Mark Cuban should be all smiles this Halloween.

His $2 million investment in horror entertainment company Ten Thirty One Productions has helped grow the business at breakneck speed. Cuban's largest Shark Tank deal and the second-largest in the show's history, Ten Thirty One creates and produces live Halloween-themed attractions and is projected to hit $5 million in revenue this year, up from $3 million in 2014, according to founder Melissa Carbone. Cuban invested in the company in 2013.

Ten Thirty One's most popular attraction is the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, which attracts 60,000 people to the pitch-black woods of L.A.'s Griffith Park every year. The company's biggest moneymaker, the hayride expanded to New York this year and Carbone has plans to add another hayride in Cuban's hometown of Dallas in 2016.

More than half of Cuban's $2 million investment, however, went toward growing a summer event called The Great Horror Campout, an immersive overnight experience in which 2,000 people take part in a haunted scavenger hunt with demonic forces and lost souls. Carbone launched the campout in 2013 in L.A. and has since expanded it to eight more cities. 

So what has Carbone learned from working with Cuban on her horror show?

1. How to give constructive feedback. "There are things that he definitely thinks aren't a smart move that I do, so we'll have a little bit of conflict, but it's never unhealthy," she says. "He never just says no." 

2. The value of a second opinion. One of the best things about having a partner in Cuban--who owns 20 percent of the company--is getting a second opinion on Carbone's aggressive expansion plans. "It's great that I have him as a resource to bounce things off of, because I don't really have anybody else to do that with," she says. While Ten Thirty One has more than 1,000 part-time employees to help with its seasonal attractions, the company has a full-time staff of just 10.

3. The power of going big.  Ten Thirty One has expanded its offerings significantly since launching in 2009, when it took in $400,000 in annual revenue. Carbone says the key to success has been creating immersive horror experiences that make most haunted attractions feel tame by comparison.  

"You're not just going to an attraction and getting in line," Carbone says. "Once you get to our parking lot, the experience has started."

Among the company's future plans are a collaboration on a horror movie with Sonny Mallhi, the executive producer of horror films including Shutter, The Strangers, and House at the End of the Street.

 

Published on: Oct 15, 2015