David Whelan, CEO of Immersive VR Education Ltd tells how joining the New Frontiers programme at WIT played a part in his entrepreneurial journey
New Frontiers participation: Phases 1 and 2 in 2015/16.
Business name/company name Immersive VR Education Ltd
Business/industry sector Virtual Reality/Ed Tech
Where is your business based? Waterford
Explain your business/product Educational virtual reality experiences
Audience/market Tech enthusiasts, forward thinking educators, anyone with a thirst for learning, 3rd level institutes
Where did your business idea come from? From an early age I have had an interest in all new technology. When I received my first virtual reality headset I knew this was an area that I wanted to work in.
How has the New Frontiers programme helped you to get where you are today? New Frontiers is a place where you can shape your idea into a business with a group of peers and prepare your business plan for scrutiny from venture capitalists. It’s been instrumental to establishing a solid base for our continued success and the contacts we made during the programme will of course always be useful for advice and guidance going forward.
What advice would you give to those considering the New Frontiers programme? Don’t be afraid to do it. Fortune favours the bold and you need to take that first step to turn your dreams into reality. The programme has changed my life for the better and it can do the same for you. The key benefit is that we are all in the same boat. Everybody encourages each other and listening to people from outside your circle of friends or family is also very useful as they give a fresh set of eyes on your idea and business.
Before taking part on the programme I had no idea how investment firms worked or what they look for in a possible investment business. It’s all about how you present yourself, your idea and how to scale your business. I’ve learned how to be confident when talking to VCs and how to get my ideas across.
What's your vision for the business for the future? Our vision is continued growth and new job creation.
Tell us about staying competitive I’m very stubborn at times and I feel this has helped me more often than not. If I have an idea and feel it’s good I normally don’t give up on it. I’m also very competitive and have played rugby from an early age getting to represent Ireland and Munster playing rugby league some years back. Sport and business are very alike. You need to work hard and beat your competitors to achieve your goals. Also sometimes luck has a role to play in outcomes and I do class myself as lucky to have worked and be mentored by some of the people I have met on the journey so far.
Tell us about work life balance With my current role of CEO I have to travel quite a lot so I try bring the rest of my family on short trips with me so they get to see the world the same as I do and spend more time together. I see my business as part of my life so it’s hard to distinguish it or keep it separate. My children are growing; my business is growing; I have to nurture them both to make sure they are healthy in the future. Be sure to set aside at least one day a week where you can turn off your phone and stay away from your emails.
Get your application in for New Frontiers www.wit.ie/newfrontiers