In January 2016, at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the founders of what would come to be known as Ctrl V heard some of the most exciting news in their careers: virtual reality (VR) would soon be available to consumers.
Ryan Brooks (CEO), Robert Bruski (CFO), and James Elligson (COO) got together to brainstorm – to see if they could build a business around this virtual reality technology. They set out to research the possibilities of creating a virtual reality gaming hub and development centre, starting by “building partnerships with third party providers and designing a solution that would cater to a market deficiency,” Bruski notes. From there, the trio opened the doors of Ctrl V headquarters, located in Waterloo, Ontario, in June 2016, making it North America’s first virtual reality arcade.
Each of the founders has a different specialty, the hallmark of many successful franchises. Brooks was a school teacher, focused on math and physics; Bruski, a value investment professional from the finance industry; and Elligson, a gemologist, excelling at customer service and operations. Together, they exude an energy and enthusiasm for the VR world, inspiring to any future franchisee.
“We aren’t jaded by the way things ‘ought to be,’” says Bruski. “We are innovators who drive forward and create things based on the information given to us, but with a refreshing drive to be unique and break down barriers.”
“When reality isn’t enough”
Ctrl V has a simple mission statement: to bring virtual reality to the masses. “Patrons are able to pre-book their time online and arrive to a station ready for them to experience virtual reality, in a clean and professional facility with very experienced staff,” shares Bruski.
This environment is key when experiencing something as immersive and as new as VR, and Ctrl V undeniably excels at this. Consumers are able to experience something they could never experience at home, given the prohibitive space and financial requirements necessary to own VR technology, knowing they’re accessing a VR experience in a class of its own.
“Our solutions are differentiated from the competitors quite significantly, as we provide a proprietary on-boarding system that allows the gamers to truly operate the entire system on their own, without the help of any attendants, and select from a growing library of legally-acquired content that caters to any genre,” notes Bruski, adding that this all happens while knowing they’re in the safe and capable hands of the world-class facility.
The company’s impeccable and thorough website, a definite asset to potential franchisees, lays out its goals clearly: “By helping to further the adoption of virtual reality, Ctrl V hopes to contribute to the development and growth of a number of industries, including the one that is the most fun – video gaming.” But not only can VR be used for entertainment, it can also be a valuable resource in education, medicine, and sales, and can have therapeutic uses. Franchisees have the opportunity to be at the forefront of this emerging and rapidly-developing industry.
Plugging into the potential of franchising
“The best type of franchisee for Ctrl V is definitely someone with an entrepreneurial mindset and background,” Bruski says. Virtual reality and franchising are a new partnership, making the ideal Ctrl V franchisee necessarily interested in breaking new ground, and in pushing the boundaries of what franchising can be and do. “We can train everything else, but the grit and moxie that come along with battling for your own survival [as an entrepreneur] is irreplaceable.”
“The franchising infrastructure allows for the collaboration of a large network of entrepreneurs with a wide breadth of experience to help build a better brand and offering for consumers,” Bruski continues, noting that “the rewards of franchising are quite evident.” Ctrl V’s dedication to refining its brand, prioritizing consumer experience above all else, is key to its ongoing success in both the franchising and virtual reality realms.
Hands-on virtual reality
The training process for new franchisees involves five days at the Waterloo flagship location. “Franchisees will be trained on hardware, software, games, customer service, marketing, franchising tasks, deployment, and a variety of other things,” says Bruski. He adds that, on an ongoing basis, “we provide numerous training materials and experiences through our franchising software, as well as direct communication with our team.” This all goes back to the idea that, above all, a franchisee’s passion for cutting-edge entrepreneurial work is at the heart of Ctrl V’s success.
Ctrl V’s executive team members are all involved in the entire process of supporting new franchisees. “Everything from ordering equipment and deployment at the beginning, to training throughout, and regular ongoing developments, advancements, and audits to the entire system and process” are all part of the deal, says Bruski. Newcomers to VR shouldn’t be intimidated by the prospect of a Ctrl V franchise – the founders make up an immensely supportive team, and their dedication to the future of virtual reality extends to embracing not just new customers, but also new franchisees.
The future looks futuristic
“What better way to provide a premium product than to partner with premium suppliers?” Ctrl V’s user-facing website asks. It’s clear that the company and its dedicated franchisees take this seriously, with their high standards of operation, ensuring “each location’s appearance is consistent, and the atmosphere is professional and entertaining.”
This steadfast commitment makes Ctrl V an ideal partner for its content suppliers, and has made it the fastest-growing name in VR arcades in North America. Ctrl V also boasts the largest VR testing network in the world, proving its commitment to both the present and the future of this otherworldly technology. Furthermore, while Ctrl V has strong connections with its consumers directly, it’s also fostering these relationships in the surrounding communities, engaging in initiatives designed to benefit the social welfare of its clients, from charity events to research, and promoting involvement and education, to truly bring VR to the masses.
With its commitment to franchising and to the VR industry, it’s no wonder Ctrl V is poised to expand and dominate this emerging field. “Ctrl V hopes to franchise across Canada and the U.S. initially, and once territories begin to fill up, Ctrl V will be starting to spread its wings into Europe,” shares Bruski.
“In 10 years, Ctrl V hopes to be on the forefront of virtual reality in every aspect. We hope to be the driving force in bringing the use of VR to everyday life in order to make accomplishing tasks that before seemed impossible, easier and more accessible.”
By Jessica Burgess