Author: Startup Waco
Category: Blog

Post Tags: community | Entertainment | entrepreneur | Innovation | Leadership | local | local business | Networking | Small Business | Waco |

Cory Dickman is a true renaissance man. From axe throwing to escape rooms, pedal bikes, and more, Cory has had his hand in many business ventures that help make the Waco community special.

A Portland native, Cory came to Waco in 2006 to study communication and film at Baylor. After graduating in 2010, he contemplated his next move and ended up staying to earn his master’s in sports management with hopes of working on the business side of professional sports.

After graduating in 2013, Cory returned home to Portland and pursued an internship with the Portland Trailblazers while spending cherished time with loved ones. An inspiration and championing supporter, Cory’s mother passed away in 2015, leaving him searching for the next right move.

“I didn’t know what to do. I started applying to jobs that had nothing to do with my field,” Cory said. “It was at that point one of my best friends called me and tried to convince me to move back to Waco. He was running an escape room in Jackson, Tennessee and thought I should move back to start the Waco one,” he explained.

And so, with little knowledge of escape rooms and a whole lot of gusto, Cory took on a new adventure. He moved back to Waco and on November 6, 2015, opened the Waco Escape Room – one of the first in the state.

“When we opened, we were the seventh one in Texas. There was already one in Robinson, so we almost didn’t do it. Obviously, I’m glad we did,” Cory said.

While the first couple of months were slow, Cory was fervent and dedicated to making his business work.

“You can’t just expect that you’ll put out one piece of marketing and everyone will just show up. It takes consistency, building a brand and getting people educated about what your product and business is,” Cory said.

With that consistency came success for the Waco Escape Room, and after Christmas of 2015, the floodgates opened. People were enamored by the unique and exciting experience the escape room offered. Cory and his team were happy to find their business constantly busy.

Shortly after the Waco Escape Room opened, Cory expanded his business and opened locations in San Marcos, Texas and Portland, Oregon in 2016. Like many entrepreneurs, Cory sees the value in learning from his experiences.

“I think you learn a lot through failure. With the San Marcos location, I just threw it up there and thought it could run itself, but that’s not the case,” Cory said.

Without the proper team in place, the operations of the San Marcos location became challenging to manage from afar, and Cory closed the escape room in 2019. While things didn’t go as planned in San Marcos, Cory walked away learning valuable lessons that he’ll carry with him throughout his career.

Moreover, with his resilient, entrepreneurial spirit, Cory kept pressing on toward new ventures. While maintaining the Waco and Portland escape rooms, he thralled himself into the small business community in Waco. A firm believer in the notion that entrepreneurs should educate, engage and connect with one another, Cory and his friend, Jake Cockerel, helped launch the Waco chapter of One Million Cups.

As creatives and entrepreneurs presented their new business ideas, Cory and Jake would sit in the back, inspired, and brainstorm new business ventures of their own.

“The first offshoot business I had from the escape room was Waco Pedal Tours. When Waco Wine Tours presented their business idea, Jake and I sat in the back and our heads were reeling with all different kinds of tours that could be brought to Waco,” Cory said.

At the time, Cory had a lively employee, Danny, with over 10 years of experience working in brand entertainment for a resort. Danny was the life of the party and the perfect man for the job. So, they purchased a pedal bike, asked Danny to host the tours, and in December of 2017, Waco Pedal Tours was established.

The pedal tours were almost instantly a hit. While the business was successful, Cory didn’t anticipate the maintenance required to keep it going. When the bike experienced its first mechanical breakdown, he sought to fix it and was connected with an extremely talented high school student who could get the job done.

Not only was this student extremely talented mechanically, but his desire to gain hands-on experience sparked a new idea in Cory.

“Why not expand on this concept?” Cory asked himself. He loved the idea of working with students to help train them in special skills while also boosting the Waco entrepreneurial community with fresh insights and talents. This was the foundation of Triple Win, a work-based program that focuses on informal, hands-on learning environments to prepare high school students for college, career and life.

From there, it was one venture after another. When Cory hears a great idea and sees the vision, he can’t help but be a part of it.

“I’m passionate about working with entrepreneurs, getting them started and then stepping back and watching them run it,” Cory said. “Often, in the beginning, people just need someone to believe in them,” he continued.

In addition to the Waco Escape Room, One Million Cups, Waco Pedal Tours and Triple Win, Cory has been a part of several other Waco business ventures such as Rogue Capital, Waco Axe Co., Nexus and BitterSweet.

These days, Cory’s main focus is on Triple Win and Rogue Capital. He loves how they enable him to dive into different ideas and help new businesses and entrepreneurs build their processes and procedures.

While there’s no doubt Cory is a courageous and innovative entrepreneur, he stresses that business is never a one-man show.

“My business partners have been huge for me! You have to find someone who equals you out really well,” Cory said. “Doing that gave me the ability to focus on my strengths and what I was good at,” he continued.

Developing balanced partnerships and asking the experts around him questions have allowed Cory to succeed throughout his business journey. He encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to do the same.

“If you’re thinking of starting a business, just do it. You will overthink everything if you never take the jump to get started,” he advised. “If you need mentorship or help, ask for advice and talk to those around you. There are more resources in Waco now than ever before.”

Waco is a city on the rise, and Cory Dickman is an entrepreneur always on the move.

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