by Chelsey Lucas
Photography by Alex Stafford
BUYING A PRICEY NEW HOME—especially if it’s only from a set of architectural drawings in a sales center—can be nerve-wracking for the buyer and challenging for developers and their sales staff. So Frank Elge, co-founder and CEO of Avant, along with co-founder and CFO Greg Orquera, created a virtual reality company in 2013 to show how a home or property will look before it’s been developed. They offer guided computer-based browser simulations, video game-like walkthroughs or standalone systems like the Oculus Rift, a helmet that potential buyers wear to give them a 3D experience of the space.
Avant’s virtual simulations are built to the developer’s specifications. Cost depends on how much programming is required to match the plans provided; Elge estimates the average price to be around $5,000 for the software-based development and a minimum fee of $100 per month depending on the type of hardware. The Avant team, which includes Rob Hackle, chief technology officer, assembles, maintains and services all of the hardware.
Currently, Elge is targeting commercial and residential developers for single- and multifamily homes, but foresees the company eventually moving into high-end yachts and motor coaches. “As virtual reality technology becomes more ubiquitous,” he says, “we want to develop multiplatform applications to service a larger market.”
Sarasota is a good headquarters for Avant. With the construction of several high-end residential condos, “it’s fertile proving ground for us,” Elge says.