Chamber Insider Blog

Small Business Finalist Spotlight: Exit Plan

Thank you to Kathryn of Exit Plan: An Escape Room Adventure! Congratulations.
Register here for the Small Business Awards on November 2, 2017. 

1.  Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today?

In December of 2015, our friends Bruce and Stacie Hardy invited us to go to an Escape Room in DC with our sons.  The six of us had never heard of the concept, but thought it sounds interesting.  We absolutely loved it!  We discovered another in Alexandria and went there two weeks later.  The ride on a Thursday night took us an hour and a half from Ashburn, and over dinner, the four of us agreed that Loudoun County needed one, and if we didn’t do it, someone else would. (We were right.  Three more have opened since we did). We did a fairly extensive job researching the history of Escape Rooms, and the viability of the business, and decided to take a chance.  Somehow, between mid-January and April 22 of 2016, we developed a concept, found a space, built it out, and opened our first room, Safe House to the public.  It was a whirlwind!  Then we waited to see how the market would react.  They loved it!  Since then, we have expanded to four rooms, and business has continued to increase.  While our regular, weekend business has continued to expand, our largest area of growth has been our Corporate Team Building.  Companies large and small have discovered that Escape Rooms, by their nature, are the perfect team building activity.  And it is fun!  We are looking forward to an exciting Holiday season and can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

2.  What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?

Starting and running a small business is a labor of love.  You do it because you are passionate about it, and you hope that others will share that passion.  Winning a Small Business Award is a huge validation that the time and effort we have committed to this has been recognized by others.  It is such an honor to be recognized as a finalist, and winning would be even more exciting.

3.  If you weren’t running your own business/working at this business, what would you be doing?

Interestingly, we all have day jobs.  I am a marketing consultant; my husband is a commercial real estate developer; my partner Bruce is V.P. of Sales for a Drone Manufacturer, and Stacie is a pharmaceuticals rep.

4.  What book are you reading right now? / What is your favorite book?

I am currently reading, for the 100th time, Simple Abundance.  I just finished “All The Missing Girls” by Megan Miranda.  My favorite book is still “The Stand” by Stephen King

5.  If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?

Read; visit wineries with friends; sleep.

6.  What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?

Having the right people working for us.  Not that it is a small thing, but I don’t think we knew when we started how critical to the overall experience our staff would be.  We thought it was all about the creativity of the rooms, attention to detail, and the puzzles themselves.  Those are important, but we have discovered that our staff is what truly makes the experience memorable.  Nearly every review we receive mentions our staff.  They are wonderful.

7.  What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?  An actress.

8.  Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?

My father.  He has been there my whole life to ensure me that I can do anything I set my mind to. And that it didn’t matter what it was, only that I give it my all.  One of his favorite sayings is “if you can’t be the tallest tree on the mountain, be the greenest bush in the valley.”  My strong work ethic comes directly from him.

9.  What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?

Definitely the people.  The customers, as well as the business community around us.  Everyone is so embracing and has made the past year and a half truly one of the most rewarding I have ever experienced.

10.  If you’re not in the office where can we find you?  Watching my son play baseball.

11.  What is your favorite weekend activity in Loudoun County?

We love exploring all of the amazing food, beverage and entertainment options Loudoun County now offers. I moved to Ashburn 22 years ago.  At that point, the only non-fast food restaurant was the Ashburn Pub.  It is still a family favorite, but it is nice to have a few more options.

Thank you to Kathryn of Exit Plan: An Escape Room Adventure! Congratulations.
Register here for the Small Business Awards on November 2, 2017.