Have you ever imagined what it would be like to walk down a plank balanced on the top of a skyscraper, to be a famous boxer slugging it out in the ring in front of thousands of adoring fans or even the hero leading your friends and family out of the chaos of a zombie apocalypse? Well, imagine no longer, because Neverland Virtual Reality is here to make all that and more come true right in front of your eyes. As soon as you’re finished reading this article, feel free to come down to 209 E. Market St. and give it a try for the experience of a lifetime.
To truly appreciate what makes Neverland Virtual Reality so special, you have to start at the beginning, and that beginning came with combat veterans Brady Bagwan and Josh Smith being stationed together at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs after serving as infantry officers in Iraq. They ended up forging a friendship that has lasted fifteen years and counting, and it is that friendship, camaraderie and shared passion that made all this possible.
After their military service was finished, Bagwan used his computer science degree and MBA to pursue a career in the corporate sector, while Smith went on to graduate from law school and became a real estate lawyer. After getting married, having kids and living collectively in over six states and a few foreign countries, they both landed within a few hours’ drive of each other in Pennsylvania. That gave them the opportunity to work together on one of their common interests: entrepreneurship. Bagwan and Smith both always dreamed of starting a business, and because of that, were constantly on the lookout for an exciting and innovative business idea they could work on as a partnership.
Virtual reality is much more than games. It is an experience.
After Bagwan took a trip to NYC and experienced virtual reality for the first time, it didn’t take long before he pitched the idea to Smith, and their dream of starting a business became a lot more than a dream. Bagwan saw something special while trying virtual reality. He saw a great time, and he saw people from different walks of life all having a great time. It isn’t often that a business can appeal to such a wide audience in that way. And after putting their heads together, spending a lot of late nights away from their families and doing more research than either of them ever had in all their years of school combined, they were ready to tackle their next mission: to become West Chester’s first ever virtual reality entertainment center, providing a unique, high-quality, high-tech experience for kids and adults of all ages.
So why West Chester? The number one reason is how close the location is to the WCU campus, and how supportive they hope the WCU community will be. Bagwan and Smith were able to meet with Dr. Fabrey and Dr. Richard Burns at WCU to talk about opportunities to provide virtual reality electives in the computer science department; for all you computer science majors out there, look for that in the future and come on by! Rambucks are accepted, and be sure to look out for student discount days in the future. They also offer discounts for first responders and teachers.
Another reason is how West Chester is a thriving town with a vibrant nightlife and a certain character and charm where a business like Neverland Virtual Reality will hopefully fit in perfectly. At first, they were going to call their business a VR Arcade, but changed it to an entertainment center because through their research, they realized that virtual reality is much more than games. It is an experience, and take it from me, it is an experience that is worth seeking out.
As for my personal experience with virtual reality, I had none before applying for this job. When a friend sent Neverland’s Instagram advertisement my way after hearing I was job hunting, I knew I had to apply. What could be a cooler job than working at a virtual reality arcade? And boy, was I right. From the moment I sat down with Bagwan’s wife and business partner Lynn, I was absolutely sold. I heard all about all their big ideas for the future, how I would become a part of the Neverland Virtual Reality family and that my ideas would be heard and valued. It inspires me to see such wonderful people taking a risk and starting an amazing business like this, and I really believe we should come together as a community and support them. We have the honor of being one of the first cities in the country to have a virtual reality entertainment center, and I hope everyone who reads this article will stop by and take full advantage. You wouldn’t want to miss the chance to experience your wildest dreams right in front of your eyes, would you?
Austin Gomberg is a transfer student majoring in English Writing with a minor in creative writing. AG900435@wcupa.edu