Every other month, Perfect Layout Digital Marketing meets with a business owner to discuss their business, services and products. The aim is to learn and share with you their personal experiences, what is working for them and how they have evolved into becoming the business they are today.
At Perfect Layout we believe that sharing knowledge is a great way to help other businesses develop. We are passionate about promoting the awesome, creative and varied companies that exist not only in our area, but also the rest of the UK.
Read our interview with Mark Upward, the Director of Fuzzy Brick based in Harold Wood.
Welcome Mark! It’s great to meet you again since I first encountered your business at a networking event in September. I think you offer a really unusual product and service; can you tell me a bit about what Fuzzy Brick is?
Fuzzy Brick is a mobile Virtual Reality (VR) entertainment business offering brand promotion, team building and corporate/fun events. We started off with a racing simulator that was fun and exciting and our main USP was to be mobile and compact – unlike a lot of our competitors - going to the 30th floor of a building or fitting into a businesses’ canteen is no issue for us.
Being competitively priced and dynamic in our creativity became appealing to customers. We evolved quickly and invested in more games, and used the racing as a foundation of company ethos, as we could see the scope of VR and its application.
As the tech improves, we will continue to invest in wireless VR and full motion simulation technology.
How long has Fuzzy Brick been established?
We’ve been established for about 6 months – just! It’s been a whirlwind. If we had not thought quickly on our feet to evolve and broadened out with other games, we wouldn’t be in this position that we are in now. Adapting to keep our ears open, we’ve asked questions to the right people and used social media – we have listened and quickly adapted to our clients’ needs.
We have games that test people’s business skills and bring the two sides of the office together to collaborate and have fun using the latest technology. We see businesses moving away from the more traditional methods of using paper and balls and cups for team building.
We are also currently working with a company that provides homecare services and we want to explore ways in which we can work with their clients who have dementia and who are looking for wellbeing experiences. For example, our VR equipment can be used to recreate areas that people used to visit, such as a park, or a particular street they grew up in. We really want people to go back to visual memories in a way that is now possible with the use of our VR equipment.
For schools, children will be able to learn very quickly in an immersive way. For example, experiencing different cultures around the world without even having to look at a book and text all the time or exploring the solar system using both VR and AR.
Tell me more about how your event branding works?
It’s quite simple really. We get hired by a company to advertise their business and come up with a VR based theme that ties into their company ethos or advertising campaign theme. This attracts more people to their stand, holds people at their stand for longer and when we run a competition, it brings people back to see how they fared against each other - we tend to have a prize for the winner for the day for example.
We also learn about their business and what they want to achieve from the event so we become an extension of their business rather than people that turn up and just get people to jump on VR.
When we attended IP Expo, at the Excel Centre in London in October, we were blown away by the number of compliments we received from some really large multi-million pound companies who loved all aspects of what we do, from team building to corporate training and running competitions.
We got the idea of event branding when going to some of these trade shows and seeing what was out there. We found most companies trade stands were uninspiring and lacked engagement and fun and that's where we come in to add some magic to their brand.
I love your business name. How did you come up with it?
We realised that we couldn’t be in the market with something too formal and a name that was too structured. We wanted something fun and exciting and that had a connotation to the equipment. I came up with Fuzzy Brick as a brainstorm of names and realised we could have a bear with VR goggles on as a logo. Fuzzy was the bear, brick was the VR goggles.
What did you do before becoming a Director of Fuzzy Brick?
I was in the fashion industry as a Wholesaler for independent brands like, Gant, Lyle and Scott and Scotch and Soda. I used to look after a particular brand, travel around the country and support clients with sales by selling and swapping stock, merchandising and store training. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the role of retail and fashion has changed and is not the same place it was 15 years ago. Brand loyalty and saturation has diluted the market. With larger shops selling the same stock the smaller independents have suffered – this coupled with the domination of online retail and rise of rent and rates.
What was the appeal of going into this service area?
The appeal was about being in an industry that would provide a new challenge and something different. At university, I did a product design degree.
In my head, I wanted to position myself in the market with a technology and VR was the way forward. I thought to myself, I could be my own person, my own manager, and portray myself and my business how I wanted to. I saw VR becoming an integral part of society and the workplace.
What has been your most interesting/funny response from a client that has used your service?
To be honest, I think it is the ‘Walk the Plank’ game. On that, we have had big burly men reacting loudly. It is the most exciting and engaging that helps people challenge a fear of heights. It’s simple and one that the user has to integrate with. We incorporate a real plank to walk on and a fan so you can feel a rush of air as you reach the top floor. We really want to immerse all senses.
Since you first started in June 2019 has your business grown in the way you expected to?
Yes. As with any business for the first 3 months you wouldn’t expect to see much – even up to the first 1 year. IP Expo was our break. We had amazing responses that accelerated us. Recently, we did an event for Electrolux and a 7th birthday event for AWC Car Detailing which was phenomenal. There were 150 petrol heads there all with their own products and businesses around cars. They wouldn’t let us leave and we were there until 1am. We had amazing feedback.
With hindsight, what things would you have implemented from the get go?
I think we’d gain more understanding of how to launch a business on a social media platform. Understanding the advancement of LinkedIn and Facebook advertising and the broader gaming selection to broaden our offering from day 1. We made the decision to just focus on racing however.
How do you envisage Fuzzy Brick in the next 5 years?
I would love to think that we’ve expanded in personnel and have an integral customer base that uses us on a regular basis. That we will constantly keep customers excited with our new tech and games developments and create new concepts in how we deliver events in the workplace and at parties. Evolution is key in the VR world. I also see us using full motion simulation seats and haptic and AR technology.
I see that you are connected to Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. How do you find that these platforms are working for you?
They all seem to hit a different emotion and is a different platform for each type of business. LinkedIn, you can be very direct with managers or independents. I’ve been impressed with the response from Instagram. This helps more visually with marketers. It quickly helps us to portray visually what our company does. I’d say that Facebook is a middle ground of both.
What other digital marketing strategies does your business undertake?
We use sales navigator on LinkedIn and Bark. Having a website is a must, but for us, we’ve noticed that it acts almost like a middle man. People go to our website, but then go back to our social platforms to see more detail of what we are doing.
How do you manage running your own business with family life and getting some you time?
It’s about time management, creating structure and creating a mindset of knowing when and how to switch off. Family and friends must also have respect for what I’m doing to understand the demands on my time. Communication is key.
What inspires you?
Reading biographies and talking to people in my previous industry.
If you would like to contact Fuzzy Brick for hire of their virtual reality services and equipment you can:
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn - Mark Upward
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you!