So the idea of locking yourself in a room for an hour with 4 other people would seem a bit too much but then 2020 came along and we have all been in a 6-month long escape room in our own homes. During this time we have all found many many novel ways to entertain ourselves and those in our close family. Escape rooms at home became a thing but the at home market is no way setup like the physical event space market.
At home escape room kits are really basic, normal a few clues and some items to cut out. Not something that can replicate the experience of the physical escape room but they require you to be at a physical location, the environment you are in you can only complete that room and they can be quiet pricey and around restrictive themes.
What if you could run your own escape room at home with the storyline, props, visual and audible cues all taken care for you. Well, this is what could be the escape room companion app.
The Visuals and Tech
So how could it work, watch below to see a visual and technology approach sketched out.
This weeks idea breakdown was a little rushed due to it being first week of schools being back. Normal level of detail will resume next week :)
Attending a physical escape room once for an hour will cost a group of 6 at least £100 and with over 1,200 escape rooms and growing (pre-pandemic) in the UK with an national average of 3 million visits per year.
For the escape room companion app you would charge access to the digital game on a per-game basis, making the app free to download and monetising via in-app purchases, selling each game for £10-£15 (remember though that you will need to take off 30% Apple cut and any sales tax). At £15 a game (a bargain birthday party fee), Apple take 30% and sales tax (VAT) at 20% = £8.40, doubling the game to £30 and the net to £16.40 would still be less than alternative options of less quality.
A great starter pack could give the customer a pool of props and access to 3 digital games for a fixed price of £99 (they could then purchase extra games via in-app purchases). Props will cost under £20 shipped and because this is a physical product the customer is buying this would be exempt from in-app purchasing fees (though as your offering digital games this could be a grey area so product offer is key). The starter pack would provide a net income of £59 per pack.
There are just over 4 million 5-9-year-olds in the UK (every year) and as parents are always looking for new ideas for parties and once a parent has a hit idea it spreads across other parents. Each starter pack nets you £59 - £19 for a CPA (this is a complete guess but you could adjust the pricing after more research). 1,000 packs a year alone would net you £40,000 if you then were able to deliver these packs globally scaling to 10,000 would result in £400,000 net as well as upsell of digital games once they have the app on their phone.
A future idea is that you then provide a listing of Pro escape room hosts who can facilitate an escape room party (in person or remotely), who you either get a cut of the booking fee or provide lead generate and operate a franchise model.
When you take in the larger market of board game families and the office team buildings it becomes an interesting market, it was really hard to find any solid number on global escape rooms but the range was between 10,000 and 50,000 rooms across the world (with an average annual revenue of £200,000 per room) which shows an appetite.
Targeted ads would be a great paid media option to attack the birthday party market. You could also run a managed service via services like Airbnb experiences to get the buzz going or live games on services such as twitch centered around game related topics.
Once you hit some revenue, getting licencing deals with known brands so you could bring the harry potter experience to your home... well then just take anyone's money .
So.... escaperoompack.com is available :)
The Origin Story
During lockdown I created an escape room for my kids and their cousins at home, it was hard work to put together but the kids enjoyed it and I thought there has to be a better way and this could be a great product. I tried a digital download of props to cut out with no digital element and that cost £29 (luckily it was refundable as it wasn't worth the money but was the only option).
I ended up placing clues around our living room and locked them in, I placed a Bluetooth speaker in the room and used a sound effects playlist from Spotify to build the atmosphere. Then air-played my phone screen with the camera open to our TV so I could talk to them in the room, and had a camera in the room so I could how they moved about and was then able to guide them to the clues. It was hard work but the kids loved it and it was fun to do, so I can imagine a managed service like suggested above would be well received.