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INTERVIEW - Bulgaria's Mentalist to launch its first escape room for kids

INTERVIEW - Bulgaria's Mentalist to launch its first escape room for kids Kalin Kostov / Mentalist

SOFIA (Bulgaria), March 7 (SeeNews) – Mentalist, the operator of Sofia's first escape room multiplex, will launch its first escape room for children, the project's founder and general manager, Kalin Kostov, told SeeNews in a recent interview.

With parents becoming increasingly concerned about their children’s surroundings and leisure time activities, developing a child-friendly escape room presents great potential for further development in this sector, Kostov said.

The education sector also presents growth opportunities for the escape room business, as learning things in practice is often the preferred method of education when it comes to a number of subjects in the schools’ curriculum.

Despite the favourable conditions for future expansion, Mentalist does not intend to open a new multiplex but rather lend its experience and ideas to others, who are willing to actually operate the rooms.

There are currently 80 escape rooms in Sofia, only 40 of which are actively attracting clients. In this regard, Bulgaria is still lagging behind its neighbours such as Romania. According to Mentalist’s calculations, there is room for two more escape room multiplexes in Sofia, consisting of six rooms each.

“We have already chosen the locations, and we are in talks with potential partners who have expressed interest in operating the multiplexes,” Kostov said. “Also, we are holding talks with a number of hotel operators in big Bulgarian cities, who have expressed interest in operating an escape room,” he added.

The Mentalist escape room multiplex, launched in August 2016, was initially planned as a small family business but exceeded all expectations. Despite the general manager’s preferences not to develop Mentalist as a franchise, the rapid growth and increased interest have since then forced a change in the original strategy.

“The market developed quicker than we could have imagined,” Kostov said, outlining the situation as one of the main challenges which Mentalist has to face.

In response, Mentalist decided to focus on further developing its unique software used to operate its rooms instead of managing new multiplexes on its own. In its current state, the use of software cuts wage costs - a major expense item - by 75%.A single escape room generates an average revenue of around 5,000 levs ($2,700/2,550 euro) per month .

The software allows players to use a tablet to scan the QR codes placed in the rooms, to get the hints or solutions to the puzzles, which brings the required intervention by the room operator to a minimum and allows for monitoring several rooms simultaneously.

The company has invested between 14,000 and 18,000 euro in software solutions so far, Kostov said. Future plans include making QR codes readable from smartphones and even smart watches.

(1 euro = 1.95583 levs)

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