By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“We want to reach 100,000 downloads by year-end,” John Morris says of ImmersaCAD’s BHAG, shorthand for Big Harry Audacious Goal.
The serial entrepreneur and long-time player in Knoxville’s start-up ecosystem recently joined the Lee Martin-founded company that participated in last summer’s inaugural “The Works” accelerator.
“My role is business development,” Morris told us during a recent interview in the company’s offices in the complex that also houses PYA, sponsor of teknovation.biz.
As far as the BHAG, he says the goal is part of the start-up’s strategy of significantly increasing market awareness among virtual reality (VR) champions and other potential customers.
“It’s CAD (computer-aided design) to VR on a smart phone,” Morris says of ImmersaCAD’s product offering. “The platform will render CAD drawings into a virtual reality experience.”
Target users are those in construction, architecture, engineering, interior design and landscape design. By using ImmersaCAD’s cloud-based platform, they can turn a traditional two-dimensional CAD design into a three-dimensional interactive visualization.
“We render the design into a stereoscopic view where you can immerse yourself,” Morris explains. The start-up has patented a one-touch navigation system that allows a user to move through a design – be it a room, building or outdoor landscaped area – with one touch.
Imagine experiencing the virtual reality of something into which you are about to invest your money before it actually exists. If it’s not what you want, it’s better to make changes at that time.
“It’s good for designers in two ways,” Morris adds. Not only can the customer actually experience how the final product will appear, but the designer can use the same technology as the design work is being done.
While VR has found its greatest growth up to now in gaming, the technology is rapidly expanding into other sectors as we have noted in several teknovation.biz articles about other local firms.
“Many have said I can’t believe it’s that easy to use,” Morris says of the ImmersaCAD system.
The business model has three current options for users. The least expensive – it’s actually free – is an app which allows individuals to register and then explore the VR Gallery that houses hundreds of models. You can find it on the App Store or Google Play by searching for “vcad vr.”
There are also two options with a monthly fee. “vCAD Personal” provides 200MB of secure cloud storage and allows the account holder to upload one CAD file a month for others to see via the VR Gallery. It costs $10 a month. The “vCAD Professional” option, priced at $50 a month, provides 2GB of secure cloud storage plus the ability to upload an unlimited number of CAD files and share them privately with friends and clients in addition to sharing on the VR Gallery.
“We’ve passed the minimum viable product stage,” Morris says. Customer input could lead to further refinement of the product offering.
The entrepreneurial endeavors of both Martin and Morris have been the subject of previous articles on teknovation.biz. The former, who is now Professor of Practice and Engineering Entrepreneurship Director at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, founded TeleRobotics International Inc. in 1986. The company later became known as iPIX. We profiled Martin in a two-part series in 2012 (Part 1 and Part 2).
Morris, who spent a number of years on the staff of Tech 2020, has founded five companies including NetLearning that ironically was the first client of Tech 2020’s old Center for Entrepreneurial Growth. He also played an instrumental role in founding The Lighthouse Fund and continues to be involved in its operations. We profiled Morris in this early 2012 article when he assumed the top leadership position at Tech 2020.