After participating in their first escape room during a trip to Prague, Ryan and Amy Hnat returned home to Northeast Pennsylvania and decided to create one of their own.
The Hnats competed against other local business owners in the first-ever NEPA Sharks event last week at The Woodlands Inn.
Modeled after television hit “Shark Tank,” each of the contestants pitched their business plan to five judges for a chance to win $5,000 from Kingston firm Golden Mile Funding LLC. The Times Leader Media Group partnered with Golden Mile to put on the event.
Ryan grew up in Coaldale, earning a degree in art education from Penn State before completing a master’s in painting from Marywood University. It was there he met Amy, originally from Bethany, who was earning a degree in interior design.
After returning from Prague with a new business plan, the two contacted Marywood and took advantage of the university’s business incubator to establish the escape room.
“They allowed us to set up shop. Now we find ourselves celebrating our two-year anniversary,” he said of Electric City Escape.
Escape rooms are not only fun, but serve a mental and physical purpose as well, Ryan said.
Here’s how they are described on the company’s website:
“Our escape rooms are physical adventure games where players are locked in a themed room and must find clues, break codes, and open locks in a series of puzzles within 60 minutes to win. The puzzles will challenge your wit, patience, and problem-solving skills to beat the clock.”
Ryan said the rooms are “a total immersive experience, as you feel like you’re in a movie and your team is cast to be the heroes.”
Electric City Escape has won several local awards and has been featured in a television series as well.
The Hnats work hard and put in long hours, but their payoff is seeing their customers’ faces.
“When people go to our escape room for the first time, they are nervous, not sure what to expect, you can see the anxiety,” Ryan said. “The best part is when they escape out the room or even only get through some of the locks to our ‘ah-ha’ moments which draw smiles and laughs. It is very rewarding to do an escape room and get out. It’s the best to watch people become successful.”
As for the competition, the Hnats said if they won the $5,000, the money would’ve been used to accelerate some in-house improvements and puzzle updates already underway.
“It never hurts to put yourself out there when you own a business and we thought we can show off how awesome escape rooms are and maybe have a chance to help improve our business,” said Ryan.
For more information about Electric City Escape, visit ElectricCityEscape.com or find the company on Facebook.