Dublin based Stephen Pitcher is CEO of SolasVR. Stephen revealed to IIBN that SolasVR have developed a unique Virtual Reality Wellness platform which delivers Meditations, Microbreaks, Breathing Exercises and Life hacks. The nature of VR allows users to transport themselves to beautiful locations in Nature to reboot and recentre themselves. When we are in the immersive environment created in VR we stimulate the responses as if we were really there so we automatically feel calmer and more refreshed. We literally trick our body into believing it is beside the lake or on the beach and stimulate the same physiological response. This means we have a very time efficient way to take a meaningful break that delivers short and longer term benefits. Users can access the platform on their Smart Phones – iOS and Android or through VR headsets such as Oculus and Pico
You can visit the SolasVR website here
What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
We focused in 2020 on raising funds and developing the product – platform and content. Our focus now is on developing distribution partnerships and direct sales activity to corporates across the globe. Scaling the business creates its own demands but we are in a good position to do just that. The main goal is to establish a presence in corporate America and within the Health care sector
What are your biggest challenges?
In general the biggest challenge is getting users who are familiar with Virtual Reality. While most big corporates are using VR in their organisations it is not on everyone’s desk yet.
This has been more difficult in Covid-19 as sponsors within an organisation find it harder to share the concept. They can’t walk down the corridor and put it on a co-directors head! Adoption is slower but we have noticed a build in momentum in the last 3 months.
How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?
We had to adjust quickly to Covid-19. Our initial offering envisioned putting headsets into offices located in meeting rooms, breakout areas, chill/meditation rooms and reception areas etc. where employees could access them easily at any time. Clearly, in Covid we have less people in offices and a reluctance to share headsets.
In response to this we developed the platform to be delivered on Smart Phones for use with adaptable headsets such as Google cardboard or Shinecon. This gives a more affordable option for companies to equip staff working from home with the benefits of the App.
Tell us something interesting about the business.
We took a conscious decision to use Irish sacred spaces and places of beauty. The voice overs are provided by John Cantwell and Dr. Karen Ward who as well as being academically and professionally qualified are also among Irelands leading Shamanic and Druidic practitioners. The logo itself is a representation of the Sun and the Earth in union.
Tell us the about the biggest risk you have taken in business.
The risk for us was that we were, in many ways ahead of the market and its infrastructure. So, we wanted to create an App for standalone headsets before they were on the market. We are very conscious that we are first movers, which comes with its own challenges and risks.
Tell us about the worst day you’ve had since you started in business.
Can I not pretend it’s all been plain sailing! There were moments where we thought we would fall foul of certain platform rules and not get launched there or when the impact of Covid became more apparent. We always knew we would have setbacks and challenges so we weren’t surprised or knocked out of step. We just broke all these down into bite sized chunks and worked through them.
How can IIBN members help your business?
We would be delighted to talk to anyone who feels they or their employer could find the App beneficial. We are also looking at distribution partners whether companies or individuals and would be happy to connect to discuss these possibilities.
How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
Brexit shouldn’t have an immediate impact on the business but the uncertainty in the UK makes it harder to get airtime and decisions
How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
For us success is bringing together a range of skill sets and personalities to create something unique that deliver real benefits for the user. The drive is a mixture of profit motive, pride in what we do and the desire to make a real difference in users’ lives.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
I was told a long time ago to sell people what they want; not necessarily what they need. The product has to be relevant for the audience.
If I were to be asked for advice, I would add Listen to the customers, create the best product you can and be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice.
What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
The highlight was getting the SolasVR App launched across the VR and Phone platforms. It had taken a long time to get there. Of course, getting our first customer was a great achievement too and a great moment.
What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2021/22?
We see the growth in establishing partnerships with 3rd parties. We are in advanced discussions with a number of companies established in the VR space providing training or conferencing. We can add our content on their platforms or vice versa or sell alongside as a package.
We are also discussing with providers or companies with a presence in target sectors. These range from companies in the Healthcare space such as insurers or providers to companies providing corporate services who see our App as a good product fit and bolt on to existing offerings.
We will continue our direct sales to corporates through our own activity and as well as working with sales or distribution agents in specific geographies.