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Game company's business is a party

Franchise takes video games to parties, picnics

By Amanda Miller – Military Times

Thank an Austin, Texas-based company for what may be the coolest new business opportunity ever to hit the streets.

Brothers Stu and David Pikoff just began selling Games 2U franchises this year. They're responsible for 11 franchisees operating now or opening soon, and Stu Pikoff expects to wrap up another dozen-or-so deals in the next 60 days.

"People love the industry. They love that it's all about video games," Pikoff said.

Getting started required approvals from the game companies that supplied graphics for the exteriors of Games2U's unmistakable mobile game theaters.

Those companies, Pikoff said, were happy to come onboard.

"They love our concept because we represent a free and really unique on-the-street market for them," Pikoff said.

Games2U isn't only unique. It's also a relatively easy way to start a business.

Elite Trice is the first former or current service member to invest in a Games2U franchise.

The Navy vet and longtime auto-dealership finance director bought a franchise in Phoenix with his brother, Ben Garland. Trice wants to own a business so he can set his own schedule and ensure he has plenty of time to spend with his young son.

"It's a big, big opportunity just having the freedom," Trice said.

Games2U franchisees can finance a brand-new, customized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van through an outfitter with whom Games2U has a special agreement.

The van comes loaded with three 42-inch high-definition monitors and surround sound in the climate-controlled interior, with enough PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles for 12 players. Two 50-inch monitors mounted under a movable awning outside provide stations for Nintendo Wii. Add to that 21 laser tag pistols and about 15 inflatable bunkers, and you've got the makings for a really fun kid's birthday party or employee appreciation picnic.

Pikoff said the fully loaded Sprinter, plus everything needed to run the business, costs about $100,000. Franchisees who choose the original Games2U pickup and trailer pay about $175,000. Pikoff said Games2U will reduce the additional franchise fee by $2,500 for vets, bringing the discounted franchise fee to $32,500.

Franchisees operate in exclusive territories and receive training, marketing help, access to an automated online booking and payment system, and whatever other assistance the Pikoffs can give.

Of course, the best marketing tools are the vehicles themselves.

"They're doing their job," Pikoff said. "They're rolling billboards."

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