UTAH SMALL BUSINESS BLOG
This month's Business of the Month feature is coming to you from sunny St. George and we think they're a smash hit, no pun intended. Actually pun very much intended! Owned by Branin Boyack and Brandon Milbrandt, Smash Labs is the coolest hangout spot in town that features rage rooms and axe throwing. What exactly is a rage room? Keep reading to find out!
UMLF: Hey guys, we’re excited to interview you as our Business of the Month! Tell us about yourselves.
Smash Labs: "Brandon and I have been friends since the 7th grade, so almost 24 years now. Our names are so similar, Branin and Brandon, that somewhere along that road the nickname Milly came up and has stuck ever since. Throughout our early adult life, we began helping Milly's mom run mountain bike races as her logistics and security team. Being on the management side of events exposed us to the entrepreneur mindset and we began kicking around ideas for our own businesses.
After a few years of us working on our own careers, life, and other things I ended up in a pretty serious relationship with my now wife who helped me to get my rear end into gear and pursue my business ideas. Milly was all too eager to jump on board when I came up with the idea for a rage room and axe-throwing venue. We kicked around a few names and he came up with the name Smash Labs and we loved it. Fast forward a few years and now we're both married with families of our own. I've got 2 girls and 2 boys while Milly's got 1 girl and 3 boys with 2 more on the way. We love being business owners and providing a cool place for people to blow off steam or just have a blast with their friends."
UMLF: For those who aren’t in the loop, what exactly is a rage room?
Smash Labs: "A Rage Room is a designated space to break all kinds of things. We smash things like bottles and plates all the way up to dryers, file cabinets, and refrigerators. Whether people come to us just to have fun with friends or if they come in to work through some serious emotional issues, rage rooms can accommodate them. We have our guests suit up in protective gear like coveralls, face masks, and gloves, and then after some quick instructions, we turn them loose to bust things up."
UMLF: We bet you get people from all walks of life coming in to destress or work out some emotions. Do you have any memories that stand out of times when people had some great breakthroughs or felt like they overcame some challenges they were facing?
Smash Labs: "We really do get all kinds of people. We have some that come in with friends just to SMASH s**t and then we have people who come in with their therapist or at their therapist's recommendation to work on some emotional issues they've been going through. We've had people that were dealing with divorces or break ups, we've had people who'd recently lost loved ones, and we've even played host to a weekly emotional resilience class, but one guest who really sticks out was a woman in her mid 40's who came in a bit reserved and unsure what she was doing. I kind of got the impression something was really troubling her. She asked if we had a way to cover the window so people couldn't see in during her session. We have a cover just for situations like that so we put that up, she then asked for a marker to write on the things she was about to smash. Once we got her suited up and into the room, she cranked up the music and LET IT OUT.
Our rooms and well insulated but we could her screams and cries. I was unsure how awkward it would be when she came out but 20 minutes later she came out and seemed like a completely different person. With makeup running down her face and tears still in her eyes she dried her eyes and then told us how she and her husband were getting divorced and her son had been in and out of jail for drugs. She'd also recently been in a car accident and was really just having a rough go at things lately. But while telling us all of this she seemed more upbeat and relaxed. She told us that writing down her problems and feelings and smashing them to pieces helped her to process the emotions so many of us just bottle up and can't express properly. She left with smudged makeup, red eyes, and a huge smile on her face. To me, that will be one of the greatest examples of what a rage room can do."
UMLF: Entrepreneurship definitely has its highs and lows. Can you tell us about a challenge you faced as small business owners and how you overcame it?
Smash Labs: "For us, one of the biggest challenges has been just getting started. We looked at about 15-20 different properties before we found one that would rent to a new concept like ours. Somewhere in the middle of those properties, we had a signed lease with a guy who owned a building in the Home Depot shopping plaza only to be forced out by Home Depot because they didn't want our concept near them citing that we'd drag down their business or scare their customers as if we had a seedy business concept that was scary. Once we'd left that behind we soon found our current location with a property owner who has been great to work with. Next came challenges with COVID and then challenges with letting people know we existed and where to find us since we're kind of tucked out of the way for most people. With any challenge that comes up we always find a way to make it work."
UMLF: How do you feel like the Utah Microloan Fund has helped your business?
Smash Labs: "When we first approached Utah Microloan Fund, we were working to get the franchise arm of Smash Labs up and running. They were very great to work with and made the process as easy as it could be. From meeting with Doug for the first time to signing the documents, UMLF has taken care of us. We were able to use the funds to improve our business and start a new chapter in our story."
UMLF: Lastly, what are the two of yours favorite things to smash?
Branin: "My favorite things to smash are large figurines, The kind made from plaster like garden gnomes or piggy banks. They tend to explode pretty good when you hit them just right."
Milly: "My favorite thing to Smash are the TVs. If you've ever been frustrated or made about a football game then you know what I'm talking about."
Ready to let all the rage out? Stay in touch with Smash Labs at:
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