The Gaming Hideaway

A £10,000 Start-up Grant Turns Business Plans into a virtual reality for The Gaming Hideaway.

The Gaming Hideaway

Virtual reality and gaming centre, The Gaming Hideaway, is a first for Stockton-on-Tees and a first for the North East, bringing together educational learning opportunities and family fun in one unique venue.

Based in Thornaby, The Gaming Hideaway first opened its doors in May 2021 and already employs 19 members of staff and is having a positive impact on the local community with its regular educational learning days.

We caught up with Director, Rachel Crooks, to find out more about The Gaming Hideaway and how funding and support from Tees Valley Business has played an ‘instrumental’ role in the business’s start-up journey.

Bringing new experiences to Teesside

The Gaming Hideaway works closely with schools, colleges, universities, and children’s services to provide unique educational learning development opportunities through Virtual Reality software and equipment.

Director, Rachel, explains: “Combining Virtual Reality with education is a new concept that is growing worldwide. Implementing VR into the curriculum not only benefits the absorption of facts it enables the user to not just learn the subject but become part of it, providing a higher level of engagement. We have a wide range of different subjects within today’s curriculum that students can experience, from swimming under the sea while learning about different species, to flying through space discovering facts about different moons, planets and galaxies.”

The team also host regular autism events and run a ‘Get Up Saturday’ campaign that provides immersive learning to underprivileged children across Teesside, creating new and unique opportunities for the local community.

Outside of the classroom, The Gaming Hideaway is open to the public for family gaming, parties, virtual reality escape room experiences and simulators, offering ‘larger-than-life adventures’ where participants can take on challenges including ‘Escape The Lost Pyramid’ and ‘Beyond Medusa’s Gate’.

‘Instrumental’ funding and support

Rachel was able to access fully funded start-up support through Tees Valley Business to help develop a business plan and prepare the necessary financial forecasts to get the business off the ground.

This practical advice and support came alongside a £10,000 Start Up Scale Up Grant to directly support the creation of two new full-time roles.

Rachel says: “The funding and support from Tees Valley Business has enabled us to grow The Gaming Hideaway more quickly than we would otherwise have been able to. The team helped us to access grants we never even knew existed. This has been instrumental in supporting the funding of the start-up costs of the business and helped to mitigate the risks involved in setting up any new business.”

Creating new jobs

The Gaming Hideaway employs 17 full-time employees, including apprentices, and two part-time members of staff, with plans in the pipeline to grow the team even further.

Rachel says: “The Start Up Scale Up grant directly supported the creation of two full time jobs – a receptionist and a keyholder/assistant, both of whom are local to the Tees Valley.

“The grant was also instrumental in supporting the creation of the business overall, and we plan over the next year to grow our team even further with the appointment of an Assistant Manager and two Supervisors”.

Talking about the support received, Rachel said: “Working with Tees Valley Business has been such a pleasurable and informative experience for our company from start to finish and even beyond. They have been there whenever we needed, whether this be to answer our questions, give advice or simply be there with support.

“I couldn’t recommend Tees Valley Business highly enough to others starting out on their business journey.”

The Tees Valley Business start-up programme and ‘Start-Up, Scale-Up’ grant is managed by Tees Valley Business, which is the local growth hub for the Tees Valley set up by the Tees Valley Mayor and Tees Valley Combined Authority.

To find out more about The Gaming Hideaway, you can click here to visit the website.


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