Tampa Entrepreneur Expands Immersive VR Technology At Baskins Big Cat Rescue, More • St. Pete Catalyst

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Chris Vasilakis, CEO of the Tampa-based Guided Virtual Tours, built its platform to give people “real” virtual tours of real estate, but that has now expanded to touring on an airplane to see caged tigers.

Guided Virtual Tours was founded last year with the premise of offering virtual tours in commercial and residential real estate – 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 through rooms, Guided Virtual Tours offers 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 were actually there. You can even look outside at patios and windows to see the view. The tour is accurate and representative of the property, ”he said, adding how users can have a full 360 degree view on their phones.

Vasilakis is working with Matterport, a leading provider of 3D technology, to photograph the properties and create the tours.

He describes Tampa as a testing ground for this technology. The technology is being used on 75 different properties in the U.S., and Vasilakis says he’s getting more interest from Airbnb property owners.

By introducing Guided Virtual Tours, Vasilakis created a non-profit organization called The Virtual Recess Foundation, which offers “virtual adventures” to sick children who are locked in hospital rooms. He started working with hospitals in Miami.

The tours give kids the chance to fly over Davis Island on a Tampa-based charter airline ICON Aircraft for a walk in Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue.

“The foundation started running last year, but then the Covid-19 pandemic struck. We’re getting back to that and looking for hospitals in Tampa Bay to work with, ”said Vasilakis.

Today his company has five employees. Vasilakis said Guided Virtual Tours plans to add many more positions primarily in sales over the next nine to twelve months.

Guided 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 history. Originally from Brooklyn, he left New York in the early 1990s to move to Florida, where he joined the Marine Corps after high school.

Christopher Vasilakis, founder of Guided Virtual Tours. Photo provided.

In the Marine Corps he became a sergeant and fought in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

After a little over five years in the service, Vasilakis wanted to tap into his entrepreneurial spirit.

He eventually started working in the music industry, claiming to have worked with hip hop stars like Ludacris.

It wasn’t until Vasilakis’ brother introduced him to the emerging world of VR that his interest grew.

Since then, he has booted several VR companies, including Guided Virtual Tours.

Readers can find his full biography here.

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