By Lori Anne Oliwa
Armed with much more than video games, Jon Robinson is a man on a mission to help children and communities thrive. A Jersey City native, he started Gotta Go Gaming in 2018 - the company celebrated five years on May 22 of this year - to provide a fun and productive way for communities and organizations to grow and a springboard for children to learn and succeed. While gaming is a multi-million dollar industry, it can also be a conduit for something far greater than business success. “Gamers solve problems,” Robinson stated, “and it’s the same thing as a scientist. It is fun and recreational, but also a source of learning.”
Gotta Go Gaming offers the latest in video gaming through mobile trucks, trailers and buses which are fully-loaded with game consoles, stadium-seating and large-screen televisions. The vehicles go on the road and bring the games directly to clients, helping to mark special occasions. “It’s been a great experience. We get to celebrate the best moments in peoples’ lives,'' noted Robinson, a scientist who was formerly on the front lines of pharmacological advances in oncology, neuroscience, dermatology & aesthetics and helped to bring five pharmaceutical drugs to market. The company also hosts and facilitates E-Sports gaming tournaments where players from around the world compete against each other, complete with prizes. This includes the All You Can Tournament which has become an annual event for gamers. Gotta Go Gaming has hosted the tournament for the last three years.
A five-year business anniversary is certainly a lot to celebrate. Robinson commended the business expertise he received from the Institute For Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), where dedicated experts helped him expand his consumer base, increase his social media presence, complete financial projections and refine human resource operations. Working on financial analysis with an IFEL project manager, Robinson realized that over 30% of his profits were directed toward marketing with little to no impact. The IFEL team, led by Marketing Director Jesse Dinius, got right down to business, optimizing Robinson’s SEO and refreshing his social media accounts. These services, saving Robinson approximately $30,000 in consulting fees, allowed Robinson to spend less than $4,000 on marketing while investing an additional $33,000 into critical hiring and operational refinements. Robinson also perfected his business plan and credits IFEL for helping him to grow through introductions to potential partners like The Coding School in Montgomery, N.J. The businesses are related and recently collaborated on a coding/gaming event, thanks to IFEL. Gotta Go Gaming has been approved as a franchise business in 28 states, and Robinson credits IFEL financial experts for helping him to strengthen the economics of his business, ensuring continued growth.
Gotta Go Gaming has been approved as a franchise business for 28 states which is exciting for Robinson and his team. believes that the future success of his company has been made possible because of the help he has received from IFEL.
While gaming has critics who believe it is a negative influence, Robinson disagrees and spoke about parallels between video games, coding and STEM learning. Video games are basically a product of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) concepts converging in an interactive medium, making them a perfect teaching tool. “Video games can be adapted and integrated with something called ‘block-based’ coding,” Robinson stated. “This has a wide-ranging implication for school districts who want to encourage STEM learning and facilitate educational development. So you see there is much more to gaming. A video game is not just a video game. Parents of course want their children to learn coding because it’s a valuable skill.”
Some colleges even offer E-Sports as a major, since it is a subset of video gaming.
As a catalyst for peace and understanding, Robinson referenced the power of gaming to change young hearts and minds and has witnessed transformation right before his eyes. “Members of rival gangs sit next to each other while gaming. How they leave is vastly different from how they arrive,” Robison said emotionally.
While the business has grown in terms of clients and number of employees, Robinson is most proud of the fact that he is providing a safe space for children to succeed and to create connections. A background in youth ministry and philanthropic organizations fueled his desire to create something fun, educational and impactful. Gotta Go Gaming fulfills that mission. “I said to myself that if I was ever in a position to create activities for children, that I would. I feel a social responsibility to give back to youth,” Robinson stated. A very visible presence at local fairs, festivals, and other public events, especially during the summer months, Gotta Go Gaming also visits organizations which cater to children like the YMCA and Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs. In fact, Robinson engages in charitable work throughout the year, devoting the entire month of December to his philanthropic endeavors. “We always focus on the giving part.”