In a haunt, not so long ago…
Red Hat Enterprises, Inc. isn’t a corporate giant. We’re a small company with big dreams. All it takes is a dream to start, of course. And well, our dreams were all over the place, on the weird side, and included creating things no one ever had. Red Hat technically became a company in 2017 with the quick birth of Gone In 60 Escape Games but its roots started way back with Matt Ruder, President of Red Hat, recognizing that he needed a better way to manage the volunteer actors at the Dungeon of Darkness Haunted House in Pekin, Illinois.
With the help of a colleague, Matt developed a program to help with communication in 2009. That program, named Haunt Scheduler, was officially a business in 2014. Knowing Matt from volunteering at Dungeon of Darkness – Sara Fickes (now Ruder ;), Vice President and co-owner started to help market Haunt Scheduler. It has grown from a small messaging program to scheduling, timekeeping, costume, and makeup management. It is a one-of-a-kind web-based tool for attraction owners and managers of all haunt sizes.
Escape with me…
Fast forward a bit to 2015 and escape rooms start to trickle out from the big cities and into haunt trade shows and conventions. Matt, ever the visionary, became interested from the moment he heard about it. After completing an escape room, Matt and Sara left exhilarated. They loved the challenge but were extremely disappointed in the realism of the set design. They knew they could bring Peoria an immersive and therefore amazing, fun new form of entertainment.
In March of 2017 (with a bit of luck, good friends, and great timing) opening an escape game business became a possibility. Gone In 60 Escape Games opened three short months later on June 30, 2017, with two rooms, The Coven and The Contagion. At the beginning of 2018, we set out to build the 3rd room, The Morgue. Matt and Sara wanted it to be a room that wow’d and excited even the most experienced players. Building a realistic escape room from concept to creation proved to be quite the challenge, especially since Matt and Sara were still working their full-time jobs. So, in the summer of 2018, they decided to take the <gulp> risk and work solely for the business. Matt and Sara finally finished The Morgue in mid-September 2018.
Axe-tually we can…
Now working for themselves, Matt and Sara sought ways to grow the business. In May of 2018, Matt and Sara (while attending a trade show for Haunt Scheduler) discovered axe throwing. Intrigued by the unique fun and similarities in business models, they started researching how to bring it to Peoria. Many trials and tribulations (mostly lack of funding) later, Matt and Sara persevered and started construction in January in The Block development right next door to Gone In 60. In April of 2019, Gone Axe Throwing along with what is now called The X Bar was open.
…but then we went mad.
Everything we had worked so hard to build came to a halt in March of 2020 as the COVID-19 caused the shutdown of entertainment and amusement businesses. Running a business during a pandemic turned out to be quite the challenge that no one saw coming. During the first shutdown, the Coven, Contagion, and Morgue rooms were retired and sold and construction began at Gone Axe’s location to bring Gone In 60 together under one roof. When reopening, Gone Axe’s kitchen started serving an expanded food menu and the axe mobile trailer was introduced. The pandemic created a world of uncertainty and constant change; leaving plenty of people unhappy and angry. This is when Sara (finally) convinced Matt that a rage room was needed. Gone Mad Rage Room opened and people started breaking sh!t in October of 2020.
New Name. Same Fun.
Gone In 60 Escape Games, Gone Axe Throwing, and Gone Mad Rage Room officially rebranded into Gone Social on April 3rd, 2023. The plan had been set for about a year prior just waiting for the right moment and Matt and Sara found it with the introduction of Virtual Reality Escape Games and more lanes during the 4th anniversary of Gone Axe Throwing.
A lot people ask, what does 'Red Hat' mean?
It’s simple really. Matt always wears a red hat! 🙂