Award-Winning alumnus-led company brings entertainment and education to schools
Eric Reynolds (’16) is the co-founder of Mobile Escape, an award-winning escape room game that takes users on a fun, educational journey—no matter where they’re located.
It was a concept that Reynolds came up with while earning his MBA at Trinity Western.
The idea first came to him when he was running a conference for a group of internet marketers and wanted to bring in some kind of portable escape room for an activity. When he realized nothing like that existed, he saw an opportunity.
“With the rise of mobile service providers such as food trucks, mechanics and more, I thought, ‘Hey, why not leverage the amazing opportunity of an escape room to bring people together and implement it through a mobile service delivery model?’” says Reynolds.
It was just a simple idea, but it grew in pretty significant ways. Today, he manages Mobile Escape with his brother-in-law, Paul. Their goal is to provide escape room experiences that are educational, fun, and mobile.
"...A successful entrepreneur is one who tries. I always equated success with an exit or sale or going public or something. But trying is succeeding. Entrepreneurship is a way of life, an attitude, and that was really big for me.”
Reynolds reflects back on the early discussions of going into business with his brother-in-law. As they discussed what their partnership could look like, they both agreed that if they were going to make this work, they would have to ensure that they were able to provide long-term potential and fundamental value to their customers.
“That's when we stumbled upon education as a market,” says Reynolds. “We learned about some of the outcomes that teachers were trying to instill in the classroom and discovered that our gamified escape rooms could communicate these lessons in a highly engaging manner. Plus, our delivery model addressed a pain point that teachers were experiencing. It was love at first sight and we've never looked back.”
Working with schools every day, they’ve been able to engage over 100,000 students since the company was founded in 2016.
Why Escape Rooms?
When asked what it was that drew him to Escape Rooms, Reynolds identified three key things.
1. There are no rules.
“Many forms of entertainment are solidified and predictable. But when you walk into an escape room, you actually expect to be surprised. No genre is off limits, no object is unwelcome, and no idea is too strange. It's a creative free-for-all.”
2. They are meticulously designed.
“I love user design and thinking about how other people will experience the games we make. In my marketing and communications background, I was always trying to design experiences, whether with pictures or words or videos. Now, I'm designing experiences in physical rooms.”
3. Creating escape rooms is a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary effort.
“This appeals to my jack-of-all-trades personality. I have learned to love working with my hands, trying new things, learning, growing, and working with professionals in areas where I have a lack of expertise. Seeing the finished product come together and be enjoyed by so many people is truly a delight that gets sweeter the longer a room serves our customers.”
TWU prepared the way
Before he started this company or had even begun his Master’s degree, Reynolds was working in the field of Marketing and Communications. He was good at his job, but came to the conclusion that he couldn’t help his clients as effectively as he wanted because many of them had bigger business-related issues that he just didn’t understand.
After speaking with Clement Wee (’12, ’17), a friend and graduate of the MBA program, Reynolds decided to enroll. The MBA program turned out to be exactly what he needed to kickstart his passion.
When asked what was the most memorable part of his experience at Trinity Western, Reynolds says it was “the realization that a successful entrepreneur is one who tries. I always equated success with an exit or sale or going public or something. But trying is succeeding. Entrepreneurship is a way of life, an attitude, and that was really big for me.”
A goal to awaken wonder
The company slogan is Awaken Wonder, something that Reynolds connects to his relationship with faith and how he perceives his experience with engaging God.
“At one level, faith has nothing to do with how I execute my daily tasks,” says Reynolds. “But there is a mysterious connection, on another level, between our hearts, our beliefs, our relationship with God and how all of that impacts our work.”
“It reminds me to see people around me as special creations of the divine, and to see our company's slogan ‘Awaken Wonder’ as the precursor to engaging the divine. How can we think about mysterious, spiritual or heavenly things if we never wonder? How could we start to think about ‘God’ if we never consider that there might be more in front of us than we see at first glance? How could we ever be open to a ‘gospel’ if we never learn to work together and consider the alternative perspective(s) offered by those we journey alongside? How could we ever come to Jesus if we never humbly accept that we might be wrong, and decide to move forward together in a new direction?”
“These are some thoughts that come to mind; ask me tomorrow and it might be different,” he adds with a laugh.
“It reminds me to see people around me as special creations of the divine, and to see our company's slogan ‘Awaken Wonder’ as the precursor to engaging the divine. How can we think about mysterious, spiritual or heavenly things if we never wonder? How could we start to think about ‘God’ if we never consider that there might be more in front of us than we see at first glance?"
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
When asked if he had any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Reynolds says, “If you want to be an entrepreneur, then be one. Start. Get going. Learn. Make mistakes. Grow. And work with people who you can trust and who are smart in ways you are not. You'll not only get to know them better (which is one of life's greatest gifts) but you'll have more success, and that success will be shared, which is more fun than winning and being alone.”
Words by Jonathan Fehr, Director of Alumni Engagement and Communications
TWU Alumni Benefits
Eric Reynolds lives in Calgary, where he runs Mobile Escape with his brother-in-law. He is offering an alumni discount to anyone who would like to try Episode 1 of Escape Mail, an experience users can enjoy in the comfort of their own home. To learn more, visit TWU Alumni Benefits.
Learn more about TWU Alumni:
About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier global Christian liberal arts university. We are dedicated to equipping students to discover meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. Drawing upon the riches of the Christian tradition, seeking to unite faith and reason through teaching and scholarship, Trinity Western University is a degree-granting research institution offering liberal arts and sciences as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.
The views expressed by students and alumni are their own. They do not necessarily represent the views of Trinity Western University or of any other companies, groups or organizations named.