Tell me a bit about Visionary Media.
“We are a media company, and we specialize in interactive virtual tours and 360 live event streaming. We’re also kind of dabbling in augmented reality, so if you want to build a house, you have blueprint of your house, and you can turn that into a 3D model. So, you can go out to where you want to build your house or building with a VR [virtual reality] headset or your iPad or something and actually walk through it before it’s even built. Depending on what a client wants, we can add these little tags to highlight whatever you want. You can put a video of yourself talking about it or a link, like on a 3D printer, we can put a link to what a 3D printer actually is. It’s really fun. It’s like putting a puzzle together. I really geek out over it. And we’re playing with more ideas we’d like to try sometime in the future.”
How did you get into virtual tours and live streaming?
“I was working at Union as the admin assistant to the dean of arts and sciences, and I just really wanted to be home with the kids more, but financially, that really wasn’t an option. So, we were looking at things I was passionate about, things my husband was passionate about, and how to merge them together, and we came across a whole lot of options involving technology. My husband is the IT director for the public school, so he knows a lot of the technology and what it’s used for. So, he was like, ‘Hey, I saw these cameras and stuff a while back. What do you think about this?’ And I was like, ‘You can do that?’ Because I love spaces. I never really wanted to be a realtor or anything like that because paperwork and legal stuff, but I love spaces. I love hardwood floors, I love stories that go with buildings and the personalities that you see in all of those things, and so, this has just been a really cool way to do both, especially with the virtual tour portion. The 360 live streaming kind of goes more for the marketing or you can do weddings and stuff, but then you can also do 360 commerce, like if you want to show off Jackson, you could do a 360 video of Jackson, so you’re not just seeing little things, you can actually scroll around. Visionary Media is just a merging of different passions that we have.”
How did you get involved in CO.STARTERS?
“We knew a lot of people through theCO. My husband is friends with Ben Ferguson, who’s one of the CO:founders. . . . Originally, we had wanted to open a fourth wave coffee shop downtown. We had started gearing up to put in our application and open in the fall, and then we realized that’s a lot of money, so we decided not to. I feel like we’re the type of people who just have a lot of ideas. We love Jackson, we’re transplants, but we love Jackson a whole lot, and we just want to start things. So, we decided that that the coffee shop wasn’t going to work for us personally, financially, and also where we were at in life. So, we started thinking about other things. We do have a passion for small business, we do have a passion for Jackson, and did want to be home with the kids more, so it was kind of a no-brainer to go ahead and start when we found something we were passionate about and were willing to, to quote Hercules, ‘go the distance.’ (With two kids, we watch that a lot in our house right now.) We just kind of thought, ‘Well, of course we have to go through CO.STARTERS. Duh.’”
What’s been your biggest takeaway from CO.STARTERS?
“There was a lot. My background is in psychology, so I knew nothing about businesses. My master’s is in industrial and organizational psychology, so I know about keeping people motivated in the workplace, but the intricacies of small business, I knew nothing. And my husband knows the tech stuff, but not much about business, either. I think narrowing down who your audience is has been very helpful. I mean, I will always stray away from it, think about, ‘Oh…what about these people over here?’ And then I go back and refill out my CO:starter notebook pages about describing your customer. I get really crazy – we call it the hot air balloon and sandbag. The hot air balloon wants to be everwhere and do everything, so I feel like that sheet is my sandbag. Because I’ll be like, ‘what about these people? And these people? And these people?’ And having to write out sheets and realizing, ‘Oh. These probably aren’t my ideal customer, at least for right now. So, I think that’s been my favorite tool.”
What would you say if you were pitching CO.STARTERS to someone?
“You have to. I don’t even think that you need to not have a background in business because even if you have an MBA, I feel like it’s back to basics for those people and foundation-building for everyone else. It’s good stuff. And they give a lot of information, so you can get as much as you put in. It’s a lot of information to cover, so do your fieldwork – not homework, but fieldwork – and you can just glean so much. The sky is the limit, really. That’s what I would say. Just do it. You won’t regret it.”
Anything else you would like to say about CO.STARTERS or theCO?
“I’ve been calling it the CO.HORT, but our cohort of businesses that went through it at the same times as us, they really almost become family in the sense that we run into each other at chamber events or share each other’s stuff on Facebook, so it’s been really cool to go through with other businesses, too, and really create this small business friendship. I think that’s a thing that they don’t talk about, just the community that you build with other small business owners to support each other. I like that.”