Welcome to the second in the IR “A Day in the Life Of…” series; today we learn more about the team behind Time Trap Escape Rooms and what it takes to run such an exciting business.
Say hello to Katie and Andrew, the founders of TimeTrap who will take us on our journey today…
IR: Running escape rooms is a big undertaking. How did all of this begin?
Andrew: “We started off running pop-up events; some people might remember us from Reading Fringe Festival or Great Expectations back in 2016. While at Great Expectations, we were really lucky that BBC South Today offered us television coverage which is more publicity than most small businesses get. We had quite a panic on the day though as our van broke down while we were setting up but luckily we managed to salvage the situation.”
IR: What was a typical day like for you when you were first starting out?
Katie: “We worked every day, which meant we missed out on loads of social events. When we first moved into our current premises in 2017, we had to do everything from cleaning and painting the walls to ensuring we were compliant with all regulations and having the paperwork we needed in place.”
Andrew: “We’d come into the building in the day time and do all of the physical work to transform it into what it is today and then we’d go home and do all of the admin at night. Katie did most of the creative work, designing the rooms while I worked on our website, social media and other admin pieces. Usually we worked 14 hours a day but it was more like 16 in the immediate run-up to opening.”
IR: Wow, that is a lot of work! How are things different today?
Katie: “We’ve recently moved to Reading from Wokingham to help our work-life balance. This means that today, we tend to get up at about 8.30am and start our admin at home. I’ll answer emails, work on staff rotas, accounting and whatever my current project is, which is usually designing the next room. A lot of research and thinking goes into planning the rooms and I have to create the room to fit the space we have.
Often I’ll then go into the office where I can be doing anything from training staff to dealing with customers or managing the venue. I do a lot of “mothering” the building, I find myself tidying things up and making small changes all the time.”
Andrew: “My day is quite similar in terms of structure but I manage all of the customer emails and corporate enquiries. I spend a lot of my time on the phone. I’m also responsible for strategic business planning, marketing, sales and social media. Plus all of those small jobs that crop up when you’re in the office and someone has to manage them.
We’re open into the evening, so we tend to finish quite late and usually have more to catch up on once we’re home as well.”
IR: What’s your favourite part of running TimeTrap?
Andrew: “I love seeing people enjoy something we have built. It’s great watching people enjoy the games.”
Katie: “I love our team and I love designing rooms. When we designed Station X, we drove all over the country to collect parts from actual trains. That bit is really fun and it was so satisfying when we finally found our 1930s train carriage seats. They’re covered with the same fabric that is used on the Hogwarts Express!”
IR: What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you since you’ve started running the business?
Katie: “We came in one day after we’d had our venue for about a week and tried to get into our store room but it was locked. The reason that’s strange is that we had no key and the door had no lock. We tried our best to get in but just couldn’t find a way, so in the end we used a crowbar to smash the door. It turned out that prior to us taking the building, someone had started to install a lock on the other side but hadn’t completed it so the door had locked behind us one day. We removed the lock and screwed some wood over the hole in the door and it’s still like that today.”
Andrew: “Once, when we’d recently moved in, I was sanding the floor and all of the dust set the fire alarm off. We hadn’t received a key for the alarm panel by this point, so our downstairs neighbours weren’t best pleased. After 30 minutes of the alarm going off while we waited for an engineer, I was lucky enough to bump into a guy on the street who knew what to do to switch it off until the engineer arrived. If it wasn’t for him, the alarm would have been sounding for 4 hours.”
Thank you so much to Andrew and Katie for giving us some insight to their lives running TimeTrap. They really do prove the theory that if you’re passionate about what you do, you can achieve anything!
To book one of their Escape Rooms, (and I recommend you do!) visit their website: https://www.timetrapescaperooms.com
You can also follow them on social media: