Rock The House Entertainment Group, Inc. announced new ownership Oct. 29 with chief operating officer Ryan Konikoff acquiring the majority share. The company’s founder and CEO Matt Radicelli will remain in his current role as a partial owner.
“The management of the company isn’t changing at all,” Radicelli said. Noting he has no plans to retire from or exit Rock The House, Radicelli said not much will change at the entertainment company.
“It was really just a way for (Konikoff) to say, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about staying here forever. Let’s formalize it,’” Radicelli said. Konikoff wanted to buy in, “and we settled on a number that was greater than my share amounts.”
Konikoff’s inquiry provided an opportunity for others to invest as well.
The new ownership structure consists of six officers who Radicelli described as having been instrumental in the company’s growth. Radicelli and Konikoff will serve alongside CFO and vice president Steve Tanruther; vice president of operations Amy Van Duyne; vice president of social sales Jeff Kutz and founder and president of Zone Entertainment Jeff Dick.
“Those individuals either had profit-sharing or they had already been given phantom stock,” Radicelli said. He added that Konikoff “purchasing stock gave us the opportunity because the paperwork was already in motion to just formalize everybody else’s percentages.”
Rock The House was officially started by Radicelli in 1999 – two years after he graduated from high school – as a small, home-based business. His parents raised him with simultaneous exposure to business and the arts, Radicelli said, explaining they ran a nightclub when he was 7. His father was the deejay, his mother the controller.
They “couldn’t afford a babysitter and I would sit after school and do my homework in the corner,” Radicelli recalled. “I learned a whole bunch about business and dealing with people and music.”
When he was 12, they divorced. Describing the event as an entrepreneurial catalyst, Radicelli said, “That’s what forced me to realize that I had to make money.”
Explaining he needed to help his household out and loved deejaying, Radicelli added, “I don’t talk about the idea of potentially being poor, but me deejaying was the difference between me being able to have new clothes and not.”
Although he didn’t know it yet, Radicelli was “sharpening (his) skills and becoming an entrepreneur.”
At 17, he told his mother instead of going to college, he was starting a business. The following year, Konikoff joined what would ultimately become Rock The House.
Explaining he was 14 at the time, Konikoff noted Radicelli was 18 and Tanruther was 22. A year later, Kutz joined the group.
“We were just kids kind of getting in the production world,” Konikoff said. Together they hosted teen clubs and Radicelli taught Konikoff and Kutz about deejaying and Tanruther did the sound at local electronic events.
They were “figuring it out,” Konikoff said. “It’s really a story of just some best friends that started hanging out together, (then) started a small company together.”
From there, they started organizing bar and bat mitzvahs.
“(We) realized that Cleveland ... had an opportunity for (a) technology-minded company that was service-based,” Konikoff said. They set out to bring “a style of show to the market that you were seeing in Chicago, you were seeing in New York, but there really wasn’t someone here to bring that show together.”
And they started growing.
“Our business really went from kind of a hobby to a real business,” Konikoff recalled.
After high school, Konikoff went to college, then began working for Royal Caribbean International.
Konikoff returned to Cleveland 12 years ago, but only planned on staying for three months, he said. Radicelli asked him to help out at Rock The House during that time.
“I’m still here,” Konikoff said. “A few months turned into a few years and a few years turned into this partnership now, which has been years in the making.”
Of his decision to buy into the partnership, Konikoff, now 36, said it felt like the right time to make a decision about the remainder of his career and invest in something.
“There was nowhere else I’d rather be. The business makes sense, we’ve got an amazing team, we’re growing, we have fantastic clients,” Konikoff said. “From a business and a personal standpoint, it just made so much sense and (Radicelli) was so open to the opportunity to keep this family of friends together.”