What started as a way for Andrew Wildgoose to earn extra cash during university (hosting pub quizzes) has become a thriving business that has kept on growing. Across Scotland, Goose’s quizzes are now synonymous with having a good time - free for any player, bringing revenue to the pubs with people ordering more food and drinks as the punters play.
However as Covid hit and pubs were closed overnight, Andrew’s income and business stopped in its tracks. However, instead of sitting and worrying about the future, he realised that he could be useful in other ways - that his business could be the source of joy for many despite it not earning him a penny. He moved his business online and offered free daily quizzes throughout the whole lockdown. What started with a handful of people joining in online, became hundreds and occasionally thousands of daily players. He built an online community that connected people in a time when they needed social interaction more than ever.
This caught the attention of the palace which resulted in him getting a BEM from the Queen.
Andrew is an inspiration for taking something you love and turning it into a workable business model that gives back by its very nature. He is a great example of how moving with the times and reacting positively to change rather than clawing onto the past can help your business thrive.
We hope you enjoy this week's episode and it provides you with as much joy as it gave me talking to him.
Check out Gooses Quizzes website and find the next pub quiz in your area or online by clicking HERE!
Suzie Millar 0:18
Hi everybody and welcome to today's episode of Think Outside your Hive. Today's guest is Andrew Wildgoose, commonly known as Goose. Goose's Quizzes. Goose is a really, really interesting character. I feel terrible because I think this might be the fifth or sixth time that I've said that we're going to record this podcast and I cancelled all of them. I didn't turn up to one of them and I postponed the last one. So the fact that he was actually there was surprising and I'm incredibly grateful to him for doing that. He is a really fascinating person. He set up Goose's Quizzes when he was at university and his business has just grown and grown and grown to the extent now that he has been awarded a BME by the Queen for all the work that he did throughout COVID, as he ran lots and lots of free quizzes so that people had something to enjoy during that time. Such a cool guy, I think you're really enjoy this episode.
Welcome to the show Goose! I find it so funny because actually your name is Andrew. Have you always been called Goose?
Andrew Wildgoose 2:30
I started I think as I grew up, I got it from when I was younger. It was probably Andrew and then people started calling me Goose or wild goose because my surname is WildGoose. And then as I went to university, I got a bit older and then it became more like Goose and I was a bit more serious. I don't force people to call me goose, but I have called my company Goose's Quizzes. If I don't call myself Goose, someone will always jump out from somewhere and be like 'he's actually goose'.
Suzie Millar 3:00
So I was on your podcast a few years ago, and obviously found out loads about your company at that stage. And I just think it's such a fun company that I was thought, I have to interview him and find out how he started. So how on earth did you start up this quiz company that is now all over Scotland's and online?
Andrew Wildgoose 3:23
I suppose the first thing is I just started running pub quizzes. I was working in a pub when I was in my last year uni doing my masters, and I couldn't carry on working in the pub and doing my masters. So they said, well, why don't you just do the pub quiz. And it was never even my idea. I wish I could sit and say oh yeah, it was a real targeted thing. I was studying interaction design, like service design at University, so then I started applying everything I was learning at my masters to the pub quiz and it started just growing and getting bigger. And I started responding to what people were enjoying. It became a riot, it was proper crazy quizzing. And I mean, and at the end of the day, we run quite straightforward quizzes. We run five rounds, 10 questions around, nothing too fancy. It's more about the behind the scenes content, making sure that the questions are correct and are the right kind of level. So from there, that was 10 years ago. In fact, we celebrated 10 year anniversary on Friday. Yeah it all grew from there. Hosts came on board, and then new venues. Pre lockdown we were at about 45 a week, and now we're back at 33 a week. So it's feeling... it's feeling good.
Suzie Millar 4:49
So what happened over lockdown for you then?
Andrew Wildgoose 4:53
Yeah, so lockdown was kind of crazy. Monday, the 16th Boris Johnson came out and said effectively, don't go and socialise. That was the sort of... there was no support at that point, furlough wasn't even a thing. No one knew anything at that point. So we were just scrambling at that point. And we cancelled all our quizzes that night. We had nine quizzes on that night, and we cancelled them all, which was pretty awful. And then we worked nonstop from that point to the next night where we put on online quizzes. We went onto a platform called Twitch. Twitch is a live streaming platform, it's mostly aimed towards gaming - people play video games, Twitch shows them playing them online, and people react to how they're playing. But they have a much bigger community now of people doing all sorts of things. And so we went on there. On the 17th we just ran a quiz. People submitted their sheets through Google Forms and we marked it, gave them the answers the next night and did another one on the 18th. And then we did one every night throughout the whole lockdown. And so we just kept going. It went from like 30- 40 teams, until we got featured in a couple of newspapers and articles. It was Unilad that featured us and then as soon as we got featured there, it went to like 1000 teams a night that we were doing the quiz for. It became this crazy fever pitch sort of weird situation - our social media was going crazy. It was just the most insane experience I've ever had. Because I mean everybody else was sort of sitting there kind of doom and gloom, and you're sort of actually having to be really upbeat every night for these people for the Quiz. Because they can see you. I never call myself an entertainer, we call ourselves facilitators more than anything, but there is there is an entertainment aspect of what we do. And you do have to put the face on when you get on the mic and make sure people are gonna have a great night, you know? You're the person that delivers the quiz. We thought about what our quizzes in person are like and tried to emulate that and try and make it happen online. You know, the quizzes for so many people, its a time when they get to come along with their friends, whether it be work friends, or old school friends, whoever it is, and get a chance to actually chat and talk nonsense and have some some content to talk over and actually learn a bit more about each other. And so we decided that we always have two people on screen. We always wanted to have two hosts. So that when we were talking, if people were at home on their own, they could get involved with those with the chat. Twitch has a chat functionality where you can talk straight away and we will see all the chats and respond to them. We realised quite early on there was gonna be a lot of people at home on their own for lockdown, and what we really wanted to do was to help people in that situation, and so it was all free.
Suzie Millar 8:04
So how many weeks did you do that for?
Andrew Wildgoose 8:07
Yeah, we did it all the time, the whole time. We ran for so long and I think helped so many people and became quite well known that. Then the 2nd December rolled around and I got an email... I got an honour from the queen. A BEM
Suzie Millar 8:34
That's phenomenal... so I am completely clueless. Does that mean you put that after your name? Or it's letters that go after your name? So it's a British Empire Medal?
Andrew Wildgoose 8:49
Yeah. It was really cool. I ended up in the New Year's Honours List.
Suzie Millar 8:54
So, so amazing! That is such a lovely story as well, because the thing is people would have found such solace and happiness in that period of time. And so of course, you should be honoured for that, especially if you were doing them completely for free.
Andrew Wildgoose 9:24
From that first meeting, (it was really intense meeting obviously), I think from that moment on, we knew that it was going to be trying to help people over that time. I don't think anyone's come out of lockdown not being changed in some way. And I think everyone's had a tough time in some manner. And we want to just try and help with that community aspect. And we still got a great community of quizzers that, you know, we've met in real life now. And every time we're doing the quizzes, we still hear from them all the time, which is awesome. Actually the crazy thing now is we've got people visiting because there's quite a lot of people down south you know, from England and all over Scotland, who were taking part. And people are visiting Edinburgh now to come and do the quizzes to meet us. It's so nice. Suddenly... like during the fringe I met some folk that I just knew usernames online, and then they came up to me like you said, 'How you getting on?' I was like, 'Yeah, I don't know who you are'. And they would tell me who they are. And I just like, lose my mind. So it was it was really fun. And it means now it's sort of weird going back into into in person quizzes again. I think we've all remembered why we like doing in person quizzes so much as opposed to the virtual stuff, it's never as good as in person.
Suzie Millar 10:44
Over the course of 10 years, how has it changed? Because obviously, now a lot of it is virtual, but no... it's gone back to non virtual again? So you just do one on a Friday, 10 years ago you wouldn't be doing anything like that. So how has it changed over the course of the time?
Andrew Wildgoose 10:59
We call ourselves iterative, I think everything should be iterative design. It's why I really despise, not despise, this is the wrong word. It's too harsh. It's why I dislike anything modular, like old school money in banks and things like that. People who don't want to iterate and change, it's sort of like, well, you're already losing. And you're only holding onto something, because you basically set the rules. It's like solicitors and things like that, that's why you're able to still use them. But you're not iterating to see how much better it can be. And so for us, it's sort of anything we're doing, I want to be able to sit and change it as quickly as possible to make sure that it works well for the people that are coming into contact with; our customers, our businesses, our clients, and our hosts. We try and treat our hosts like customers, so that they can come and really enjoy their night. And I think that's probably one of the big things that's changed is that at the start, when I was just hosting, it didn't matter. But when it came to having more hosts on board, I think I really started to become a lot more focused on how we treated the hosts in a way that was helpful to get the best out of them. Without even having to say that to them. I never feel like I should sit them down and say I need you to work harder, I need you to be better, or I need you to do this more. It's more about, in my mind, incentivizing them to want to do that. And the incentives not being money. Like I said, they can enjoy their night, enjoy the people they're there with, see the reactions of people when they get a great question right or wrong, or however it is. And I suppose a part of that is picking the right hosts, so that we find people that get excited about those kind of things, and then give them the tools to do it well.
I think that's probably a big change systems in the back end has changed a lot.
Suzie Millar 12:45
Now that obviously you've got the business set up the way you like it. What's the next thing for you? Because you've got a we've got an award from the queen? Is there anything else left?
Andrew Wildgoose 12:54
I mean, I just think the sole focus has always been helping people to have a better time. That's... if I was telling people that, you know, what drives me and, you know, it's funny, I had to think about it for the wedding. Obviously getting married a month ago and talking about what was important for me at the wedding as well. And it's always other people's happiness - that has always been something I find so much joy in. Because I sort of, I don't mean to be that person but I have that drive inside me. I want to see other people happy. I think for me, as long as I get a sort of channel to see other people's joy, I'll be happy. Also I think we're trying to focus towards more towards those larger events. We've just secured doing a huge New Year's Eve quiz, like a big fat quiz of the year sort of style thing with loads of extra games and stuff. And that's the kind of stuff we also really enjoy getting our teeth into.
Suzie Millar 13:48
Do you still do it, because obviously, in the beginning, it was just you doing the quizzes? And obviously that gives you a lot of a lot of joy. And then you were able to sort of do that again when you were in lockdown, because you weren't the one presenting all the quizzes. But I'm guessing that the sort of satisfaction and joy from seeing other people happy is coming from the staff and the kind of wider feedback that you're getting from people rather than doing it on the day during the quiz.
Andrew Wildgoose 14:14
Yeah. I think there's an overarching feeling of 'the whole business is functioning well' and seeing other people enjoy it, seeing our hosts enjoy the quizzes, having a great time, for me is a really good thing. But I think also just knowing that the name of Goose's quizzes is a bit synonymous with good quizzes. That for me is a really big accolade. And probably the biggest accolade I could ever get is you know, people talking about Goose's quizzes and talking about in a positive manner. Because there's nothing like hearing people discuss a question to a point where they've had the right answer first and then they get wrong, because it's the best experience to hear that, because you then know that your questions are written well. People can just talk themselves out of a right answer. That's ideal.
Suzie Millar 14:57
What's your most favourite quiz question to ask?
Andrew Wildgoose 15:00
All right, good question. If you were to go due east from New York City, what European country would you hit? It causes so much debate. And then you also see people do this thing in the in the air, you know, drawing maps.
Suzie Millar 15:17
It's a tough question. Let me think. So do you end up in Ireland?
Andrew Wildgoose 15:23
No. Do you want me to tell you the answer? It's Portugal. Yeah, it's further south than you'd think it would be. And so it's questions like that I really enjoy where it's a good discussion. We call it 'at the edge of knowledge'. You know, certain things come to the edge of knowledge, because you have a good understanding of, say, America and Europe, if you're asking that question you should probably understand sort of roughly where the New York is. If you put together other questions where it's sort of more memory, like, if you're talking to a group of young professionals, the likelihood is they are somewhere between 25 and 35, maybe 40. And all of themgrew up with a similar set of cartoons say in that age range. And so you can ask a question about something like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And as soon as you ask that question like, which bandana colour did this person wear, then suddenly you see this kind of switch and revert back to childhoof. I knew this once, but I can't remember. And that's what we're trying to bring out with people. But we try and take them in a journey. So it's some questions that are fairly straightforward so that, you know, everyone should hopefully get them. And then some questions that really quite testing. So it's not just monotonous of Hard hard hard, it's sort of easy, medium, hard, easy, medium, you know?. So people don't feel stupid, but they also don't feel that it's not challenging.
Suzie Millar 16:50
Yes, I honestly, I just think your business is so cool. All the things that we've talked about are things that make you excited and happy. What stresses you out? Does anything?
Andrew Wildgoose 17:01
Yeah, I mean I get stressed on a regular basis. On a daily basis, I would say. I think it's always pushed me quite well. The big things that are stressing me out at the moment... I think it's like system stuff - marking sheets and things like that, because we've got 20 hosts. Now, there's 20 different versions of everything I have to have to arrange and setup. So that's probably the thing that stresses me out most from the quizzes that go live in the evening. I have to make sure that everything is running with the right questions and the right marking sheets. Since we went on after lockdown, we've gone away from paper and pen and towards phones. They submit answers on their phone, which personally I think works so much better, because it's a lot faster, cleaner, easier. It's less environmentally impacting because we used to go through like, you know, reams and reams of paper per week. And I much prefer it being on people's phones, especially because as soon as people get a pen in their hand, it goes in their mouth.
Suzie Millar 18:10
I know. And I'm sitting here with my pen, right?
Andrew Wildgoose 18:16
We'd give out pens in a box, and like, the boxes are sitting there and they're disgusting. And it's like, why would you ever put that close to your mouth? And you see people furloughed, like full on chewing a pen, and there's a part of me that wants to go over there and say, why are you chewing on that pen? About five other people have done that. So you probably can't do that right now.
Suzie Millar 18:41
So who do you have in your hive? It can be a fictional person, it can be a real person that you don't know or somebody that you do know. But people that kind of keep you either, keep you going or keep you inspired or people you look to for advice.
Andrew Wildgoose 18:53
Yeah, it's funny. Again, it feels like I feel like I ran the wedding like the business. This is awful. But you know, I had to pick groomsmen for the for the wedding. And because Alex, my wife had five I then was encouraged to pick five, so two best men and three groomsmen. I really find all those guys inspiring in a lot of ways, and particularly a friend Terry. He works at Skyscanner, actually. And he was like the first person that really talked to me about data in the business and how we can use that. Skyscanner is basically a data mining business. You know, that's what they do. And Terry, I remember we sat over pints one night years ago, and I mean, we're talking like eight years ago, because he used to play rugby together. And we talked data in the business and from then on, I think it became something that I started to really think about. And every time I speak to Terry, we laugh and have a good time and and talk about it. Sometimes I struggle, as you might be able to tell because I talk too much and talk around a topic and kind of like don't really say exactly what I mean straight away. I think people who say exactly what they mean, which Terry definitely does... he's never harsh, but he'll just talk straight to you. And I think I have a lot of respect for that kind of thing. Because I can be a little bit vague.
Suzie Millar 20:25
He probably likes that you're that you'll talk around a subject. He's like, Oh, I've just always get to the point, he's able to go around.
Andrew Wildgoose 20:32
Yeah, yeah, he used to, he used to bring me out on nights out when he had any kind of clients up. You know, you work a lot with Google and people like that. And he would bring me because a) I can drink plenty, and b) he knew that I would be able to talk them away, like talk to them under the table. So yeah, it was it was fun. I think the other side is, I've looked up to my dad a lot over. He was a civil servant, Mum was a doctor. So they all had very sort of straight laced jobs. And my sister is a solicitor, and I am a Qui master - it's quite funny. For a long time, you know, I struggled to have money coming in and keep my head above water. And then there was a point where I did actually take another job for a while, so worked somewhere else for nine months, and sort of almost packed in the quiz thing.
Suzie Millar 21:20
How did that feel?
Andrew Wildgoose 21:22
It was weird. It was a really fun job. I went and worked for a philanthropy company, running golf tours across the world. A bit of work in Dubai in places for golfing. The person I worked for was really, really good fun, and actually gave me huge amounts of advice across that time. And I think, lastly, he said to me, when I was made redundant on that job and told him I needed to go back to the pub quizzes, and he said, Don't not get paid for something just because you enjoy doing it.
Suzie Millar 21:57
That's good advice, isn't it? Because you would think you would feel guilty? Wouldn't you?
Andrew Wildgoose 22:05
Exactly. I think it's when I realised that because I do enjoy seeing people have a good time, people will pay you to do that. Because for us, we want to help venues make more money. And the way we do that is keeping bums on seats for longer. Encouraging them to have a responsible amount of drinks and food over the time. And do that every week, you know, to come in and do that week on week. And that's where we're talking about, we don't want to bring in people who buy the cheapest pint, we want to bring in people who will not even ask the price of the pint because that's the drink that they want and the food that they want, and enjoy the evening the way they want. Which I think is quite a hard thing to garner. But I think the quizzes do well doing that.
Suzie Millar 22:48
What has been your biggest, mistake, failure? Or some people might call it learning experience?
Andrew Wildgoose 22:54
Yeah, I think it was a book or something an article I read a while back, where it said, what if your USP is you. Your unique selling point, what if it is just who I am and when I was running the business on my own, it felt more like a sort of stand up comic or something like that, you know? That's how I was making my money. I was going to a venue running the quiz. And it was called Gooses quizzes which made sense, you know, because they were the quizzes that I ran. And it took me about I would say it took about three years of work. Just after I got made redundant from that job, I turned to my dad and basically said I was looking to make a go of it. Because at that point, I think I had to realise I had to bring on people I had to bring on Louis, had to bring on new hosts and start pushing a bit more. But I had this real dilemma about what it was to not have me as a host. I don't think it's even my ego. I wondered where I could draw the line between what I was and the business was. I think mistakes I made were when I would get quite personal. I think about things or take things really personally. Like I even wrote a story on LinkedIn the other day, which I know, everyone loves a LinkedIn thing. It was a true story. And the thing is, I remember being really hurt by someone saying he didn't want the quiz at his pub, because they tried another quiz before didn't like it. I was absolutely crushed by it, because I sort of was like...they don't want me. I think at that that point, I tied too much of the business's success and failure to just who I was. And I think that was a real mistake at that point because it just ate me up. You know, I'd be not sleeping at night because I was so upset by something going wrong or something going poorly. And now I feel so much more relaxed in that sense. I don't like when things go poorly with my business, it's not my ideal situation. But I know that there's things to be worked on and the next time we can do something better. And it's not an identity thing. Maybe either.
Suzie Millar 25:12
You were tying your whole identity up with it.
Andrew Wildgoose 25:16
Exactly, yeah, exactly that, which I think was. I mean, you know, I've named the whole business after myself, which is ridiculous. And it's probably the one thing that I wish I maybe would have done differently.
Suzie Millar 25:33
So what do you do to Repollinate? So how'd you give back?
Andrew Wildgoose 25:40
Well, like we talked about, I think over lockdown, it was very much trying to help people. Something I like is when I see people in bad situations and I try to help them get out of it. And I think for me, it's often not by subversion, but by distraction. That if you're focused on something and you're spend your time focusing on something like lockdown pretty much did for a lot of people, the best thing you can do is actually just just distract sometimes and just do something different. There's loads of stories that we've had, over the years of doing quizzes where, you know, the quiz nights for certain people, are they're big social things that they do in the week. So I think, for me, it's just being able to, to run the quizzes and give back that way. Because they're all free. You know, we don't charge for our quizzes, people go and do the quiz in any venue for free.
Suzie Millar 26:32
Is that how it works?
Andrew Wildgoose 26:33
Yeah, exactly, exactly. So yeah, we put our foot down whenever anyone says they want to run like an accumulator or something like that. Because for us, it's just, it's all gimmicks that don't actually serve the people best. It's things you know, like big prizes - they're not the best thing to do, the best thing to do is actually just run a really good quiz. It doesn't matter if they win or not. It matters that they enjoyed the night.
Suzie Millar 26:53
And they've hung out with their friends. And they've had their brain stimulated by thinking of different ideas of things that we didn't think of before.
Andrew Wildgoose 26:58
And, yes, I suppose on a personal level, I love games. I'm competitive. I'm competitive in a way that I think people like my friends will often like, mistake me for this. But I really just like competition. I mean I like winning, and everyone, everyone likes winning. But I really like good competition. So I'm like playing poker tonight, for example. And it's the first time I'm getting to play poker with a group of guys I played virtually with for a long time. And I've never played some of these guys in person. And I'm so excited. And excitement for me isn't if I'm going to win. Like I'm really excited about winning and excited that I get a chance to actually play a game with people. Because for me, that's a really fun thing to do. And it's a good recharge.
Suzie Millar 27:41
And that ties into the next question, which is what do you do for fun? I'm assuming that's it?
Andrew Wildgoose 27:45
Yeah. Yeah. I love it. I love a good game. Are you into games? Do you like board games?
Suzie Millar 27:50
So I love a good game of Scrabble. And I love monopoly, but I do competitive play. And to the point where one time I we played it for four hours, and I got cuts in my arms because I was leaning against the table so hard.
Andrew Wildgoose 28:03
Yeah, that sounds like my kind of version of monopoly right there. Yeah, no one plays monopoly with me because I think often monopoly, it's the person who's most keen to win will win. Because it's, it's a game of attrition. And the worst you can ever get with monopoly is when you're playing with a couple and, not to stereotype, but you often get the one of the partners goes, 'I don't really want to play anymore', and just gives all their stuff to their partner. And it's like, no, no, that's not how this works. It's yours, and that's yours. You declare yourself bankrupt and it goes back to the bank. But you can't you can't just hand it to someone else. That's, that's my little grievance of monopoly.
Yes. So I just love a game. I'm basically right there with anything with a little bit competition, I love it.
Suzie Millar 29:45
So basically, you have just never grown up and you are encouraging everybody else not to grow up as well. And that's the good thing!
Andrew Wildgoose 29:51
Yeah, absolutely. I just don't think there's any reason to be so serious. Yes, you know I'm also a massive fan of taskmaster as well.
Suzie Millar 30:00
We so we just discovered taskmaster recently and I am completely obsessed with it. I'm belly laughing, and I thought, you know, because we did the whole lockdown without it how I never knew it existed, I've got no idea. We only just discovered it when I'd had my son six months ago. And there's nothing else to do except watch TV. I was finally laughing after a year. I feel like I'm properly laughing. It was just so good.
Andrew Wildgoose 30:27
Totally, totally. I just think that I only got onto season eight. And then like religiously watched all the first seasons. And then also they have like New Zealand taskmaster, which is awesome as well. Because also, my wife and I, we didn't meet at the fringe, but we have a huge history of going to it. Like she used to work at assembly, I used to go to a loads of stuff. And so Alex Horne who runs it started it at the fringe.
Suzie Millar 30:56
Yeah. I used to go to his thing at the fringe. Yeah, yeah. So I knew of him before and then someone said 'Well he's got this taskmaster thing. How did you not know about that?' I have no idea!
Andrew Wildgoose 31:09
He ran it late night usually. And so it was always the show that we would go to like after going to other things. And it was always like really interesting people. It's so funny to think that he's now the assistant when Greg Davies is a taskmaster. Yeah, I'm pleased. I have another fan.
Suzie Millar 31:40
Thank you so much for coming along. It's been an absolute joy and pleasure to chat to you. Tell me again what it was you got from the queen?
Andrew Wildgoose 31:47
Oh, BEM, a British Empire Medal? B. E. M. Yeah. Yeah.
Suzie Millar 31:51
Oh, that's amazing. Congratulations. And I really enjoy your day on Friday.
Andrew Wildgoose 31:55
Yeah, I plan to. It's our sort of wrap up party for the whole of lockdown. That's, that's the plan here, to have a proper night out and go for it.
Suzie Millar 32:05
Good for you. Good for you. Well done for everything you're doing. It's amazing.
Andrew Wildgoose 32:08
Thank you so much for having me on. It's been great.
Suzie Millar 32:15
I hope you enjoyed this episode with us. I just love this idea that you can kind of bring back your childhood or the child in you or whatever it is, and that that should be encouraged and embraced with everything that you do. It's nice to make other people happy and to make other people have a good time and maybe we've just not been doing enough of that. Hopefully lockdown has encouraged us to be a little bit more kind. If you enjoyed this episode of Think Outside your Hive, please rate us review us and subscribe to us to help us spread the word. You can also check us out on the podcast section of our websites scottishbeecompany.co.uk and follow us on our socials @thinkoutsideyourhive.
Today's show was produced by Vicki Gimby with music by Alex Fernandes and Vicki Gimby.