Teen entrepreneur’s startup allows you to Go Virtually anywhere
While most of this year’s college leavers were thinking about their future careers or what they wanted to study at university, Rachel Godfrey – founder of Bath-based Go Virtually – had bigger ideas.
The 19-year-old entrepreneur set up her virtual tours startup to tap into the market of the increasing number of online estate agents and businesses. By taking their digital customers beyond static photos, she wanted to allow them to truly engage with the spaces they were imagining for their future homes, events and holidays – but from the comfort of their armchairs.
“Go Virtually is a perfect fit for the ‘Smart Cities’ focus of Venturefest as navigation and visualisation of properties will be important for cities going forward”
Already a keen photographer and owner of her own 360 camera, Rachel set about launching Go Virtually in May 2017 and within just a few months found herself turning everything from local homes and hotels to pubs and gyms into immersive 360 virtual experiences across Bath.
You can check out her latest virtual tour of Bath’s Space Gym in the video below:
Here’s a little teaser of our latest tour. pic.twitter.com/K5Pb8DnuJo
— GoVirtually (@GoVirtually_) November 6, 2017
Given the speed of her success, we were keen for Rachel’s take on what it means to be a young tech entrepreneur in the South West and what’s helped get her there, so we dropped her a few questions to find out more.
TechSPARK: So what inspired you to become an entrepreneur and start your own business?
Rachel Godfrey: From a young age I always wanted to start a business and run a company. It all started when I realised I could convince various people to buy me the most ridiculous of things and then I set up a small business which involved me re-selling jewellery at the age of 13. After growing up and working in a few different customer service jobs I realised it was about time I found something I was passionate about and used my skills to work for myself.
My generation has been brought up in the digital era and we’re constantly surrounded by new technology. This means we’re more open to new ideas as to how technology can be used to help benefit society.
Starting a business as a young person is a brilliant opportunity to learn more about yourself and start off working life in an exciting way.
TS: So you set-up Go Virtually to bring spaces to life, but what are your long-term aims for the business?
RG: Go Virtually’s aims are to provide the future for estate agents, enabling them to show off their properties online and provide their customers with the best experience possible. We want to make the whole process of buying and selling a house easier for everyone involved. We also want to help other business such as bars, historical places and other venues to market and advertise their business by allowing potential customers to see why they should visit.
“If you believe in your product or service then others will too”
We are keen to get involved with various other companies and charities helping the elderly and disabled. We want to help these individuals experience VR in a way which will benefit them and help them throughout their life. We are looking into creating tours of care homes, their family home and other historical places they may want to visit but are unable to.
TS: We saw you exhibited Go Virtually at Venturefest last month. How did you get involved and what were the highlights of exhibiting at such a large tech and innovation festival?
RG: Rocketmakers, a software development company in Bath, sponsored the Silicon Gorge investment competition and the Invest Bristol and Bath team heard about Go Virtually through them. They then contacted me to see if I would like to exhibit.
Go Virtually is a perfect fit for the ‘Smart Cities’ focus of Venturefest as navigation and visualisation of properties will be important for cities going forward.
It was amazing to exhibit there. Go Virtually was set up in May so we have only been up and running for 6 months. Venturefest was a fantastic opportunity for us to show off our high-quality virtual tours and I met some amazing people who absolutely loved our service. It also gave me a chance to talk to other startups in the Bristol and Bath area and see what others are doing.
It was something completely new for me to experience and I was extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity.
TS: That’s a great achievement after just 6 months, do you have any other successes you’d like to share?
RG: My biggest achievement personally has been finding the confidence to go and talk to people about Go Virtually and explain to them why it is such a good product. The business’s biggest achievement is being asked to exhibit at Venturefest.
TS: You’re obviously very passionate about entrepreneurship. Do you have any tips for other young people looking to follow your footsteps?
RG: The main tips I would give is to believe in yourself and your ideas. If you have come up with something and there’s a space in the market for it then you should take it further. If you believe in your product or service then others will too. I would also tell them to stay confident. Because of our age many people won’t take us seriously but if you remain confident you will be listened to by someone.
“I would recommend the business admin apprenticeship at Bath College to anyone”
You also need to be able to ask for help, especially with a tech business. Many college leavers will have an idea but not have the skills or the knowledge to either create or use the technology they need to run the business. Whether it’s a friend, family member or another tech company, if you ask for help they will help you get started and take off.
As long as you believe in yourself and your product, and remain confident, anyone can achieve anything no matter what stage of their life they are in.
TS: You also mentioned that you took a business admin apprenticeship at Bath College. Would you recommend this to other young people in the South West?
RG: I would recommend the business admin apprenticeship at Bath College to anyone. It is a brilliant way to take the next step in life and start working and learning at the same time.
It’s a great way to understand how business works by learning on the job and you get to understand the importance of little things such as organisation and communication. Business admin is the backbone of all businesses, it’s what keeps everything running.
The apprenticeship Bath College offers involves working full-time in a work environment and completing college work. The college assignments help you understand the reasons behind the work you are doing which then impacts how you do your job and improves your skills to complete day-to-day tasks.
Bath College provide lots of support to make sure you’re getting the most out of the apprenticeship and they help you to overcome any difficulties you may face. I think this is particularly important as many apprentices leave school and then jump straight into working life which can be a big shock and extremely difficult.
TS: Sounds great. Given all you’ve learnt, you must have some exciting plans up your sleeve. So what’s next for Go Virtually?
RG: As we have only been running for six months our main focus is to advertise our service and get people to know about us. We are looking at updating our virtual tours to include the outside of the property so people can see inside and out. We are also working on creating tours for property developments by using 3D CAD files and also connecting the tours we already create with 3D CAD designs.
Creating these property development tours is really interesting as it enables people to view an un-built property or a property which is about to have an extension built.