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Group Effort

How do you create the unforgettable? Being able to direct an army of experts sure helps.

In the hot desert of Dubai exists a cool oasis: an indoor ski resort ranking among the world's largest. At Universal Studios Florida, the Universal 360 movie experience is a cinematic adventure so spectacular that guests linger just to see it. Since 2001, Thinkwell Design & Production, an $8 million, Burbank, California-based designer and producer of experience-based entertainment, has been tackling projects that can cost more than $1 billion and take years to complete. The results are breathtaking, but for founders Craig Hanna, 45; Fran├žois Bergeron, 42; Joe Zenas, 40; and Cliff Warner, 44, pulling them off can be a managerial nightmare.

For sanity's sake, the founders have devised a fine-tuned system. They have only about 30 employees, but that can quickly jump to more than 100 when the pressure is on. Relying on a Rolodex full of specialized experts, they create out-of-this-world experiences without inordinate expenses. Says Hanna, "It allows us to keep our overhead manageable and predictable and allows us to bring in the right people to [work] on the project."

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This article was originally published in the October 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Group Effort.

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