Epi 41: Expanding the Future of Education through Virtual Reality Learning Spaces – Steve Grubbs, Founder & CEO of Victory XR

Learn more about Victory XR at: https://www.victoryxr.com/

Find Steve Grubbs on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-grubbs-4708825/


JC: Welcome everybody to another episode of The Future of Biz Tech. I’m your host JC Granger. I have another fantastic guest on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love by, you know, following subscribing, you know, give a five star review preferably with something nice maybe about what you heard on the episode because that is how techies like me and you find podcasts like this. And today I have the founder and CEO of Victory XR with me, Steve Grubbs. Steve, thank you so much for being on the show. tell the audience a little bit about yourself. And what is it that Victory XR does.


Steve: So I’ll start with Victory XR. So Victory XR is a company that creates curriculum and more interesting, a synchronous learning spaces in virtual reality. And we can break that down a little bit later. But we believe that the future of education rests in the type of work that we are doing. And we hope to play a major role in the future. As for me, I am a founder of multiple companies, I enjoy companies that are sort of on the cutting edge of technology back in the late 90s. I started building websites and then e commerce and then mobile apps in ’09. And so you know, because I have a particular interest in education and I love technology. I married the two together and we founded Victory XR.


JC: That’s awesome. So who is your, like, perfect client? You know, I mean, if you know who is this really for?


Steve: Yeah, so could be a high school, middle school, or college or university Higher Ed. But also homeschool parents frequently buy our curriculum, and also will provide the headset, so it’s an all in one package. And by doing that, you know, we solve a lot of problems for any of them. So for example, take Fisk University and HBCU in Nashville, Tennessee. They don’t have a medical school, but they have Pre-med students who they were sending to Vanderbilt for certain classes. So along with our partner, T-Mobile, and HTC Vive, we built them a cadaver lab, and a cadaver lab that now other universities and colleges are buying. So it’s pretty cool. If you stop and think about it, most people have probably not had their hands in the human cadaver, thank goodness. But apparently, if you are going to be taking care of other people as a doctor or whatever, it is important. So what we did was we built a human cadaver with the organs inside. And so now students will put on their VR headset gathered in the cadaver lab with their instructor, even though they may be in different states, and the instructor will do traditional teaching about human cadaver. See, imagine your professor taking their hand, putting it down into the cavity of the human cadaver and pulling out a human heart. And now that, you know, this particular professor will teach about it, and then hand it to the student to his or her right, that student might be 1000 miles away. But in the cadaver lab, they’re right there, they take that heart. And as they do they feel the touch of it through through the haptics that are built into the program.


JC: Oh, wow!


Steve: They take that heart, look at it, examine it handed to the student next to them. Now that student says okay, I don’t want to just look at it, I want to step inside this little heart. So they take it and they expand it. Seven foot tall. And then they step inside the human heart, the instructor steps inside, and they look around and they learn about the cavities and that type of thing and they shrink it back down, hand it to the next.


JC: That’s a huge advantage. I mean, obviously, you know, in some cases, you could say, you know, you can never replace the actual touch and feel of one. But what you’re talking about is in the education process, not only do you get to you know virtually have have more people come in and get that education, but what you might lose in the physical realm of it, like the little things about, you know, feeling and whatnot, you can gain by like you said, you can expand it and walk into it. You can’t do that in real life, or they can’t do that with a physical heart. And this gives that point of view of the understanding spatially of where things are, is that kind of like where you guys are going with this, you know, having that advantage of the technology to give different angles and ideas of anatomy or just or whatever it’s being applied to?


Steve: Yeah, that’s exactly right. If you think about it, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. You know, one of the significant advantages is it’s dramatically less expensive and reusable. And there are no issues about needing people to die to to get one. So that helps. But beyond that, there are other very significant advantages. So for example, in the musculoskeletal part of this, the student can remove every single muscle in the pecs and the you know, the facial muscles and the muscles on the fingers and remove them all and then put them back together. And and if it matters that you know where each of these muscles should be, maybe you’re studying massage therapy, or maybe you’re going to be an orthopedic surgeon, either one, you need to know about the muscles. But this can be done and it’s something that cannot be done. On the real thing you can’t just remove the muscles, you get them and then put them back. So yeah.


JC: Yeah that’s incredible.


Steve: Yeah, it’s a great exercise to both learn and to understand. And because we have haptics as a part of it, there is that sense of touch when you are learning in the human cadaver lab.


JC: So let’s switch a little bit here because you said something earlier that I liked you were talking about for like homeschool parents right now. That’s more B2C side. In this podcast, we typically talk more B2B, but let’s talk about it from the B2B angle. Tell us a bit about our schools or school districts – are they you know, kind of leaning into this, you know, are you speaking with, you know, the corporation or, or like, you know, the the organizations in order to provide this as an opportunity for parents who maybe have issues with, you know, sending their children to school with COVID, or maybe just in general, they like homeschooling their children, but they want to be able to give them a little more impersonal thing, you know, what does that been like, trying to pitch, you know, these organizations, or the school districts or schools themselves higher education or not, as far as adopting this in a way where they will allow students to inbound from it?


Steve: Yeah, so first of all, a lot of B2B parents now have their kids at home, right? And they’re trying to figure out how do I put them into a classroom with the teacher when they’re sitting in the room next to me, or maybe in the room that I’m in. So that has, this has become a solution for many of those parents. So that’s, that’s number one. Number two, there’s two models that schools in higher ed take with this. So for example, at Morehouse College, the students will check out the headset at the beginning of the semester and return it at the end of the semester. And so then from home, or whatever the case might be, they can put on the headset, and they can enter class with other students. At Fisk University where they have the cadaver lab. Instead, they keep all of their headsets together in one location on campus, that when students come in together now put on the headset, and they explore the cadaver lab together in the same room on campus. So different approaches and you know, I think they both have advantages, but but that’s how schools are approaching it. And and the other thing is, if a student does get to check it out for this semester, you might not have one for every student to check out. But you might.. so I can remember when I was in high school, my best buddy, came down with mono. And he was not allowed to go to school for like three months. And so I think it’s different these days. But still, there are illnesses and sicknesses that keep children out of school all the time, and especially last year, but even moving forward. So to have a set of headsets, the students can still step into classes with live teachers and other live students, the social while you may be confined at home. It’s a great solution.


JC: Well that’s fantastic. So let me ask you a question here. So I was going to ask this question. I’m a marketing guy by trade, right? So I see through this lens of marketing, especially when it comes to B2B. So what types of marketing are you doing to get your VR company into organizations or schools and whatnot? Also, is there any government style applications who they’re going after? Are you trying to stick into that education industry? So you know, what are you doing for outreach? You know, because this usually helps our listeners who have their own businesses, as well to kind of see what’s working, what’s not what gives them ideas.


Steve: Yeah, so great question. And I’m a marketing guy at heart as well. So first thing is thought leadership, I write columns on medium that are cutting edge that sort of pull back the curtain and help people understand what is coming. And so once I have an article on medium and creating great articles, great thought leadership requires more than just words. You know, we integrate a lot of great images, we’ll integrate video, we link to people and things. So they’re dynamic articles, then, of course, we push those out through LinkedIn, our email list of 30,000 people, Facebook, etc. And sometimes I will boost them so that people see them. Because, you know, my thought is we want customers at the bottom of the funnel, more than the top, you know, if they’re just, if we call up a school and say, Hey, have you ever thought about VR?” And they say no. And we say, “Well, we’d like to show you because we think you’ll think it’s really cool”. We show up and they do think it’s really cool, but they’re at the top of the funnel – they’re a year to two years away from pulling the trigger. So right now, as a startup, we need quicker sales than six months, a year, two years. So we tried to find those. So if I can show 30,000 college administrators an article about Fisk University’s cadaver lab, and have those 30,300 of them, click through to read the article. And of those 300, 150 of them complete the article. Well, then at the bottom of the article, they have an opportunity to reach out to myself or others on our team to to learn more about this particular solution. And so you know, that if they click through and they get to the bottom of the article, it might only be 150. But that’s a pretty good lead generation process. And even more, no matter what, they walked away with a lot of very good information, the article is not salesy. The article is really just pure, entertaining information. And so that’s pretty powerful. Beyond that, I have a full time videographer, and we produce at least one promotional video each week. And so of those, we push them out through all the various channels, of course, we hit YouTube, we have a software program that helps us to optimize YouTube, which is very important. And you know, as you know, once it gets on YouTube, then if you have optimized it for search, then it’s just going to always be ringing up new views. And every time it rings up views, A – you build brand, B – you have the potential to build leads. And so you know, we have global customers who reach out to us and fill out our little quick quote, form. So you know, on our website Victory XR.com, you’ll find very easily a quick quote form. We don’t ask a lot of information, name, email, phone is optional. And then just a little box, what do you need? How can we be helpful. So we want to make our quick quote, form the hurdles as low to the ground as possible. So there are very few friction points on them clicking the submit button. So you know that there’s more than that, but, but that’s a pretty good start to the types of things in our LinkedIn strategies, fairly extensive, as well.


JC: Good, see I love LinkedIn, I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, especially in the B2B side, you know, that’s where the market is. And if you understand you know how to talk to people and you do your process, well, it can be really lucrative. So again, with the podcast being named The Future of BizTech, let’s talk about the future stuff here. So first off, what are some things that victory VR is looking for in the future? What are you guys doing here in the next, you know, six months to a year to two years, where’s the future of your company going, specifically, any new hardware coming out, any new software stuff, any new, you know, demographics are gonna be going after?


Steve: Sure, there’s a lot there. I’ll talk about some of the really big stuff. First, you know, we currently we’re primarily in virtual reality headsets, and we do some phone-based augmented reality. But with the number of new augmented reality glasses that are coming out, we expect that 2022 will be the year that we roll out with some major corporate partners, our augmented reality learning lesson, so you know, might be a cadaver lab, it might be a, you know, for example, one of the fun things that we have another non-education company that works in AR-VR called chalk bites. And so one of the things that we’re currently talking to a municipality about his, if you use your phone, or you put on the glasses, when you look at an old building, like you hold it up, or you the glasses, look at an old building, it shows you the historical view of that building from 100 years ago.


JC: Oh, wow.


Steve: Yeah. So it’s a cool way to tour, do history tours of communities, or whatever the case might be. And you know, because it’s AR, you know, you take it off, there’s a new one, you put it on, oh, there’s the old version, so you can see the old cars and that kind of thing. So, there’s a lot of that there’s, you know, our short term roadmap includes what we expect to roll out in September is our civil rights journey. So students will have an opportunity to tour the slave ship La Amistad with the slaves in the cargo hold so that one of the things that we believe is important about virtual reality is the chance for students to make an emotional and empathetic connection with history. So you know, when you were a kid, and you read about slavery it’s like, okay, that’s, that’s bad. But when you can really feel that impact and you understand it to a deeper level, you have greater empathy, and we think that’s important. And then the journey continues on to the Underground Railroad, and then finishes up on Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where of course the Civil Rights marches from Selma to Birmingham began. And that’s where the song Bloody Sunday from YouTube comes from. And so the students, all of these headsets, from the same class where they can be in different parts of world can all hold hands and March across that bridge together, just like in 1965. So that’s the type of thing that opens up a lot of opportunity for learning and understanding history. And we do the same thing with lots of types of history as well.


JC: Well, that’s really cool. Let me ask you then about the industry in general. So we know, you’re obviously taking more an educational angle to it, right? Where do you see VR, in general, going, let’s say even in the educational space, or even just in this kind of remote work type of space, in the next, you know, two to five years? Where if you had to guess, where are you seeing those, those trends?


Steve: So the world of simulation will become a big deal and workplace training. So if you think about it, we all fly. And We sure hope that our pilot was successful with the airline simulator before they got the pilot’s seat. So but also, if you stop and think about the piece of equipment in the American workplace that causes the most damage, both to humans and to property, is the forklift.


JC: I was just gonna say that, yeah. And only because you see some of the YouTube videos of it going bad, like security cameras.


Steve: Yes, that’s exactly right. And so we built a forklift simulator. And it’s based around the, you know, the federal standards, the OSHA standards, but even more, you know, you got to learn how to drive it yet learn where all the safety equipment is, and then you have to pick up some pallets and safely put them away. And we’re in the process of gamifying that so you and a partner can race through the warehouse, but you lose, you gain points by successfully putting cargo away, but you lose points by breaking safety violations.


JC: ..yeah or dropping stuff. Yeah.


Steve: Hitting people running over people, you know…


JC: So that’s really smart. That’d be really big in the warehouse industry. I could see that being huge, especially from and I bet insurance companies would really wouldn’t really promote this, because, you know, they don’t want to pay out, they can avoid it. So, you know, you could probably even get them to help promote you and into these companies that they’re in because, you know, they want these forklifts to not, you know, fail and hurt people and stuff, you know, and obviously, companies don’t want to deal with that either. You know, I mean, that’s a huge toll on them, manpower wise, money wise, you know, and just even just that ethical and moral, emotional toll it takes when, you know, one of your people is hurt, you know, and maybe could have done something. So I think that that’s fantastic. I really liked that angle from the corporate side, because, uh, you know, companies like Amazon might take on what you’re doing right there, you know, because I’ve got tons of stuff in there. So that’s really cool. All right, personal question, right? We’re gonna bounce to something outside of work just for a second here. What did you want to do when you were a kid? Like, what did you want to be when you grew up? And then and then like, how did that transition to what you are now? Or is it the same thing? Right, you know.


Steve: So it’s interesting, when I was very young, I was an entrepreneur. And then when I got into high school, I decided I would like to be President of the United States. So as a young man, I got into politics, ran for the legislature, was elected and became chairman of the education committee, and passed the first technology funding bill because I was always about technology. And so we hooked up all the schools to the internet and few other things. But I ultimately came to conclude that it is a very slow and arduous process to make change in the world, through politics. And I came to conclude that I will make change a lot faster, if I can change things as an entrepreneur. And you know, I always ask people when they think about that, because most people expect government to make positive change. But then I asked them, you know, who has done more to address pollution and climate change, a world leader or Elon Musk?


JC: Got it. So it’s gonna be your your corporations more or less just because they specialize that they have the.. they don’t have to ask anyone for the money. They already have it.


Steve: They can move more quickly.


JC: Yeah, faster. Hmm.


Steve: And so I know that what we are doing, the entire world will learn at one level or another through AR VR within the next five to 10 years. And it might just be a footing, dipping your toe in the water. But it might be like American High School, where they have opened the world’s first global virtual reality High School and students from around the world put on their headsets and they go to class in this virtual reality high school now. So I know that this is going to happen. And I know that we can be a catalyst for positive change. So I know that we can continue and we can make those lots of positive change and the world will be, it’ll bring greater equity because it’s more affordable to learn this way. And I know people say, Oh affordable, there’s got to own these headsets. But if you stop and think about it, a VR headset costs $300 – a really good one, this iPhone of mine cost $1200. So at 1/4, the cost, and almost not everybody spends $1200 on their 


JC: Sure


Steve: But I can go to Africa. And most people now have phones. And it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, people have phones. And so technology when it becomes important enough people adopt it.


JC: Now I agree with that. And of course, obviously, then you know that the cheaper it gets to the more people that buy it, the more volume the cheaper gets, you know, the better technology and then it compounds on itself. So last question for you. What’s the best piece of advice that you can give our listeners today, just from your experience in business? Or what is the best advice you were ever given? for being an entrepreneur in business wise?


Steve: Yeah, here’s a couple of rules to consider. Rule number one, that the law of small numbers, so people don’t, don’t think about this enough. So if if I capture 10 minutes of downtime, while I am in line waiting for something, and that 10 minutes of downtime is not flipping through my Reddit. But it is actually, you know, launching a new marketing campaign on my LinkedIn or my Facebook, that only takes 10 minutes to do. And I get it done. And instead of wasting that 10 minutes, I grabbed it, and I used it, it’s like building a brick in a wall. And let’s say that you have that opportunity four times a day. So 40 minutes a day that you reach out, you capture, and you put it towards building your company, well, in 10 days, that’s 400 minutes, in 100 days, that’s 4000 minutes, and then a year, that’s 12,000 minutes, that are now building your company, because you captured a small piece of time, and you use it productively to build and move to the next step. So that law of small numbers adds up.


Steve: Same thing with expenses, it’s the same thing with employee productivity, you look for the small things that are costing you at the margins that are happening over and over and again, then you have to train your people to understand that this matters. So that’s rule number one. Rule number two is, and this is a little different, but I believe in trying, not putting all your eggs in one basket. In other words, like I always read like, Oh, you know, I maxed out my credit cards, and this one big idea. And if it didn’t happen, then then nothing was going to work. You know, I like to put a little bit of money in 10 ideas, test them all. And the one that works all the money and put it in there. I’ll do the same thing with marketing with ads, I’ll start five ads. And three days later, I’ll shut three of them down, and I’ll shift money, but the two that are working. So those are two things that to me, matter. Try not to put your eggs in one basket because most gambles fail. But small bits


JC: Well, I love the advice and for everyone listening out there. Again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to describe to subscribe to the podcast, give it a five star rating, so that techies like you and me can find it. And if you’re in the B2B software or services space, and you’re struggling to drive consistent laser targeted leads for yourself or your sales team, be sure to reach out to my agency infinity marketing group, because that’s what we do our website’s, www.InfinityMGroup.com. Or you can call us at 303-834-7344. We are based here in Denver. Steve, thank you again, so much for being on the show and sharing your business expertise with us and what you guys are doing there. How can our listeners reach you guys? If they want to either reach you personally or your website so they can go and check it out? How do they contact you?


Steve: Sure email me directly Steve@VictoryXR.com or visit our website. VictoryXR.com – very easy


JC: Awesome and then are you Steve or Steven Grubbs on LinkedIn, because you mentioned LinkedIn a lot so..


Steve: Yeah, that’s right. I’m Steve Grubbs on LinkedIn.


JC: Awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show. Steve. I look forward to speaking with you again soon.


Steve: Thank you, JC

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