A virtual reality entertainment center is set to open in County Durham after entrepreneurs tapped into six-figure investments.
Rachel and Kaiyn Crooks opened their first Gaming Hideaway in Thornaby last year, after spotting a gap in the market for a family-oriented venue bringing together different VR and gaming technologies under one roof.
After proving and refining the concept over the past year, they are now set to open a second Gaming Hideaway on Newgate Street in downtown Bishop Auckland, which is almost twice the size of the original.
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The 6,000-square-foot site, which is slated to open in July, spans two floors and will include virtual reality games and simulators, high-end PCs and gaming consoles, and racing stations with 65 inch screens. Private party space and catering will be available, and guests can hire the entire venue for private and corporate events.
The expansion was made possible after the pair worked with regional fund management company NEL Fund Managers to bring the £150,000 investment into the growth capital fund.
Andy Briggs, IA Growth business growth specialists, supported them in the preparation and implementation of their growth strategy. A dozen new jobs will be created at the new premises in Bishop Auckland, bringing the company’s total workforce to 24.
The couple are also considering possible locations in the northeast for a third location, which they hope to open by the end of the year.
Ms Crooks said: “The idea behind The Gaming Hideaway was to provide a cost-effective destination location that would offer something for people of all ages and allow families to spend quality time together.
“Bringing all of this advanced gaming technology together under one roof is something that has never been done before, but the success of our Thornaby room has shown that we have the right concept and we are excited to now bring it to the County Durham.
“Bishop Auckland is a great location that will attract customers from communities across the region and we look forward to welcoming everyone to the new location in just a few weeks. We develop and install all game concepts ourselves, and our ambition is to have a third Gaming Hideaway operational in the North East before the end of the year.
“We met NEL last year at the Start Up Awards North East and quickly formed a very good working relationship. Their enthusiasm for our ideas was clear and completing the investment application process was a very positive experience.
Jane Siddle, Chief Investment Officer at NEL Fund Managers, said: “Rachel and Kaiyn have proven their concept for The Gaming Hideaway appeals to all generations at their first establishment, and we are very excited to help them launch it on an even larger scale in Bishop Auckland.
Mr. Briggs of IA Growth said, “It’s been great to be able to help and support Rachel and Kaiyn on their journey so far, and it’s incredibly exciting to think we’re just getting started.
“Working with the team at The Gaming Hideaway has been refreshing and they certainly have an energy and passion for creating a first class family environment. We have created a bespoke business plan and are now helping with the implementation as well only to support their request for funding.