It may be hard to believe but these escape rooms started life as a birthday present that got out of hand! My girlfriend Vicky is an incredibly social person who has a very close bond with her friends and family. Her Birthday is in May and our plan was to see all her friends and family before heading off to Amsterdam for a surprise trip but obviously lockdown put a stop to all our plans.
Vicky was understandably gutted to be spending her 28th birthday in our flat without seeing her nearest and dearest so I knew I needed to come up with something... and so Trapped In The Web's first rooms were born!
After already spending a month in lockdown, I knew that everybody was bored of quizzes so I needed a new idea. That's when it clicked... I could build some virtual escape rooms and have her friends and family compete against one another to escape!
I got to work building the first room and absolutely loved it! I had so much fun coming up with different puzzles and building a room that took the player on a journey that wasn't linear - I loved playing on the challenge of the back-and-forth nature of the form to make the game more interesting, the last thing I wanted was for it to come out like a 1980's "choose your own adventure" game!
The first four rooms were all full of in-jokes and references to Vicky that her friends and family would enjoy. All the rooms were themed around things that Vicky loves (Theatre and cruise ships) or things from her life (her office and her old school).
I built Zoom meeting ID's into the game and had all the teams log in to that Zoom chat once they completed their room. Completing the rooms would get all the teams into the video chat where they would then help Vicky do a miniature escape room around our flat as a sort of "grand finale". I have later found out that her friends and family were expecting me to propose at the end of the escape room so I think I let them all down by not dropping to one knee!
Check out the video below to see Vicky taking on her mini escape challenge around our flat after all her friends had finished their virtual escape rooms. Not only did she have to solve the puzzles whilst on a Zoom with all her friends, she also had to deal with my dodgy camerawork and commentary! Safe to say a few cocktails were involved too!
After playing, everybody involved said that I needed to share these rooms with the world so here we are! I removed all the in-jokes and personal references from the rooms and they became my first four online escape rooms; Cabin Fever, A Night At The Theatre, School's Out and Out Of Hours. I still love making these rooms so I'm constantly designing new ones. Over the last year I've added Space Race, Lockdown Breakout, Escape Fest and Christmas Party Conundrum to the roster!
I was totally overwhelmed by how popular these rooms became but I'm so glad that people are enjoying them and am exceptionally pleased that this little project has become a small part of easing peoples lockdown blues and going forward, becoming a perfect way to bring people together over distance as a perfect family night in from different households or team-building activities for people that are working remotely!
After a successful start to Trapped In The Web, I took on the business' biggest challenge yet as I enter The Den seeking investment from one of the Dragons. It was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life for sure and it really is as scary as it looks! Watching the episode, it wasn't quite how I remember it but I suppose that's the case when you're in the Den for an hour and a half and there's only 15 minutes of space on the show!
I was lucky enough to receive two offers, one from Sara Davies who offered all the money for twice the equity, one from Touker Suleyman who offered £20,000 more than I asked for, but for three times the equity. After a chat with the wall I decided that 15% of the business was too high a price and Sara's enthusiasm and passion for the business had shone through from the outset - I knew I'd be mad to turn down an opportunity to work with her!
I wasn't wrong, Sara has been a huge asset to Trapped In The Web since filming Dragon's Den back in September and you can see how much the business has grown from our new look site and improved rooms! We've also really grown our group booking offering for small to large groups and corporate team building. Why not check it all out for yourself? You can also follow me on Twitter @DaveEscapes