Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rachel Shiffrin, Founder of Escapely, located in Las Vegas, NV, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Escapely offers virtual team building, live team building, and escape games in a box played scavenger hunt style out in your city! Our seamless virtual team-building experiences for groups of any size include an escape game and a murder mystery. Our live team-building amazing escape race is a cross between an escape room and the Amazing Race! Our Escapely Adventure Boxes are a clue-solving adventure around a specific neighborhood to play with friends and family. Solve to find out where to go next!
Tell us about yourself
I am an escape room junkie. I am our target consumer for everything that we create, so I curate all content to be the type of game I would like to play! As a little kid, before I knew anything about escape rooms, I made escape room hunts for my friends and family. I wrote and left cryptic codes and clue messages all over the house, one leading to the next! I didn't discover escape rooms until 2015 (all those lost years!) when I was invited to a friend's birthday party. It was love at first sight. While everyone else socialized and caught up, I solved all the puzzles (yes, her team won). Now I live and breathe for Escapely and can't believe this is my job. I love what we do, and I love our company culture. One of our core values is team spirit, and the attitude of my employees keeps me going even when it's difficult.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I would say starting a company from scratch (literally at my dining room table) that has now served over 200,000 people! I wore literally every hat at the beginning - customer service, sales, demos, cold caller, graphic designer, web developer, copywriter, game master, you name it. I hustled - I'm pretty sure I didn't sleep for two years. I sometimes can't believe I now have almost 100 employees on payroll, but this feels like just the beginning. There are still so many things we are doing and planning that there just are not enough hours in the day!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The saying "It's lonely at the top" rings really true. When we have hard times, I have to figure it out myself to make sure I don't kill morale. And I have people's livelihoods on my hands! I also don't love having hard but necessary conversations sometimes. I don't have an equal in my business, so that sometimes makes it really difficult when I don't have anyone to fall apart with or complain to or show how stressed out I am. Overall, I love it - but there are moments in which I would like to step aside and let someone else worry.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't start a business unless you HAVE to. By that, I mean you have to be so passionate about what you are doing that there is nothing else you would ever want to do. Don't expect to make money or have a flexible schedule - you will never not be working or thinking about your business and your employees!
- Don't rush to hire. I took my time and hand-picked every single employee. We pass on candidates even when we're desperate for help. And what you end up with is a culture with the right people who love the job and fit with the company. It's worth the wait.
- Remember that you are the only person who will ever love your business as much as you do. Keep an eye on marketing (it's easy to spend money that isn't yours) and bring your gut instincts to the table.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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