Caroline Pugh did not take the well-defined career path many do. After a few years of school she decided to develop a revolutionary product idea and start a business. She is now pursuing the future of VirtualU full time. She is this week’s Recent Alumni Board spotlight!
Could you tell about where you currently are in your career?
I am an entrepreneur. I have a startup, it is called VirtualU. We develop 3D human body scanning technology in the health and fitness space. So that is the hardware and software system that we built. It is a scanner that goes into gyms and basically allows people to get all their biometrics through a full body scan. We are working with different gyms, we have five partners right now. And we are expanding on the east coast, so it has been a lot of fun.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got there coming out of Pamplin?
I started at end of my sophomore year, about three years ago. The first year was really about how to set up a business. Me and my business partner, Louis, started bringing some of our friends on board who are really talented engineers to help us out and build the first prototypes of the actual system. We raised a first round of fundraising back in 2013 and we raised $635,000 from various different investors, mostly Virginia Tech alumni actually.
Over the past year we were able to finalize the exact design that we wanted to work with for the scanner as well as the exact methodology for capturing images and different measurements. Now it is really fun because it is a matter of adding features based off of what users want and what users feel would add value to their lives.
Did you leave school early to pursue VirtualU?
I left school to pursue VirtualU one hundred percent. Basically six months into the company we realized that this is what we wanted to do, and once it started getting traction we realized that this was an actual viable thing to do. I was studying business information technology at the time, and was involved in a lot of different clubs.
Have you spent any time with the Innovate Community here on campus?
Yes, I have been there a number of times to speak with the group and I thought it was great. The fact that they have that program and such a great ability to be able to connect those students with mentors and encourage that kind of learning is fantastic.
What drove you to join the RAB?
Especially through innovate I started realizing that students are definitely curious about entrepreneurship and I think the biggest hurdle for a lot of people is “what is the first step?” So for me the interest was how I can work with these recent alumni, very smart people, as well as the faculty of the school, to hopefully create a program or at least talk about how we can make this easier for students and how the school can better support potential new entrepreneurs.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Through being a part of the fitness industry and working with so many fitness oriented people I have become very passionate about fitness. So I spend a lot of time working out and trying to be active in general. Other than that, something that I used to do a lot, though I don’t do as much now, is I would just go to conferences because I learn the best when I am listening to people, especially people with a lot of experience. So I would go to different conferences, not necessarily conferences directly related to what I was doing just so that I could learn something new.