Turn your hobby into your business. These escape room fans did!

Turn your hobby into your business. These escape room fans did!

Psychopath Escape Room opens in Raleigh County

What started as a whim for escapist fun grew into a business adventure.

Philip and Paul Akers are member managers and Nikki and Belinda Akers are members of Psychopath Escape Room LLC in Mount Hope.

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The Akers’ introduction to the escape artists’ world began while casting around for something fun to do one afternoon. They hit on the idea of playing an escape room game. The live action version of escape room games originated in Japan around 2007 and swept across Europe and into the United States. Two or more players enter a room outfitted to fit a theme, such as a mad scientist’s laboratory. Players work together to discover clues, solve puzzles and decipher messages to complete the task and escape the room before time runs out.

Game players run the gamut from couples out for laughs to business associates on a teambuilding exercise.

Turn your hobby into your business. These escape room fans did!

WV SBDC guides game fans through becoming business owners

“We tried it on a whim and fell in love with the experience,” said Paul. “After trying our first room, we spent most of our spare time traveling to play different escape rooms. While reminiscing about our experiences and how much we love escape rooms, we decided to look into opening one of our own.”

Their research on starting a business pointed them to the West Virginia Small Business Development Center. They contacted local WV SBDC Business Coach Shannon Mitchell in November 2017.

Although the friends have other more traditional day jobs, this was their first business startup.

“We had taken a few steps and quickly realized we needed guidance on how to continue,” Paul said. “Luckily, the WV SBDC was there to help.”

The WV SBDC business coach provided the Psychopath Escape Room entrepreneurs with guidance and advice on the business plan, finances and leasing space.

“Her assistance with networking with other local business owners, as well as connecting us with capital opportunities and resources, has been greatly beneficial,” Paul said. “With her help, we’ve been better able to pursue our dreams and can now focus on the parts of our business we enjoy the most – our customers.”

Turn your hobby into your business. These escape room fans did!

Business skills and love of the game unlock success

Psychopath Escape Room opened its doors in November 2018. It currently features three escape rooms. In the 60-minute North Pole Meltdown scenario, players break into Santa’s office to switch their names from the Naughty to the Nice list before Santa returns from his practice run. In the Dr. Phil Paynes’ Medical Malpractice, players have 20 minutes to escape before the mad doc returns to harvest their body parts. The newest and most challenging room sends a squad of four to eight players on a heroic mission. In Saving Sarg, players have 60 minutes to retrieve the wounded solider, stabilize his condition and arrange for transport before the enemy closes in.

As of August 2019, the U.S. contains more than 2,350 escape room facilities, according to the Room Escape Artist industry report. Success in this field requires both business skills and a love of the game, said the report.

The Akers believe that passion and gamer experience help Psychopath Escape Room stand out.

“Being enthusiasts ourselves, we are passionate about providing a positive and memorable experience for every customer,” Paul said. “We have played about 100 different escape games. We appreciate a well-developed game and great customer service. With every game, we share in the joy and enthusiasm as each customer celebrates their success, big and small.”

To find out more about Psychopath Escape Room or to book your own great escape adventure, visit psychopather.com.