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Spring on the York College campus

Expedition Escape

By by Marissa Schirk '18
Expedition Escape

You are locked in a room with only 60 minutes to find your grandfather’s famous chocolate recipe. If you find it you can pay off his mortgage and make a profit, but if you don't you'll lose the shop and your grandfather’s recipe will never be found. What do you do? The doors are bolted shut and the only way out is to escape!

You're part of an escape room called "The Candy Shop," one of the many scenario-themed rooms at Expedition Escape! in Montgomeryville, PA. In order to escape, you and a group of people must work together to solve puzzles. It's a great team-building exercise that allows participants to communicate and cooperate in order to achieve a single goal. If you're familiar with escape room video games then you understand the concept. However, these escape rooms are not virtual and are very real or as real as your imagination allows. Themes include viruses, bank heists, murder mysteries, and exiled royalty; Expedition Escape! has it all.

York College alumna Marisa Capobianco '17 (left) owns Expedition Escape! along with her mother, Lola Schantz, and Capobianco's boyfriend, Skylar Zarzecki. With a B.S. in Business Administration and a Marketing minor, Capobianco was able to open her own business while she was still a junior at YCP. She explained, "While it was a challenge traveling home every weekend to create the rooms and work, it was certainly worth it. I learned time management skills and how to juggle assignments, group projects, and running a full-time business as well."

In 2015, when Capobianco and her mother visited an escape room in Philadelphia, she was inspired to create an escape room business that was near her home in Collegeville, PA. Her successful business started in King of Prussia, PA, in April of 2016, then expanded with a second building in Montgomeryville, PA, in December of 2016. Course requirements for her major allowed Capobianco to help manage her business. David Greisler, D.P.A., Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Operations Management, gave her the guidance she needed to create documents for her business, including a handbook, review sheet, and training manual for her employees.

Each escape room has its own theme. Her highly innovative themes start with a story then fit together like pieces of a puzzle. But that's what they are – puzzles that you must solve in order to escape. Capobianco said, "We are more mission-based rather than your typical escape room that just wants you to escape. For example, in The Candy Shop, the goal is to save your grandfather's shop before the bank repossesses it and you have to actually make a chocolate bar in order to succeed."

Capobianco suggests if you want to open your own business to research competing businesses and understand what you are trying to build. Never give up even if something goes wrong. She said, "You can’t be great at everything. Know your strengths, identify your weaknesses, and be able to compensate for them."

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