Tampa entrepreneur extends immersive VR technology to Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue, more • St Pete Catalyst
Chris Vasilakis, CEO of Tampa Guided Virtual Tours, built its platform to allow people to have ‘real’ virtual tours inside real estate properties, but this has now extended to tours inside a caged tiger plane. .
Guided Virtual Tours were created last year with the goal of offering virtual tours inside commercial and residential properties, but going one step further to become truly immersive. Rather than offering the typical virtual reality tours of apartments by clicking on dots to navigate the rooms, guided virtual tours offer 360-degree video tours that are narrated.
“It’s a one-click property tour that takes you through the rooms and describes the property as if you actually were there. You can even look outside the patios and windows to see the view. The tour is accurate and representative of the property, ”he said, adding that users can have a full 360-degree view on their phone.
Vasilakis works in partnership with Matterport, a leader in 3D technology, to photograph the properties and create the tours.
He describes Tampa as a testing ground for this technology. The technology is used for 75 different properties in the United States, and Vasilakis says it is attracting more interest from Airbnb owners.
By launching guided virtual tours, Vasilakis has founded a non-profit organization called The Virtual Recess Foundation which offers “virtual adventures” to sick and hospital-bound children. He started working with hospitals in Miami.
Tours give kids the perspective of flying over Davis Island in a Tampa-based charter flight company ICON Aircraft to get inside Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue.
“The foundation started to take off last year, but then the Covid-19 pandemic struck. We’re going back and looking for hospitals in Tampa Bay to partner with, ”Vasilakis said.
Today, his company has five employees. Vasilakis said that Guided Virtual Tours plans to hire for many other positions, primarily in sales over the next nine to twelve months.
The virtual tours previously had an office in Tampa, but due to the pandemic, the startup’s workforce is completely remote.
The entrepreneur in the making
Vasilakis has a diverse career. He is originally from Brooklyn and left New York in the early 1990s to settle in Florida, where he later joined the Marine Corps after graduating from high school.
In the Marine Corps, he became a sergeant and fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
After serving for a little over five years, Vasilakis wanted to tap into his entrepreneurial spirit.
He eventually started working in the music industry and claims to have worked with hip hop stars such as Ludacris.
It was only when Vasilakis’ brother introduced him to the emerging world of virtual reality that he became interested.
He has since started several virtual reality businesses, including guided virtual tours.
Readers can find his full biography here.