A 23-year-old Cardiff University student has launched his own virtual reality company for the property and retail sector.
Marketing undergraduate George Bellwood was inspired to found Virtus Tech after a Cardiff Business School lecture on retail industry issues left him thinking about possible solutions.
The business-to-business company uses virtual and augmented reality to allow customers and homebuyers to tour retailers and view houses for sale, blending real and digital experiences. It aims to help independent and franchise retailers tackle competition from major high street and online shopping outlets.
“Having worked in retail for over five years I could see the challenges the retail industry is up against,’ said George.
“Virtus Tech puts control back in the company’s hands and allows them to enhance the customer experience, giving them the opportunity to walk around a shop floor and browse items for sale virtually.”
Since forming the company, George has already expanded into property and hospitality sectors, spotting growth potential by broadening his offering.
“In the property industry, Virtus Tech allows you to tour prospective houses before visiting, saving time for both the estate agent and buyers. In the hospitality sector, VR is used to advertise hotels, student accommodation and event centres or experiences for our client’s customers. So far the feedback has been really positive,” said George.
Just six months after he began developing Virtus Tech, George has secured clients including a multi-million pound international student accommodation organisation and a major national property agent.
George built his business idea with the help of Big Ideas Wales , the youth entrepreneurship service in Wales, funded by Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund.
Claire Parry-Witchell added, "As business mentor for Cardiff University’s Enterprise and Start-Up , I have the privilege of working with student entrepreneurs and supporting them to bring their ideas to life.
“Virtus Tech is certain to disrupt the retail and property market by enhancing customer experience. Passion, determination and motivation are key attributes for any entrepreneur, and George has these in abundance.”
Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-Up offers initial support and guidance to Cardiff students who want to start their own business ventures. Part funding from Welsh Government allows us to work extensively with such enthusiastic and motivated entrepreneurs on their business ideas."
George added: “The University has helped us massively. Virtus Tech was created after a Marketing and Strategy lecture in my second year, taught by a great lecturer, Dr Eleri Rosier, who inspired the business idea. After meeting with Eleri to gain expert advice, I decided to pursue the business and now, just five months on, we are working with a wide range of companies.”
George is currently working on a new idea for Virtus Tech to continue to diversify the business, developing a software which uses AR in-store to enhance the customer’s experience.
“Accessing the software on a mobile app will assist customers when shopping to help them locate products. Our aim is to help independent and franchise organisations tackle the decline in high street shopping which the nation is experiencing currently.”
Chris Howlett from Big Ideas Wales added: “George is a perfect example of a hardworking, focussed young person who has every chance of making a success of their business idea. It’s been a pleasure working with him to this point and we’re confident his determination will pay off.”