Underneath your fear lies the greatest of opportunities. Conquering something that scares you the most and tearing down the invisible barriers that discrete you from the ideal life, you become the person you’ve always dreamt of: the best of you. A crafted blend of belief and determination can open that door and enable you to pave the way beyond prejudices.
Meet Sophie Thompson, a young resilient believer who conquered her fear in an inventively unusual way and marked a global success. Sophie once had a fear of speaking in public. A millennial found an exceptional solution to overcome this adversity: a VR powered immersive training platform, VirtualSpeech. Sophie recalls the app was initially co-created for fun and was not expected to become a business. However, today it is a recognized solution worldwide, which enables people to learn and practice key business skills in virtual reality (VR). Within 18 months of creating VirtualSpeech, Sophie went from not being able to order her own food at a restaurant to being interviewed live on BBC World News – all with the help of VirtualSpeech.
VirtualSpeech’s offering has diversified over the years to cater for the growing needs of a global audience. The platform now offers online training courses combined with VR for an array of business skills, for individuals and small businesses, as well as offering the ability to integrate them into company LMS systems for wider-scale adoption. The solution is also available as a standalone option to coaches and trainers, who are looking to diversify their own in-person training packages. Sophie has been integral to the evolution of the business and streamlining growth of the platform to ensure they over the best solution available.
Enduring Tough Times
Sophie recalls she faced two main challenges during the initial phase of her tenure. The first one was related to operating in a relatively nascent market. According to Sophie, putting extensive efforts to sell a VR solution, when a high proportion of people didn’t even know what VR was and its exceptional benefits for education was quite a challenge.
Selling to large enterprises was another perspiring task. Sophie was 22 when she began selling VirtualSpeech and, being so young, she felt a pressure to disprove stereotypes and prove herself and her knowledge. However, she mentions, proving to know the product, market, and understanding customers’ needs was key to persuading people that age didn’t matter.
In addition to this, Sophie commented on an unconscious bias engrained in many people towards female entrepreneurs. She mentioned that sometimes she is not taken as seriously as her male co-founder, although acknowledges that people probably don’t mean harm by this. According to her, female entrepreneurs need to develop a thick skin and realize it’s not personal. And the best way to tackle this is to display your expertise with confidence and don’t let anyone dim that or take that away from you. Her never- ending enthusiasm and an unwavering belief in her product have kept her motivated and helped her to overcome any obstacles she’s encountered.
Committed to Build the Best
Customer satisfaction has always been the first and foremost priority for VirtualSpeech. When asked about tackling competition, she asserted, “Focusing too much on the competition can become a huge distraction to a business, so we just try to focus on building the best product we can.” She further adds, “Our focus is on our customers and providing a solution which the market demands, not on what others in the market are doing.”
Personifying Traits of Success
A young, globally successful entrepreneur, Sophie believes the biggest attribute an entrepreneur must have is determination and belief – both of which should be strong enough to endure the inevitable tough times. She comments, “Entrepreneurs need to be visionary with their ideas but at the same time, realistic about how they’re going to get there, and have bucket-loads of motivation to match.” Sophie surely has a promising future ahead. In the coming year, along with leading VirtualSpeech’s growth, she envisions advocating teens and young women to pursue careers in tech, through entrepreneurship or otherwise.
For Sophie, it’s important that women are represented in the industry. She comments, “The tech industry has massively influenced our lives to date and will continue to do so, and it’s important that women are represented in the industry, and influence how tech is developed so it’s not entirely from, typically, one demographic’s perspective.”
The determined VirtualSpeech cofounder serves her vision in every possible way and encourages woman to do the same with her work and words. She states, “Have the confidence to believe in yourself and your product. I often speak to women with amazing ideas and the thing that stops them is their lack of confidence, but you miss every shot that you don’t take!”