How We...Outsmart Our Copycats
The Pikoff brothers.
Who: David and Stuart Pikoff
What: Games2U Entertainment, a mobile entertainment franchise
Where: Austin, Texas
Web site: www.Games2U.com
Year founded: 2007
Number of Employees: 14
Annual revenues: projected $22.5 million for 2010
The cliche that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" certainly doesn't apply when it comes to brothers David and Stuart Pikoff of Austin-based Games2U Entertainment. When they started their business, there was no other service like it in the area. "My brother and I are just fun, lighthearted guys," says David Pikoff. Inspired by the fun they like to have, they took the idea of a video arcade, and gave it a modern twist.
First, they purchased vans and installed big-screen TVs and video games inside, then they decorated the vehicles with bright images and drove them around Austin as a live billboard. They also added other games and activities, including laser tag and gigantic hamster balls, that they could drive to-and-from customers' party spaces. As their "mobile entertainment" business succeeded, so did the unfortunate rise of copycat competitors.
"That made us hone in on product development," Mr. Pikoff says. "We needed to put [on] a full-court press, differentiating ourselves from the competitors."
To do so, the brothers rented out a 5,000-square foot building as their laboratory and dubbed it the "fun factory." Inside, they tested out a host of new games and activities that they later introduced, including the U Bot, a 7-foot-tall robot that is kid-controlled; a rolling 4-D movie theater; and an upgraded version of Capture the Flag called "Booger Wars." To protect their ideas, Mr. Pikoff also applied for patents.
Keeping the focus on innovation—rather than the competition—has paid off for the brothers. Last year, they had 108 franchise territories sold and project 300 territory bookings for 2010.
Mr. Pikoff says they will continue to create new items or products each year, in part to outsmart the competition. "That's been the challenge from the start—how do we provide unique entertainment at your doorstep," he says. "We want to make your kid feel like a rock star for a day."