The Founder Institute is looking for startup advisors and leaders near you. Learn more
Founder Institute Image

You open your eyes: you’re in front of a classroom giving a speech—and boom—suddenly, you are standing in nothing but your underwear, and panic fills your mind. Many people experience their own versions of fears and anxiety when it comes to speaking in front of a group of people, but this phobia can hold a person back from reaching his or her full potential.

Tiago Gavassi is the Founder & CEO of Panic Lobster, a San Francisco Founder Institute VR portfolio company helping people defeat their public speaking fears by training them in front of virtual audiences.

Panic Lobster is banishing the days of talking to yourself in front of a mirror into the low-tech past. According to CEO Gavassi,

Panic Lobster helps people develop public speaking and other business skills using immersive technologies to provide experiential learning online.

Gavassi is not new to the world of startups. As a three-time Co-Founder with more than 11 years of experience in communications and tech, he has helped launch organizations that have even been recognized with awards at Cannes Lions. Gavassi notes that public speaking skills are one of the most important attributes any leader can build and practice maintaining. Having the ability to speak well in public allows leaders to build and strengthen trust and respect, improving human results downstream. 

Similarly, an entrepreneur who can’t pitch their own company effectively in public will never command the presence of a room, which means it’ll be that much harder to raise funding or inspire people to believe in their vision.

Public Speaking is a Fear That Can Be Conquered

According to Psychom,

Glossophobia, or a fear of public speaking, is a very common phobia and one that is believed to affect up to 75% of the population. Some individuals may feel a slight nervousness at the very thought of public speaking, while others experience full-on panic and fear.

There are many ways to help curb a fear of public speaking, with practicing the material being near the top of the list. Even when well practiced though, some people have such anxiety tied to speaking events that the fear can still be paralyzing after hours of rehearsal.

On top of this, it’s challenging to truly practice the material in anything resembling a public setting, which means the speaker only has the single attempt to get it right in front of an audience. No pressure, right? This is where Panic Lobster comes in.

Rather than speaking to yourself in the mirror, Panic Lobster uses technology to create a VR simulated audience for you. Both through their website and/or their immersive virtual reality headset experience, the result is a much more realistic practice setting.

The business education market accounts for around $14 billion each year, and one of the most funded pieces of that pie go towards communications training. Panic Lobster is working to disrupt this market, offering a subscription service that lets trainees build upon their public speaking skills wherever they are and whenever they want. 

Though on the surface the solution is targeted towards those seeking to defeat their fears of public speaking, the software itself is really designed for anyone interested in practicing and improving their speaking presentations. Once inside the immersive scene, presenters are able to time themselves, record the session, play it back, and even get third-party feedback.

90% of learning happens during the simulation and experience process. That's why immersive technologies are so effective on the learning process. Our solution will allow users to practice in real public speaking situations (not unrealistic 3D avatars), and gamifying the learning experience to allow people learn faster and efficiently. The users can: practice, use slide decks, record sessions, and request and receive feedback. Practice anywhere, anytime, and get feedback.


*  *  *

Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $900M in funding, and building products people love across over 185 cities worldwide.

See the most recent news from our Grads at, or learn more about their stories at

Related Insights

More insights
Founder Institute Image
Grad Profile

Mentessa is the Tinder for Mentorship Matchmaking

By Dustin Betz on 2019-11-23
Founder Institute Image
Grad Profile

WISAMI is Simplified HR for a World of Bloated Office Tech Stacks

By Dustin Betz on 2019-11-16
Founder Institute Image
Grad Profile

Limestart Digitizes Commerce at Point of Sale for African SMEs

By Dustin Betz on 2019-11-06

Are you ready to join the world's premier startup launch program?

Join the Program