Our Story

OUR FIRST EXPERIENCE

Sometimes what happens in Vegas is too awesome to stay there.

Let me explain. In the end of 2016, I proposed to my long-term girlfriend of six years. None of my friends thought I’d get married in my lifetime, so it was a big deal for everyone. In January 2018, a few months prior to the wedding, my friends and I went to Las Vegas for the bachelor party.

One of the events planned was a free-roam virtual reality experience where I could take on the zombie apocalypse with my friends. This was a new attraction in Vegas, open only three months prior to our visit. We didn’t know much about VR at the time, but we were all video gamers at heart and had held some pretty great Halo LAN parties in the past. We had a good feeling about the experience and were honestly just excited to shoot some zombies in the face.

The place was at a lounge called Level Up in the MGM Grand. We were asked to sign in at the front desk and every keystroke of the sign-in procedure built the anticipation. We heard the occasional scream coming from the room we were about to enter, and the hairs on our necks stood up. As we loaded the complimentary storage lockers with our personal items, preparing ourselves for the experience, an older couple came out of the room with wide smiles and locked arms. They had clearly enjoyed the experience.

Our turn to play! We entered the orientation room and it was even more impressive than we could have imagined. There were graphics on the wall depicting some of the game content to come. There was a television prompting us for the orientation, backpacks on the wall, and a rifle that looked like something out of an Aliens movie. The anticipation was killing us.

The massive game room was over 2,000 square feet. The “game master” took us to our starting points and loaded us into the environment. As the pixilation of the environment came to shape, we were blown away with the size of the virtual space, the graphics of the game, and the fact that we could see each other in the virtual world. We were INSIDE a video game about to play it in REAL LIFE!

The game initialized and we heard a message over our comms system: “It’s going to take us a while to get back to you, but we have choppers on the way. Hold out as long as you can, and we’ll come pick you up.” Suddenly, we were surrounded by zombies. We scrambled to find cover and ended up back to back and completely overwhelmed by the undead who were ready to eat our brains! When the chopper finally came back to pick us up after we successfully warded off our enemies, we realized we were completely drenched with sweat. Our arms and legs were burning from the workout, and we were all laughing at how exhausted we were from the experience.  We took off our gear, still mesmerized by what had just happened.

This was something I never knew I needed in my life. I wanted to play again. It was at this moment that I looked over at my friends and said, “We need to bring this to Mishawaka, Indiana.” I got back up, went to the welcome desk and booked an extra hour of games for everyone at the bachelor party. This was the coolest thing any of us had ever done in Vegas.

THE RETURN HOME

After a few more days of partying in Las Vegas, we made our way back to the airport for our return trip.

On the way back, all we could talk about was our VR experience. Throughout the few moments of silence we had during the trip, I formulated a concept of how to bring VR back home with us. It was a rough idea, but it was there. What came next was something incredibly difficult to formulate into words.

I met my soon-to-be wife at home and had two things I needed to say:

  1. I love you more now than I did before the trip – and I loved you immensely beforehand.
  2. I have an idea.

I then started to pitch my rough idea about opening a virtual reality entertainment center in Mishawaka.  In the first five minutes of telling her about the idea, she stopped me. She said, “You’ve had a lot of business ideas over the years. Some have been great, some have been weird, but of all the ideas you’ve had in the past, this is the one idea that you should NOT let go of. You should run with this.” And so, I did.

BUSINESS CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT

Just to keep things in perspective, I have a full-time job as a financial advisor.

While working full-time, I started developing the business concept into something real. Over the next two weeks, I made easily 100 phone calls to gather information and better formulate my idea. I got initial quotes on the hardware, software, and other gear we would need to open the business. I even started looking into leasing business space.

My initial round of homework cannot be overstated, but it led to one major issue that I needed to tackle first: we needed money. I approached the friends that attended my bachelor party and I was surprised to hear that a couple of them had already talked about it since we had returned from our trip. They were on board with the concept and were interested in investing if I could prove the business was viable.

I spent almost every second of my free time researching everything I could about the financial variables to opening a business like this. It consumed me. We signed non-disclosure agreements and non-compete agreements with my friends and started calculating the initial cost of owner’s equity in the business. I determined the route we had to go to collect financing for the start-up, and I started making more phone calls.

We progressed quickly as a team and before we knew it, we were drawing up blueprints of the building layout we wanted for a space I found. I had finished creating a business plan that exceeded several hundred pages and was ready to present the business idea to my bank. Each of the owners made their initial contribution of capital to take as proof of funds (otherwise the banks wouldn’t even talk to us).

The first bank LOVED my presentation… but didn’t do loans for a start-up business. Another bank LOVED my presentation… but didn’t do that particular type of start-up loan. I went from bank to bank to bank  to bank, but each had one reason or another why they wouldn’t approve us for a loan. Some saw it as too high of a risk, some needed more money, some needed a real-estate deal in order to even look at it. And some didn’t offer loans for each piece of the business plan I needed and wouldn’t approve a partial deal.

I talked with and presented to over 70 different financial institutions, and with each “No” I heard, I researched more and adjusted our business plan accordingly. Every “No” had me more frustrated than the last. My plan had to be slowly turning into something we could (maybe one day) get approved for, right? How do other people start businesses? There HAS to be someone out there who can do this. We just need to find them. Keep calling, Todd. Keep trying, Todd. Scream into a pillow and get the @^#% back to work, Todd.

Eight months into business planning, I scheduled in-person visits with various suppliers around the world to share my vision and negotiate our licensing agreements. I traveled to Turkey, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, England, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and more, searching out the best VR platforms in the world. I met with leading experts in VR around the globe to make this business concept of ours a reality.

Over time, my initial idea grew from a single free-roam VR business into something that no one else in the world has done before. I designed a completely different business model, I put together a compelling product mix, and I built and re-built the business plan to make it work with our financial constraints.

Over the past year, we have had to redesign the layout of the business to fit into several unique buildings. When one space fell through, we would find another. When that fell through, we would find another. Each new lease space required a resubmission of an updated business plan and financial projections to our lender along with a story as to why this space is as good or better than the last space.  Each change required mountains of paperwork on my end, and each change put us in the position to be turned down by the banks again.

By the time I finally got every aspect of this business to align, it was nearing October of 2019 and we were being told by our lender that if we couldn’t sign loan documents soon that they would require additional cash injection to approve the loan. We needed to move fast if we wanted to keep our dream alive. So, that’s what we did.  Within two weeks, every document that needed signing was signed. We got the keys to our building and we got access to our funding. We could finally start construction. Construction of a dream that was, finally, turning into a reality. Virtual reality, that is.

THIS IS US

We are relentless.  We are determined. We may be beaten and broken, but we’re still fighting.

This has been an uphill battle for nearly two years, and we’re still in it to win it. We are building something that no one in the world thought was possible – that no one has ever even attempted before. We’re the only people in the U.S. to get traditional bank funding for what we’re doing. We’re the only people in the U.S. to get government financing for what we’re doing. We are the only ones that offer our bigger platforms in the entire state of Indiana or even in any state that TOUCHES Indiana. We are the one, the only… we are THE WAYPOINT.