Startup story: Software maker cracks Escape Room code
When Tom Parslow's dad retired from the IT department at Brighton council, he did what many retirees do, and got himself a job.
Bill Parslow's part-time role was as a 'Games Master' for Escape Rooms, which meant he got to flex his talent for acting and storytelling.
Tom Parslow secured his first Escape Room customer before he'd written any code
He soon noticed the company's analogue approach was slowing them down. Players were handed paper feedback cards on their way out saying 'please leave us a review'.
Every souvenir team photograph was individually branded with their logo on Photoshop, creating hours of work each week for employees. He knew they could do better.
Bill spoke to his son, a software developer, over dinner. Tom said: "My dad knows that I am always looking for things to make. He told me their labour-intensive approach was expensive and not necessary.
"Around the same time dad started working there, my mum had a massage and she got an email afterwards saying thanks for coming, please give us your feedback. Clearly, this was an area I could make a difference in, so I started building a solution."
The result was Buzzshot, an Escape Room SaaS company, which launched in 2016. It covers player check in and waivers, custom hardware for in-game photography, post-game follow up by SMS and email and community outreach, all in a single system.
Parslow's first customer was Hand Made Mysteries in Brighton and London. He recalled: "I'd actually gone to them before I wrote any code, told them what I was planning, and they agreed to pay upfront for a year's worth of service."
He has since amassed another 200 customers, more than half of which are based in the US, with the rest in the UK, Germany, Australia and Dubai. The business reported 400% growth in 2018.
New customers are found, mostly, through word of mouth, but they also go to conferences – he'll be at Up The Game in Amsterdam next week – and use PR and content marketing to reach more people.
As for his future plans, Parslow said: "There are lots of other activities like paintballing, laser tag, axe throwing that could potentially use Buzzshot but I'm focusing on Escape Rooms for now as there's still plenty of room to grow!"
Talk to us about how to make people care as much about your business as you do. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org and let's have chat!