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Breaking The Mould
The ‘escape room’ has become a popular and entertaining activity for Malaysians. One of the more well-known escape rooms in Kuala Lumpur is Breakout, which was first launched in 2014 at Avenue K shopping mall. In 2015, Breakout opened two more outlets – one in NU Sentral in KL city, and a branch all the way in Montreal, Canada. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive: it has been rated on Tripadvisor as number one in the Fun & Games category for Kuala Lumpur.
Breakout is founded by five friends: Johnny Ong (Game Design & Operations), Cheah Ka Wai (In-charge of Marketing), Low Kelly (Business Development & Franchise), Wilken Ee (Interior Design & Architecture), and Gavin Lim (Information Technology). All were involved in different fields pre-Breakout: Ka Wai was a broadcast specialist, Kelly was a project manager, Johnny was a part-time magician and test engineer, Wilken (or Ken, to his friends) was an interior designer and Gavin was an IT programmer.
Ka Wai explains how Breakout came to be: “It started with Johnny’s business trip to China, where he came across Escape Game, and that’s when he proposed this business idea to Kelly and a few of his friends. However, the idea got rejected by most and only Kelly stayed in the team. He did not give up and eventually got Gavin, Ken and I onboard.”
The first outlet at Avenue K was fully-funded by the founders themselves, but they reached out to government investment arm MyCreative Ventures for the second outlet. “The MyCreative Ventures loan assisted us with the second branch expansion at NU Sentral without us having to fork out additional capital from our own pockets,” explains Ka Wai. “The loan offered by MyCreative Ventures is very encouraging and it provides opportunity to young entrepreneurs like us to achieve our dream in the creative industry.” With the funding, majority of the loan was spent on renovation and props for their elaborately themed rooms.
The mastermind of the game designs are Johnny and Ken. Once the theme has been decided by them, Johnny will get into creative research mode - plus it helps that he is a magician as well. Once the storyline has been created, puzzles and riddles will be developed before Ken starts on the artist impressions. With that, cost will be discussed between Ken and Johnny on what has to be designed before the rooms come to life.
What makes this escape room franchise stand out from the rest is the design of their game storylines and the themed rooms which are pretty remarkable. Ka Wai continues to tell us more about Breakout, “What makes us unique is that we are the only escape game operator that injects the concept of “role play” into the game play. This is where players are allowed to choose an ability (aka a super power) to assist them in the 45-minutes game.”
The themed rooms are carefully crafted, so the existing rooms will stay for quite some time. The good news is that the founders are launching a new room entitled Perpetual in June 2016. This would be the perfect time to gather your friends, family or workmates to have a crack at it. Breakout also hopes to develop one more outlet in Malaysia in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled.
Break out – if you can!
Breakout Avenue K
Address: L2-16, Avenue K, 156 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2181 1835
Breakout NU Sentral
Address: L4-09A, Level 4, NU Sentral, 201 Jalan Tun Sambathan, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2276 3705
By Kevin Yeoh
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