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Beyond Breakout

Beyond Breakout

New unique escape room experience comes to Newtown with Business Wales support.

Faced with redundancy and keen to utilise their experience of developing bespoke games, Lorna Morris and Jo Woodall decided to start their own escape room business in Newtown. Beyond Breakout launched in January 2020 with support from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service.

  • successful start
  • £10,000 secured from the Start-Up Loans Company
  • 2 jobs

Introduction to business

Beyond Breakout is the creation of Lorna Morris and Jo Woodall who, after years spent working in marketing, events and teaching, decided to utilise their inquisitive minds and love for puzzles to create a breakout game experience in Newtown.

Having designed and built 4 successful games across Mid Wales, the entrepreneurial pair decided to step it up and launch one of their own.

Beyond Breakout is an escape room experience, featuring unique games designed by Lorna and Jo, using as many reclaimed and re-purposed materials as possible. The business also launched a VR room in March 2020 and is looking to add further games and experiences to the offering.

Why did you decide to set up your own business?

We had worked with each other for the last three years, but, unfortunately, we were both made redundant in July 2019. Whilst in employment together, we were asked to build some escape rooms for our employer, which we designed and ran successfully for two years.

Going through the redundancy process meant that we needed to contemplate our next career step. Two things soon became apparent: we enjoyed working together and we thoroughly adored building and running escape rooms, so we decided we wanted to continue doing this.

What challenges did you face?

Our main challenge was finances. Obviously, setting up a business and not having a monthly wage was a very scary prospect. With [our Business Wales Relationship Manager] Rowan’s support, we completed a cashflow forecast and felt that our finances would be ok. However, as we went along, we realised that there were some things that we hadn’t considered such as paying for an architect and building regulations.

Finding the right premises to run our business in our preferred location, with parking, and at what we could afford, was also a challenge. Once we secured the correct premises, we then had the challenge of relying on the landlord to complete the necessary work, such as installing toilets and a kitchen – this took a lot longer than we thought. As a result, our opening date was moved – several times. While we originally thought we would be open in August 2019, we didn’t actually open until January 2020 as everything took a lot longer than we had envisaged.

Business Wales support

Business Wales Relationship Manager Rowan Jones helped Lorna and Jo with the initial idea development. He supported the entrepreneurs with their business plan, marketing and financial forecasting, enabling them to secure a package of finance from a number of different sources, including the Start-Up Loans Company and NatWest Women in Business.

Rowan also assisted with finding and securing the right property for the business, as well as negotiating lease terms and conditions.

Outcomes

  • successful start
  • £10,000 secured from the Start-Up Loans Company
  • 2 jobs

Rowan’s support has been completely invaluable. From the very first meeting, he listened to our very sketchy ideas, made us feel comfortable to ask him any questions, and guided us through what we needed to do. This has included supporting us to complete a cashflow forecast and updating it as the project progressed, developing a business plan, completing a partnership agreement and leading us to the Start-Up Loans Company, where we successfully secured a £10,000 loan.

Rowan also signposted us to REACT, which we had never heard of, to see if we could use funding to help with some training. Unfortunately, due to our location, there were no courses relevant for us to make use of that funding. Rowan has always been excellent at responding to our emails whenever we have had a query and has always tried to find information out for us or put us in contact with people who may be able to help.

More recently, he has been proactive and invaluable in trying to find us help to survive the COVID-19 outbreak.

Future plans and ambitions

We are looking to open a further two escape rooms, bringing our total to four. We are also planning to employ some contract and flexi staff.

Additionally, we would like to take our ideas into schools by developing escape room type puzzles linked to school curriculum.

If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.

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