Husband and wife team, Evana and Mani, founded the Hounslow based children’s indoor soft play centre – Jungle Versatile Indoor Play (V.I.P) – in 2014. They saw demand for a children’s amusement centre that had a more intimate and homely feel than similar amenities in the area. A disused play centre had all the potential they needed and so they took over the premises and refurbished its interior, incorporating a new up-to-date play frame including a zip wire, assault course, designated play area for under twos with a sensory corner, toddler zone and a new role play area. With a young daughter themselves, Evana and Mani didn’t have to look far to find someone who could trial the new equipment and give an honest (but positive) verdict!
As a new business, Jungle V.I.P is keen to stay ahead of the established competition. Evana says: “It was coming up to our first anniversary and we decided that after a successful year we wanted to feature something new and innovative. Our aim is to be able to introduce at least something new every year. Having built a loyal base of customers, it is a way of ensuring that our customers don’t get bored and have something different that they would keep returning to, whatever the weather.”
SM Systems UK approached Jungle V.I.P and proposed a solution that could enhance the centre’s play experience in the form of EyePlay (now BEAM), an interactive gaming technology. EyePlay uses an overhead device that projects interactive games onto a mat, giving children both physical and fun activities.
Jungle V.I.P quickly saw the appeal of the EyePlay solution. The technology appealed to children and offered variation, whereas the exercise element appealed to parents who wanted to interact and have fun with their children as well as encourage them to be social and active during playtime. Whilst they could envisage it being a good fit at the centre, the proprietors were conscious of how early they were in their business venture. Evana said: “As business owners prior to establishing Jungle V.I.P, we had sold off our previous business and used that to fund our new project. That meant that we had already invested much of our own funds. When the opportunity for an EyePlay solution came along, we were keen to invest, but the cost meant that we couldn’t fund it alone and that we’d have to look for financial support.”
SM Systems UK approached Jungle V.I.P and proposed how it would implement the equipment. It was clear to SM Systems UK that Jungle V.I.P couldn’t fund the purchase of the technology alone, and would struggle to pay for its implementation and maintenance. Through its partnership with Syscap, SM Systems was able to offer Jungle V.I.P flexible payment terms and the ability to lease EyePlay. The centre could then pay for it month by month over a few years, and exclusively own it at the end of the payment period. The solution included installation and maintenance costs too, meaning a single payment plan from the start allowing Jungle V.I.P to budget for it accordingly.
Evana says: “We were impressed with how flexible SM Systems were in establishing the right solution for us. Thanks to Syscap, they were able to work with us to determine payment terms that we could all benefit from. Having formed a close relationship with the sales director, SM Systems UK got to know our business well, and could therefore offer a bespoke service that took into account our needs and price range.
“Our previous business venture saw us lease medical equipment using a bank. Having undergone a similar experience but using an alternative finance provider, we can confidently say that Syscap has been more flexible in meeting our requirements. And their personal approach means that we have a representative from Syscap to contact if we ever have a query about the finance solution.”
Quick to act on Jungle V.I.P’s request, Syscap and SM Systems UK finalised the paperwork and had it ready for signing within a week of agreeing on the finance solution. Within the following two weeks, SM Systems UK had installed the new facility, which was up and running by the time of the one year anniversary. With a brand new amenity, Jungle V.I.P could celebrate a successful first year of business together with customers who had an extra excuse to visit the play centre.
With a large portion of their funds already tied up in the business, Jungle V.I.P’s owners saw an opportunity in the extended payment terms that SM Systems UK could offer due to their partnership with Syscap, making the new play equipment affordable at the right time.
“From the first day of its launch, the EyePlay was a popular facility for children visiting Jungle V.I.P. Many of them were new to playing interactive games that were projected onto a floor, and with around thirty games for them to choose from, there’s something for children of all ages and capabilities,” says Evana. “We can select games of different themes, such as Christmas, to adapt to what will be on the minds of the children at the time. As a children’s play centre, a significant chunk our business comes from birthday parties. The EyePlay can personalise an individual’s details into a birthday-related game, which we do for VIP parties, giving birthday children a special experience on the equipment, meaning that we have something unique to offer in our VIP party package.”
Evana concludes, “Jungle V.I.P is still in its infancy, so retaining and growing our customer base is a top priority. Acquiring the EyePlay solution early and being trendsetters has really differentiated our business and drawn in children who like the fact we have something different. Word gets around quickly on the playground, so the new equipment has certainly attracted new customers too.”