September 27, 2018

What happens when two water-loving engineers put their heads together? Actually something pretty awesome, Atlas Bay VR.Atlas Bay VR is a real estate visualization company that specializes in using cutting-edge Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to bring spaces to life. VR enhances communication with design teams, clients, and stakeholders at every level during the development and sales cycle. Atlas Bay VR helps create a more effective, memorable, and compelling story for your customers.Pretty interesting, right? What is even more intriguing is the story behind the startup.

Meet the Founders

Co-Founders Cameron Abt and Adam Chechila both grew up loving rockets, engineering, and boating (hence the name, Atlas Bay). Working in the aerospace and defense industry, they met in Tucson, Arizona and spent time in the slow-moving, risk-averse environment of an S&P 100 company. After moving to Atlanta, they started Atlas Bay VR in 2016 with no tangible experience in running a business or real-estate visualization. What they did have was an idea for a service, a market fit, 5 degrees, and 10 years worth of engineering experience. Because of their background, they have been able to keep all of their technical operations in-house, giving them complete control over their workflows and keeping them agile enough to respond to new customer demands.

What is Atlas Bay VR and how did it come to be?

Atlas Bay VR is a full-service VR provider with turnkey solutions to make your job easier. We help businesses design, market, and sell pre-construction real-estate using virtual reality. In our previous aerospace and defense roles, we worked with VR and saw the benefit it could provide to other industries. Around the same time, Adam was pursuing an MBA in real-estate development. Over drinks one night, the ideas started flowing and we decided to investigate further. A few months later, we had an MVP and our market testing gave us the confidence to go full time.

What is the problem you are trying to solve and how?

The markets we serve are two-fold:Design: Large multifamily, office, and retail developments have tons of moving pieces and vendors, contractors, and sub-contractors to coordinate. Finding problems in the field instead of on the drawing board or having work scope fall through the cracks, causes delays and overruns. Using our visualization tools, we get everyone on the same page about a project’s design, making sure errors are caught in-phase and giving the team the tools to communicate effectively.[caption id="attachment_17240" align="alignnone" width="1024"]

This is an example of a space during the design phase.[/caption]Marketing: Most people have a hard time understanding a space using words, flat drawings, or a mood board spattered with cloth samples and pictures of furniture. Allowing a future tenant or owner to walk the space in its full 3D glory gives them a true sense of what the finished product will be like. We even include tools for the user to interact with and customize the space, making it their own. The emotional connection formed makes it easier for the agent to close the sale.[caption id="attachment_17241" align="alignnone" width="1024"]

This is the same space, as shown above, but in the marketing phase.[/caption]

What is your favorite part about Atlas Bay VR and your team?

Having total control of your destiny is scary and empowering at the same time. You’re ultimately responsible for the success of your team and it forces you to reflect on your abilities as a manager. The personal growth you experience having to figure out how to hire, train, and direct employees is something I’m grateful for, even with the difficulties it brings.

What has been the hardest thing as a CEO/Founder?

The emotional roller coaster you ride every day. When there’s no backstop of upper management above you to protect your company from imminent failure, every setback can feel like your world is crumbling around you. There’s no problem that’s “above your pay grade,” and always keeping an objective view can be difficult when you’re in the thick of it. But, when the chips are down and you come through it on top, there’s no better feeling than knowing you owe it all to yourself and your team.

What has been the best day with Atlas Bay VR?

Getting our first paying customer felt pretty darn good because it validated our product and, by extension, our decision to leave 6-figure jobs behind us. Reviewing top-line revenue and realizing that we convinced businesses to hand over all that cash can sometimes make us smile.

What do you love most about being in the Village?

Part of being a good entrepreneur is knowing that you don’t know everything. The Village is such a great resource for information and networking. From connecting with mentors and getting advice on Friday mornings, to building relationships with other Villagers and partnering with sponsors and service providers, the Village can help you fill that knowledge gap. Also, a special shout out to the Village team. They’re one of the most transparent organizations I’ve ever worked with, communicating constantly and getting answers and solutions when you need them. They’ve never left me in the dark.

Any words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs?

Starting your own business is seldom as sexy or glamorous as the stories you may hear - it takes long hours when you’d rather be playing (or sleeping), forces you to make difficult decisions with little information, and puts stress on relationships both at work and at home. Don’t romanticize what “the grind” will actually be like. But if you know you’re ready for it, don’t shy away from the challenge. Stick with it through the ups and downs, and lean on those who’ve been through it before for guidance and inspiration.Folks, this is definitely one startup that you want to watch. Atlas Bay VR hasn't had to raise any funding to date, they’re cash flow positive and profitable, and looking at a 3x revenue growth YOY for the 2018 fiscal year. They’ve got projects throughout the Southeast and the two largest businesses in their industry are their customers. With their new hires, projected hires, and contracting network, they are at the beginning stages of starting to push nationally.  This four person team is definitely kicking ass.To learn more contact them at:

September 27, 2018
Kelly Anne O'Neill