We all have witnessed the wonders that Virtual Reality technology has brought in our life. It allows you to transport into a variety of new worlds and mirror your movements perfectly into an alternate reality. Not only this, but it also offers an amazing platform for virtual training, meetings, education, therapy, entertainment, and more. In terms of gaming, the immenseness that VR provides offers a level that hasn’t been seen until now. It offers a new way to play together with your family and friends.
Ctrl V sees itself at the forefront of this paradigm shift – being the world’s first virtual reality arcade. Ctrl V’s large selection of games and experiences ensures it has something for everyone. It is the ideal venue to host your next birthday party, team building event, corporate event, or just a simple night out with your friends.
The Franchise Universe caught up with Robert Bruski, CEO and Co-Founder of Ctrl V to unveil the idea behind the approach that helped to drive the organization.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Give us a brief overview of Ctrl V Inc., and its journey since inception.
Ctrl V is a virtual reality arcade. Boom! What is that you may ask? Well, it is exactly what it sounds like; an arcade specializing in immersive entertainment. Customers of all kinds visit one of our locations, pay by the hour, and enjoy an “all-you-can-eat” buffet of virtual reality content, or as we like to say, “happiness in the form of virtual reality.” Opening its doors in 2016, Ctrl V was the first virtual reality arcade of its kind in North America. Not only that, but at the time of writing this, it is the largest VR franchise in the world with locations all over the place and many more coming. Ctrl V’s journey dates all the way back to 2016.
In early 2016 at CES in Las Vegas, the virtual reality industry had just announced that VR had reached the state of consumer viability and was going to be released in May of that year. A trio of entrepreneurs knew that this was going to be the next generation of location-based entertainment. And so, they began on a journey that was going to be a rollercoaster ride over the next 5 years.
Being a consumer-focused product, there wasn’t really any large manufacturer that was interested in the applications of VR for commercial use. The team behind Ctrl V saw an opportunity and did what any entrepreneur does – got to work. After having procured an excessive amount of consumer research and product testing it was time to see if they could get the most important part of the mix – the virtual reality hardware and software. After facing a lot of double and ridicule from the industry, eventually one of the large manufacturers was gracious enough to provide commercial licenses for 16 HMDs. Over the course of 2 months the team secured real estate, equipment, built out the pilot facility, and began marketing with hopes that this enormous risk would pan out as research.
One of the first customers that Ctrl V had served, arrived in Waterloo and started inquiring about franchising the concept. Though the team knew a little bit about franchising, it definitely wasn’t their
forte. But it was evident that franchising could be an efficient way to achieve a goal of bringing immersive entertainment to the masses, and that it could provide an opportunity for other enthusiasts to become entrepreneurs. So, as most entrepreneurs would do – they got to work.
Setting up a franchise system was no easy task. Not only were there policies and procedures to create, but the brand needed to be developed, training systems created, support networks deployed, and a variety of other nuances to franchising that a lot of emerging franchisors don’t know or overlook were impeding. But luckily, this first franchise was a perfect fit for the team and culture and was patient enough to endure throughout the growing pains. In October 2016 agreements were signed and the first franchised Ctrl V location opened in Guelph, Ontario in March of 2017.
Since then, Ctrl V has grown across a number of provinces in Canada, as well as states in the USA, and even an international location in Costa Rica. Ctrl V’s culture is one of community involvement, fun, and entrepreneurship. Being on the cusp of a break-out technology, it is the responsibility of the entire team to bring to life what is dreamt of, through virtual reality. When reality isn’t enough… Ctrl V is contributing to making the impossible, possible.
Describe your VR services/solutions that make Ctrl V Inc. standout from the competition
We offer the highest number of VR stations possible to ensure our customers can experience VR together.
- We offer access to premium VR technology and content at the most affordable prices on the planet
- Our VR specialists are experts in all of the content available and pride themselves in providing unparalleled customer service.
- Our customers control their experience, at their own pace. We allow customers to switch in and out of any content throughout their session, entirely at their discretion.
- We offer the largest VR stations dedicated to a single customer, minimizing intrusions from the real world as much as possible.
- We maximize the value to our customers by ensuring the sessions begin and end on schedule with the fewest interruptions possible.
- We fully sanitize all hardware between every session ensuring our customers have access to the freshest VR equipment available.
- All content in our library is thoroughly tested and vetted to ensure we provide our customers with the highest quality content.
- All content in our library is legally licensed directly from the content developer, which helps support and build the VR community.
- Our content library is continuously growing and offers a diverse range of experiences, ensuring everyone will find the perfect escape.
What is your opinion on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments?
It is very important for all businesses to be aware of, and familiar with new technology of course. As the world progresses and technology drives forward, it is only prudent to, at the very least, be aware of new technology and how it is shaping the world around us. If for no other reason, at least an individual or business grows in awareness and knowledge. However, for a business to specifically align itself with newer technological developments simply because it is expected or is status quo, is not very prudent at all. It is really dependent on the business. For Ctrl V, for example, technological advancement is critical. As we aim to bring immersive technology to the masses, we expect that the definition of “immersive technology” will change going forward. And so, we must be malleable enough to grow alongside it. But we must also be prudent enough to understand that all technological advancement isn’t good, isn’t complete, or isn’t in the right direction.
How are your comprehensive VR solutions helping in advancing businesses?
There are so many applications for VR but, alas, similar to other technologies, virtual reality requires quite a substantial nudge from the general public to encourage adoption. And this is what Ctrl V aims to do.
From a hardware standpoint, not only do we offer top of the line equipment to our customers, but we are also open to collaboration with other businesses. Connecting with the Autisms Society to provide low sensory experiences for people with autism, engaging with first responders to provide a place to train and also recover from PTSD, are amongst some of the opportunities that we provide to help advance other businesses.
From a standpoint of software, with the massive throughput of customers that Ctrl V has, we have become an excellent testing ground for new businesses to trial software, engage in testing, and even pilot experiences.
The team at Ctrl V does whatever we can to contribute to the great VR industry as a whole. Anything from consulting on arcade deployments, to the development of content to streamline customer integration, is something we’ve been involved in. Contributing to the VR community as well as the franchising community has always been something that the team has been passionate about.
How do you envision on sustaining your company’s competency in today’s digitally disruptive world of business? Where do you see your company in the next five years?
One of the things that I’m the proudest of within the Ctrl V ecosystem is our team. This goes beyond our corporate team and extends to our valuable franchise partners. Everyone treats Ctrl V as more than just a place to go to work. Everyone is an owner or thinks like an owner. They are passionate about the brand, the industry, the customers, and the business. As a result, everyone is always involved in every aspect of the industry. We are innovating together. We are learning about the industry together. We are coming up with new ideas and keeping the business disruptive together. Great people are all we need to stay competent in the digitally disruptive world of business. This naturally leads to the vision for Ctrl V for the next five years.