VR/E-Sports Entertainment Concept ‘The Grid’ Plans Expansion [Interview/Photos]

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The Grid, an entertainment business that specializes in immersive experiences through Virtual Reality, E-Sports, interactive learning, all with the goal of improving both physical and mental health, was first launched in Whitby, Ontario but has plans to grow the offering beyond the southern Ontario town.

Geoff Eisfeld, founder of the concept, said The Grid was his creation and the idea just keeps evolving.

“It started out that it was supposed to be a fitness, nightclub kind of a place with video games and exercise equipment and that evolved over the years into more of a mainstream event venue with high tech video games and virtual reality,” he said. “It’s not like I set out to create what it is today. It keeps changing and growing.

“And now we’re at the stage where multiple locations and businesses all over the world want a piece of what I’ve created. But in a nutshell it’s a gaming, physically active entertainment venue. Lots of video games where we encourage physical movement through sports and basketball and even virtual reality.”

The Grid Whitby (Image: The Grid)

The first location opened in September 2017 in south Whitby, just east of Toronto. The Grid is located in an industrial plaza in the town and is in about 4,700 square feet. 

“We’re in the process of finalizing a deal to get keys for a new building that’s about 12,000 square feet February 1,” he said. “So we’re moving from an industrial plaza which was the business growing, and learning the ins and outs and kind of figuring where we fit in society. We know where we belong. So we’re moving into regular retail plazas that are in communities next to schools and Walmarts and things like that.

“The issue with a lot of entertainment businesses is they don’t have enough clientele or customers to sustain them and pay high rents in commercial plazas. So they go industrial. That’s away from the customers. So it’s hard for people and families to get to these places regularly enough for it to actually be beneficial to them as a whole. After school kids can ride their bikes over and come and play and learn and grow instead of a Saturday because it’s raining they drive half an hour out of the city to find a trampoline park or things like that that are in cheaper real estate.”

The Grid Whitby (Image: The Grid)

The second and new location will be open seven days a week.

Eisfeld has extensive event industry knowledge and connections throughout North America. All that can now be funneled into this business venture. 

“We’ve had interest in Colombia, Australia, UK. US like crazy. Florida, Miami, California. I’m very outspoken in the industry and gravitate towards anyone who is willing to listen and wants to be part of this. I don’t need to sit back and make all this money and raise all that capital,” he said.

“It’s more just the impact of kids and society. So that’s what we’re chasing. We want to be the biggest impact possible at a time when society and kids and families need it. They need an outlet that isn’t just video games. It isn’t just organized sports. It isn’t an after school learning program. They kind of have to put all three together and kids will want to be here every single day. They join us online. We’re actually a full accredited high school in the New Year with our new location. So we get all of our high school credits. Fully licensed. Better education system than the current public system and we use a lot of technology in really connecting with the kids.”

Justin Curtis and Robert Weinberg, of real estate brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap, are representing The Grid in the brand’s expansion.

The Grid Whitby (Image: The Grid)

After 15 years in the mainstream event industry, he was in a key leadership role at his company. But he just felt he wasn’t being financially compensated enough for what he was delivering. He left his job and went off on his own for a couple of years as an independent contractor. 

Working from home, he had lots of free time and he funneled his free time into exercise, playing with his family, creating a new home dynamic.

“I built a home fitness entertainment room in my house. In about 60 square feet. So you picture the average furnace room. It was black and neon and fog machines and mirrors and TVs. My kids, the three of us, would go in and play while my wife was at work,” said Eisfeld.

“As we started posting content, because we’re all about creating and sharing, the industry and anyone who would see what we were doing were asking when I’m open for business, when could they book time. They were really trying to book play time in my little room at home which was nothing. I wasn’t going to have anyone just come over and play.

The Grid Whitby (Image: The Grid)

“So the fact that everyone thought that my little room was a business kind of got the wheels turning and made us realize what if we actually made this a business and I actually supported my family with video games and fun and activities versus chasing weddings and event planners and things like that. I shifted focus.

“For five years I didn’t have any employees. Every party, every crumb on the floor had to be vacuumed. Every paint. Everything had to be fixed by me. Every child. Serving the pizza. Entertaining the kids. Just by myself. Unless I had large groups and I asked a friend or a family member or my son to come help. I didn’t have actual employees until February of this year. It’s been a fun five years of playing and learning and changing the business.

“I don’t sell products. I sell time and experience and therefore I can charge almost anything and I have very little overhead.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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