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Meet Yoni Babitsky of Enigma Escape Rooms in Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yoni Babitsky.

Yoni, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
There were a few points in my life that shaped my personality and eventually helped me arrive to where I am today, First, was my parents immigrating to Israel in 1991 when I was 5, I think that seeing them start all over again in a foreign country in the middle east without knowing the language and with no money trying to survive day by day and do anything they can to support two kids made me understand at a very young age that one should not be afraid of hard work when there is a clear goal to achieve.

The second was my introduction to Guitar, I started playing at the age of 11 and eventually made a carrier out of it, I lived and breathed music for a very long time, and it’s still a big part of my life. I always knew that in order to succeed I need to be driven by passion, I need to love what I do.

An inspiring idea to open escape rooms came to me and my partner Katia Hayes unexpectedly, it almost felt like a force was driving us and we dived into the business wholeheartedly. We worked non-stop, we were exhausted but we loved it. It felt right. We were committed to quality like fanatics, every single client was important, we wanted to provide the best experience. One of my friends, a successful music executive told me a long time ago: I always put the project before myself. His words stayed with me, and I applied it 100% when building my first escape room. the first week was interesting, haha, coz none came but we didn’t give up, then people started coming, they enjoyed it and told their friends, more people came and thus we started growing, building more rooms, developing new themes. We never stopped. New opportunities started to come, TV shows got interested in us, celebrities started coming to Enigma, the word spread.

I do believe that what is put in is what you get out. For us the goal was continuing to grow, finding new avenues to expand the brand. One day I was outside our location, I was approached by a nice homeless man who often hanged outside the building, a very respectful pleasant guy, he comes to me and says: “Man, I don’t know what you are doing in there but people stand in the parking lot discussing their experiences happy and excited for 30, 40 minutes sometimes. Whatever you do keep it up, man!” It instantly made me think, these people need a place to hang out, maybe have some coffee and get an opportunity to chat about the escape experience they just went through, that’s how Enigma Coffee was born, our newest enterprise and a baby we very much love. Enigma Coffee is a specialty coffee shop with great attention to quality coffee drinks, fresh pastries and sandwiches and of course, an Enigma twist 🙂

That’s my “Enigma” story in a nutshell.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Any road worth traveling comes with some obstacles to overcome. Those are tests I feel, to test how strong we are, are we prepared for the responsibility that comes with success or we are gonna crumble under the first difficulties. As I said before, at first we had no clients for a week, it was nerve racking, at times it felt like they’ll never come, then there were very few, but the rent was due, there were bills to pay, then we started covering our expenses, and new challenges came, finding good employees, training them to provide and maintain the quality of customer service, providing clients with the best experiences, even if the tech is failing in the middle of the day, the power is shut off, AC is not working on a hot day, I can go on forever, but these are things each business owner deals with, its nothing out of the ordinary. You just have to overcome a challenge at a time, not forget to breath and not treat obstacles as a tragedy.

When it comes to creative business a hard part I think is judgement, you want people to like what you created and people will always find something negative, it’s part of human nature, you have to trust that you are doing the right thing and continue with it.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Enigma Escape Rooms is an escape room company. Escape rooms are really great experiences, where you get to exercise your brain muscle while hanging out with friends, family, co-workers or your significant other. You solve puzzles, brain teasers and more with a goal to escape a locked themed decorated room or complete some fun mission like solving a crime or defusing a bomb. Our rooms are very immersive, it’s almost a blend between escape rooms and live experiences.

One thing I’m definitely proud of as the owner is that Enigma grew to be one of the largest escape room companies in LA with no active advertisement, our clientele mainly comes from the word of mouth and me are humbled and very proud of that. People love them experience and suggest it to their friends.
We were also the first escape room company in the country to integrate an element of Virtual reality into our games nearly 2 years ago.

And probably one more thing that I haven’t seen anywhere else is Enigma Escape Rooms has its own specialty coffee shop, Enigma Coffee which is the continuation of the brand with fun puzzle oriented elements.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was never the center of attention in school, I was never a cool kid nor a nerd. I was average and no one really noticed me but inside I had a very big desire to be noticed, that’s why I grabbed the guitar. I wanted to stand out and express myself and since I was too afraid to do it with words I played music. I was very afraid pretty much of everything growing up and that is the reason I developed a zero tolerance attitude to fear later on.

At the age of 18, I don’t really know what exactly happened but I decided that enough is enough and my actions are going to be exactly the opposite of what my comfort zone or fear is telling me. At first it started with my biggest fear of all time-GIRLS. I was terrified starting random conversations with girls until I was 18, I was one of those kids who were secretly in love with a girl for many years but would never approach.

After the age of 18, it all changed and I felt like life is a game where the mind throws a ball at you that is called ‘fear” and you must throw it back in the form of an action that is the opposite of fear, I feel that that extreme contrast is a big part of my personality that drives me till this very day. I have zero tolerance to my own complains, excuses and anything that stands between my inspiring idea and bringing it to life.

Pricing:

  • $32 per person on the week days, $36 per person the weekends
  • $180 for a group of 6 on the week day, $200 on the weekend
  • $230 for a group of 8 on the week day, $250 on the weekend

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