November 19, 2019
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Mission d’Infiltration: Playing the Entrepreneurship Game

Three students at the Cégep de Victoriaville found a highly creative way to fundraise for a school trip and won the highest honours in the OSEntreprendre Challenge at the same time.

As everyone knows, selling cupcakes or chocolate bars to fund school trips can work just fine. But organizing an escape room competition that is open to the public—that’s quite a bold move! In order to raise money for a trip to Silicon Valley, Lisa Caissy, Étienne Bouchard and Jimmy Pellerin, all second-year students in computer science technology at the Cégep de Victoriaville, organized an event that is a first for Québec. Their project, Mission d’Infiltration, won the provincial prize in its category (College, individual or small group) at the 21st Desjardins Grand Prize Gala of the OSEntreprendre Challenge.

“The crazy thing is, we never intended to do something that big,” exclaimed Lisa Caissy. The fundraising activity was initially limited to just opening a temporary escape room. Fortunately, the three students crossed paths with Patrick Toupin, owner of Captif Victoriaville. As Caissey recalled it, “he talked with us and convinced us to develop the concept into something completely new.” The ambitious idea was to create an escape room tournament. And not just anywhere, but on the Cégep de Victoriaville campus, taking up 2000-square-feet of space spread across multiple rooms!

“The idea was appealing from all sides: we would get Québec’s escape room enthusiasts interested, which would ensure that our efforts would pay off,” explained Étienne Bouchard. After months of preparation including various meetings to create the storyline, devise puzzles and secure support from the CEGEP’s administration, the big day finally came. Three hundred people divided into teams of 5 to 10 each paid $25 to take part in Mission d’Infiltration over two weekends during the March break. People came from as far away as Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean to participate.

Lessons Learned

Escape rooms appeal not only to enthusiasts but to the general public as well. In the wake of the event, the organizing committee was approached by Dominic Martel, student life adviser for entrepreneurial projects at Cégep de Victoriaville. He suggested submitting the Mission d’Infiltration concept to the OSEntreprendre Challenge. “At first, we were surprised. We didn’t really see ourselves as entrepreneurs, even if our participation in the competition led us to rethink our position,” Jimmy Pellerin acknowledged. The efforts made by the trio during the past school year were rewarded at the 21st Desjardins Grand Prize Gala on June 12 of this year, when they were awarded a $2000 cash prize.

This incredible adventure enabled the trio to gain valuable experience. Teamwork, volunteer management, budget development, communications and marketing—the three students had no problem trying their hands at every aspect of the business, all while going to school. “I taught them all year long and I never felt that they weren’t up to the task,” said Carine Croteau, a teacher of computer science technology at the Cégep de Victoriaville “They were present in both body and mind,” she continued, “and ready to take in new material.”
And the Silicon Valley trip? It finally took place in late May. A dozen of the 19 students who took part were also involved in the fundraising activity, which considerably reduced their expenses. Plus, they discovered one of the most exciting ways to raise money. Mission accomplished!

From left to right : Bernard Tremblay, president/director general of the Fédération des cégeps, Étienne Bouchard, Lisa Caissy and Jimmy Pellerin, students, and Dominic Martel, Student Life Coordinator, Cégep de Victoriaville.

By OSEntreprendre  (special collaboration)

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