Stephen Shaw and Jonathan Linden, co-presidents of Round Room Live…

Stephen Shaw and Jonathan Linden, co-presidents of Round Room Live, explain how they became successful

Entrepreneur authors’ views are entirely their own.

Round Room Live, an eOne company run by Stephen Shaw and Jonathan Linden as co-Presidents, has been dubbed “the new leader in the family show entertainment industry” by Billboard.

The organization specializes in turning fresh and iconic intellectual concepts into live events, putting on everything from family shows with beloved characters to events and exhibitions honoring major cultural leaders and landmarks. Most family show producers keep licensing TV and movie content, but Round Room Live was one of the first to build a live show around a series made for pre-schoolers on YouTube.

Baby Shark Live!, Blippi The Musical, Peppa Pig Live!, Blue’s Clues & You! Live On Stage!, and PJ Masks Live! are among the company’s current world-tour performances. Jurassic World: The Exhibition, Mandela: The Official Exhibition, and Tupac Shakur are now on tour with Round Room’s Exhibitions Division.

Wake Me When I’m Free is a Los Angeles-based film that premiered in January 2022. The relationship between Round Room Live and its audience was shown in March 2022, which was the most successful month in the company’s history. This was an amazing feat, considering how unstable the live performance space is.

With 650 kids’ shows across four tours and 125 weeks of runtime throughout four touring exhibitions, Round Room Live will end 2022 as one of the highest grossing kids’ theatrical businesses, with Blues, Clues & You! Live On Stage, set to debut this fall. Forbes describes them as “creatives” who “make two hours in an arena seat watching a children’s show come to life as an occasion that brings a family together.”

The performance must go on

Round Room Live designs and organizes full productions. Creative directors, authors, directors, actors, choreographers, and scene and costume designers make up the producing team. The touring team, on the other hand, is in charge of marketing, advertising, ticketing, and merchandise. Concurrent companies exist across the country, much like a touring Broadway performance.

Stephen Shaw, the company’s founder and co-president, and Jonathan Linden, its co-president, are both veterans of the entertainment business. They learned the ropes from some of the industry’s greatest visionaries and pioneers, like The Rolling Stones and Barbra Streisand, who promoted some of the highest-grossing arena and stadium level concert tours in history.

They’ve created high-energy, visually beautiful entertainment for audiences of all ages with the same bright, high-tech production style they’re used to from rock stadium performances and Broadway. Entertainment One (eOne) bought a majority stake in Round Room Live in 2018, and eOne is now a Hasbro company.

Taking the lead and expanding

The foundation of Round Room Live, according to Stephen Shaw, a self-described “methodical” risk-taker, was the largest risk he’s ever taken. He left a terrific job as president of Michael Cohl’s company, S2BN Entertainment, where he learned how to be a producer and promoter, as well as how to establish and run a business, from his boss.

Shaw and his wife invested everything they had into Round Room Live, acquiring the company’s first intellectual rights, developing a few products, and hiring a small team to help them grow. Shaw also says that his father taught him how to be a good worker and how to have a good balance between work and life.

Shaw’s leadership reached a watershed moment when he formed a board of directors, which meant he was no longer dealing with the team he’d put together but with seasoned executives, investors, and shareholders. He advised, “That’s when you need to put on your big boy trousers and be a true leader.”

As an entrepreneur, his biggest challenges have been putting together a team with a lot of experience, getting and making valuable intellectual property, and being patient as his business grows.

A good show, a full house, and a high demand for tickets thrill Shaw every time. Building a brand, developing something from nothing, and turning a concept into a plan all bring him great joy. A morning run (“my savior”) and working early in the day, before the distractions of emails and phone calls, are part of his daily regimen.

During the epidemic, with nonstop Zoom and phone conversations, he discovered reMarkable, a computerized note-taking gadget that organizes notes in folders, converts them to Word files, and emails them to him. Shaw thinks his wife and children—along with being a father—are the most worthwhile investments he’s ever made.

Jonathan Linden, Round Room Live’s co-president, was previously the CEO of Michael Cohl’s S2BN Entertainment. Jonathan began his career as an attorney (a plus in the live entertainment industry) before earning an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

He was hired by Cohl to work for him at Live Nation, where he met and became acquainted with Shaw for the first time. He was a Senior Vice President in Live Nation’s Office of the Chairman, where he supervised and managed a number of important live entertainment transactions, including the acquisition of one of the entertainment industry’s largest merchandising and licensing organizations.

Linden has worked on a number of high-profile projects, such as the Barbra Streisand tours, An Evening with Oprah Winfrey, and Broadway shows like Rock of Ages, for which he was the lead producer.

One of Linden’s greatest business triumphs, he claims, was convincing eOne to invest in Round Room Live barely two years after it launched. He saw it as confirmation that what they were proposing was on track and that a significant business partner found it as fascinating as they did. One of the biggest risks he took was leaving a well-known law firm to work in the entertainment business.

After years of working for others, Linden says Round Room Live has given him the freedom to choose projects, hire team members, and design a course with Shaw, and that developing the firm thrills him every day. He was aware that Round Room Live was taking a unique approach to family and children’s touring. They were taking chances on brands that didn’t have broadcast television shows to back them up; the risk was the feeling that the world and the types of companies that were popular were changing—and the risks paid off.

Linden enjoys listening to podcasts (particularly those about the journeys of successful entrepreneurs). He enjoys sports and relaxes by reading, currently “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight. Jonathan finds the Apple Watch to be more useful than he imagined in terms of technology, and it has helped him handle a couple office emergencies.

He participates in all of his children’s activities and enjoys discussing sports with his son, with whom he shares his fantasy football team as well as his hockey and football card collections. He’s still hoping that one of his 11-year-old daughter’s dance parties will involve him.

Round Room Live is at the forefront of the ever-evolving world of children’s and family entertainment. It has breathed fresh life into the idea, discovering innovative ways to monetize intellectual property and maximize revenue while on the road with various performing units. “Their success is well deserved,” Forbes writes, “and it comes from performing a good job.”