ViRAL Entertainment's Story
Mar 23, 2022
ViRAL Entertainment – who are they?
ViRAL Entertainment is a family-run virtual reality centre, rated #1 in Corby, Northamptonshire for fun and games. The goal? To provide customers with mind-blowing VR experiences that create memories for a lifetime.
ViRAL’s team are passionate about providing the best experience for all, which is what makes them renowned for their customer service and VR experiences.
Take us back – where did it all start?
Former Royal Navy Medic, Garry, has always found passion in the idea of starting a business that can make money, be successful, and most importantly, that he and his customers can enjoy.
Despite being involved in the military, this urge never left. In fact, it only grew bigger as the years went by. The idea consumed him, perhaps a little too much at times. To put it lightly, he couldn’t even walk down a road without thinking…
“If the white paint supplier for roads can make a business, why can’t I?”
“If the cat-eye light supplier for roads can make a business, why can’t I?”
“If the tarmac resin supplier for roads can make a business, why can’t I?!”.
If you couldn’t tell already, Garry had an itch that needed to be scratched. He just couldn’t put his finger on it. Until…
Tell us – why VR?
Fast-forward to November 2017, Garry had left the Navy and he, his wife Lynnette, and their two children have settled nicely into Corby. The pipe dream of owning a business remains.
It’s just as well as, because now we get to the point where Garry puts on a VR headset for the first time.
This Star Trek-like experience got his brain ticking immediately… he knew VR was going to be something amazing.
But being such new tech, the cogs started to spin, questions needed answers, and research was required.
During this period came Other World, a pop-up shop near Old Street underground station in London. Amid learning about the wonders of virtual reality, Garry found himself being lured into the doors of this captivating place.
“What is this?!”. As you may or may not be able to imagine, Garry’s Scottish-dressed words boomed around the place.
“It’s a VR arcade. People come in and pay to experience VR”.
And just like that, the final seed was planted. Garry was inspired, sold, and now, a man on a mission.
ViRAL Entertainment – the birth
Garry… an unstoppable Glaswegian on the loose in Corby, out to make his business idea finally happen, was unstoppable. The mission was clear… to open a virtual reality entertainment centre in Corby.
With the help and support of Lynnette and the rest of his family, Garry invested everything he had into making this happen. What next?
This is the part where you picture a dramatic, sped-up montage of Garry getting sleepless nights, conducting market research, exploring project market growth, having endless conversations with financial experts, learning the ropes of VR tech, grinding hard in a second job to build up the savings, and so on…
And then… (stop montage) BOOM! By November 2019, we have a secured venue for Garry and Lynnette in Corby town centre, ready to open.
You’d think we’d be hearing some applauding sounds by now, right? No, no. Garry was instead faced with comments like…
“You’re mental, this won’t work”.
I mean, it’s lucky we have thick-skinned Garry on our hands to come back with the response of…
“Thousands of people start a business every day, why can’t I be one of them?”
ViRAL Entertainment – Kicking off with a storm
And there you have it, ViRAL Entertainment, officially open! Garry remained tentative at the knowledge that opening a VR centre in the middle of Corby, sat at ground level within the entertainment sector. There wasn’t a whole lot of businesses out there like this, but the family had faith that it would work.
A steep learning curve was to be expected at this point, as they learnt the ropes with technical hiccups, etc. Despite this, Garry made one thing clear. Customer satisfaction and great reviews was paramount from the start.
And they smashed it! Throughout December, January, and February, ViRAL kicked off with an absolute storm! People were very quickly falling in love with the wonders of VR and kept coming back for more. And if they weren’t? They were buying gift vouchers for their friends and family to come back and try it. ViRAL Entertainment had officially hit the ground running.
It all sounds hunky-dory, until…
Covid-19 – it all went wrong…
Fast-forward to February 2021… you might have heard but a little virus called Covid. Yes, that little badger. (Un)fortunately, with Garry’s previous medical background in the forces, he did not take this news lightly. In fact, he pre-empted the severity that was to follow.
Lo and behold, by 26th March 2021, a national UK lockdown was declared, and ViRAL Entertainment was closed for business.
As you can imagine, Garry and Lynnette were heavy with disappointment and worry.
“Seeing something you have invested your life’s savings into and spent a lifetime thinking about, now on its knees, it’s pretty scary to be honest.”
Now closed, the VR centre felt lifeless, dark, and soulless to Garry and Lynnette. They spent 3 months living in fear of regret, with no clear road map laid out for the future.
Despite lockdown lifting, restrictions in place hindered the optimal success of ViRAL Entertainment. Their revenue was cut short daily due to safely following government guidelines.
Garry and Lynnette were grateful for the help of government grants and loansto be able to invest in new VR racing simulators and keep the business afloat. But in a new industry that’s on its knees, where 95% of the population are unaware of what VR even was at this point, the business struggled.
To say that this was a long-drawn-out couple of years for ViRAL would be an understatement.
ViRAL Entertainment – reborn post Covid
ViRAL Entertainment, like most other business, was hit hard during Covid. But what’s more important than this? 3 lockdowns later and countless restrictions, they survived.
How, you ask?
- Enlisting a class-A team around them
- Investment in marketing (incl. a new website)
- Loyalty from past/new customers
- Support from the local community (incl. Northants telegraph and BBC Northants Radio)
- Bravery of people willing to try VR
- Lynnette keeping Garry in check
- A firm belief from the whole family that things would work out
After re-opening in May 2021 there was a buzz in the air. Their first weekend back saw a jam-packed couple of days, with customers revelling in the excitement of VR. In the weeks to follow, parties returned with a storm, the word was getting out and ViRAL was finally starting to get back on track!
What’s next for ViRAL and the team?
Garry, Lynnette, and the team remain positive as they move forward in 2022. Despite still recovering from the hardship of the pandemic, the business continues to plough on.
In the past few months, Garry and Lynnette have invested in further VR technology to be able to facilitate more immersive, exciting experiences including:
- VR Racing Simulators
- VR PODS
- VR Free Roam
- VR for Care Homes
So, returning to our first point… ViRAL Entertainment remain a strong team, passionate about providing the best VR experiences for all. Customer service is their number 1 priority.
In a new industry, still surviving post pandemic, ViRAL’s only ask is that people push themselves out of their comfort zone and put on a VR headset. Once you do? You won’t regret it.
ViRAL need to build awareness for VR and the endless possibilities for the community, so how can you help them to spread the word?Book online today!