Adam Chechila

How We Bootstrapped to Bring VR to Real Estate

1. Howdy Adam! What's your background, and what are you working on?

My name is Adam Chechila and I’m the Co-Founder of Atlas Bay VR.  We’re an Atlanta-based company using virtual reality to help real estate developers design and market their projects during the construction phase.  

Typically, someone has to look through hundreds of pages of 2D architectural drawings to get an idea of what an undeveloped space may look like.  Our software allows anyone to quickly strap on a VR headset and be instantly immersed in the proposed environment.

Within our company, I’m responsible for sales and overseeing day-to-day operations.

2. What motivated you to start Atlas Bay VR?

I met my Co-Founder, Cameron Abt, back in 2011 while working as engineers for a defense contracting company called Raytheon.  At that time, we were both using VR to help design our products.  

Flash forward several years and I was attending UNC pursuing an MBA in Real Estate Development and Cameron was working in Atlanta.  While visiting Atlanta one weekend, we discussed the potential benefits of VR in the real estate industry.  From there, Atlas Bay VR was born.

3. What went into getting your first paying customer?

We first built an MVP (minimum viable product) so that we could showcase our software to potential clients. Once that was complete, we began to leverage my real estate contacts from grad school to get us in front of major developers in the Southeast. We also cold-called, emailed, and did what we could to get our name out there.

With a little bit of luck, a popular blog took interest in us and wrote an article highlighting our company. A property management company named Simpson Housing read the article and reached out to us via our website asking for a demo. We brought our equipment to their office to show them our MVP. After the meeting, they were ready to start negotiating our first sale. They were starting to prelease a high-rise apartment complex in Nashville and they were looking for a unique way to market the property. With such a short deadline to deliver our VR tour, negotiations went very quickly. In the end, we ended up creating a virtual one-bedroom apartment to help them market their development.

4. What went into getting your first 10 unaffiliated customers?

Getting that first paying customer was huge for us. We learned a lot about our product and the true value it brought to our customers, and also gave us some capital to work with (we bootstrapped the company). We updated our website, put money into SEO, and gained media exposure, and soon we were able to see an increase in unaffiliated customers.

Even though VR in real estate is a new industry, there are still a lot of companies pushing low-quality solutions. Our customers were able to see the quality difference between our VR tours and our competitors.

5. Today, how do you attract customers?

Believe it or not, the commercial real estate industry is a small community. Because of this, we’ve been able to use client’s recommendations to help attract customers. This has been very successful for us.

6. What makes your demo or free trial a great experience for customers?

VR is so new that most people have never experienced it for themselves. When we bring our software and headset into a customer’s office, they’re blown away by how real it is. You can see the excitement surrounding the new technology.  It’s then that customers start to think about all the different use cases and potential it has within the industry.

7. In what ways that “don’t scale” do you engage customers? Why do you do this?

We’ll pack up the VR equipment and do in-person demos for potential clients. These demos are specifically tailored to each customer, allowing them to see how our products can benefit them. We do this because a lot of people have never tried VR before and there are a lot of misconceptions about the technology. The best way to convince someone is to show them.

8. Who do you learn from?

We’re based out of the Atlanta Tech Village which is a co-working space for tech startups. They have great mentors which help us out a lot. We also have great relationships with some of our biggest customers. We’ll pitch them new R&D ideas to get their thoughts as well as learn from them about industry insights.

9. What’s your advice for founders who are just starting out?

In the beginning, we spent a lot of time building out financial models and projected out cash flows before we even had a product. This is a great exercise to start to understand how you want to price your product, what your expenses will be, and how you are projecting out growth. But don’t spend too much time on it. Financial models, especially early on, will contain a lot of assumptions. One small change can completely blow up your model. The bulk of your time should be spent networking and talking with future end users.

10. Where can we go to learn more?



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Last Updated 
August 28, 2018

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