“Basketball players get to practice on a basketball court, football players on a football field, hockey players on ice, but where do people get practice communicating – that feels real? The mirror? It’s time to change that. Now anyone can go, InStage!”

Before Nicole Mclean became the co-founder of InStage, a virtual reality training company that has successfully helped 1000s of students and employees develop confidence in their communication skills, she was spending night after night worrying about a presentation. In 2017 Nicole realized that she didn’t have an effective way to practice, and that was what stressed her out the most. Practicing in her head or in front of the mirror didn’t feel like the real thing, and even when she asked her husband to listen to her she knew he wasn’t going to tell her what she really needed to hear because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Then she tried virtual reality, and suddenly recognized what a powerful solution the technology could be, and how it could change the way people practice communicating forever. Since then, Nicole has worked with some of the most prestigious educational institutions and companies in the world to help students and business professionals prepare for their presentations, interviews, difficult conversations, and more. Nicole believes that anyone could have an idea that can change the world, and her mission to help as many people as she can develop the skills and confidence they need to share those ideas!

As a training tool VR has been integrated into companies like Walmart, where they’ve trained over 140,000 retail employees for Black-Friday. UPS is using VR to train truck drivers, the NFL is using it to train quarterbacks, and Farmers insurance is training insurance adjusters. At InStage, Nicole wants to bring the benefits of VR to students to help them get their dream jobs and prepare them for the communication challenges of the workplace. According to a Statistics Canada report from August 29, 2018 the total number of students enrolled in Canadian universities and colleges in 2015/2016 was 2,034,957.

It was also reported that the top three fields of enrolment for the past decade have been; 1) business, management and public administration 2) humanities and 3) social and behavioural sciences, and law. Verbal communications skills are critical to success in each of these fields. However, in 2016 Forbes cited a PayScale study where 63,924 were surveyed and highlighted that 46% of managers felt new graduates lack communication skills and that 39% felt they lacked public speaking skills specifically. Further insight from the Statistics Canada report indicates that less than 45% of graduates owing student loans paid off their debts within 3 years of graduation, making it extremely clear that many students are struggling to find the work they want and excel at it.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC) in an article published on December 6, 2018 worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is forecast to be nearly $20.4 billion in 2019, an increase of 68.8% from 2018. In addition, based on spending volume, IDC predicts training ($1.8 billion) will break into the top four use cases of AR/VR alongside games ($4.0 billion), video/feature viewing ($2.0 billion), and augmented reality games ($616 million).

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