As NextGen winners, representatives from Ctrl V and Hopscotch had the chance to participate in the two-day Franchising Summit at the IFA Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. They pitched their business concepts to a panel of judges, and also had the opportunity to network with and receive advice from leading franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers, along with other millennial entrepreneurs.
We spoke to the latest Canadian NextGen winners, who shared details about their experience at the Franchising Summit. Read on to learn more about their innovative franchise concepts, and their advice for other young millennial entrepreneurs.
Robert Bruski, CFO of virtual reality arcade franchise Ctrl V, says the experience at the IFA Franchising Summit is one that he and his colleagues, Ryan Brooks (CFO) and James Elligson (COO), won’t be forgetting any time soon.
“The decision to be involved in the NextGen in Franchising Global Competition was an easy one to make. We knew from the calibre of the IFA Convention and the breadth of knowledge provided from NextGen that participating in this program was a must-have for our business,” says Bruski.
“It was a fantastic program and ecosystem to be involved with. Our company was exposed to a vast world of knowledge, entrepreneurs, mentors, and a network that has proven to be invaluable. The 2018 curriculum was based around problem solving, a must-have component of a franchisor’s tool belt. Specifically, being able to receive input from other franchisors, as they’ve learned through experience, was key,” he adds.
Ctrl V is the world’s fastest-growing and largest virtual reality chain. Virtual reality (VR) replicates an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact in that world.
Brooks, Bruski, and Elligson decided on this virtual reality franchise concept in January 2016, when they learned the newest iteration of virtual reality technology would be available to the general public for consumer purchase in April 2016. Ctrl V customers pre-book VR sessions online, then head to the corresponding arcade, where they have access to a diverse lineup of software titles during one-hour sessions at their own designated VR station.
Now with 14 franchises open across Canada, and one in the United States, plus five corporate locations in Canada, Ctrl V is continuing to expand, with a funnel of at least 10 more franchises coming in 2018 across Canada and the U.S.
Bruski says there are many takeaways from the NextGen experience, and has this advice to pass on to other young entrepreneurs: “Franchising isn’t as simple as coming up with a great business model that can be repeated. Your franchisees are your team and your family, and you must work together to achieve a common vision and goal.”
Wyatt and Aiden Booth, Co-founders of health-conscious fast casual food franchise Hopscotch, jumped at the chance to further promote and grow their concept at the IFA Franchising Summit.
“We wanted to participate because we truly believe we’ve created a great concept that’s exciting for both franchisees and customers,” explains Wyatt.
And the brothers’ experience in Phoenix certainly lived up to their expectations. “The NextGen in Franchising Global Competition experience was extremely informative and educational for me and my brother,” says Wyatt. “It was great to work directly with industry experts who were very open to sharing their knowledge with us. We learned about strategic growth, franchise support, and how to be competitive as we expand. It was also an excellent networking opportunity.”
Hopscotch started out in London, Ontario, when the brothers were attending the University of Western Ontario, and the company’s headquarters are now in Toronto. The goal is to create a fun and inviting environment that provides customers with chef-inspired dishes made from sustainably-sourced ingredients, served fresh.
The menu boasts a wide range of options, including rice and quinoa bowls, a variety of salads, and nutrient-packed smoothies, to suit different health-conscious lifestyles, with a focus on customers dwelling in urban environments.
Hopscotch has four locations open in Ontario, and has signed multi-unit agreements with partners in Toronto and Edmonton that will see the addition of seven Hopscotch franchise locations, with the first of each agreement open by the end of 2018.
Wyatt says he and Aiden have learned a lot as they’ve built up their franchise business, and also gained some valuable insight from the NextGen Competition that they can pass on to millennials interested in franchising.
“Don’t cut corners! The excitement of franchising can be intriguing, but franchise partners put their hard-earned money into your business, and you should be prepared to offer them a business that’s positioned to be successful, and that’s been through the trial-and-error version of what they might encounter. Any question they may have, you should be able to answer in complete detail,” advises Wyatt.