With nearly 150 reviews on TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google, Escape Capers YYC opened its doors in September 2015 and has clearly become a go-to escape room in Calgary, Alberta. Escape Capers hosts a live-action game where you and your friends find yourselves trapped in a mysterious room with the challenge to get yourself out. You have to search the room for clues, codes, solve puzzles, and work together to escape before the allocated time runs out.
Eric Boudreau, the entrepreneur behind Escape Capers, hadn’t even been to or heard of an escape room until July 2014 when he was visiting Halifax. He decided to give a local escape room a try and fell in love with the experience. “I came back to Calgary thinking about whether this could be a viable long-term business, and whether starting my own business was something I’d want to do,” Eric explained. Shortly after Eric’s return from Halifax, an escape room opened in Calgary and within a couple of week they were fully booked weeks in advance. “Seeing there was definitely the demand out there, I decided to take the plunge.”
After deciding to jump into entrepreneurship and pursue his newfound passion, the biggest challenge Eric faced was finding a location for his new escape room. Eric explained that it was difficult to find an owner who would rent to him, a location that wouldn’t cost six figures to renovate, and of course, that the city would allow them to be in. Their business was classified as being “indoor recreation”, a classification that is paired with businesses like a swimming pool, skating rink and bowling alley, as oppose to an “instructional facility” like a dance studio. “This greatly limited the number of locations the city would permit us to be in,” he said.
But what helped him through some of these initial challenges was his mentor he had through Calgary organization, Momentum. “Having a mentor was certainly valuable, though I mostly found it was an accountability thing,” he described. “Telling your mentor you were going to do something meant that I better damn well do it before I see them again.”
Although Eric has hit a lot of milestones after not even a year in business, such as hitting the number three slot of the top things to do in Calgary on TripAdvisor, and getting his 100th five star review, he said that the biggest milestones are yet to come. “The day we pay off all our initial loans, meaning the business has officially made money, and the day I can take a legitimate three week vacation because the business can run itself for at least that long.”
As Eric’s business, Escape Capers, is continually receiving excellent reviews and compliments on the quality and creativity of their rooms, Futurpreneur has no doubt that we will continue to watch Escape Capers take Calgary by storm.
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada