(EDITOR’S NOTE: Ten start-ups are participating in the third iteration of the autoXLR8R program run by Tech 2020. Ahead of the August 28 “Demo Day” in Oak Ridge, we are running brief profiles on the participants. This is one of those.)
- What is the name of your company and is there any particular significance of the name? IVRTrain (pronounced ivar train). IVR stands for immersive virtual reality.
- Other than yourself, are others involved as Co-Founders, owners or officers? If so, who are they? Co-founders are Ravi Venkataraman and Jeff Brown.
- When did you first conceive of the idea for your new start-up? The original thought was a combination of a lot of ideas that we see in technology applications and a lot of conversations with the auto industry about problems that need solving. Sometime in April, we started kicking around the idea of using emerging technologies in the world of training for industry. Through several introductions and conversations in the auto industry that were based on workforce, we saw an opportunity. These are very fluid and complex environments that classroom lectures just do not prepare the employee for.
- Describe the product or service you plan to offer? We will offer experiential training for manufacturers using the latest simulation and immersive virtual reality technologies. Production and safety are their main concerns. Our systems address both from a training perspective.
- Why do you think the market is ready for this new product or offering? For the most part, training hasn’t changed in the last 50 years. We have a classroom lecture delivery, a few minutes to a few hours of hands on training, and go live. Our combination offers experience before the new employee is put into the active manufacturing environment. We simulate aircraft, we have highly immersive video games, but no one has really committed to putting all these technologies in the manufacturing environment for training.
- What motivated you to apply to participate in this year’s autoXLR8R? We needed to test our hypothesis of the need and the level of adoption in an industry that is very mature and is not generally considered “early adopters” of technology. We also felt the autoXLR8R would lead to industry connections that could validate our idea.
- At this time, what are the two or three biggest challenges you face that you hope to overcome during the autoXLR8R accelerator? Management at large manufacturers is completely focused on production. They do not have time to dedicate to finding innovations. The decision makers are difficult to contact. The autoXLR8R has also connected us with others that develop the technologies that we need.
- Finally, tell us a little about yourself as a business executive, entrepreneur, researcher or whatever. Ravi Venkataraman has held various positions in manufacturing organizations for over 30 years. He holds several patents to his name and now is a full-time mentor and general technology inventor. He has been deeply involved in 3D printing and scanning technologies with a focus on getting them commercialized for the real world. Jeff Brown has been an entrepreneur for the last 26 years. Management and sales are the bulk of his experience and he has been involved in two start-ups in the training and technology realm. In his work with the Biz Foundry, he has done a lot of research into virtual reality and the emerging technologies that are reaching the point of affordability and adoption on a broad scale. Ravi and Jeff are both well versed in Lean Startup methods and practices.