Hey There!

A few years ago I founded Constructed Adventures after a scavenger/treasure hunt i built for my secret Santa hit the front page of reddit. Now I travel the world building seemingly serendipitous days, marriage proposals, and occasionally large group treasure hunts!

Proof

I'm back again to chat about starting a business or give tips to plan a wild day for a loved one (Just in time for all the people who might want to put together a valentine's day scavenger hunt for someone).

Here were the secret santa days:

2015

2016

2017

2018

Here are my shameless plugs:

If anyone lives in southern California and wants to come out for my big birthday adventure, sign up for the Grand Hunt 3! It's a big bar crawl treasure hunt thats a fundraiser for my favorite non profit! Outdoor Outreach!

If you check my instagram ama proof, there is an encoded message written in blacklight on the back of Declaration of Independence. Decode the message and solve the riddle. The answer is a promo code that will get you $10

If you ever want to to help me run an adventure (and get paid doing it) fill out this form! Whenever I travel to a new city, I check here first!

Finally, I created a subreddit r/constructedadventures. It’s a work in progress, but the goal is to create a community of people who are helping each other create memorable days. Want to kidnap a buddy for his bachelor party? Trying to figure out a memorable proposal? Come here! I can guarantee you I'm not the most creative person in reddit, I'm just lucky enough to make a business out of it. So subscribe if you'd like to share ideas or just need help!

Need any help and ideas past this thread, I have a blog which i do a mediocre job updating!

EDIT:I made a bingo card/drinking game based on common questions!

EDIT 2: Boom. Bingo card complete

Also, while i have you here, can any one tweet at Ellen? I really want to get on her show. It's literally a bucket list item of mine and i feel like her interns troll reddit.

FINAL EDIT: Ok guys! It's been a fun 12 and a half hours. I'm going to go log off and stare at the wall for a few hours. I'm literally always on reddit so don't ever hesitate to question, here or PM me. I'll always try to respond!

I'll do another one Next Year

This is me right now

Cheers!

-The Architect

Comments: 584 • Responses: 117  • Date: 

Onepopcornman331 karma

In your last gift things went wrong a bit (weather and what not). When you do these professionally do you have back up plans for things as they go awry?

Has anyone involved as a helper in one of these things every really messed things up?

squeakysqueakysqueak438 karma

OOOO GREAT question!

Yes, I made two grave mistakes in the last secret santa:

  1. I didn't realize that there were three different trails with the same name (seriously, why couldn't they think of more names?)
  2. I didn't have my giftee's phone number, nor did i encourage her to text me immediately. They went quite far before going all the way back to their car to get the page with my number. For the professional adventures, since someone hires me, I always have a communication mode if needed.

I've never had any help completely mess up, but a buddy of mine who helped early on just ALWAYS seemed to have strangers mess with the envelopes he'd drop.

Knock on wood, I'm still batting 1.000!

EDIT: To delve a little bit further, I use the reddit secret santas to test out gambits that might be risky. This was my first way to test out sending someone into nature. with every adventure, I always build out contingencies in case something isn't going how I expected!

deejeycris17 karma

How did they react when you told them you screwed up?

squeakysqueakysqueak62 karma

I basically altered the adventure to end at the second to last stop (this badass little speakeasy) instead of the top of a mountain (it was cold, windy, and getting dark). They still loved the adventure and appreciated not having to hike a mountain in the dark!

it was for secret santa so u/BellsBastian was just happy about the day!

raybreezer9 karma

I figured I’d just chime in here to say that I learned about you after seeing u/BellsBastian’s initial post. I followed the adventure with every post and thought it was great that you decided to alter the last stop to spare them. I loved the idea of having them shoot a bag of sand on a branch, too bad it didn’t quite work as planned.

BellsBastian29 karma

To be honest, we were exhausted by the time we got to the speakeasy so we were happy to end it there! Such a fun, crazy day.

squeakysqueakysqueak17 karma

YOU'RE HEREEEEEEE!

HanginwithMattyD311 karma

Does the size of the treasure chest say anything about the size of the adventure? 😉 -adventurer #45

squeakysqueakysqueak306 karma

oh man, you ROCKED that kayak part.

I loved putting on your adventure!

And it's not the size of the chest, it's where you hide it.

Edit - Bingo. Take a drink

TheHypeIsReal81260 karma

Would you rather have penises for fingers or vaginas for ears?

squeakysqueakysqueak196 karma

asking the real questions. God i hope this makes it to the top.

Penis fingers for sure.

If i needed to, i could just wear gloves, pictures still look the same. Plus it could be practical if this desn't work out and i start a life in porn

artanis0018 karma

...are they fully functional or just decorative?

TheHypeIsReal8117 karma

Would that change your answer? Let's hear both

artanis0039 karma

It does, oddly.

Decorative get ears. I like having functional fingers, and the potential loss of hearing can be worked around.

Functional gets fingers, because ears getting pregnant is fucking terrifying.

The real answer, though, is that I'm going to run like hell from anyone that suggests they can accomplish any of the four possibilities.

ToxicNerdette39 karma

Wait, the vagina ears would also have uteruses attached? Wow that’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

is it though...is it...?

SeeisforComedy253 karma

What's the average cost to the consumer for one of your adventures if it's within the United States?

squeakysqueakysqueak560 karma

I was waiting for this one!

I charge a flat rate for myself that increases as I get better and book out. Right now it’s $2,100. Then the other costs are whatever it takes! Most people approach me with a budget. The average budget is around $5,000. The minimum I can usually manage is $4,000 unless it’s in San Diego and/or the client has ways to make things cheaper (often times, they might have hotel and flight points or have a spare car for me to use).

I like to stay HYPER transparent with costs. If someone’s budget is 5K and it ends up costing $4169.69 (heh), I charge them 4169.69(heh).

I always hate just giving flat numbers since there is so much conversation involved. Some people want more money to go to a limo while others want a nice dinner while others want something more grandiose that need a TON of hired help!

As far as the upcoming booked adventures, I’m working with budgets from $4,000 up to around $15,000. Regardless of the budget, I make the same amount

karliecube148 karma

I'd never heard about this before, so I just glanced at your site and other things and it looks like you do really, really cool work! What about consulting, what are the average costs for that? I'm trying to build a hunt for my sister's birthday, but tying it all together seems to be the hard part for me.

squeakysqueakysqueak247 karma

as far as consulting, i charge a flat rate of $350 at the moment (it understandably increases as i book out too)

with this, we have approximately five 1 hour calls (Though honestly it's just as many calls as we need until you're all set)

I walk you through every aspect of the day, help you flush out ideas and create the right kind of puzzles/challenges that your sister woudl love. I also share with you all the scheduling and budget docs I use and if needed, I can help you find help in your area to run the day!

past that, you can always head over to r/Constructedadventures and make a post with what you're hoping to accomplish! My big goal is to build a community there of people helping people pull off fun hunts and events for loved ones!

ripplelab18 karma

Charge more!

squeakysqueakysqueak12 karma

TheDukeOfSpook27 karma

Coolcoolcoolcoolcoolcool 😥 I'll never get to try.

squeakysqueakysqueak45 karma

Come to my birthday adventure!

or Sign up for secret santa next year! you've got 1 in 100,000 odds! Not bad, right?

Also...........Bingo

buckeyenut137 karma

Do you have a youtube channel?!?

squeakysqueakysqueak40 karma

I don't! I just dont have time.

I do have a TV production company trying to sell a show about what I do! so that could be cool if it pans out!

banditkoala15 karma

Please please please say yes to a show. I would watch the shit outta that show and it would be infinately more interesting than another bargain hunters, renovation, island, sea change, basket weavers house hunt show.

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

I know right?! I want it SOOOOOOO BAD

Pedigregious7 karma

Shit, that sounds like a great show! Good luck. I'd love to watch something like that. Fingers crossed for secret santa!

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

Thank you so much! It would be really exciting if it works out!

jphil_034 karma

Noice

squeakysqueakysqueak13 karma

BONE?!?!?!?!?

TheAriaWithin21 karma

Heh

squeakysqueakysqueak26 karma

Heh

TheAriaWithin23 karma

If I wrote a theme song for you would you be stoked? Naming a song “the Architect” would be great.

squeakysqueakysqueak28 karma

More than anything in the world!

I'm a lifelong percussionist and I also play the ukulele ( I own 4) so I'm happy to collaborate!

TheAriaWithin26 karma

That would be great! If you sent me a few samples of you on the ukelele, or even better some percussion samples, I can use that to get started. If you have time though, I can manage without!

squeakysqueakysqueak38 karma

omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg.

pm me please! Once the dust settles I would love to!

TheAriaWithin20 karma

No problem! I’ll give you my email, when you have time I’d love to talk to you about your music tastes.

squeakysqueakysqueak25 karma

I love you already.

Ballistica195 karma

If you travel the world....does that not just mean you are on a scavenger hunt for your income?

squeakysqueakysqueak116 karma

squishy_panda105 karma

You’re making my Parks and Rec scavenger hunt dreams come to life! I absolutely love scavenger hunts, and was wondering, how do you determine how difficult/challenging the puzzles are? Is it via the interview process or do you have people you run it by to test it out beforehand?

squeakysqueakysqueak89 karma

BINGO.

I love them too!

One of the first parts in the process is to send a pretty in depth survey to the client.

After that we have at least one more call before I'll even send a contract. It does take some time to figure out exactly what kind of day the player would want. Sometimes I'll get a client who wants me to build a "heist themed birthday surprise" for his wife. Turns out she'd probably rather have limos, brunch, and pampering with friends. He's the one who wants the heist adventure!

AnotherDrunkCanadian69 karma

My wife and I are opening up a VR arcade in Tahiti in a few months and a constructed adventure could be a fun way to get the marketing out there.

I would assume you are a pretty busy guy - especially after an AMA. How much of a heads up would you want before getting started on a new project?

squeakysqueakysqueak87 karma

At this moment, I'm getting close to being completely booked out through August 2019.

Also, I want to go to Tahiti very badly. Reach out through my site! I would LOVE if nothing else, then to chat about a VR arcade in tahiti!

That's such an awesome thing you're doing and I wish you the best!

AnotherDrunkCanadian53 karma

Awesome, we will do that. FYI - keep an eye out for French Bee - they are working on a pilot (pardon the pun) project that does flights from San Fran to Tahiti for like... $500 which is way more affordable than the usual $2000 from LA.

I hope our paths do cross. I have a wicked idea for a pirate themed adventure in Tahiti that involves digging for buried treasure. Maybe for my wife's 40th bday or something.

squeakysqueakysqueak49 karma

You're a man after my heart!

Please reach out! I'm always happy to make concessions if it means I travel to cool places. Plus you seem like a rad dude!

Hope to hear from you soon!

Konsecration62 karma

How much money are you making from this new business?

Obviously I'm not asking what your EXACT pay is, and if you'd prefer to message me your answer instead of reply, that's fine.

You DID say Ask you ANYTHING!

I just want to know how well you're doing with this awesome new business you've created!

I'm about to drop my first video game for PC, Android, and iOS, so I'm also starting a new company! (I'm not asking to compare... two totally different worlds! I'm just asking out of pure curiosity!)

Also, your new found job makes me think of this line from Westworld! "A RELENTLESS... FUCKING... EXPERIENCE!" =)

squeakysqueakysqueak149 karma

No worries! I'm an open book.

I quit my job and put everything in storage back in October 2017. Still crunching numbers on all of 2018 but it looks like my profit before taxes was mayyyyybe 20K. Not a ton, but REALLY great for a first year in business.

Looking at 2019, im hoping to get up to 40-50.

That being said, not having a home REALLY keeps costs down.

How's your business going?

EDIT: I don't know why I add spaces between every line....

Konsecration47 karma

Mine is a game company. We will be releasing our first game in a few months time.

Maybe more if our kickstarter campaign goes well(because then we will add more to the game!)

That's really awesome! 20K in profit is still profit, and for a company to make a profit in it's first year is a great accomplishment!

Where do you live if you don't have a home? Hotels/motels, your car, friends places?

Either way, congrats on your success!!!

squeakysqueakysqueak53 karma

I love videogames (and get a lot of inspiration from them) so you're doing wonderful work!

Most of my time is spent in hotels/air BnBs out scouting/running adventures.

When I have time off, I have a wonderful friend in San Diego with a guest bedroom. I just throw some money at him and help him take care of his dog.

occasionally I'll visit friends, or I'll spend the insane amount of points I've aquired on a vacation!

Konsecration9 karma

Good reference right there! <3 Parks and rec!!

Great answers! thank you for taking the time, and I wish you the best of luck this year with everything!!!

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

Thanks a bunch! I wish you the best of luck too!

I love small video game companies!

JustDroppinBy14 karma

[removed]

squeakysqueakysqueak27 karma

Thank you so much!

It's been a wild ride for sure. I'm just happy that I'm not getting yelled at on the phones in an office any more.

I'M NEVER GOING BACK

InAFakeBritishAccent54 karma

I'm guessing these adventures extend out into public space.

Ever run into interesting liability problems or have to shut down a good idea due to legal greyness?

squeakysqueakysqueak165 karma

oh for SURE!

every adventure is a bit of a liability in some form or another. I go to great lengths to mitigate risk and contain things.

I've never had to shut down an idea or gambit mid adventure, but I did have to wait for a better opportunity.

For example: I've been wanting to have someone snorkel/freedive in the ocean for a chest, but that's pretty risky. I live in san diego but i never got a good time/player. I finally got an adventure in Kauai, HI and found the perfect little spot!

I hired someone who was CPR/first aid certified to sit on a surfboard near the chest and intervene if it was necessary. Luckily everything went great!

TNEngineer13 karma

Dang, you really do think of everything.

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

Thanks!

Apparently i dont think of everything (read the first question on the thread) but i come pretty close!

Ditcka49 karma

Do you think your business is eventually just going to turn into Consumer Recreation Services from The Game?

squeakysqueakysqueak67 karma

YESSSSSSSSS.

well kinda. I oftentimes tell people that my business is like" The Game", scaled back, not creepy.

As i find clients with bigger budgets, it allows me to try bigger things ( i sent a woman on a private helicopter to a wild animal park where an otter came out with a clue.)

I did have one client mention "The Game". He arrived to the office one day with this waiting for him

simonkhtse12 karma

Came here for this. I would definitely love to take part if you are looking for background "actors" for a game in the Vancouver BC area!

Seriously, The Game is one of the most underrated movies out there.

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

I can't believe they haven't done a remake yet!

thanks a bunch! Fill out that form up top and ill reach out if i get an adventure in the area!

mawfo36 karma

Whats your favorite hunt or clue that you've created so far?

squeakysqueakysqueak109 karma

Love this!

My favorite clue was using semaphore flags to match hands on a clock (Look at the most recent secret santa) I thought i was original but it turns out it had been done before!

As far as recurring gambits, I LOVE using statues. Specifically if they're looking in a certain direction. I feel like thats such a cool experience!

I just did a big adventure in Kauai, Hawaii and it was AMAZING! The adventure basically built itself!

It was a large team game where groups had to hit certain checkpoints around the island. Once they found the checkpoint, they had to complete a challenge.

Land challenge involved one member hiking up beachside cliffs with a compass and walkie talkie while their team gave them directions

Water challenger involved snorkling and diving down for a chest,

Air challenge involved a zipline

Culture involved learning to play the ukulele!

once they completed all four challenges, they got the map to the finish line and treasure chest!

EDIT: I'm adding another to blow my own horn. I had a woman looking for her family on her anniversary (She woke up and they were gone). She walked outside and there was a black porche waiting for her. she ended up going to a helipad where a chopper took her to a wild animal park and an otter came out with a clue!

artanis0018 karma

With groups, do you start with them all together or have you started the participants separately and had them meet in the course of the adventure?

squeakysqueakysqueak25 karma

Both! It depends on the day, location, budget.

the vast majority of the time, everyone starts together. I put things in place to ensure that teams are spread out (the last thing you want is a big 100 person blob going from point to point.)

artanis0011 karma

(I didn't think about 100 person groups...)

Yeah you'd have to split those up. I was kind of imaging a dozen or so starting alone and after a few waypoints start getting grouped up, especially if they were going in blind, but are already friends/family/whatever with the other participants.

squeakysqueakysqueak26 karma

I will be doing a proposal that's disguised as an amazing race challenge!

One by one, each duo will be plucked from their individual thread and ushered to the finish line. Only the proposee and an inside man will actually be completing the day. Needless to say the finish line is someone getting down on one knee!

-TG-12 karma

Are you sure the proposee doesnt use reddit?

squeakysqueakysqueak10 karma

Yeah. It'll be fine!

redit04 karma

Hi! I also really liked the semaphore clue... I recognized the flags right away from my time in the boy scouts. I started working on the puzzle on my own, even though they already said what it said in the caption. I noticed what i think might be a mistake though, and idk if you caught it or not (or if i'm even right) but at least in that semaphore puzzle from the most recent secret santa, it looked to me like the ones you marked as 9:30 should actually have been 9:35 instead. Idk if you re-use clues or not (although this one is neat, and if i were in your shoes i know i probably would, or at least the same concept anyway).

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

Ooooo you might be right!

Here's the tricky thing with semaphore and time. when the minute hand its at 30 or 45, the hour hand is further over than you'd initially think. I might have gotten to up my own ass that way or just made a mistake!

I'm a professional, but I'm still human and occasionally tell someone to go east when I meant west (it happens).

Thanks for pointing this out! I'll make sure I don't mess up if i use this one again!

BATIRONSHARK36 karma

What advice would you want to give to inspiring business owners ?

squeakysqueakysqueak94 karma

Just. Start.

It's really easy to get up your own butt with "I need an LLC first, I'll get my first client after i trademark and get insurance and get a business account."

Just start trying to get customers. I got super lucky in the beginning, but for my first 10 adventures, i basically made no profit. it was all just to get better and get testimonials.

as you continue, the important things will present themselves (You'll definitely need to get business insurance and a trademark at some point in time)

BoomerBrowning85 karma

As a fellow business owner, this is SOLID advice. There are so many things that people who want to start a business bog themselves down with, and all it does is delay the start of you making money. If you aren't actually running your business, you aren't making any money. You do NOT need an LLC or an S-Corp right now. You don't need the name of the business set in stone. You don't need to hire a CPA yet. You don't need the website looking just perfect. You don't need a separate business account or a credit card or a business license...ALL of that stuff can happen organically as you go. Take that first client, make that first sale, sign that first contract. Just START.

speezo_mchenry20 karma

Thanks for this. So do I just take the money and put it in my own bank account until I set one up, get an LLC, etc.? I still have to track what's being spent on the business though I guess.

squeakysqueakysqueak28 karma

Yes!

Track everything!

I use google docs. Every reciept i get is photographed and added. there are lots of spreadsheets to track. Realistically you wont make enough money in the beginning for anyone to really care. By the time you get bigger, then you'll have the biz bank account.

SewItAlly32 karma

Hi!!! I've always wondered, where your inspiration for themes comes from? Also, how long had you been planning scavenger hunt prior to the big Reddit gifts hunt that got you so well known?

squeakysqueakysqueak45 karma

Howdy!

Some inspiration comes from location! I'll travel to a cool place and find an awesome bar or park or landmark that i just HAVE to use.

Other times I just think of a cool gambit or puzzle or fun way to propel my player forward.

Mainly, i just think "what would cause me to lose my mind if someone did this for me as a gift?" And then I try to pull it off

Before the first reddit secret santa, I really hadn't done anything like this! It's wild how quickly it all began and now three years later, I feel like I'm getting pretty good at it!

5btg31 karma

Serious question: Do you need an apprentice? I love this

edit: just filled out the form

squeakysqueakysqueak33 karma

I do have a few protege's that I'm helping create a similar business! PM me! I'm always happy to help and I turn away a ton of business because I'm booked out so far!

kiki-cakes10 karma

I 100% do not have it in me to start my own business like this, but if you find yourself doing some hunts in South Florida in the summers, this teacher would be the most enthusiastic volunteer!! I love doing stuff like this on a small scale for our church youth group, or in simplified ways for my school kiddos. I’d love to be a helper if you ever need it! I love bringing people joy! :)

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

Thank you so much!

I don't have anything scheduled in Florida but I always need help! I always encourage people to do things like these for kids! Let me know if you ever need any help figuring out any ideas!

5btg4 karma

Hey man that would be great. I'd love to chat with you and learn about some of the things you do / the way you look at it. I feel like this could be very popular in Austin, there are so many bachelor parties that happen here its insane. I bet something like this would be more fun than just your typical 'drinking at a bar' bachelor/bachelorette party. I'll send you an email tonight as per your response to my comment in your AMA. Cheers!

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Please do! I hear Austin is AMAZING!

I'm happy to do anything I can to help!

squeakysqueakysqueak12 karma

Also email me plz. [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])

I only check the form when I'm going to a new area. I'm happy to help you try to start something.

iate2watermelons28 karma

Do you play the Cones of Dunshire?

squeakysqueakysqueak31 karma

I refuse to play unless we use the expansion. Winds of Tremorrah. It really balances the game

iate2watermelons17 karma

Ahh agreed, so long as you don't forget about the essence of the game. It's about the cones.

squeakysqueakysqueak25 karma

It's all...about...the cones!

Ukneekorn24 karma

How do you convince clients that this is legit and not secretly an elaborate jigsaw-esque serial killer ruse?

squeakysqueakysqueak54 karma

BINGO - Take a drink.

It's not as hard as you might think. when it comes to hiring, I've got a good reputation so that's not the issue.

Regarding the actual participant who get's surprised, I have a LOT of conversation with whoever hires me. The goal is to make sure the day is fun and exciting, not terrifying.

I work to make sure when they get intercepted, there is something in place to put them at ease a bit.

for example: say they get intercepted in a grocery store. Someone will hand them a wax sealed envelpe with their name handlettered on it. That alone is more exciting than scary (as opposed to having it scribbled).

Usually my agent will say something to the effect of "____________, happy birthday! I've been instructed to give you this! Have fun!"

And then they walk off.

The initial instructions will say something like "Your day is going a little differently, you need to get in the limo that's pulling up outside. Don't worry about your car, we'll move it for you. You can ask your husband john about this but he'll just play coy"

Then she texts john and he responds with a winky emoji or something.

Hope that answers the question!

EDIT: I really suck at formatting

Sao_Gage35 karma

At that point I’d probably assume John has been kidnapped and I’m about to get murdered.

... Yeah I’m probably not the right person for a scavenger hunt surprise lol.

But this is awesome and you do really cool stuff!

sapereaud3316 karma

Gotta pre-negotiate a duress and all clear codeword. Also a safeword but that's for other stuff.

noo_noo21 karma

Have you ever thought about setting up some sort of premade or DIY kits with a set of instructions where people on smaller budgets can run their own adventure for someone else?

squeakysqueakysqueak42 karma

YES!

working on something for christmas 2019. I want to create a puzzle box that is tricky to get open, but once you do, it contains all the materials and instructions you would need to create a mini hunt around the house!

kR4in5 karma

Also a great way to start bringing in a more steady income in the background as you continue creating adventures! Never forget to keep learning how to improve as a business as well!

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

I agree!

Passive income is the new American dream!

xRnzz19 karma

What is your inspiration for finding riddles to use? Any websites or trainings to match them with your plans?

squeakysqueakysqueak33 karma

basic inspiration is just trying to figure out awesome things!

As far as puzzles, here's your jam:

the puzzlecache community (geocashing) does some REALLY cool stuff! My bible is This book.

I also love going to escape rooms to get ideas and I'm pretty plugged into the immersive community now. It's an extremely supportive group of professionals.

Also, if you have an iphone, there is an app called "Sidekick" That is great for decoding (and encoding) messages.

Hope that helps!!

FTFup14 karma

Have you considered marketing yourself for corporate groups?

As someone in the corporate world, I can easily see companies absolutely loving to have this happen for sales, marketing, and finance teams. Build in a layer of synergy, team building, and those type of things and companies large and small would climb over each other to schedule you!

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

Not really!

I absolutely love the intimacy of the small linear adventure. I used a woman's tattoos as the key to the entire day and frankly thats badass.

Also, oftentimes there is a bunch of red tape with corporations so I can't get away with things I'd like to (Nothing deflates an adventure like signing a waiver)

That being said, if the company is in an awesome location, you better believe I'll play ball. I just spent most of january in Hawaii!

millamber12 karma

Has anyone been disappointed after the final reveal, or not understood that the adventure the real prize all along?

Also, has anyone shouted “Bing-pot!” yet?

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

great question.

I got to big lengths to set expectations. Almost to the point where I'll turn down potential customers if they don't have a good reason or ending in mind. My two favorite endings are surprise parties and marriage proposals.

If the adventure is on the smaller side, I'll definitely allude to that during the day.

Also, unfortunatly no. (and bingo)

TinyJelly12 karma

What is your favorite pen and paper combo for clues?

squeakysqueakysqueak12 karma

such a cool question!

I mainly use Faber Castel pens for the basic writing and elegant writer 3.0 pens for the handlettering.

As far as paper, i usually go to michales and just black out and buy a ton. I'll usually go purchase their dark-ish brown paper/envelope combo

Pro tip: I recommend going smaller. I would rather have one envelope with 3-5 small cards than 1 big one. The reason i do this is in case i mess up, then i don;t have to start ALLLLLLL over!

TinyJelly7 karma

I'm impressed by your gothic capitals on the clues so I had to ask! You should check out Pilot Parallels when you want to get fannnnncy. Where do you get the wax/seals for your clues?

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

Thank you!

Yessssss my brother is an artist and he gave me these but I suck and i've been too lazy to get better!

Regarding wax, you have a few options:

  1. go on amazon. it's cheap but i'm not a fan of the consistancy
  2. You can go to michales. But they are ALWAYS out of red wax. I don't know what the deal is.
  3. You can go to a beer distribution company and buy the bags of wax beads (they dip makers mark bottles in this)
  4. Then you can get a spoon and stable.

pro tip - once the wax in the spoon is melted. let it sit for a bit. otherwise it's too runny when you pour it over an envelope!

TinyJelly11 karma

takes notes for wedding invitations

squeakysqueakysqueak29 karma

wedding invitations are 100% the reason why michaels is always out of red wax.

STOP GETTING MARRIED

TinyJelly9 karma

ALSO HI YOU DID AN ADVENTURE FOR ME!

squeakysqueakysqueak15 karma

SUCH A FUN PROPOSAL!

I'd better get a wedding invite!

also, bingo

SirFortyXB12 karma

Has there been a Cones of Dunshire themed scavenger hunt yet?

squeakysqueakysqueak16 karma

Not yet, but when it happens, It'll be punishingly intricate

CommissarLyrus11 karma

This sounds incredible! I actually create an annual town-wide scavenger hunt in my little home town! I absolutely love creating puzzles, clues, and adventures! I haven't thought about how I would take it further or even turn it into a business, but I get sponsored every year it's it's great! How did you know you wanted to take it further then just a fun little scavenger hunt for people?

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

First, email me. I'm pretty plugged into the immersion community and I would LOVE to help however I can. [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). I'll respond when the dust settles.

I really just got so tired of working a soul crushing job that I put up some safety nets and jumped. This biz was a side hustle for 2 years so I knew it had legs. I just had to take the risk and so far it's worked out!

abrahamisaninja11 karma

Leslie Knope?

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

who, me?

Also, bingo. take a drink

Luthalis11 karma

Do you already film any part of the process?

Have you considered asking people to record their adventures, do some filming of your own of pre-production stuff, and then paying someone to edit it together for an additional cost to your customers?

I think you could maybe pitch this initially as a discount if people send you footage of their adventure and then use it as promotional material. Once you get the process down, start selling it as an add-on (Like when you pay for your picture on the roller coaster). You keep the rights to the footage, and you can make commercials for yourself and use them to pitch the concept as a vehicle for television.

Edit: Clarified my intent

squeakysqueakysqueak15 karma

Howdy!

Yes I do try to film as much as possible. I never like to make any promises because sometimes video doesn't come out. ( one of my gopros is currently sitting in the pacific ocean somewhere)

I like to keep my pricing super simple already and just have an understanding that we'll all try to get as much footage as possible and everyone can keep it.

I do occasionally work with very private clients who do not want anything filmed.

Past that, I'm lucky that I'm already booked out pretty far!I don't need a bunch of footage so I just get what I [email protected]

I hope that answer makes sense!

EDIT: formatting

AnotherDrunkCanadian10 karma

To help with Bingo - You do not charge enough!!!

You are literally offering people once in a life time, bucket list-worthy experiences. I would be willing to bet with the aging baby boomers, there will be an increasing demand on these unique experiences, and it would not surprise me if they would be willing to pay 50K+. Someone has to organize it, so why not you. And you are worth it, right?

squeakysqueakysqueak10 karma

I LOVE YOU

and yes. most clients I have tell me I'm not charging enough. This is fine. I love what I do and I have bigger aspirations that making money right now

PedroCPimenta9 karma

I asked before, will ask again. May I work for you? Also, do you have any tips to make your own adventure for first timers?

squeakysqueakysqueak17 karma

Yes and no,

unfortunatly, i definitely can't afford to hire full time help

that being said, I'm always happy to foster others to start a business like mine. We need more fun stuff in the world!

Here are my hierarchy or rules i follow:

  1. Know the player
  2. Always make it easier than you’d like
  3. Keep instructions clear and concise
  4. No open flame
  5. Plan & outline the day
  6. Double check everything the night before
  7. Test risky gambits
  8. Great presentation is unforgettable
  9. Mitigate risk
  10. Overpay your help

after that, if you check my blog, i detail my methods.

then you can join r/Constructedadventures. I'm trying to build a community of like minded individuals try to create magical moments!

wackychimp8 karma

I had a very similar idea about 3-5 years ago but nixed it becasue I didn't think it would get off the ground. Congratulations on getting it up and running successfully! This really inspires me.

Would love to work with you on East Coast projects (I filled out your Google form) and share ideas in your new sub.

If there's one job that I could get excited about every morning when I got out of bed, this would be it.

squeakysqueakysqueak10 karma

email me plz. I am always overjoyed to help someone start a similar business. I turn away a TON of business every year because I'm booked out or it isnt a good fit. I'm always looking to send that business to someone else.

[email protected]

ItsDoctorNick9 karma

Welcome back! Your last AMA inspired me to build an adventure for my son’s 9th birthday last year. My two favourite clues: I built an Alexa skill so that he could quiz our Echo for a clue; and I built a fake call-centre IVR that he had to navigate, complete with a live guy from Fivrr that gave him the final code when he presented the passwords. It was a blast.

Have you tried using tech clues like that or are yours mainly physical?

squeakysqueakysqueak10 karma

HO-LY SHIT THAT'S BRILLIANT!

I personally looooooove to keep everything analog. I think the world is getting to digital and sometimes its fun to use pen, paper, wax, and seals.

Please head over to r/Constructedadventures and detail out your day! I'm sure people would love to hear about how you programmed alexa!

Exit- spelling

wjsofficial8 karma

What's the furthest you've traveled? Is there anywhere you're hoping to put on an adventure?

squeakysqueakysqueak12 karma

Furthest I've traveled is either to Kauai, HI or Costa Rica!

I'm hoping to eventually do an adventure in every US state. I also have a few international adventures coming up.

It's a dream to do an adventure in the great barrier reef before humanity destroys it.....

Lokmann4 karma

Where are the international travels gonna take you?

squeakysqueakysqueak14 karma

Costa rica, and then Milan, rome, or barcelona

(The client hasnt decided yet)

tough life, right?

Jester8148 karma

I'm the Architect

Do you say "ergo", "concordantly", and "vis-a-vis" a lot? Otherwise, I'm calling BS.

Anewdaytomorrow7 karma

Is your home office a giant white room? Where you watch endless rows of TVs and look like colonel Sanders?

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

Firstly, Bingo - take a drink

Secondly...yes.

VonDub7 karma

Sir, you are running the craziest business activity in the world, or one of the craziest for sure.

1-How do you persuade helpers to engage themselves in the hunt while they are doing their normal jobs? You pay them, you pay their boss, they do it for free...

2-How often they refuse to participate?

3-Do you have to ask some kind of permit to the local police? Have you ever faced issues with authority or normal people that ask you "man, who are you and why the Fck are you hiding things here?"

#if you'll organize a hunt in Italy (Europe) PM me, if I can be a helper I sure will help this lovely craziness 100%.

squeakysqueakysqueak15 karma

Such a good question!

  1. I always approach a manager telling them exactly what I'm trying to pull off and how much money i need to throw at them to make it work. with restaurants i just say "Hey, can i send 2 people to your restaurant at noon next saturday, have a theatrical server hand off this envelope and tell them to order what they want and everything has been covered. Then you'll charge this credit card with an automatic 20% gratuity."
  2. Most places are totally down. they get a guaranteed customer with a guaranteed tip. plus there is a chance they get publicity from it! Every once in a while I get someone who doesn't want to participate
  3. One of my big rules is "No boxes dropped in public" but if I am going to stage a bachelor party kidnapping or something of the sort, I'll always reach out to the police to let them know that if they get any calls about a kidnapping at this time/location/date, that it's me and its fun. I usually get a chuckle.

Ill be in Italy in July and I need help big time! PLEASE email or PM me. I'll be hiring people to run individual threads in an adventure!

redit07 karma

I'm a bit late to the party, but have you ever, or would you ever consider doing something a bit more elaborate or on a larger scale, assuming the client has budget for it? I'm talking about something that would span multiple days, maybe requiring some more significant travel as well, and having that all be part of it (for example, maybe one of the actors is a pilot, and the clue requires them to travel to some historical site or something)?

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

I want it sooooooo badly. I've been lucky enough to start finding people with bigger budgets so it's only a matter of time!

I really want to do one that spans multiple days and a few countries. Maybe plane tickets in a box and then something waiting in the hotel room when they arrive!

ScathedRuins6 karma

Are you the guy from the Endless Thread episode?? Just listened to that not too long ago.

How did you get in touch with the hosts from that?

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

That was meeeeee!

I had an old friend from college that messaged me out of the blue who said. There is a podcast about all things reddit. I reached out to them to do a story about you. kill it.

After that, I coordinated for them to come to DC where I was already building an adventure! I love Ben and Amory! u/endless_thread

SalsaSpark6 karma

This is not a question, this is a statement: you are my new hero!!!

This is a question:

How did you came about loving scavage hunting games and riddles?

I read almost every mystery book available to humanity.

Then I started playing a ton of point and click escape games, thanks Internet!!

Nowadays I love real escape games and played almost every game available in my city.

I would love to try one of your experiences and I hope I will!

And you had a freaking awesome idea to monetize this! Freaking hell Sir! Kudos to you!

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Awww thanks a bunch!

When I was a kid, my mom ALWAYS sent me on little hunts on birthdays and christmas. I was also a big fan of games and mysteries. Then it kinda melded into creating wild experiences for others! You should consider coming out for my big birthday adventure (the grand hunt 3)! It's the only open game that anyone is invited to!

ninjitsuko6 karma

I used to do these kinds of "adventures" during birthdays and romantic anniversaries. I always had so much fun trying to put my own knowledge of the person "to test" by creating such experiences. I relied heavily on geocaching and landmarks (specific places that we've gone on dates or they've enjoyed). Never thought someone would capitalize on doing these.

Oh yeah, my question: What are some of your favorite "tools of the trade" when creating adventures?
For example, I noticed that you definitely rely on props and cryptology/puzzles from what I could see from your responses and Instagram post. If you had to look at all of the adventures you've created up until now, which tools are your "daily drivers"?

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Firstly: you should start a business. I'm happy to steer you in the right direction. PM me.

as far a consistant gambits. this book is my bible. It has soooooo much cool ideas.

the puzzle sidekick app for iphone is a great tool as well.

I buy all my chests from hobby lobby (love or hate their practices, they have great stuff) and antique stores.

This cryptex is my favorite. It's reprogrammable and it has weight

as far as ciphers go, themexican army cipher is fun but usually needs explaining

hope that helps!

liquid_ice566 karma

In your last AMA, you mentioned that you use a gps unit to keep track of where they are in the game. I have been doing scavenger hunts for people in my area and think this would help the flow a lot. But when I was researching it, it was difficult to find a GPS. What do you use? Do you pay a monthly subscription for one to work?

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

I use Spytec GPS.

There is an upfront cost and a monthly subscription (I think the monthly amount is ($30)

I love it because i can set geofences to get pings when the player enters and leaves an area.

If you're on a budget, there are a bunch of apps like find my friends which can be used too but it takes away from the immersion if they have to fiddle with an app. Also they usually drain phone batteries

Stambro16 karma

I love to see someone else doing adventures like this! What is the highest amount of money someone has spent on one of your adventures? What made it so expensive? Do you front all the cash up front, or take an initial payment from the players?

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Biggest budget I've worked with is $15,000.

I take a deposit before the adventure to help cover costs (and lock in that calendar spot) then I just charge them whatever the rest of the cost is afterwards.

Honestly, the most expensive part is me (flat rate, plus travel/rental car/ room and board.

I'll work with some clients who have points or a place to stay or an extra car I can use. I'll always do what I can to make it affordable. Some locations like DC and seattle, I have friends who live there. I'll just stay with friends and then they client doesnt need to pay for an air bnb!

do you build adventures too? if so, email me. [email protected]. I like to train and encourage others to start similar business. I turn away so many clients because I'm booked so far.

biseln6 karma

Are you familiar with MIT’s puzzle hunt? Do you do similar?

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

oh man what they do is so freaking cool!

I would say that my days aire on the easy. Everything is scheduled. So if it's too difficult and the player misses the marriage proposal thats supposed to happen at sunset, then I'm in big trouble!

that being said, try to decode the message on my instagram ama post!

CodexLux5 karma

I love how creative your business is! This is amazing... Have you thought about franchising the business idea? Or how could you escalate operations without loosing quality and the personalized identity of the adventures?

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

Thank you so much for the kind words!

right now I love keeping it just me. My goal isnt to build some empire and lose the magic touch in the process. This business is a proxy for me to check off my bucket list and help others.

I already have a few proteges who i've encouraged to start similar businesses of their own. I had so much help with mine, who would I be if i didn't pay it forward.

I'm shooting for a different path. I would love to become more of a guru/D list celebrity who can help and inspire others to create wild days for friends and family

Lokmann5 karma

How old are you?

squeakysqueakysqueak19 karma

32! alllllmost 33!

Come to my birthday party.

How old are you?

dasiba5 karma

I love scavenger hunts and this idea! I can see where this could serve a few purposes; so what are your clients looking for? High quality fun experience/memory, team-building, a competition?

What's your experience/thoughts on creating those different experiences?

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

fantastic question!

It's evenly split for sure with probably a little more on the side of experience. Honestly you can find cheaper companies that have some preset team-building games but my specialty is trying to create big "wow" moments.

most of the time I'll send those potential clients to other organizations that are a better fit!

Miss_Hmm4 karma

How does your scavenger hunt differ from GISH?

Just learned of this concept, well since I as a child anyway - so Im honestly curious?

https://www.gish.com

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

https://www.gish.com

oh man! GISH looks so freakin cool! I don't know how I've never heard of this!

GISH looks like a big team challenge. I focus on small intimate days for 1-5ish people. I like to dive into that persons life and create a day that they never saw coming yet are somehow compltely prepared for.

I'll put a GPS on my player and then have the day scheduled out so they're pacing correctly and everything fires at the right time.

My main goal is to create a day where the world seems to revolve around this person. GISH is about creating a large scale puzzle hunt for loads of people.

Miss_Hmm8 karma

Okay that makes sense. That sounds like a wonderful adventure. I like how it is geared to your clients. Thank you.

BTW the creator of GISH - Misha Collins - has won Guinness Records due to it. I only learned of it because Misha is in Supernatural (fangirl moment).

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Im fangirling a little too.

I really wanna participate

RustyShaklefjord4 karma

Are you two lovers? Also you look like Micheal Rosenbaum and Kit Harrington

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

god I wish. u/MrRoyalScotsman is a FOX.

unfortunately we're both straight and he's also married. soooooooo....

By thank you for the look alike compliment!

Cardboardkitty4 karma

Where do you get your cryptographs? I keep trying to find one but Google and amazon just give me books on cryptography!

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

what are you looking for? amazon and ali express are where I find everything.

Start here and look at related items

kitikitish4 karma

Care to share your favorite recipe?

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

oh for SURE!

DATE NUT BARS

1 cup melted butter

2 cup unpacked light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs beaten

3 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups chopped dates

1 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter when cool stir in sugar. Let cool and then add whipped eggs and vanilla.

then add flour, salt, baking powder, dates and nuts...

bake in 9x13 greased and floured glass pan at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK !!!!!

toothpick comes out clean. cut while warm. roll in powder sugar. freeze well.

I personally don't like them rolled in powdered sugar because I always have a coughing fit but to each their own.

ps - these will make you fat

ProtagonistN3 karma

Do you do these for Europe as well?

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

I'll be running a marriage proposal adventure in Italy in July!!

theizzeh3 karma

What would you do if your secret santa was day in New York or Florida? (So far you’ve had places decently close to you)

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Yeah i've gotten super lucky that it's all on the west cost.

It's a boring answer, but i'd treat it all the same. There really wouldn't be a big difference between reno and another city on the east coast that I'm unfamiliar with!).

I kinda hope I get a small town in the midwest next year! I think it could be really fun to pull something off!

wrecked_cookie3 karma

Have you ever had to turn down a potential client because you weren't comfortable with their intent or ideas? Not merely the wrong client type (as in workplace teams), but something about that specific person/adventure just didn't sit right with you?

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Not quite.

I've turned down a few marriage proposals because I just didn't think they were dating long enough. I'll also turn away people who put the money and budget as the primary focus (I.e - I wont have a conversation with you until you tell me how much this will cost.) Working with people like that really hamstrings the creative process. I'm super open abut cost and budget, but this is about creating an amazing day!

AnAngryBirdMan3 karma

Have you ever heard of Fenn's gold ( r/findingfennsgold )? I feel like it's the ultimate nature scavenger hunt.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Yes I have and i think it's really stupid.

I set a lot of rules for myself and one of them is "keep instructions clear."

Anyone can just drive/hike out to some remote location and write some stupidely cryptic message about what they see.

My endgame goal is to create something similar. Except instead of one paragraph of "go somewhere in the state of wyoming until you see a mountain and a barn and a dog peeing on a fencepost" It'll be a long winding puzzle hunt spanning many countries (Think national treasure). I want mine to be beatable, just very very time consuming.

Plus I dont want anyone to die on my treasure hunt.

hope that answer isn't to snarky

GeauxAllDay3 karma

This is absolutely genuis, are you looking for a partner?!

jk

But seriously, how did were you able to explode in popularity? Strickly through reddit?

Edit- Just in case I'm in rule violations, I am 100% joking about asking him/her for partners in the business.

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

unfortunately no!

im making just enough to keep me afloat! I tend to hit the front page of reddit 1-2 times a year which does it. Between that and podcasts/news stories, I stay booked out really far!

Because I'm booked out so far, it kinda of keeps the momentum going and compounding my success!

drprettywings2 karma

Was that you on Shark Tank?? I absolutely love scavenger hunts and can't wait to book you for an event!

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

No! That was Adventure Hunt.

I LOVE what they're doing. What i do is much more personalized and single serving. Think of me like the etsy to their amazon.

CaptainTR8R2 karma

What’s your opinion on Cicada 3301?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

I think it's super cool and I'm definitely not smart enough to figure it out.

The dreamer in me loves the idea that it's an NSA recruitment tool, but more realistically it's probably just a smart and fun group of people doing something cool for the masses

Shryke012 karma

Such a great AMA! I am originally from Tempe, AZ, so seeing all the cool places you used in Arizona for your adventures was like a mini adventure down memory lane for me. You have inspired me to try and put together something like this for my wife on our anniversary. The challenge will be, that she is about 95% visually impaired (she uses a cane, and can see shapes/shadows). Do you have any suggestions for resources to create puzzles/clues that involve senses other than sight? Thanks and good fortune!

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

OH hell yes!

Such a fun cool challenge! Please head over to r/Constructedadventures and write a help post with those parameters!

Depending on how challenging you'd like to make it, I have always wanted to do something with morse code. having everything in audio could be really fun. Maybe giving her a tape player in the beginning and everywhere she goes, there is another tape with instructions you've pre recorded.

Im always happy to hop on the phone and chat real quick to help come up with ideas!