Julie Hom, a Mihaylo College alumna, holds a sign reading "We Did It!" in front of the logo of her Costa Mesa, California, TrapZone Escape Rooms.

Whether you seek to develop an innovative entertainment concept such as an escape room or a more traditional business such as an accounting firm, Julie Hom ’14 says now is the time to get started on your vision. “One of my favorite quotes is ‘if not now, then when?’ This resonates with me and motivates me to use my time wisely and continue moving forward in my vision and goals.’” Photo credit iHeartCostaMesa.com

Entrepreneurship provides the opportunity to find your personal niche and make your mark on the world. Mihaylo students and alumni have launched many types of businesses, including financial institutions, marketing agencies, restaurants and web-based startups. One recent alumna developed an innovative business concept with her launch of TrapZone Escape Rooms in Costa Mesa.

Escape rooms, which task players to solve puzzles in a physical room within an allotted time period, have become a sensation this decade. Mihaylo alumna Julie Hom ’14 (marketing and ISDS) is the co-founder of TrapZone Escape Rooms in Costa Mesa, providing 60-minute adventure games at a location a few blocks from South Coast Plaza and adjacent to the hip shopping scenes at The CAMP and The LAB Antimall.

Hom discusses her business concept, what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur and how a Mihaylo education prepared her for her career.

How did you develop the concept of your business, TrapZone Rooms? 

I started TrapZone with two friends I used to work with at my previous job. We launched the business and escape game on our own. I manage our marketing and escape room design for our game, which is called “The Asylum.”  

We differentiate our business by creating our own clues, props and set design within the game to make it a fun and immersive experience for players. We have created an interactive game in which participants work together to find clues and solve puzzles to escape the room in less than 60 minutes.

TrapZone Rooms is ideal for birthday celebrations, team-building events for corporate or student organizations, a memorable evening for Greek life societies, or a fun time with friends and family.

 What were the challenges you overcame in creating this business? 

The hurdles we overcame included getting the necessary permits from the City of Costa Mesa and explaining to local leaders and others that we were opening an escape room and hearing their original thoughts and expectations of what this meant.

About Escape Rooms

Escape rooms offer a combination of entertainment, team-building exercises and intellectual activity. Inspired by “escape-the-room” video games, the first physical escape room opened in Japan in 2007.

To find escape games in Southern California, check out this listing of the best rooms in the Los Angeles area.

How did your education at Mihaylo College prepare you for your entrepreneurial leap?

While attending Mihaylo, I was on the board of the Business Inter-Club Council as the marketing coordinator.

In this role, I created marketing installations and collaborated with the many clubs at Mihaylo to market various events to get students involved and engaged on campus. For example, I created an installation during finals week which included bubble-wrapping the entire Mihaylo lobby area as a fun stress reliever for students. Developing such concepts allowed me to curate and bring creative, out-of-the-box ideas to life.

My marketing and ISDS coursework prepared me through business-plan projects, which involved creating financial projections and marketing strategies. These same activities were fundamental steps to creating our business.

What would you like students and alumni to know about the challenges and opportunities of starting their own businesses? 

One of my favorite quotes is “if not now, then when?” This resonates with me and motivates me to use my time wisely and continue moving forward in my vision and goals.

When starting and having a business, there will always be challenges or setbacks, but it is crucial to have faith and learn to overcome and adapt to changes quickly and effectively. Also, keep learning and connecting with others, especially those in your industry.

Everyone has something they are passionate about, and we can be a sponge of that wisdom to exchange ideas and help each other grow and innovate.

Where do you see the future of your business? Are you interested in expanding to other locations?

We are currently working on our second escape room game, and we continue to update and improve our current game. I would love to open other locations in the future.

For More Information

For more on TrapZone or to schedule your escape game, call 949-431-0355 or visit them online. Each game is $30 per person with up to eight participants per game.

For more on how to launch your business concept, stop by Mihaylo’s Center for Entrepreneurship at SGMH 3280 or visit them online.

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