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Mobile video game company provides birthday party alternatives

March 27, 2009 by By Chris Roark - Flower Mound Leader

It has been described by its franchise owners as the cure for the typical birthday party ideas.

Or more simply put, Games2U is entertainment on wheels.

The brainchild of David and Stuart Pikoff of Austin, Games2U has given families across the country another option for children’s birthday parties. The concept features a traveling vehicle equipped with video game systems and/or Laser Tag, depending on the package ordered, as well as additional activities.

“We were researching franchises to buy,” David Pikoff said. “But, we couldn’t find anything to get excited about. So we decided to start our own. We wanted to have something in children’s entertainment because there has been nothing new in years. So we took pieces of several different things and came up with this.”

The brothers began franchising the business out last year, and Flower Mound resident Jose Torres was quick to jump on the opportunity.

Torres, 38, is set to retire from the Navy and was looking for a new career path.

“I wanted something to do where I would control my own destiny,” Torres said. “I wanted to start a business but not your typical business. It needed to give me flexibility. And with the recession, I wanted this to be an industry where there is strong growth.”

Last summer, a franchise owner in McKinney had purchased more vehicles than he could handle and was looking to sell one. Torres made the jump, and by December he had his vehicle. His grand opening was in January.

“Our first party was on New Years Eve,” Torres said. “It was a great party, and we’ve just kept rolling.”

Vehicles vary based on the franchise owners’ preferences. Torres’ is a 24-foot long Mercedes Sprinter Van. The inside theater, which can fit 12-16 players, includes three flat screen TVs in high definition, along with three Xbox 360 systems all linked together. The inside of the van provides a true gaming atmosphere, complete with laser lights, neon lights and a fog machine.

“We’ll put in a game, like Halo, for example,” Torres said. “We’ll load it up, link them together, and 12 kids will start having a Halo tournament. They’ll shoot everything up and have a great time. Then we’ll put in Madden NFL, and they’ll have a tournament with that.”

The van includes games played outside the van, as well, such as Guitar Hero, All-Star Cheer Squad and various games on the interactive Nintendo Wii.

Laser Tag is also an option, providing a variety of settings ranging from team competition to free-for-all.

Parties are based on the number of activities desired for the party. A combo package that includes an hour of video games and an hour of Laser Tag costs $349. An option with just one event costs $199.

Two game coaches typically come to the parties.

While David Pikoff said the idea is perfect for children’s birthday parties, he said Games2U has also been used for church events, companies’ team-building exercises and carnivals.

David Pikoff said Games2U operates in 15 states and that there are expected to be 100 franchise owners by next month. He said there are plans to have international franchises as well.

“We’ll go anywhere where there are kids,” David Pikoff said. “Kids everywhere are the same in that they all want to have fun. Our driving vision was to have a birthday party like a rock star for kids at a reasonable price.”

Other franchise owners have similar vehicle components, though some have expanded game options. David Pikoff said every franchise is booming.

Torres said he has been able to turn a profit with the business adventure and said he hopes to increase his vehicle fleet to six with a staff of 20 members in the future. Currently, his staff consists of himself, his wife and a business partner.

“Most businesses have a lot of working capital for the first six months,” Torres said. “We’re already getting a return. We’re seeing a lot of happy kids, and we’re making our bills. So we’re doing pretty good.”

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