2020 Summer Catalyst Startup Profile: Vadati
Imagine what it would be like to practice your presentations in a conference room setting, with an interactive audience that would give you instant feedback. What if you could simply put on a headset, enter a virtual world, and practice presenting in a professional environment just about anywhere you’d like? Sree Dasari ’23, CEO and Co-Founder of Vadati, has created an innovative virtual reality simulation that does just that.
Vadati’s software program focuses on enhancing presentation delivery, boosting confidence, and alleviating anxiety. After putting on your virtual reality headset and adding your presentation deck to the program, you enter a conference room and deliver your speech to an audience who listens and reacts. At the very end, you receive additional feedback on the content and delivery.
Drawing inspiration from personal experiences, Sree was eager to make the process of presenting less stressful for others: “Growing up, presenting in front of others was extremely nerve-wracking for me. Even if I had to raise my hand and answer a question in class, I would start shaking and sweating. But soon I realized that as you present more and more, you become less anxious. I practiced presentations with my family and friends but the experience wasn’t the same. So I began to wonder, is there a way to effectively simulate a professional presentation environment and practice public speaking with virtual reality technology?”
Sree’s curiosity and passion for the topic led her to begin an initial research project. Her work was published in the Journal of Emerging Investigators, a journal managed by Harvard, and also recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA). She was also awarded “Best in Fair” at the Rhode Island Science and Engineering Fair (RISEF) and won the Lt. Governor’s pitch competition. Building off of the momentum and excited to turn her ideas into a reality, Sree embarked on her own entrepreneurial journey and started Vadati.
In Summer Catalyst, Hot Seat was one of Sree’s most memorable learning experiences: “You receive authentic feedback and the audience doesn’t just sugar coat it.” The valuable feedback from her peers and mentors during the rebuild session helped strengthen her pitch. Over the past 10 weeks, Sree and her team have achieved major product development and customer discovery milestones as they prepare for launch. In addition to Summer Catalyst, Sree has been actively involved in Babson’s eTower and Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL).
According to Sree, the process of turning an abstract idea into a tangible reality is the most rewarding part about being an entrepreneur. What are some of the most valuable lessons she has learned? “Be open to change and always reflect on what you’ve done. Reach out to others and talk to as many people as you can. Be sure to truly understand and address your customer’s pain points.” Furthermore, Sree encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to take the first step: “Just go for it – you can spend a lot of time doubting whether or not it’s worth it. But even if the startup fails, you’ll learn so much from the process and that knowledge can help you create something even better.”