If you are visiting Moscow you may see someone crawling across the flat granite paving blocks of Red Square, the city’s historic public space. That person may be a true eccentric, but more likely you are looking at someone with sore knees immersed in a team challenge organized for one of Dennis Nikolayev’s corporate clients.
Nikolayev, 24, and his six employees juggle three product lines for the corporate services business he started in 2007. His company, “The Sunshine Team,” creates and manages company events, including any needed catering; provides corporate travel-related services, and organizes “active leisure” programs. Not surprisingly, the Red Square crossing comes under the heading of “active leisure.”
“No two days are the same, and I get to be creative a lot of the time,” said Nikolayev, who has a post graduate degree from University of People’s Friendship in applied management and public relations.
Nikolayev got his first taste of running his own business at the age of 16, when he was in high school and took part in the Junior Achievement Russia Company Program. Later, while studying for a degree in Technology, Environment and Ecology, he took the online GTTP “Passport to the World” curriculum, which made him familiar with the basics of the travel and tourism industry.
If the university had offered a degree in organizing student travel, student entertainment, and student fun, Nikolayev would have earned that degree as well. He was having a good time — “I had a good social circle and was doing OK in my studies” — but at the same time he was also figuring out how create an enterprise that would reflect his own interests and capabilities, and build on what he had learned about people, travel, and tourism, and make a profit. He decided to start The Sunshine Team.
The three product lines offered by Nikolayev are clusters of activities, with each cluster branded with its own name.
“Home Café” offers event management with an emphasis on healthy nutrition and awareness of the needs of the environment. This emphasis is reflected in food choices offered clients, as well as room decorations, event themes, and entertainment.
The “Agency” offers travel-related services and event management for big companies, organizations and Moscow’s city government. “We are practical, cost-effective and user-friendly,” said Nikolayev.
“City Adventure” product offers client teams individually planned activities that take them all over Moscow and are designed both to challenge and entertain them. Common elements of an adventure are a final destination that has to be reached in a given time. On the way to the final destination are intermediate points where teams have to find objects hidden by the staff, then compete in a mini-game like answering questions about where they are, and complete a challenge, like crawling across Red Square.
“City Adventure,” like the other two clusters, is an evolving product as Nikolayev and his team come up with new ideas to offer.
“Turning an idea into reality can be one of the most rewarding experiences that life can offer. That’s the fun of it,” said Nikolayev.
“My business objective is to make money, but it’s how I’m doing it that matters,” said Nikolayev.