How to Disrupt Tourism Industry?

How to Disrupt Tourism Industry?

09-Dec-2016 by Goktug Gedik

VRex is a virtual Reality content platform offering 360 degree tours of destinations and hotels to help millions of tourists make more informed travel decisions and plans. 

VRex team is from Georgia and for now, they are in Istanbul for Startupbootcamp Istanbul.

Want to know more about VR, the team and what they are up to? Here is an exciting interview with them…

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– What do you do? Tell us more about VRex…

We are VRex Immersive. We are disrupting tourism industry using immersive technologies. More precisely, we are a Virtual Reality platform that lets you experience places and tourist destinations using interactive VR experiences and make wiser, faster decisions on where to go and book your next trip. On the other hand, we are helping resorts, hotels and different players from the tourism industry reach more people and impress them by letting them experience their product.

We are a group of entrepreneurs from Georgia with years of experience in tech and visual effects business. In 2014, having worked and collaborated on multiple different projects, we realized that our synergy is great and we are good at being a team. We got together and started experimenting with Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and different levels of immersion for different fields of business.

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Our initial idea was to come up with ways to use immersive technologies to empower business. Rather than creating VR games, we focused on VR/AR for architecture, VR for education, real estate and finally tourism. At that moment, we realized we had gained enough experience to start focusing on our own product rather than service. The idea was simple: “Match people to places using Virtual Reality”.

We started filming various destinations in Georgia back in 2015. VR experiences created by us have been used by the Government of Georgia for the promotion of the country. We made sure VR is big in our country. Almost 3000 influencers including key officials of the Government have tried VR the first time with our experiences. And so our journey began.

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– How long ago did you launch? At what stage are you now? How does Startupbootcamp Istanbul help you?

We have been in this amazing quest for repeatable and scalable business model for almost 3 years now. Immersive tech is one of the most rapidly evolving trends of the last decade probably. 2016 has been a very important year for the immersive tech. It’s been a very important year for our company as well.

We participated in Startupbootcamp Istanbul fasttrack session in Tbilisi, Georgia back in April. Long story short, we applied for the acceleration program and got to the top 25 teams to take part in the “Selection days 2016” in Istanbul. The selection process was amazing! This was one of the most challenging, exhausting but at the same time rewarding, humbling and enlightening experience in our lives. Pitching to every single mentor, talking to them for twenty minutes back to back (like a blind date) for almost two days straight… This was amazing.

After 3 days of intensive mentorship, pitching and evaluation, we found ourselves seated in the room, where top 10 teams out of almost 900 would be announced. You could cut the tension with a knife in the room. Luckily for the “A to U teams”, the Startupbootcamp Istanbul team decided to announce the finalists in the alphabetical order. We had to wait for 9 teams to be announced so when Cigdem called our name we didn’t move for a second. When it finally dawned on us, we knew: this is it.

Meanwhile, we also participated in the local startup competition in Georgia, where we were also selected as one of the top 20 startups. As a result, we are attending mentorship (remote) with American mentors from the tech industry, venture capitalists, angels and engineers. The mentors are helping us understand the process of searching for a perfect business model better.  We have amazing mentors there as well. We are also supported by HP and the amazing professional hardware they are making.

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This year the amazing Startupbootcamp Istanbul team came up with a truly entrepreneurial plan: adding “pre-acceleration” component to a normally 3 part acceleration program and have those sessions online. This kept all the teams busy and also helped us prepare for the acceleration better. We had amazing mentors in the pre-accelerations with a lot of insight from the startup world. The mentors helped teams conduct user interviews, work on the business models and validate assumptions.

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We arrived to Istanbul in the beginning of November and it has been 4 weeks into the acceleration. The mentorship is picking up the pace and the teams are working 24/7 on their startups. We are all riding our rocket ships on full throttle into the demo day. The lineup is very interesting. We became friends over the past several months, so from brainstorming sessions, to discussing partnerships, testing each other’s products and playing table tennis we are all in it together!

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– What’s next for VR industry? What’s the most exciting thing about VR?

When we first tried VR (back in 2013, when we first saw Oculus Rift DK1), it blew our minds. We believe VR is the future of almost every aspect of our lives. Immersive technologies will come into our lives more and more. It’s just a matter of time. VR will be used as a main vehicle of visual information (a 21st century version of TV on steroids). Social media is another field where VR will get stronger and stronger.

We also believe that immersive technologies are a great tool for any field of business, of course, including tourism. This is why we aim at disrupting the tourism industry forever.

– What’s next for VRex?

This truly has been a roller coaster (no pun intended) for us, an amazing one. We will keep pushing our limits and boundaries and enjoy this process as much as we can. Of course, in the process we will try to post updates as well. After all, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the experience, right (still no pun intended).

To hear more about VRex, just follow them on Twitter

Goktug Gedik