So You Want To Start A Mobile Axe Throwing Company, but you’re not sure what questions to ask- both internally and externally- to see if this is the right move for you. We’ve been there- trust me. I’m going to start this Owners Blog off with what questions to ask yourself before you get into this big, wide world of axes & events.
I’ll kick this off by giving you some background on us. Odyssey Axe Throw launched in late 2017 as a Mobile Escape Room vendor. We had run escape room trailers all around the DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas, expanding into different events and other venues.
In early 2019, we decided to expand the company, and put together our first Mobile Axe Throwing unit built onto a deckover trailer. We’ve since rebranded our company (Odyssey Axe Throw) and expanded into running a number of axe throwing trailers.
Odyssey has taken these to just about every type of event, party or function- a bunch that worked, and plenty more that didn’t. We are also exclusively mobile with no physical brick & mortar location to speak of.
So we’ve been there- from considering building an axe throwing unit, dealing with the inherant oddities in the Mobile Axe Throwing world, right into the headaches of COVID-19 and how to adapt. Going back to the beginning, these are the questions that we wish we had asked ourselves before jumping in.
A quick note: This is primarily oriented around the stand-alone mobile operator/vendor even though there’s carry over for people with brick & mortar locations looking to expand as well. This isn’t intended to be the mobile axe throwing bible, but a bunch of takeaways from this world that may help you out. I’m also going to avoid a lot of traditional “Should I start a business?” questions- there are libraries written on that topic already.
Do I want to work weekends?
A major question when you’re considering hitting the Start button on your axe throw company. There isn’t much wiggle room on this- at least when you get started.
For a significant number of people in this industry, it’s a side hustle or a single trailer operation- both of these mean it’s likely going to be you or your partners working at each event. Is that something that you’re comfortable with?
It isn’t outside of the realm of possibility to see yourself at 3 events on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night once your numbers start to round out and the word spreads. During Fair season, going where the money is may mean working for 7-10 nights in a row. These are moments you can be spending at your son’s soccer game or a school fundraiser.
On the plus side, there are plenty of benefits to this. You can drive as hard or lightly as you’d like in this gig. It’s possible to have yourself working only 2-3 days a week after you build out your contacts and have consumers calling you for events.
We’re focused on sending our trailers out to high revenue events, so my operators aren’t running these trailers out 5-7 times a week to try and make ends meet. Plus, who doesn’t love the throwing axes professionally?
Part-time Side Hustle or Full-time Gig?
Are you interested in getting into this as a side hustle and running a traditional 9-5 job during the week? Or will this be your full time job? Another big question, this dictates your process and how you go about it.
The part-time side hustle sounds tempting- you can focus on weekend events where the lions share of the money is made. One of the nice parts about our industry being in its infancy is that, in many cases, you’re going to have the leeway to feel it out before diving in with axe throwing as your sole income.
On the other hand, you’re going to inevitably miss out on opportunities that spending those same hours during the 9-5 window will present for you.
Writing to companies to try and sell a corporate package, negotiating with fairs over contract issues, or spending time bringing your website up to speed to have you popping up on Google’s first page are all things that would’ve fallen much further down the list had we had full time jobs.
How much am I going to spend?
The average axe trailer is going to range somewhere between the $10,000-$30,000 treshhold depending on size, home building vs. buying from a manufacturer, build quality, unique features, and a whole bunch of other factors. That’s a wide range, but in most cases you get out of it what you put in- that includes financially!
If you can weld, run wiring competently, and are confident in your design specs to not fall over while you’re driving, you may be looking to put it together yourself. Welders aren’t usually cheap to hire, and going cheap on them is literally taking your life and the lives of others into your own hands.
If you’re especially thrifty, you may be looking to construct the trailer yourself instead of buying one. That’s going to save a lot of money, but the business (business in general in fact) correlates well to people willing to put their financial backs into the build.
Do you want a sound system coupled with your trailer? How about internal lights? Will you build rotating targets to avoid wind drag on the road?
There’s a lot of variables here, and you’re going to spend a while chewing on these questions- and rightfully so. The biggest advice I can give on this: Don’t cheap out on the welder or an engineer to run the weight math for you. That, and use the old adage: Take whatever you think it’s going to cost and double that.