Puzzle Break in Seattle’s 40 Under 40

October 18, 2017 by Nate Martin

On September 28th I was formally inducted into the 2017 class of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40.  This great honor has significant meaning to both myself and the greater escape room / interactive experience space in at large.

The only known surviving picture of our very first room: Escape from Studio D.

The only known surviving picture of our very first room: Escape from Studio D.

When my co-founder Dr. Lindsay Morse and I started Puzzle Break in August 2013, we had very few expectations.  My personal goals with that first room:

  • Bring a unique experience to the people of Seattle, particularly the poor souls forced into corporate teambuilding activities.

  • If successful, hopefully create some jobs.

  • Do something a little bit wild and have some fun.

  • And If I’m being completely honest: I was stinging of rejection from some prestigious MBA programs, and I hoped to prove them wrong.

That was about it. The idea of growing Puzzle Break into the internationally recognized leader we’ve become was far beyond my wildest expectations. Becoming a 40 Under 40 Honoree is a wonderful validation of the work we’ve accomplished. Not only by traditional business metrics, but also in the sense that I’ve been lucky enough to be at the vanguard of creating an entire industry from thin air.

We've come a long way since the beginning.

We’ve come a long way since the beginning.

I’m deeply honored and I couldn’t have done it without my wonderful team, including the creative powerhouse and relentless work ethic of Dr. Lindsay Morse. Special recognition must also go out to my leadership team of Erica Hankins, Dana Grant, Naomi Smith, and Suzanne Haws. When I give talks & interviews, I like to joke that my primary job as CEO is to take responsibility for the hard work of others. The fact of the matter is that there would be no Puzzle Break without all of us working together. Speaking of which…

Here’s some high level milestones since we opened that first room in Seattle’s Capitol Hill:

  • Puzzle Break has opened a new headquarters in Belltown, Seattle, locations in Long Island and Boston, and a year run in San Francisco.

  • Our corporate teambuilding offerings have serviced so many clients we had to stop adding logos to the website for loading concerns.

  • We run a successful off-site adventure program, where we bring Puzzle Break experiences to teambuilding events of all shapes and sizes anywhere in the US.

  • In partnership with Royal Caribbean, we have several Puzzle Break games (including the world-famous Escape the Rubicon) aboard six cruise ships and counting, with many more on the way.

  • On a personal note, I’m tickled to have been tagged with the nickname: The Founding Father of Escape Rooms. There’s a number of exceptional people growing this industry, and I’m proud be a part of that legacy.

And most importantly, we continue the Puzzle Break mission of doing something a little bit wild and having some fun.

They let me bring a prop to the photoshoot!

They let me bring a prop to the photoshoot!


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