Story by Malcolm Hong

Although virtual reality technology has been around for decades, creating an affordable, easily mass-produced system used to be science fiction. Today, recent industry breakthroughs have made virtual reality (VR) applications possible on a greater scale. When VR technology became affordable and accessible, David Cleverdon, owner of Boise-based marketing company DTX Creative, was quick to realize the possibilities.

Cleverdon saw opportunity. He could transform conventional training techniques with the interactive, immersive nature of VR. For example, VR could optimize the quality of training for first responders, such as paramedics or law enforcement officers. This could mean the difference between life and death. To achieve his vision, Cleverdon needed a partner who could help him create a world-class VR company. He hired Jennifer Lastra, who had proven history in business development and project management. Together, they rebranded DTX Creative and formed 360immersive, with Lastra as Managing Director and CEO.

After forming the company, Lastra had to overcome several obstacles. They found a way to finance 360immersive and acquire tech talent, but Lastra had to transition from being a corporate executive to becoming the leader of a nimble startup. This wasn’t easy. Through feedback from staff, she forged a healthy company culture that allowed them to acquire and retain key employees. Lastra also had to overcome her fear of public speaking, so she confronted it head on by accepting any opportunities to publicly speak. Today, she is a sought-after presenter who was recently asked to keynote a prominent technology event.

Lastra’s leadership has been instrumental in the company’s mission–to use immersive technologies to enhance training while improving team communication and collaboration. Although virtual reality has been primarily associated with gaming, Lastra and Cleverdon recognized how the technology could become a disruptor in the training industry. Increasing the information retention rate is a key goal for trainers, but existing training models often fall short.

Most training is conducted with live presenters, using the infamous “death by PowerPoint.” Online courses are more cost effective, but the lack of engaging content often causes users to click through content without learning anything. Live simulation exercises are more engaging, but are expensive to set up and difficult to duplicate. 360immersive addresses these challenges by providing an affordable, easily replicated experience to create interactive content. According to prominent educator Edgar Dale, individuals remember 90% of what they say and do, which is achievable through VR simulations.

360immersive provides an affordable VR training solution with their uShareVR platform, which can be accessed through inexpensive VR headsets paired with mobile devices. VR content allows users to experience all the sights, sounds and emotions of a real-life scenario in a 360-degree environment. It provides an engaging way to train with risky scenarios, such as performing a complex surgery or responding to an active shooter.

The VR course module allows users to experience learning objectives in real time, and can track how users are performing. These modules are available through a downloadable app, so training is easily duplicated. Users can repeat the course as often as they need. This training is a game changer, especially for public service organizations in rural areas with smaller budgets.

Lastra is passionate about the company’s mission to provide virtual reality training to a worldwide market. She explained, “At 360immersive, our vision is to prevent fatal and non-fatal injuries from occurring, one VR training experience at a time. The success of our mission saves lives and also impacts how organizations attract, prepare and retain tomorrow’s workforce.”

360immersive’s innovation has attracted interest from federal, state and local organizations across the country, including the Department of Energy and counter-terrorism organizations. Despite their success, Lastra and Cleverdon haven’t forgotten their Idaho roots. They are founding members of the Idaho VR Council, an organization committed to creating a thriving VR industry in Idaho. 360immersive also provides support for the Idaho Technology Council, which helps Idaho technology companies start, grow and thrive.

Considering the company’s progress, owner David Cleverdon recognizes the value Lastra has brought to the organization with her unique perspective as a woman in technology. Cleverdon explained, “If everyone looks at a problem the same way, it creates limited solutions. Embracing diversity encourages new solutions, which creates new opportunities.” With the doors that have opened for 360immersive, it’s clear that Lastra fostered the right opportunities for the company.

360immersive is positioned to permanently transform the future of the training industry. By enhancing training outcomes, 360immersive hopes to make cutting costs and saving lives the new, actual reality for organizations worldwide.

360immersive · 507 W Hays St, Boise · 888.843.9580