Reshaping the Escape Room Reality Since 2014

ÁkosGábossy started his entrepreneurial journey in the entertainment sector with Hungary's first-ever family entertainment center KACKAC in Budapest

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The escape room industry started its journey in the US in 2012 and within three years itwitnessed a significant upsurge in demand leading to the expansion of the industry. Corporate and team building events embraced the escape rooms almost instantly owing to the unique teamwork and problem-solving opportunity they provide. However, running an escape room business requires a lot of market expertise and attention to market trends. Especially, due to rapid expansion, the traditional escape rooms are losing their appeal and people are more inclined to the high-quality props and technology to get a more challenging and engaging experience. ÁkosGábossy’sPanIQ is a standout escape room franchise that is looking to change the market reality through its visionary business approach.

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Ákos started his entrepreneurial journey in the entertainment sector with Hungary’s first-everfamily entertainment center KACKAC in Budapest. His experience with KACKAC shaped hisbusiness outlook and prepared him for future business ventures. So, after spending a few years in the Hungarian banking sector, he finally decided to restart his entrepreneurial career and established several local businesses in Budapest. Following the popularity of escape rooms in Hungary, he took the chance of expanding his business by launching it to the international market of the US. As a result, he along with some of his friends opened the first location of PanIQ in Los Angeles in 2014.

As a market expert, Ákos was always aware of the challenges of operating businesses on US soil. From legal barriers to bureaucratic obstructions, PanIQ faced all and successfullyovercame every one of them to emerge as one of the most successful escape room platforms.

Following the great success in Hollywood location, PanIQ Room expanded quickly to SanFrancisco, Miami, Phoenix, Chicago and Washington DC. A visionary entrepreneur Ákoscarefully picked up the locations and the plan was to utilize the business opportunity of everyimportant geographical location. With the customizable rooms and competitive price, PanIQbecame an industry leader within a few years of its introduction to the US entertainment sector.

Most recently, the company opened its flagship franchise location on the world famous LasVegas strip in this key destination. Alongside franchisee-investor, Mr. Erno Varadi, the PanIQ Escape Room Las Vegas location integrates a myriad of highly engaging elements to its offering and has quickly become one of the trendiest spots in Vegas.

Being an entirely location-based venture, the escape room market was hit hard by the advent of the pandemic in 2020. Several emerging small escape room businesses were forced to leave the market as the country started to enforce operational restrictions. PanIQ also had to lose 100 per cent of its revenue for almost an entire year. However, under the able leadership of Ákos, the brand made it possible to close an almost $10 million funding round with their investor partner Hiventures.

Sharing his expectation for the escape room market, company CEO Ákos remarks, "Escaperooms are by far the biggest invention/innovation of the location based-entertainment sector of the past 10 years. It is an entirely new industry hosting millions of players annually in the past couple of years. Unfortunately, the pandemic put many small escape room operators into an impossible situation. I knew from day one, that a market consolidation--where some bigger brands will eventually dominate the market--will occur in the next 3-5 years, but I never expected it to happen this fast and aggressively."

The company is currently moving forward with an aim to utilize all the freed up space offered by the traditional retail real estate following the post COVID-19 surge in digitalization. In fact, PanIQ is looking forward to introducing new units in Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City and Austin this year. Considering the growth of PanIQ even during the time of a pandemic, it seems highly likely that Ákos’s dream to make PanIQ the biggest name in the escape room market is just a matter of time.