Kevin Allen, owner of Xscape Our Rooms, wasn't satisfied with going about "retirement" the traditional way. After a successful career with the Air Force, a NASA subcontractor and an aircraft company, he wanted to blaze his own trail. Back in April of 2017, Kevin used his retirement savings to catapult his journey into entrepreneurship. Even though everything is on the line, Kevin did his research and developed a solid plan for how he would capture a piece of this growing form of entertainment. Having bootstrapped the entire venture, Kevin is determined to make it work.
In case you're not familiar with 'escape rooms', these are themed rooms that contain puzzles and games designed to encourage groups of people to work together to find a solution. The goal, in most cases, is to solve the puzzle and escape the room. Kevin explained, "The idea of escape rooms started about 17 years ago in Asia. They were originally developed as team building exercises for the corporate environment. That slowly turned into what we have today."
What Kevin has today is an amazing facility with three incredible rooms designed to challenge novices, experts and everyone else in-between. Xscape Our Rooms also hosts birthday parties and other special events. "Offering a party/event room is part of what makes us unique. We're also not a franchise, so that gives us more flexibility." Another unique feature that sets them apart is their lack of an age restriction. "Many escape rooms have age limits...we don't. We're also working on a puzzle specifically geared towards the kids. Very few escape rooms are doing this."
We asked Kevin about how the idea was born and what other businesses he considered before starting Xscape Our Rooms. "We looked at a few things for retirement age people. We considered a Harley bike shop, but that wasn't feasible because of the area. Two years ago we did an escape room in Jacksonville. We immediately liked the idea, but thought of a lot of things we could do differently. After doing extensive research, we decided to build our own rooms but rely on third parties for the games and puzzles. We flew to Canada and met with a group about purchasing their puzzles. We also purchased a head to head competition game out of Colorado, which is the only one we're aware of in the area." Kevin went on to talk about the importance of striking a balance between good rooms and good puzzles and how it's important for them to be challenging but not completely overwhelming.
Kevin encourages new entrepreneurs and small business owners to do their research. "Understand exactly what you're getting into, choose your location wisely and surround yourself with good quality people," he said. Kevin recently applied for a grant through SCORE and hopes to use that money for working capital and to possibly expand his facility to include additional rooms.
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