Life as an actor can be tough. Despite winning roles in theatre and television (including Coronation Street and Brookside), and a job running a street theatre company, Richard Dodgson (now 47) found he had to take on other jobs.
While working as a translator, he became frustrated at being forced to work with out-of-date equipment. So in 1994 he decided to apply his theatrical skills to corporate events and began to work on projects for event management firms.
He very quickly realised that there was an untapped appetite for events that involved performances. This realisation inspired him to stop being an employee and to strike out on his own. Timebased Events was born in 1996.
Converting part of his bedroom into an office, and armed with only a telephone, Dodgson began approaching companies. By the time 1997 rolled around, he had generated enough revenue to justify taking on a friend as his first member of staff. By the summer of the same year the duo had moved into permanent offices.
The turning point came in 1998 with three major projects that would put Timebased Events on the map. Firstly, they were hired by Twentieth Century Fox to publicise the launch of the hit film Titanic, which went on to break all previous box office records.
Dodgson was also commissioned by London department store Selfridges to help with a big relaunch. Finally, he was hired by the lifestyle magazine GQ to produce their first Men of the Year awards. He did such a good job that he has hosted all 15 subsequent ceremonies.
At the moment Timebased Events has a turnover of £4m. The company could raise this easily, but Dodgson is a strong believer in quality over quantity. He emphasises that his reputation allows him to be extremely selective, with Timebased Events turning down far more work than it accepts.
Every proposal that passes over Dodgson’s desk is heavily scrutinised, with the firm only making a bid if the proposal meets three criteria. These are “can we win it, can we do it and will it bring us lots of publicity?”
This bespoke approach has won Dodgson and his firm a passionate following. One project that he is particularly proud of is an Indian wedding reception that he ran in Berkeley Square.
One guest, the real estate tycoon KP Singh, was so impressed that he insisted on flying the company out to India to put on a series of events for him. This included a black tie dinner at Singh’s mansion in New Delhi and a Bollywood-themed birthday bash on the 18th hole of a golf course.
Dodgson’s ambitions are now focused towards more international events. Timebased Events is currently pitching for part of the Rio 2016 Olympics. He has also started to put together an international network of similar local agencies that he can partner with.
His advice for those interested in following in his footsteps is that “you have to be both brave and bold”. He cautions that budgetary management skills are extremely important. It’s also a very competitive industry, where “you’re hired for the next year’s events the day after the event takes place”. Those who mess things up “don’t get asked back again”.