and things to life. Everything revolves around the experiential – experiences that you can touch, taste, feel, listen too and live. Whether this is an event (of any kind), helping transform a dormant space into a lively place-to-be, a marketing campaign or other creative endeavor.

Anthem is also very active with other entrepreneurial efforts, having advised dozens of other start-ups, facilitated funding, invested directly, our senior team sitting on boards or some combination of all of the above. We’re very proud of our multi-industry, multi-company identity. Just because we started in music and marketing doesn’t mean that we end there.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Fenway Park was perhaps my favorite place as a child. I didn’t get to see as regularly as I would have liked but it was memorable whenever I did. I loved going to games with my father, stepfather….I probably would have gone with a stranger even to see the Sox play.

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