DC escape room owner pitches to West Texas Investment Club

WASHINGTON — Escape Room Live owner Ginger Flesher-Sonier got a chance to pitch her business expansion plans to the self-made millionaires on CNBC’s West Texas Investors Club, and walked away with a tentative deal, though not the deal for which she was looking.

Flesher-Sonier will open her third Washington-area escape room in Georgetown this fall, at 3345 M St., NW, in a large, venue previously occupied by West Elm, but she has bigger expansion plans.

Her pitch to WTIC was for a $4 million investment to fund more ambitious escape rooms with restaurants in tourist-centric locations, such as Las Vegas and Disneyland. She was offered $800,000 for a 40 percent stake, in exchange for help expanding the escape room concept to resorts that cater to corporate clients.

“We were offered a deal. I am not allowed to say whether it’s binding. It’s in negotiations still,” Flesher-Sonier said.

Despite not getting the big investment offer she wanted, appearing on the CNBC reality show was an experience.

“It was so much fun because they had us build an escape room for the guys to do, and they were hysterical. They had never done anything like it before.”

The escape room she came up with — an old West jail cell and sheriff’s office — was built at the Lajitas Resort and Spa in Lajitas, Texas. She also left it set up for the resort’s guests to use.

Escape Room Live has two existing escape room venues, one in D.C.’s Glover Park and one in Alexandria, Virginia, with a total of six differently-themed rooms.

The new Georgetown location will open this fall and includes a first floor lounge with a bar and private party area, so guests can loosen up a bit before tackling one of the rooms.

“I think we’ll put a limit of two drinks before you go in. You can have as much as you want after,” she said.

The Georgetown location is the first Flesher-Sonier has built from scratch, instead of adapting the escape rooms to existing spaces. And, through licensing deals with Paramount and Columbia Pictures, the rooms will include a Ghostbusters-themed game, a Friday the 13th-themed game and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed game.

The Georgetown location also will include Hollywood-like CGI effects and sound effects and is being put together with the help of professional set designers.

Flesher-Sonier said Escape Room Live has grossed $2.3 million since opening its first venue 15 months ago, and netted $1.2 million since opening. Sixty five percent to 70 percent of its income comes from corporate events, including offices using the outing for team building.

See Flesher-Sonier’s appearance on CNBC’s West Texas Investors Club.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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