Micah Morrell, a junior business administration student, was born with an entrepreneurial mind. He’s always thinking of new ideas, businesses and ways to add entertainment to people’s lives. In March of 2021, he had a lightbulb moment: what if the Haywood Mall had a racing simulation? The idea grew into reality within a month, and he and Michael Westerman, his business partner, started Techno Simulations, an ultra-realistic racing simulator center.
Choosing a Location
Morrell knew that foot traffic in the mall was starting to pick up again as COVID-19 was slowing down, and he wanted to find a way for husbands (and kids) to take a break from their wives’ shopping sprees and splurge a little on themselves. He knew malls still vied for in-person shopping and wanted to jump on the train of new entertainment.
“Malls are looking for businesses that still bring people to a destination for the sake of an experience. Techno Simulations does just that, as you cannot buy this experience online,” Morrell said.
Within a few weeks, he and Westerman had invested nearly $30,000 into two high-quality racing simulators with three 65-inch 4K TVs and motion equipment that allows the driver to move as if in a real race car. The simulation gives you the ability to race without the consequences of getting hurt.
A Unique Situation
Since the lease in the mall didn’t begin until the first week of April, Morrell stored the equipment in an empty residence hall room and allowed his friends to try it out for free, working out the kinks and getting feedback.
He also had the unique opportunity to participate in the school’s first-ever BJU “Shark Tank” and pitch the idea to the “sharks.” He said he didn’t want any investors but actually just wanted connections to help the business expand eventually. Needless to say, the sharks were impressed with the business, and one of them eagerly shared his connections and feedback.
Racing to Start
Though a racing simulation business may seem like an odd niche, Morrell saw it as an opportunity to monetize his passion in the car and racing world. “I chose this as my next business because of the strong enthusiasm for sports cars and racing that has yet to be filled,” Morrell said.
His other business — Drone Scope Media, a video production company specifically for cars and races — allowed him to dip his toe into the world of racing before realizing the wide range of automotive enthusiasts. Morrell said that every weekend, there are dozens of local car shows that bring in thousands of patrons from the Upstate.
“These spectators come to dream of a day in which they can feel what driving an exotic car actually feels like,” Morrell said. Techno Simulations gives them a thrilling way to crash and burn without destroying anything.
As Morrell looks to the future, he’s hoping to expand once he feels his business model has proven itself. Haywood Mall is just the test market. According to Morrell, entrepreneurs and investors are pushing to “get it on the action.” He knows the business could be scooped up by large investors and wants to expand fast to keep from competing.