Robert Bruski is by no means your average entrepreneur. After having graduated with a degree in Economics from Wilfrid Laurier University where he co-founded the school’s premiere business society “The Link”, Robert spent over a decade working in Canada’s financial investment industry focusing on buy-side investment management. Working with some of the industry’s leading investment professionals Robert was exposed to a variety of different businesses and specifically sharpened his skills in determining the difference between a good business and a great business. All of this, while dabbling in various entrepreneurial initiatives, until he decided to make the leap into starting his own company.
Robert co-founded a company called PipeDream Interactive that developed a piece of cinema eyewear called Invisivision. This company made waves throughout Hollywood before Robert and his business partner co-founded Ctrl V. Ctrl V is North America’s first, and the world’s largest, virtual reality arcade franchise. With specific, and proprietary, designs around B2B and B2C modeling, the business has been changing the LBE (location based entertainment) industry and continues to grow. But Robert didn’t stop there – how could he?
Robert is also the co-founder of Good Company Productions (GCP). GCP is a music production company that puts on concerts, shows, and festivals, acts as a talent-buying representative, and also provides artist management and representation opportunities to musicians. This initiative gave Robert a flavor for contributing to the local community.
Robert is a mentor for the Waterloo chapter of, the Palo Alto-based idea-stage accelerator, The Founders Institute. He contributes his experience and knowledge to helping budding entrepreneurs grind and build out their dreams and ideas. He sits on the board of directors for oneROOF, a local shelter for at-risk and homeless youth. He also sits on the board of directors for Innovate Inclusion, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for the success of underrepresented communities in technology and entrepreneurship. Do you think that is enough? – No way!
Robert is a competitive billiards player, an amateur Sanshou kickboxing athlete, an avid big-mountain skier, and a front-man for a local rock band. If you ask him if that’s enough, he’ll tell you that he didn’t make it this far to only make it this far.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Robert Bruski: Ctrl V is North America’s original virtual reality arcade. We were the first outfit to open such a service and grow it throughout North America in the form of a franchise. By providing other enthusiasts around the continent with the opportunity to become business owners and entrepreneurs, we are helping to further the adoption of virtual reality across a number of different industries. As CEO and co-founder with a background in business and finance, it is imperative to create a business that satisfies its mission while distinguishing itself from other good businesses as a great business.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Robert Bruski: Thriving in 2022 will be different than thriving in past years. That is not so much because of the pandemic, but rather as a result of the pandemic aftermath. The past two years have taught businesses and business owners the value of resilience, grit, moxie, hustle, and responsible accountability. With these new, or refined, skillsets, businesses can thrive in 2022 by deploying a mindset that is more strategic for an outlook of business economics as well as customer satisfaction – both of which can build durable longevity.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Robert Bruski: Given the various disruptions in the economy, businesses should focus on creating sustainable economic moats. These are competitive advantages that are durable enough to resist the adverse effects of economic shifts. This sounds much easier than it actually is. However, the clearest way to start this build-out is, to begin with, the customer and focus on what their demands and consumption capabilities are. From there I would advise any business to assess the results and deploy a strategy to isolate the economic moat that has provided for the success and make it their own!
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Robert Bruski: The pandemic has changed the virtual reality arcade industry quite heavily. Nearly every jurisdiction that participated in the global lockdowns had limited the arcade industry to a complete reduction of revenue. From a business standpoint, the was unfortunate for those that were not able to survive but very fortunate for those that were as it has created and reopened a lot of opportunities in the market. This has been coupled with pent-up demand for location-based entertainment experiences and a large awareness around virtual reality in general.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Robert Bruski: The biggest piece of advice that we received as a franchisor when the pandemic started is the number one asset that needed to be protected are the people themselves (both staff and franchisees). This human capital is what has built the business and contributed to its growth so far. And so, supporting the people, both financially and personally, was imperative to construct a mindset that would be resilient to adverse externalities. And therefore, continuing forward with this focus is an improvement for 2022 that any business should make as it will ultimately build and grow a great business whether there are hard times or not.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Robert Bruski: I believe that 2022 will see a decline in online business. This may be simply because the surge in 2020 and 2021 was so significant that maintaining those growth rates is unreasonable. That being said, people are yearning to return to normal and may toss in their online habits in order to interact with people in person. That being said, the movement to online business has set a considerable precedent in showing the world that things can be made easier and more convenient – which may be retained in certain industries. Time will tell.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Robert Bruski: The majority of my working day is spent in front of a screen. However, this is no different than it was before the pandemic. The biggest change has been with the type of work that is done in front of a screen as the pandemic has created a shift in the responsibilities of various roles. That being said, I’m absolutely sick of video calls.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Robert Bruski: Being in various leadership roles, business owners and operators naturally need to make decisions. Sometimes these decisions are accepted by the general public, while other times they disagreed with and are denied further progress. The ability to move ideas and decisions forward comes from receiving buy-in from everyone. The most effective way to procure buy-in is to construct a story around the problem and the solution. A story that describes purpose through transparency.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Robert Bruski: The real challenge right now for business is overcoming the limiting mindset of the public. Regardless of whether this mindset is justified or not, I believe it exists. This will be a real challenge for businesses until it has been universally overcome. Maneuvering around this roadblock can be tricky and very sensitive. And so, it needs to be tackled with tact, strategy, and humanity.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Robert Bruski: By far, the most exciting information in today’s world to learn about is the technology around Web 3, blockchain, and the metaverse. Ctrl V is in this industry so it is a natural fit. However, even for the public that isn’t systemically involved in the development and growth of these technologies, it is imperative and critical to becoming educated and experienced. This is becoming the largest wealth shift in a generation and a total migration of technology as we know it.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Robert Bruski: Typically if people are leaving their jobs as a result of culture or leadership, the main instigator of this degradation in the workplace is actually the leadership themselves. So, of course, the leadership would deny it. Otherwise, they would have acknowledged this shortcoming sooner and attempted to solve it (at least you’d hope so). This opens up great opportunities for entrepreneurship, especially in franchising – which is fantastic for Ctrl V. But in order to alter this shift into something more productive from the standpoint of a hypothetical company losing employees, it is imperative that the company stops focusing on the needs and desires of the Millenials, and starts to focus on Gen Z. Millenials are starting to adopt the ways of Gen Z.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Robert Bruski: If I had the ability to pick any business superpower it would probably be the most obvious one – the ability to foresee with great accuracy and confidence the outcome of various decisions. Naturally, this would prevent us from making the wrong decisions. Isn’t that what every business owner wants?
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Robert Bruski: Success in 2022 from a standpoint of Ctrl V means three things. The first is the building and maintenance of a great company culture amongst our franchisees and staff. The second is ensuring that our entire system breeds stakeholder wealth – this means more profitable franchisees and more franchisees as entrepreneurs in general. And finally, the creation and execution of a real, tangible, executable, and pioneering, growth vision for all owners and staff involved.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Robert Bruski for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Robert Bruski or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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