By Ryann Brooks

Jayson Mamaclay found himself in an unexpected position in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic: opening a successful business that addressed a need for companies and organizations forced into remote work.

In May 2020, Mamaclay founded a team building enterprise designed to bring people together across time zones with a variety of virtual team building activities, games, and escape rooms. Headquartered in Downers Grove, Ill., Think Quick Events was conceptualized as a way to revamp Mamaclay’s existing escape room business, in a sustainable way.

“The heart of it came in after the pre-existing business, which was an escape room business,” Mamaclay explained. “That business had been significantly challenged by the pandemic, and had been in full force for a couple of years. We were doing very well.”

Escape rooms are immersive experiences that challenge guests to solve a variety of puzzles in a set amount of time. Reimagining that into a virtual format was uncharted territory.

“Escape rooms are very naturally in-person, tangible, tactile experiences,” Mamaclay said. “[Doing a virtual escape room] was definitely something that was uncharted. In a world where we are inundated with digital, the escape room is meant to be an opportunity for folks to really be there physically and engage in live, hand-to-hand teamwork.”

So, how does that translate into a virtual team building enterprise?

“I started to do these virtual escape rooms where I’m literally carrying around my phone, walking around the room, playing with people online,” Mamaclay said. And that’s when he noticed a trend. “Some of the clientele that were coming in were also corporate folks who were looking for something to be able to connect their teams that had been ripped from their offices.”

Deciding to lean into that trend, Think Quick Events was born.

Mamaclay is a graduate of New York University’s Stern School of Business where he earned a degree in accounting and finance, though his original plan had him geared toward marketing.

However, he noted that he enrolled in the early 2000s when the emerging concept of digital marketing was not yet part of the standardized curriculum. “Kind of seeing and understanding this reality, I figured it would be a good idea to transition over to something else within the business school. I’d always been a numbers guy, and finance and accounting were strengths of NYU.”

Mamaclay got his certified public accountant license and found a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers as an auditor, transitioning into a role within the company that covered diversity, equity and inclusion strategies. From there, he worked in the talent management sector and third party workforce hiring.

His diversified corporate background, he believes, has helped Mamaclay excel in entrepreneurship.

“I’ve learned many different hats growing up in corporate America,” he explained, “so, I kind of knew and understood the inner workings of [issues surrounding engaging talent], especially when thinking of recruiting strategies. Recognizing corporate as a strong customer-base opportunity for us, I would attribute a good amount of that to my prior experience of having been in corporate.”

Think Quick Events is a certified Minority Business Enterprise and a certified LGBT Business Enterprise, and Mamaclay said he’s also found a lot of support within the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. It’s invaluable to have those resources, he said, when it comes to asking questions, testing concepts and even just seeking support from other entrepreneurs.

Mamaclay has been active in the Illinois chapter of the NGLCC, and has taken advantage of a number of networking programs that help entrepreneurs with a number of avenues for success.

“I definitely think it’s pivotal for LGBT owners to connect with those organizations, whether they’re certified or not — which I of course also fully support certification as well,” he said. “It’s that opportunity for you to be able to network with your community, whether that’s a local community, and being able to connect with businesses who are down your main street or your community as in the LGBT community, to find other business owners and allies to lean on as fellow entrepreneurs, because running a business can be a very lonely venture and that’s something those who strictly work in corporate might not understand — the hustle and grind and pressure of being an entrepreneur.”

When asked about the future of Think Quick Events, Mamaclay sees a lot of potential for growth, but he wants to do so in a sustainable and positive way.

“We want to increase our volume of virtual events, providing services and virtual events and team building, and to continue to find new fun and interesting conferences and events for us to go to,” he said.

Jayson Mamaclay, founder, Think Quick Events

An artist and CPA, Mamacay finds creative ways to solve complicated business problems.