The History of GatSplat
GatSplat was started by our Founder, Larry Dague over a dozen years ago. It was a natural progression from an existing business he owned in the Dallas area: ScubaToys.com.
Larry had built ScubaToys up to be one of the most successful scuba businesses in the country. Larry won the Cisco System award for top business in the sales and marketing category fro Cisco Systems for his technology fueled growth, which prompted write ups in the Dallas Business Journal, the cover of UPS Magazine, and a full color page spread in Entrepreneur Magazine.
It turns out that paintball tanks take the same air pressure, 3000 psi, as scuba tanks, and many paintball players would come in to the scuba shop to get air fills. So Larry soon decided if the customers were already there for air, he may as well sell them paintballs, guns, masks, etc. A little piece of the dive shop was set aside for retail and internet sales of paintball equipment.
ScubaToys is located on I-35 in Carrollton, TX (North Dallas Suburb) next door to one of the largest Car Dealer Chains in the DFW Metroplex, the Sam Pack Auto Group. The dealership wanted to buy the ScubaToys building, so Larry went hunting another facility and found a 26,000 square foot warehouse in Lewisville, TX about 6 miles north of his existing location. The deal with the auto group never went through, but Larry decided to buy the Lewisville Location anyway just as a real estate investment, and then was torn with what to do with the building.
As Larry likes to tell it,
I was just going to lease the property, but then I figured if I was going to have some scumbag tenant that didn’t pay rent… May as well be me! At least I know where I live, so I can hunt me down and collect the rent!
Larry had taken his employees to an indoor paintball field that had recently opened in the Dallas area, and although it was not a good or fun experience, he was intrigued with the opportunity of the business. So with a large building to do anything he wanted with it, he revisited the indoor field where he had taken his team to play. Upon arriving, he saw the sign had been removed, and replaced with a large “Space For Lease” sign. He called the landlord to discover the indoor paintball field had lasted less than a year before they couldn’t pay their rent and closed their doors and moved out in the middle of the night.
Not to be deterred by the other peoples failure, on the contrary, Larry took it as a challenge, and an opportunity to try to re-invent the indoor paintball model. Never really being a paintball player, (played a hand full of times in his life) Larry dove in and built an indoor paintball field. Realistically – there were a lot of mistakes. Expensive mistakes. Ironically, most of the mistakes were from listening to his staff of mainly paintball players.
I know now I threw away well in excess of $150,000 in mistakes I made starting this business, not to mention 10 times that in lost potential revenue in the first 6 years by not doing it right.
Luckily for him, Larry had the resources from his other business successes so he could make these costly mistakes and not close the doors. And he kept remodeling, re-inventing, fine tuning and perfecting the model over a dozen years. Today there are 3 GatSplat facilities in the DFW Metroplex, the most recent opened in the spring of 2017 and in less than 4 months was in the black making a profit.
Over 50,000 players will visit a GatSplat facility this year – and leave with big smiles.
Larry is still tweaking the business model on a daily basis, including fine tuning the web pages and software that run the entire operation from reservations, to waivers, to promo emails, and Point of Sale systems. His Vantora.net company developed the entire software suite specifically to increase the profitability of paintball fields, and having the unique perspective of seeing over 150 businesses using the software – Larry is acutely in touch with the industry, how it works, what works, what trends are developing and how he can capitalize on them.
Larry has filed for a patent on easier to use air equipment for filling tanks. Something we will add is not new to Larry, as he already has 2 US patents on scuba equipment that he has manufactured in the past before selling those companies.
Customized equipment, search engine optimized web presence, propitiatory games, leveraged buying power, managerial operations all go into creating a profitable, and rewarding business opportunity.
If you do not have the time and capital to make costly mistakes – Larry is now helping people adopt the GatSplat model with Licensing options that start at just $7,500 to train you and help you start your own GatSplat licensed field.