Since the onset of the pandemic last year, many industries have adapted to some form of online capability. But as the sudden stay-at-home lifestyle came as a bit of a culture shock, the adjustment from in-person to digital took some time and for some, it took new innovation. For entertainment and hospitality entrepreneur Jeff Krauss, he saw the pandemic as an opportunity to cultivate a new form of business by way of a new company called FanRoom Live that he established last year with award-winning actor, producer and comedian Cedric the Entertainer and Mich Faulkner, the CEO of 123 Talent.
After more than a year of dealing with the effects of the pandemic, we’ve all become well-familiar with Zoom calls and meetings. And while a video conference call for work isn’t exactly something you look forward to, Krauss and his business partners saw this format as a fun vehicle to help fans interact with their favorite celebrities virtually online. With that, FanRoom Live was born. Functioning as a digital platform that connects fans with celebrities, authors, comedians, athletes, music artists, and more, FanRoom Live is essentially a virtual town hall where fans get the opportunity to interact and converse with celebs in an intimate and unique setting. With in-person opportunities and meetings out of the question, Krauss and his partners quickly came up with a new alternative.
“My background is hospitality and events,” Krauss says. “Anything that was an in-person event or gathering was obviously shut down last year as a result of the pandemic. So FanRoom Live really sort of started off as something fun and then we thought, ‘Hey, we could build this into a brand.’”
Another unique aspect to FanRoom Live is that many of the events have had the proceeds go to charities so when fans engage, they’re supporting a great cause as well. An idea like this coming from Krauss is no surprise with a curriculum vitae that touts his own entertainment and hospitality company, IE Group that was established in 2006 as a company that specializes in events, marketing, branding, VIP services, creative event planning, celebrity & influencer marketing, and charity events.
As president of IE Group, Krauss has worked with some of entertainment’s biggest names from Susan Sarandon to Rosario Dawson, Debra Messing, Ashlee Simpson Ross, Katherine McPhee Foster, Tichina Arnold, Nicole Scherzinger, Ludacris, Carmen Electra, Spike Lee, Jenny McCarthy & Donnie Whalberg, Chris Jericho, Tituss Burgess, Rapsody, and many others. And at different times, he’s also produced events for iconic designers such as Patricia Field and Marc Bouwer, among others.
And because human resources have always been the one of the greatest assets of organizations, the platform has benefited from the ingenuity of Krauss, his partners and the other great minds at the helm of its affairs. Part of this team includes actor/producer and comedian Jae Benjamin and award-winning producer Stacey Toy both of whom are Co-EP and Co-Hosts of FanRoom Live.
With new events being added to the FanRoom Live calendar all the time, this new form of immersive fan and celeb interaction is a clear indication of just how quickly tech and social media are evolving. Thus far, the platform has hosted events with George Lopez, Cedric The Entertainer, Paul Wight, D.L. Hughley, Morgan Fairchild, as well as wrestling legends Kurt Angle and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Ice T & Coco, R&B sensation ZIEME, actors Holland Roden and Brant Daugherty, and rock stars like Kenny Aronoff and Leland Sklar have also hosted fans on different editions of FanRoom Live. One charity event after-party for The Rock Solid Foundation and Children’s Hospital Of The Kings Daughter, for instance, featured host Chris Taylor of the LA Dodgers with guests Alexander Ludwig, Tichina Arnold, Tyler Rich, and Cedric himself. In one FanRoom Live event, AEW Star Paul Wight was asked by a child with illness to take his shirt off and donate it for auction to Wrestling for Warriors, a charity that connects sick children to wrestling. The superstar wrestler happily agreed to this and made the kids day. FanRoom also recently hosted an event reuniting some of the cast of the Karate Kid with Sean Kanan aka Mike Barnes, William Christopher Ford and Darryl Vidal.
Soon, the COVID-19 crisis will likely subside, but after a life-changing year like 2020, “business as usual” has changed as we once knew it. And like many previous innovations born out of global crisis and challenges, FanRoom Live and the global shift to digital is set to remain and thrive even after the pandemic is behind us. Coming up, the platform looks forward to Alex Skolnick of Testament hosting their next FanRoom Live on May 20th.
To learn more about FanRoom Live, visit their website.
Photography by: Jeff Kraus