Since the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, the demand for remote alternatives skyrocketed. For companies that require touring for either compliance or sales, this created a unique issue.
Avatour, a VR startup founded by Devon Copley and Prasad Balasubramanian, created a solution that made it possible for companies to complete tours from anywhere in the world using VR-powered software. Copley joined the hosts of Startup Savants to chat about launching his startup and the road to success.
- Startup Savants is a business podcast that tells the stories behind up-and-coming startups.
- Devon Copley is an experienced entrepreneur with a background in developing VR products for Nokia.
- Avatour offers VR site touring solutions for a variety of industries.
Beginning the Startup
The two founders began their entrepreneurial journey at Nokia where they originally developed the idea for their initial startup venture, Imeve. “My co-founder Prasad and I had some experience with this technology at Nokia, and admittedly, it was a hunch. We didn’t have the specific product in our minds. We knew the technology really well.”
Copley explains, “The question was how do we apply these technologies to a communication problem? From there, it was two years of trial and error and of trying a bunch of prototypes and going to random trade shows and trying to put things in people’s hands and trying to see who was interested.”
Once the pair of founders launched their initial startup Imeve, they began developing the prototype of a product called Avatour. “Our original concept was real-time immersive technology, which was a much more general idea.” He explains, “Then we found this specific use case of collaboration for site meetings, which was something that resonated in the marketplace. It was something that made sense to buyers, [and] brought value to our customers. Since then, we’ve just been running at that, like very, very clear understanding of what we’re doing.”
“The Right Product For The Right Moment”
The startup launched their product in mid-March 2020, right as COVID hit the US, “It turned out that was the same day that they closed the NBA, and Tom Hanks got COVID, and the stock market dropped 2,000 points or something. So, our PR releases didn’t really make much of a splash, but suddenly the phone started ringing.”
Due to the nature of Avatour’s product, providing a virtual solution to traditionally in-person activities, there was an initial demand, “We were fortunate.” Copley says, “Timing is always the biggest thing that you really can’t control in a startup, especially a technology focused startup. We just had the good fortune to have the right product for the right moment.”
Since the startup has refined its product, they have amassed $2.9 million in funding and navigated a changing target market with its focus shifting from pharmaceutical companies to real estate, tech companies, and more. “Within the enterprise universe, we can theoretically provide value to any company that creates value at locations.” Copley explained, “So, that’s such a broad range. It’s manufacturing, it’s retail, it’s supply chain and logistics. It’s utilities, it’s maritime, it’s franchise restaurants. We have customers that fit all of those categories, each of those categories.”
Startup Savants Podcast
The Startup Savants podcast is a business podcast brought to you by TRUiC (The Really Useful Information Company). The hosts, Ethan and Annaka, interview founders and startup experts to provide business insights, industry information, and actionable advice for startup founders.