I'm a 18-years-old guy from Spain, and I've funded an Escape Room as my first job. People will sometimes do very weird things to escape, so every day is a fun one. We have two games available, with a third one coming this year. I'm the designer behind these.

Ask me Anything you want!

Keeping the proof private to avoid getting fake bookings or spam messages on the website, thanks for understanding.

Comments: 1082 • Responses: 35  • Date: 

xXChavGodXx957 karma

How did you have the money to fund your own business as a first job at 18?

molter001415 karma

An Escape Room is not too expensive to fund, so when I was looking for a job to be able to fund it, someone from my family agreed to lend me the money. I've been returning the money since we opened and I'm almost done by now!

MorphineBear343 karma

How long have you been open?

molter00273 karma

We received our first group July 2017

crispy_pickles921 karma

Have you noticed and unusual behavior when participants are under the stress of a timed event?

molter001819 karma

When the players get in there, their true self unfolds. It might sound exaggerated but it's true. If they are natural leaders it will show there, and if they can't really stand each other even though they act as if they love being together, it will be obvious once they get into the game.

ensignlee513 karma

So you're saying Westworld is one giant escape room? :D

molter00287 karma

Kind of, yeah! ;)

ArcticBlueCZ460 karma

You probably can't recycle one scenario for too long. How often are you upgrading escape rooms?

molter00534 karma

Changing or upgrading one escape room will need many months of design and a couple grand to get it working. For now we're getting solid numbers with our first room, and we expect it to be like this for at least 3 more years.

What we are doing is getting more rooms done without modifying the current one.. Our second game is played outdoors, and we have enough space to build another room where we currently are.

fanman888561 karma

Just a heads up, I really think you're being overly optimistic with your 3 year estimate. These escape rooms are only good once per player. These escape rooms are also usually done in groups of 2-8 people. You'll eventually run out of new players/groups fairly quickly, much quicker than 3 years.

I know you're a small operation now, but fresh content in a timely manner is critical for escape rooms. For reference, the escape room in my city has 8 different sets/rooms and they're changing/adding new ones every 1-2 months. This keeps the regulars coming back and bringing friends or new customers. Might be worth looking into hiring more people to help run the current business while you design and build new rooms.

 

Edit:

Ok, so I did a bit more digging. I searched up the top 10 escape rooms in Spain and found that 8 of them have only one or two rooms while the other 2 had three or more rooms. The top rated ER was the one with 4 rooms and the 2nd best rated was the ER with 3 rooms.

 

My suggestions:

 

-Based on more research, 3 rooms seems like the sweet spot, but if you want to be the best 4 would be idea. However, with puzzles, variety is key; always try to strive for more. Additionally, have a schedule for introducing new rooms (ie. every 2 months the new room is unveiled and have a countdown timer) and build hype through teasers such as posting a picture of a piece of prop or something to give customers a glimpse of the new room.

 

-If you can't increase in quantity and selection, then focus on quality. Have some novel scenarios that tie in with Spanish culture, media, etc. It will enrich the experience for tourists. As I was searching through your competitors, a lot of them were pretty generic ER ideas like "nuclear meltdown" or "time traveler" themes but there was one that was mafia related and had a kidnapping involved which would be nice for people to learn a little about the Spanish mafia.

 

-Keep the blueprints and props of all your past builds. Allow customers to individually submit reviews for each of your rooms and track the performance of all your ER. You can reintroduce your best performers with some changes, which would appeal to both new and past customers. This will also help when you are behind schedule or too busy building or thinking of new rooms, saves you from having to design something from the ground up.

 

-Try to accept as many forms of payment as possible (other currencies, all major credit cards including AMEX, paypal, crypto, etc). Might save some tourist a trip to the ATM, I know I've had instances where I ran out of local currencies and either sucked it up and paid the extra ATM fees or held off doing stuff until I found a bank.

 

Can't think of anymore right now but I'll update this post if I think of more. Hope these help!

molter00235 karma

Thanks for your advice! I'm basing my estimate on the first ER business that was built in my city. They've been open for 2 more years than us with just 2 rooms. And they are getting more customers per month than us admittedly.

Maybe things are radically different outside of Spain, but almost every owner I've met has had it for more than me, and they seem to be fine like this.

molter004 karma

About everything you said in your edit:

I'm pleasantly surprised someone took time to help me out even though we never met each other, thanks again!

Now that we're established, we are planning to get new rooms/experiences every 6 months or so. That's the most we can do with our current situation. For now the most liked room is still the first one, and it seems like we can milk that cow a bit more.

About themes, you got me there. Our room is a "Time traveler" one. But I'm confident that it's a really good one, and people like that kind of things. Our new room is going to be of a reeeeally weird theme, it could backfire but at least it will be original, right? :)

About 95% of our customers are from the same city than us, another 4% comes from somewhere less than 100km apart from us. The other 1% are tourist, so payment isn't a problem usually, we offer CC, Paypal and cash.

hang_humanlove328 karma

How long did it take the fastest and slowest people to escape from your room so far?

molter00647 karma

The fastest were a couple who now own another Escape Room close to ours. I think they did it in 36 minutes or so. It was impressive to see them work together, they worked amazingly well with each other, never questioning the other one or looking twice somewhere if they already searched there.

The slowest... Well, when they run out of time we usually give them 5 extra minutes to end, and we give more hints so they can experience the full game. We only had a couple teams so far that couldn't make it even then. One time we even gave 5 more minutes since they were the last team of the day, and they still couldn't get out.

Jagermeister427 karma

It sounds like your escape room is relatively easy, with a near 100% success rate?

I have only done one escape room and it was very difficult. I think my group was only about 2/3 done with the room before the hour expired. I asked the employees what's the success rate of beating the room was and it was only somewhere around 18%. That's super low and I bet this includes some people who do it two or three times. To give credit to this escape room's owner, it was very well done and I wouldn't mind repeating it. The first part of the escape our group is split into individual rooms. So if I were to repeat it I could ask to be in one of the other rooms for a new experience.

I like that your success rate is high which gives more satisfaction to the customer. But have you thought about making it harder? If people fail to beat it I think they may be more likely to repeat it.

molter0017 karma

We usually ask if they want hints or not. If they don't we just chill and watch them fail 99% of the time. Else, we try to get them to the exit when there's less than 2 minutes remaining. It's more epic than it sounds when you are inside,. Even if someone is helping you a bit, YOU solved everything and YOU got out with almost no time left, so it feels amazing when you open the door.

I believe they enjoy it this way, since usually that's the time when clapping, hugging and laughing occurs! :D

Gremz2297 karma

What weird things do people do?

molter00763 karma

From trying to picklock the locks, to climb on each other to get to the ceiling, to everything in between.

There's one puzzle where you have to put a Radio-Frequency ID somewhere on a shelf, but when they do it turns out it is a door and it automatically opens. We've had people scream, run or even fall to the floor from the surprise. It's definitely one of the funniest parts.

fragilebird_m286 karma

Have you ever had someone freak out/panic in the locked room? And then you had to let them out because it was an emergency?

molter00315 karma

It's extremely rare, but it happens. It's always kids that are afraid to enter a somewhat dark room or, if they hear their parents scream for a moment (meaning that they are really getting into the game) they sometimes get scared, fearing that what happens inside is actually real.

trthaw233 karma

Not OP but I used to work at an escape room too. The entrance door isn’t locked, so you aren’t “trapped”, you just can’t proceed without solving the puzzle. Think of it like a corn maze, you can always go out the entrance.

Unless you do a room where you are handcuffed or locked in a cage.

molter0027 karma

You are actually locked inside our room. Just for the fun of it :D

dangerousdisaster183 karma

I assume that you have been to many other escape rooms before you opened your own. What are your worst experiences? What is something from another escape rooms that you found really clever?

molter00308 karma

I'd love to be able to tell you my worst experiences, but everywhere I've been it has been great fun!

One thing I found really clever from other Rooms was one puzzle where there was a rat maze, and you had to remember the correct directions in order to get out. You then had to introduce them into a directional lock. The catch is that there was a tiny fake rat at every intersection, facing one of the 4 ways. You had to input the directions depending on WHERE WAS THE RAT FACING. So if you had to go up but the rat was facing left, the right input was right, if you had to go left but the rat was facing right, you had to input down, and so on.

It had me thinking for a while, and it's probably the puzzle I most liked.

Jopgo101 karma

What's your opinion on private reservations like only booking the room for 4 people versus having rooms that are up to 12 people and possibly having strangers in the same room? I'm really into escape rooms and my friends and I always try to find private rooms to where we can have it to ourselves but those seem hard to find.

molter0049 karma

I don't know any room in Spain that does public bookings. Maybe you should come visit the country sometime :)

Amishpplr0ck96 karma

Ive done a handful of escape rooms and always thought they were so much fun that i didnt want it to end so soon. What are your thoughts on a very large, potentially multifloor, "escape the building," game where you're given 4 hours to escape?

I suppose from a business standpoint it wouldn't be as appealing, because the cost would have to be at least 4x the normal admission, and people are less likely to want to spend 4 hours rather than 1. I just think it would be a grand, adventurous quest.

molter0052 karma

I hope we could do that and more, but as you said, from a business standpoint it's just not worth it. There are some rooms on nearby towns that have an entire 2 floor old building as a horror room, but you have 1 hour anyways.

ShardsOfReality79 karma

What's the weirdest way you've seen someone solve a puzzle?

molter00166 karma

We have a barrel with water inside. When they empty another bottle that we give them into a tube that goes inside the barrel, it gives you a wooden piece to advance through the game. There's a funnel close to it too, so they get the point.

One time a group was stuck there, so we told them through a hint: "You may have to get something out of the barrel." So one young lady goes: "AHA!" and walks past the water bottle and the funnel. When she's right next to the barrel she puts her mouth into the tube and blows. The water gets thrown to her legs, soaking her. She had to take off her shoes to continue playing but hey, the wooden piece got out too.

bink_42078 karma

What are your monthly operating costs? How many employees to run it? How many escape rooms are in your city? Do you go to others to test theirs out?

molter0082 karma

We don't need more than 1000€ a month for everything. We are 2, and we sometimes get an extra hand on busy months like December.

We're 5 counting us. And we already went to every single game on our city so not anymore!

wintersavenger71 karma

At the escape room my friends and I visited, we were told that one group of customers tried to bleed the radiators thinking that this might somehow be part of the game. Ever had anything completely idiotic like this happen?

molter0030 karma

/u/trthaw2 just nailed what I have to tell almost every week. "Please don't touch the object that says "do not touch", no, it's not a trap, yes I'm being serious please don't try to move the camera."

People will sometimes do that, the "trap" thing. We tell them something is not part of the game, then they proceed to touch it and focus on it because "maybe he wants us to think that".

najing_ftw65 karma

What will you do when this fad dies?

molter00127 karma

I love designing games, be it Rooms, Board Games or Videogames. I hope to be able to continue on doing it. I'm also interested in event planning if that does not work out.

As a last resort, I'm still studying bachelorship ("bachillerato" in Spanish, not sure if that's the translation) so I can be a web designer.

keplar64 karma

Of all your puzzles, what is the one you are most proud of?

Of all your puzzles, is there one people just don't seem to understand how you'd hoped?

In your experience with escape rooms, what is the most used or over-used puzzle?

molter0032 karma

There's one multi-layered puzzle designed to take about 25-30 minutes of the whole experience. It involves liquids and density. You have to put the liquids in order so they don't mix, then they position themselves depending on their density and you have to calculate the value of each number given some colored stickers there are laying around the room. Kind of hard to explain, but people often love that one, especially when they do it on their own.

We had some puzzles that didn't work as we expected, such as one where you had multiple RFID cards and had put one of them somewhere. They'd figure out where to put it then just try every single one. We changed some things so that doesn't happen anymore.

Puzzles where you just "add things up". We have it, you have it, everyone has it. It's repetitive, but it's just so damn easy to build...

zoidberg-phd55 karma

When you lock up at night when the place is closing, do you lock the doors so no one can break in, or so no one can break out?

molter0049 karma

My lawyer requires me to say that it is so no one can break in.

DKahnt40 karma

I run escape rooms too!

Don't you just like it when someone thinks they will get out quick then they struggle a bit?

It does give me some satisfaction.

molter007 karma

It's really fun =)

When they say "I'll be out in half an hour" and then they never get out it's even better.

cey2439 karma

How's the business going? I'd imagine escape rooms would be quite popular with tourists especially?

molter0053 karma

They are, but I live in a kind of small city without many tourists, so most of our customers are from around here. The business has its slow months, but overall it's going better than I anticipated.

methheadhitman35 karma

Has anyone lost their shit? Like get in a fight or something?

molter0048 karma

Not a fight but people will take it really seriously as in they will shout to each other what they have to do, sometimes inevitably being wrong and hurting the whole team's chances.

hammajammah30 karma

Has anything EVER been on the ceiling?! I have done three escape games now, and most had multiple rooms. I always make sure to check the ceilings but my friends ridicule me for it. I’ve even shined a blacklight up there before just in case because I’m still waiting for my shining moment.

molter0014 karma

Never ever on any Escape Room I've been there has been anything on the ceiling, but it seems others found stuff so... You do you!

Onepopcornman29 karma

Have you ever had someone find a new solution to a puzzle that you hadn't considered?

If so did that cause you to adjust the design of the puzzle/room?

molter0023 karma

Yes, I can't remember what did they exactly do but it bought them about 10 minutes of time they used to get out.

I can't remember basically because it has never happened again, but it was pretty much pure luck. Sorry to not have a better answer for you!

targayenprincess18 karma

I run gamification and fully immersive simulation based trainings for corporate. The challenge is that the mechanics involved in an escape room is months of prep and design and we don’t have the luxury of set up.

What are some surprisingly simple game elements / mechanics from your escape rooms that can be set up outside of it? (I.e like the maze thing you mentioned below)

molter008 karma

If you can talk with a local ER and go there with your employees, do it. It will be easier than trying to set it up yourself. Else, or if you enjoy the challenge, there are TONS of things you can do on paper that we just decide it's cool to do it with real life items. For example, this puzzle I just made can be played with just pen and paper, and someone who knows the answer or a lock for extra fanciness. The answer is a 4-digit number and that number is 9647 because if you keep on playing tic tac toe perfectly, the order would be right-down corner, left-down corner and so on. If you label the squares as if it were a phone or just in order top down left to right, you get that number.

Halcyon137818 karma

How often do you have groups of catty women that ignore members of the team that are figuring things out?

molter0085 karma

Yesterday was the last one, and it happens just as much with men. When there are kids involved they are usually ignored even though they can be the best player in the whole team. Yes, even 8-years-old kids.

Burchling16 karma

What if you have to pee... or worse?

molter0028 karma

Exactly what Ron said. You can leave but the clock won't stop. Not a single customer left the room to pee yet, and we've had pregnant women.

johntron300014 karma

What happens if someone gets stuck in an escape room ?

molter0023 karma

We just open the door for them, and show them how to do it if we have time :)

Tommy_Roboto12 karma

What's the most destructive thing you've seen someone do in an attempt to solve the puzzle?

molter0010 karma

One guy broke one of the handles of the exit door. It was screwed with 2 screws and I still don't know how did he do that.

CallMe_Dig_Baddy9 karma

Any good couple fight/argument stories?

molter0013 karma

"I knew you couldn't talk to me even if we played this." This should explain how the rest went.

Alawliet9 karma

When designing, how accessible do try to make it? Should a person who has no concept of escape rooms and puzzles still be able to solve it?

molter0034 karma

Our philosophy is: "If they can't solve it, that's their bad. If they don't have fun, that's on us. "

Even if someone is absurdly bad we try to help so they have fun, in the end that's what matters in my opinion!

If you are looking for numbers, about 80% gets out with hints, but less than 1% does it without them.

LiamGTR9 karma

Have you caught anyone getting it on in the room, not knowing you're watching via CCTV?

molter0012 karma

We legally have to tell that we're watching via CCTV, and so far no one has "forgot " we were there.