A virtual reality mobile phone app that immerses users into a computer-generated world to help them hone their communication skills has gone from strength to strength thanks to the mentoring, advice and guidance of the Business Ready Programme.
VirtualSpeech is a Leamington Spa-based company that is developing virtual reality (VR) apps to improve communication.
Set-up in 2016, the application is the brainchild of Dominic Barnard who decided to strike out on his own after working with VR technology at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) for more than two years.
He came up with the idea of expanding the world of VR and creating something that could be used to help others, rather than just being used in the areas of gaming and business applications.
Dominic’s work has seen him create an app called Public Speaking VR – which is available to download now.
It has been created to help individuals Practice and improve their public speaking, sales pitches, networking skills and interview techniques.
It can be downloaded to a phone and then all users need is a pair of the virtual reality goggles (such as Google Cardboard, available for £10) to help build their confidence and help them to ‘wow’ an audience or get the job of their dreams.
Although there was a huge amount of interest for the app, Dominic felt that he needed help and advice as this was the first business he had set-up.
After searching for the best place to find some support, he was put in touch with the Business Ready programme, which is being delivered by the University of Warwick Science Park as part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme.
“I contacted the University of Warwick Science Park after leaving JLR in order to get some guidance on the business strategy,” Dominic said.
“This is the first business I’ve run so I found the mentoring a very valuable part of developing the product and building a viable business plan.”
Dominic was mentored and worked with Dirk Schafer from the Business Ready scheme on various aspects of the business including digital marketing.
But something that Dirk recognised was that, although Dominic’s idea was a revolutionary application for VR, the market didn’t seem big enough to give his business enough of a return.
The idea for the business needed to be expanded upon and their marketing improved to make sure the firm could be driven forward.
“What Dominic has done is tap into a market that has not been used for virtual reality and it is a fantastic and impressive idea,” Dirk said.
“But we needed to make sure that the business was sustainable, had the ability to grow and continue to progress in the future.”