Call it an emporium of entertainment and education for the young and the old, that’s what Shawndell Celestin wants Nemesis Video Game and VR Lounge to be.
Located in a quaint little building in the heart of Pointe Claire Village on the southwestern edge of Montreal, the place is a veritable paradise for gamers. Three thousand square feet of space equipped with the latest in console gaming that put gamers up against the challenges of the new Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One.
Nemesis also has close to a dozen stations of PC Gaming, hosting over 300 games such as Minecraft, Plants vs Zombies, GW2, Counter-Strike and Battlefield and other for players to compete individually or in groups.
As well, the lounge’s Virtual Reality room, with its multitude of experiences, is a world upon itself, offering Montrealers opportunities to be transported to other dimensions on land, on sea or underwater as explorers, heroes or just to gaze at the universe.
With all those attractions, Nemesis has exploded in popularity as a venue for office parties, birthdays, fundraisers or corporate parties.
It has also become a centre for education and learning for children and teenagers offering training in designing video games and coding in its summer camps, which has been running from June to August every year for the past four years.
Those courses are taught by university students and the 2019 spaces have almost been all gobbled up by parents who want their kids to learn the intricacies of gaming.
Twelve years ago when she envisioned the business, all Celestine wanted was a little place in the West Island where her younger brother, his friends and other youth in the area, could hang out and play some video games.
“I was so shocked one evening, seeing him and his friends just hanging around doing nothing, literally loitering,” she remembers. “He told me there was really nowhere for them to go to chill… That’s when the idea came to me.”
Celestin says she immediately zeroed in on what she wanted to do because at 21-years-old at the time, she knew exactly what those young people needed.
Also, it wasn’t too far-fetch for her to venture into the video games arena, being a trained graphic artist and a graduate of the Publication Design and Hyper Media Tech program at John Abbott College in 2003.
That was followed by two years at CDI College where she earned a diploma as a programmer analyst.
But financing her dream was another story altogether.
“I went to the bank, but they wouldn’t even listen to me… a young Black woman wanting to start a video game “arcade” as they saw it… they wouldn’t even take the time to give proper consideration to what I wanted to do so I knew then it would have to be up to me.”
At first it was also difficult getting even her mother to buy in on the project, but nothing was going to keep the little go-getter from her dream.
Her first step was to complete a training project with SAJE, a not-for profit consulting organization that trains and supports aspiring entrepreneurs.
Such was her enthusiasm and competence, Celestin earned a $5,000 grant from the organization, but it didn’t get into her hands until long after she launched the business
To get Nemesis off the ground in 2007, she had to use up all her savings and convince her mother to spot her a significant loan.
Her first location was at Place Frontenac, the corner of Brunswick and St. Jean Blvds, a small (800 sq. ft.) joint that was an instant hit with young people in the area.
Because it was so small and so popular, we had to ask our clients to make reservations in order to avoid them becoming frustrated.
“The truth is it wasn’t long before we started to see a profit because about a year and a half into the business, one of the kid’s parents convinced me to rent out the place for a birthday party. Business sort of exploded after that.
Two years down the road, Nemesis outgrew its first home forcing her to relocate to the Walton strip mall at the corner of Walton and Hastings.
And even as she built the business, Celestin found time to expand on her life.
In 2012, she married Raymond Lloyd Marshall and together they’re a formidable team taking Nemesis to the next level. He provides the support and heavy lifting while she explores new concepts on the gaming horizon.
They share the task of running the business (although Celestin continues to carry most of those responsibilities) and raising their two children.
Last March the business relocated to its present location, which better accommodates all the new additions, especially the Virtual Reality lab that was recently installed.
Celestin prides herself on single-handedly designing the layout of the 3,000 square ft. space to best accommodate its multiple components, which include spaces for the consoles, the PCs, the virtual reality labs as well as the party room.
She says everything has to be properly positioned for the functionality and comfort of the players, and today is confident that it’s working out fine because their clientele is stable and growing.
“Many have been with us from Day One and continue to come back with friends.”
The place is also a sensation for corporate types who are choosing to host their parties there.
“We recently had the Quebec Provincial Police department here and it was non-stop fun as they enjoyed everything that the lounge had to offer.”
Looking down the road, Celestin is intent on expanding Nemesis, and although she’s willing to talk to investors, she is not looking for partnerships.
“Only because I’ve worked really hard to build the business and I’m a little hesitant to give up any of it.”
She is, however, looking forward to franchising, saying that she can envision at least two other successful locations across Montreal because she already has the formula for success.
“I know how the game is played.”
Visit Nemesis Video Game and VR Lounge 298 Chemin du Bord-du-Lac, Pointe Claire, Qc. H9S 4L3 call: 514 692 4611 firstname.lastname@example.org