From kobe burgers to doggy baths, entrepreneurs have figured out a way to make just about any business mobile. And now, one entrepreneur is using the concept of fun on wheels to help others become business owners. In today's American Franchise Spotlight, we go behind the scenes at GameTruck, a mobile video game theater.
GameTruck sells itself as offering “the ultimate video game party,” and is exactly what the name implies; a truck filled with games, specifically video games that play on consoles, such as the XBOX360, Nintendo Wii and PlayStation. The trucks are equipped with four to eight flat screen TVs and seating that accommodates up to 16 people.
Scott Novis launched the company in 2006, after years of working for gaming companies such as Rainbow Studios and Disney.
"People who had real jobs thought video games were frivolous," said Novis. GameTruck's popularity may prove otherwise. Since franchise operations began in 2008 the company has approved 60 franchisees in 23 states and Nigeria. This year GameTruck hopes to add 30 new franchisees.
"Illinois only has two trucks," said Novis, "There is tremendous opportunity to expand in the U.S. From the Midwest to the northeast, those places are going to be huge."
GameTruck offers three vehicle models; a gooseneck tow-behind trailer, a V-nose trailer or an RV unit. Franchisees purchase the trailers from the company and buy their own tow-vehicle. The initial investment can range from $135,000 to $185,000, depending on the trailer model. Franchisees pay a $9,500 franchising fee and monthly royalties of 7% of gross revenue.
Flexibility in operations is a distinct selling point for GameTruck franchisees. While some franchisees run the business as a full-time job, others just book the truck on weekends. The trucks can be stored in RV lots or the franchisee's own property.
Ken Levey, the company's newest franchisee, signed the ten-year franchising agreement and drove his truck to Warren, New Jersey from Nappanee, Indiana in December of last year. He sells paper and plastic products in addition to operating his GameTruck. Levey has hosted 30 events since December and is hoping to book 25 events a month.
"The most important thing is the moms," said Levey, "You have to make sure the moms are happy because every party is an advertisement for 20 more parties."
While parties keep GameTrucks full on the weekends, the company is looking for ways to fill them on weekdays. "This is a capital equipment utilization business," said CEO Novis, "One of the things we try to do is push ROI as high as we can."
Novis hopes to generate more business for his franchisees by using the trucks for educational programs, something he started locally in Phoenix two years ago. He recently partnered with The Learning Care Group, a child-care provider with over a thousand schools nationwide.
This month GameTruck will honor its Chicago franchisee with an award for setting the most number of events on one "rig" in one month: 67. "Our most successful franchisees do business-to-business sales," said Novis. For those who shy away from picking up the phone, GameTruck is in the early stages of launching a telesales department.
While sales generate revenue, GameTruck franchisees must also master logistics, scheduling and trailer operations.
"There are a million things you just don't think about until something goes wrong," said Joel Carlson, GameTruck's first franchisee, "Like that we have to tighten the lug nuts on trailers every week."
Carlson now operates four trailers. "Every time we added a trailer, the complexity of our business went up," he said. After developing his business' employee training program, customer service process and confirmation and cancellation policies, Carlson realized, "There is a lot more that goes into this business than running around birthday parties."
In the company's history one franchisee has failed. Novis, who warns franchisees that they are not buying a toy, attributed the failure to a bad fit between the person who bought the truck and the person who operated it.
"If you own this thing, you need to run it," said Novis.
As the company prepares to expand to Canada and to the other 27 states it is not in, Novis is looking for determined franchisees because "anywhere you can put a professional baseball stadium, there should be a bunch of GameTrucks."
(Tempe, Ariz.)—Just four months since GameTruck was issued a patent for its unique mobile video game theater concept, GameTruck has caused several imitators of the mobile gaming system idea to either sell their assets to GameTruck or agree not to infringe on GameTruck’s patent. Serious about protecting its intellectual property, GameTruck communicated news of the patent to several mobile video game companies following the issuance of its patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in fall 2011. GameTruck is the original and longest-running mobile video game theater concept in the country.
While several mobile gaming companies, including mobilevideogamingparties.com, closed their businesses in lieu of violating the patent, an infringement lawsuit was filed against Mobile Game Cave (MGC) for infringing on GameTruck’s “Method of Entertaining Using a Mobile Entertainment Environment,” which protects its unique way of entertaining people in its mobile video gaming theater. Following the filing of the suit, MGC entered into a settlement agreement and sold their trailer to GameTruck.
“We’re proud that GameTruck’s unique interactive mobile entertainment systems are patented by the U.S. government,” said Scott Novis, founder and CEO of GameTruck. “We’re passionate about maintaining our brand standards and ensuring the quality and image of GameTruck as the real innovator and creator of the concept.”
GameTruck is the original and longest-running mobile video game theater concept in the country, bringing ultimate video game parties almost anywhere via self-powered, climate-controlled GameTruck trailers outfitted with as many as eight flat-screen HDTV’s, enhanced sound systems and dozens of the latest multiplayer games. GameTruck brings the excitement of interactive entertainment to private parties, educational and fundraising events, corporate events and public events across the country.
GameTruck offers a premier party experience for both children and adults in an interactive, multiplayer environment that accommodates 16 or more players. Self-powered, climate-controlled GameTruck trailers are outfitted with comfortable seating, four to as many as eight flat-screen HDTVs, enhanced sound systems, more than three dozen of the latest multiplayer video games and all the major video game consoles (XBOX360®, Nintendo Wii™ and Playstation®3). A GameCoach manages each event, promoting fair, interactive play. Since it was founded in 2006, GameTruck has grown to 60 franchisees operating 80 GameTruck rigs in 150 territories across 23 states and Lagos, Nigeria. Expansion is underway in Canada and Trinidad and GameTruck expects to add 30 new franchisees and 60 new territories in 2012 alone, with long-range projections for 200 to 250 units covering the U.S. and Canada. GameTruck is the owner of U.S. Pat. No. 8,029,368 issued October 4, 2011.
This release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 27E of the Securities Act of 1934. Statements contained in this release that are not historical facts may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Potential franchisees are cautioned that forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain. Actual performance and results may differ materially from that projected or suggested herein due to certain risks and uncertainties including, without limitation, the ability to obtain franchisees in anticipated locations, financial investment by anticipated franchisees, business performance by anticipated franchisees, U.S. and international regulatory compliance, and shareholder approval for anticipated actions.
The company's franchisees are independent third parties that the company does not control. Numerous factors beyond the control of the company and its franchisees may affect the opening of new franchises and the performance of new and existing franchises.
Evil Controllers, a game controller modification company based in Tempe, has signed a deal to have its equipment used with GameTruck.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it calls for Evil Controllers to supply at least 16 controllers per truck for the 75 vehicles GameTruck has nationwide.
GameTruck, also based in Tempe, is a mobile audio and video unit that is available for rentals for birthday parties and other events. The exclusive deal was launched March 1.
“To get our controllers into the hands of gamers where they have the chance to purchase them, that’s a great deal for us,” said Adam Coe, founder and lead designer for Evil Controllers.
GameTruck will roll out the "Official Evil Controllers Party," which will include at least one “MVP” controller with all Evil Controller’s modifications.
“Our goal at GameTruck is to provide a memorable event experience for gamers of all ages,” says David Wachtel, chief operating officer of GameTruck. “Evil Controllers is an awesome addition to that experience. It’s an exclusive distinction that will ensure our gaming experience continues to be the most superior in our industry.”
GameTrucks has operations in Phoenix, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland and other markets.
Coe, who grew the business selling directly to consumers, said the move gives the Evil Controllers another outlet for sales and showcasing its products.
“It’s like having a mobile retail store,” he said.