Rey Puente, a teacher, wanted to do something different. He was hired as a game coach for the first Games2U franchise in Austin, Texas. After watching the tremendous growth of Games2Uand getting first hand experience about how much fun bringing games to birthday parties and other events could be, he decided it was a good investment and bought his own franchise.
Games2U is a mobile game theatre that provides the ultimate in party entertainment through fully customized Mercedes Vans that feature five 42’ HDTVs, 3 Xbox 360s and 2 Nintendo Wiis. The van has been tailored on the inside to accommodate up to 12 people playing Xbox together. The systems are system linked so up to 12 people can play together on one game, which is especially popular with titles like Halo and Call of Duty.
The outside of the van features two more TVs hooked up to Nintendo Wiis where up to eight more people can rock out on Rock Band or work up a sweat on Wii Sports. This is the core of the business but we also offer outdoor laser tag where we set up bunkers in your yard or a local park where up to 20 kids battle it out. We also have giant Hamster Balls where kids or adults can get inside and roll around. New products are constantly in development through our corporate office.
Rey Puente answered a few of our questions about Games2U and operating a franchise.
YOUNG MONEY: Can you tell us about what makes owning a franchise different?
REY PUENTE: The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that I am directly responsible for everything. There’s no one to blame if something goes wrong I am in total control.
The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes took a bit of getting used to. I thought I had a clue of how hard the franchise owner was working but I got a better feel for it once I was the one taking all the calls, booking the events and working the parties. I also learned how much of a family aspect Games2U has with each of their franchise owners. Everyone is constantly trading ideas and working with each other to make this company the best it can be – we truly have a terrific team and everyone works to help one another.
YM: Why did you decide on this particular franchise?
RP: I had the opportunity to see firsthand how much the company was growing. As I said earlier I began working for Games2U when it was in its infancy. As I saw the growth and how many other people were buying into the idea, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I majored in education and had a good background working with kids, so if I wasn’t going to teach this seemed like a good alternative to still work with children. Besides…it’s video games and birthday parties! I was going to be hard-pressed to find another job that was this much fun.
YM: Where did you get the funding for your business or franchise?
RP: Being 23 years old and right out of college, getting a loan large enough to cover the initial investment was tough, especially with the credit crisis. I did what any logical person in my situation would do – I turned to my parents for assistance. They jumped in and gave me what was needed to open the franchise.
YM: What was the hardest thing you encountered while starting your business?
RP: TIMING. I got started in the dead of summer when most families are enjoying their vacations, so it was a bit of a slow start. Once word got that Games2U was in the Rio Grande Valley things quickly turned around.
YM: How do you get your name out there and get customers?
RP:I talk to a lot of people and do a ton of free events for the community. I try to be out there as much as possible, even if that just means driving the van around. The van is a moving billboard, so the more people that see it on the road and call to ask what it is the better. Also, doing events for the community and schools, as well as local and national festivals go a long way to getting your name out in the town.
YM: What effect has the recession had on your business?
RP: None that I can tell and I actually think it might have helped business. When I approach a restaurant to help set up a local event with Games2U, the idea has been well received since the recession has stopped some families from eating out as often as they might have been. Anything that will drive in more families for them is a big deal and Games2U is the perfect companion for restaurants and all local businesses.
YM: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
RP: Games2U offers the best in birthday parties and community events. Look us up at www.g2u.com for more information and to see if we’re available in your area. If we aren’t – then go ahead and join the family.