What does it take for a small company to get the backing of one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs? For Game Over it was some creative thinking and an email. Game Over founder, Yashwin Mohan, has grown his business by identifying a problem and coming up with a solution.
His years of importing arcade games for his family’s business helped him launch his own business that builds and supplies gaming machines to various restaurants like Spur, Panarotti’s, Mimmos and John Dory’s. He realised that these restaurants were using other gaming consoles which had remotes that were either easily broken or even stolen – his machines solved this problem. Game Over also sets up ’game rooms’, including the Coffee Table arcade machine, for corporate clients like Discovery Health, Vodacom, Mini and BMW.
Solving a problem
His idea to grow his business by introducing a local version of the international Dance Dance Revolution machines, came from an article he read in a US newspaper. “I read that in West Virginia, 38% of children were obese and 30% were overweight.
Part of the problem was that children were not taking part in physical education, so the Governor introduced the dance machines at schools.” The penny dropped when he saw the children in Virgin Active’s Club V-Max areas sitting and playing TV games. If Virgin Active is meant to be a place where people exercise and stay fit, then shouldn’t the children be doing the same thing while waiting for their parents?
Mohan had always idolised Richard Branson. “I used to type up all the song names for the jukeboxes when I was still very young and that’s where I learnt about Virgin Records.” Mohan started following Richard Branson from then on.
His experience with large corporates had always been that there are gatekeepers who will keep you from speaking to the decision-makers, but he knew that Branson led his company differently, and would even personally phone customers to deal with complaints.
Mohan says it was the theory of ‘six degrees of separation’ and persistance that finally led him to Branson’s email address. He sent an email proposing his idea for the Virgin Active Clubs in South Africa and unexpectedly received a phone call from the entrepreneur. “He said it was a great idea and that we should meet up when he was in South Africa again.”
Not only did Mohan conclude a deal to supply the health clubs with Dance Fever machines, but he also got involved as a mentor for the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. His relationship with Branson led to him being invited to speak at a Fast Track 100 event about the state of social entrepreneurship in South Africa, all while staying at the Branson family home in the UK.
His business was given a further boost in that it has a virtual branch in the UK to supply software and hardware to companies based here and in the US.
Game Over was used as the case study of a South African company doing business with the UK. The document was presented to visiting UK Prime Minister, David Cameron and his business delegation, including SA’s finance minister, Pravin Gordhan at the JSE last year.
“Getting to meet and conclude a deal with my idol felt like being awarded an honorary degree at a business school,” adds Mohan.
He is finalising a deal to supply Coffee Table arcade machines, featuring a compilation of retro 80s arcade games, to all Virgin Atlantic lounges around the world. This project was approved by Branson and is being facilitated by Virgin Atlantic SA country manager, Simon Newton-Smith.