From Idea to (Virtual) Reality

Before:

Taya Pocock, an American, and her husband Daniel, a native German, were living in Germany
when they were introduced to Panomatics, an international company that provides innovative
virtual tours. “We loved the idea of creating virtual tours for cities and businesses,” says Taya,
who has a management and marketing background. Daniel, a Web designer and commercial
photographer, was influential in launching Panomatics’ Munich office, and in 2008, the couple
returned to the U.S. to launch the first U.S. office. Seeking general startup help and a refresher
course on current U.S. marketing trends, they contacted the Ventura SBDC.

Best Advice:

“This was a team effort,” says SBDC consultant Rose Obetz. “I helped them with an initial marketing
plan that stressed networking in the community. They also met with our attorney,
Richard Kramer, who helped them develop contracts. In addition, our financial guru, Pat
Sweeney, helped them develop a successful pricing strategy, helped them develop cash
projections and reviewed their business plan.”

Lessons Learned:

• Be flexible. The obvious market for virtual tours is the real estate industry—but in
2008, “that market was dead,” says Taya. “We knew restaurants, salons and other
types of businesses could also benefit from tours,” so after discussing new markets
with Obetz, the Pococks shifted focus to city tours and art gallery tours.
• Marketing is key. “Rose was very influential in emphasizing networking, marketing
and the importance of publicity,” says Taya. Panomatics received write-ups in several
publications, including Kiplinger.com, which resulted in a lot of recognition.
• Pricing matters. Pat Sweeney helped the Pococks assess how many clients they
would need to make their concept viable and whether they wanted to make onetime
sales or earn residual income. “We worked out ways to license our tours so
people pay an annual fee,” says Taya. “In terms of dollar amounts, I think that was
the most significant [assistance] we got.”

After

“Since our first meeting in July 2008, Taya and Daniel have taken their business from zero to 60,”
says Obetz. “They are now the talk of the town with their innovative and creative services.”
Taya is especially proud of their Virtual Ventura city tour (www.virtualventura.net), a joint effort
with the Downtown Ventura Organization that featured 28 local businesses. The tour earned
an Award of Distinction for marketing best practices from the Committee of the International
Downtown Association.

Panomatics launched in September 2008; by July 2009, sales were increasing 20 percent annually.
The company has clients throughout Southern California and as far as New York; eventual
goals include satellite offices in all major U.S. cities. With help from SBDC referrals, “We are
building a network of photographers so we can reach a greater geographic area,” says Taya.
She adds, “We love the fact that the SBDC consultants are not academics, or people who have
a theory about something, but people with hands-on experience.”