You must be quick on your feet when you are suddenly the hero of your own adventure. Navigating specially designed spaces, you must solve a series of puzzles and follow the clues to advance to the next room and eventually make your way out! Exercising your brain at the Alaska Escape Rooms involves a lot more than just playing the games, you must rely on teamwork and communication skills with fellow adventurers.
Graeme Deishl has made a family business out of creativity and ingenuity. With his daughters, they built their first escape room Raven’s Eye from scratch. In their sublevel establishment off of 5th Avenue, they added Conjured Kingdoms, a collaboration with another Alaskan. Everything is custom-made, including puzzle designs, sound effects, and props. Deishl sees escape rooms as more than entertainment, he sees them as a tool corporations can use to improve communications skills, discover team members’ strengths, and build positive group experiences.
Deishl’s history with the Alaska Small Business Development Center [SBDC] started in 2017 while founding the Alaska Escape Rooms. He was attending a 48-hour business start-up event with his oldest daughter where he learned about the services provided by the Alaska SBDC. When starting the Alaska Escape Room, Deishl consulted with his Alaska SBDC Business Advisor on anything he could think of, from practical approaches to business needs to funding and grant opportunities. Thanks to the solid business foundation Deishl built with the help of the Alaska SBDC, the Alaska Escape Room has been successful, ranking as one of the top 100 escape rooms in the nation, and winning various other awards.
“Our [Alaska] SBDC advisor Allan [Carraway] has helped us secure grants we didn’t even know about, worked out ways to expand our services, and worked tirelessly to help keep us in business when it felt like the whole world was against us. When people ask me for advice on starting businesses I say that even if you make the best cupcakes in the world you only know 10% of what you need to know to start a business call the [Alaska] SBDC and find yourself an advisor.”
When the COVID-19 Pandemic started and Deishl once again turned to the Alaska SBDC to help his business survive. Deishl and his advisor worked on applications and grants to not only keep the business afloat but continue to support his employees as well. Deishl also saw an opportunity to evolve his business plan to not be dependent on his stationary location by building portable games and activities to encourage team building and communication. By collaborating with local bed and breakfasts and lodging businesses, Deishl envisions hosting murder mystery dinners or corporate fundraisers.
“Our success is as exciting as it is humbling and it all started with a dad who just wanted to spend more time with his daughters,” Deishl remarked.