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Community Highlights: Meet Krista Paton of Urban Axes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Krista Paton.

Hi Krista, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was quite happy working for “the man” in the big company I worked for, and I honestly really enjoyed my work. I had just been relocated from Philadelphia to Toronto when a new friend invited me to her birthday party to go to the new BYOB axe throwing place. I was really excited to check it out.

I went to the party and I was immediately hooked. How is this not a thing in the US?! I figured it must be, so I went home and told my boyfriend (now husband) and we looked it up to confirm it really didn’t exist in America. We just knew people in Philly would LOVE the concept, so we called two of our friends from Philly and they flew up to check it out. They felt the same way, and Urban Axes was born (though like all start-ups took wayyyyy longer to gestate than we thought it would). We opened the doors to Urban Axes Philadelphia, the first axe throwing venue of its kind in the US in 2016. The response was even more positive than we thought, and we knew we had to start looking for our second location. We opened in Austin, TX in 2017. In 2018 things really accelerated, opening Baltimore, Durham and Boston in 2018, and Cincinnati, Houston & Phoenix in 2019.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has certainly been a bumpy ride, though I think we’ve actually been incredibly lucky (at least until the pandemic!)

I think the first struggle, given that we were all doing this on the side was when is the right time to quit our day jobs and do this full time. Especially for my husband and I, he left his company in January of 2017, but the idea of me leaving my job as well and putting all of our eggs in the “axe throwing” basket was quite nerve-wracking! I eventually left my company in September of 2017. I remember being in a meeting where we’d brought in some consultants who help big companies like mine be more agile and “act like a start-up” and I had to get up and leave the meeting for a bit as I was panicking at the irony of the situation of being trained to act like a start-up while I was trying to run my own startup.

Next, I think the struggle is how and when to hire along the way for things that you used to be able to do yourself. We did relatively okay here, were always a few months later than we should have been, but that’s very easy to say with the benefit of hindsight.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Urban Axes?
Urban Axes is the country’s first indoor axe throwing venue with eight locations in some of the best cities across the US. We are a 21+ facility, and we specialize in group entertainment from birthdays/ bachelorette parties to team building, etc.

The thing that I am most proud of and the thing that sets our brand apart is our people. We decided before we opened that we wanted to build a business model that could be profitable while paying a living wage and providing benefits that we believe in. All of our employees receive paid sick and vacation time and are eligible for quarterly bonuses. All of our full-time employees receive Health, Dental & Vision care with 80% covered by us. We offer paid bereavement pay and parental leave. We also invest significantly in training our employees, so we want them to stick around for a long time because they are what sets us apart. Our retention rates are crazy high for a hospitality business and we can honestly say that we have the best, most experienced axe throwing coaches in the country.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
Starting my own business is the most stressful and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I had no idea what I was getting into and no idea how much I would care about EVERYTHING. It’s exhausting, but it’s also so nice to feel such passion every day.

Pricing:

  • $30/person for 1 hr coached session
  • $35/person for 1.5 hour coached group event
  • $40/person for 2 hour coached group event
  • $130/person for 8 week league

Contact Info:

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