By @SimonCocking

Describe the company – the elevator pitch …

VR Home & Garden founded by Bloom Double Gold Medal award winning designer Gary Hanaphy, is an upcoming suite of VR enabled garden and home design apps from Dublin based VR Retail Ltd. The apps have a demo version, and bronze/silver/gold/pro versions, each which has a larger range of items, garden designs and functionalities which stretch and fit to whatever dimensions you have outside your back door. The Pro version will also have a range of quotation features for professionals in the space. There will also be a version for people looking to rework their balconies. The app is cross platform across PC, web, iOS and Android, and will be launched commercially in Spring 2017.

How are you different?

While there are competitor software packages, as well as things like Sketch up, these are often hard to use, or limited in terms of their functionality, or restricted to PC only. They also cost a lot of money, several hundred euro upwards. Our software is cheaper (from €10), allows you to build designs across whichever devices you are using, and has a VR enabled walkabout mode which is compatible with Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard/Daydream headsets. The software also has exclusive Adaptive Design Technologies which fit our pre-designed gardens to whatever space a person has, an Advanced Plant Library which combines with sun orientation and shade to place plants in the suitable area, and the app also uses quantity surveyor maths to build out a shopping list of materials you would need to replicate your on-screen garden in real life.

Why will the company / product do well?

While our app is mainly focused on Ireland, the UK and US that our early marketing is showing us demand on every continent on the world, so we’re hoping to tap into this market. Our Pro version also offers people in the trade a range of functions to help them do their job, including building gardens on site, sending designs to clients, and other innovative features.

Where are you based?

We’re based in Dublin close to the Three Arena.

When was the company launched?

June 2014, so we’re going 2 1/2 years and we’re privately funded.

What have been your biggest wins to date?

Going through the whole development process, between pre-production, fundraising, choosing a developer, building the team, and and going through the Alpha states. We’re now into our internal betas, and hope to invite our first testers into the app in the near future. We’ll also be doing some playtests in Dublin in the New Year to get hands on feedback, and then move into our public online beta ahead of our commercial launch sometime during the Spring.

What type of people (market segment) are you trying to attract to your product?

Gardening is one of those things that is pan socio-economic and age demographics. We can see from our early interest that we’ve a 50/50 split between make and female, but also between age ranges from 25 all the way up to retirees which is unusual from software. In terms of interest groups, these are pretty much across the board, homeowners who have gardens or balconies, people studying horticulture, garden hobbiests and professionals, VR enthusiasts.. the list goes on!

Tell us about your team?

The company founder is Gary Hanaphy, a professional garden designer who has made nearly a thousand gardens for clients across Dublin and the surrounding areas. The team also consists of a development team who is building the app using Unity, andf then our in-house Marketing, Communications, Design and Accounts teams, plus our investors who have backed the project.

What are you long term plans for your product / company?

The suite of apps is called VR Home and Garden, so while we’re starting with the outdoor areas of people’s house, once our framework is finalised we can extend this to interior design. We will be launching in Europe first, followed by North America (which will have different climates, plants, items etc) during 2017. Our second app, VR Balconies should be hitting during the middle of 2017. Beyond that, we may look at localising it based on how the English version goes.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

VR headsets obviously, and we were one of the first in Ireland to receive the Oculus Rift Kickstarter Development Headsets, and the Samsung Gear VR which we’re testing on is pretty cool too.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Yep, we’re very keen to hear from your readers who like the look of our app, and who have or plan to get a VR headset in the near future, as these will get priority access to our closed beta.

How do people get in touch with you?

People can sign up to the beta test here  or email [email protected] . We’re also putting our videos showing the app off on our YouTube channel, and we are active on Facebook and Twitter

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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