Innovations That Matter

SilVR Adventures' Colin Pudsey on VR Experiences in the Era of COVID

Wise Words

The CEO of SilVR Adventures on how the startup has progressed and how it has adapted its model during the coronavirus pandemic.

In December 2019, Springwise covered the Australian startup SilVR adventures, who have been pioneering the provision of VR experiences for elderly people. For individuals, the tailored experiences often involve a virtual visit to a location of particular significance.

Here, we interview Colin Pudsey, CEO of SilVR Adventures, on how the startup has progressed and how it has adapted its model during the coronavirus pandemic.

1. How has your main goal changed from when you first started out?

Our mission has always been to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation among seniors while driving social engagement — the COVID-19 pandemic impact has only increased these issues and thus make our solution even more valuable. However, we have evolved into a complete turnkey solution to provide care homes and teams with everything required to run their own group virtual reality sessions in-house without the need for any external service provider.

We are working with a number of key partners in wider care and academia on the benefits of our virtual reality solution to their residents and patients – this includes a recent collaborative research project with The University of Melbourne and care providers with experts focused on dementia, diverse cultures, palliative patients, depression and anxiety. Ultimately we want to improve our solution for our users based on their needs.

2. Has anything happened on your journey, so far, that you didn’t expect? 

The use of our solution in wider care was not planned — we had a multicare facility purchase a solution for their aged care wing just prior to COVID-19 lockdown, then as lockdown started they decided to use the solution in other departments such as depression, anxiety and abuse. They even used our VR solution as a recreational activity for their front line workers as a way to unwind — it proved a big success. It demonstrated the potential to adapt our solution to other areas of care and lead to the facility gaining approval to use our solution in 25 sites across the region.

3. Would you have done anything differently since you first started out?

In the early months of the business, we spent a bit of time and energy speaking to potential investors and didn’t secure anything as we hadn’t achieved any sales and perceived risk — it was a bit disappointing and felt like a waste of time, but it’s been a blessing in disguise.

The increased bootstrapping focus and commitment has paid off and likely given us a better platform for scale and success. We’ve built a sustainable, profitable business without any investment and we’ve just celebrated our one year anniversary — something that 90 per cent of startups don’t manage. We have lots of exciting new opportunities and ideas to develop. I’m sure any future investment opportunities will prove much more fruitful!

4. Have you had to make any changes so far in response to COVID-19?

Yes, we’ve incorporated the ability to socially distance during group VR sessions and developed hospital approved infection control and maintenance guidelines for hardware. Training is also delivered remotely via Zoom.

5. How is the world going to change post-COVID and how do you see your role or business changing further?

I think the aged care industry will be one of the last sectors to open up and that means isolation, loneliness and depression will remain devastating problems. I believe this will lead to an increased appetite from care providers to embrace innovative solutions such as SilVR Adventures to help reduce these issues by bringing the world to seniors, through reminiscence therapy and improving social engagement.

As a business, we’re working on some amazing improvements and development of our software, 360-degree content production and expanding internationally – so the future is very exciting!

6. What is the main thing you think has made you successful?

A natural ability to hustle, a passion to over-deliver on customer expectations — and a very supportive wife!

7. If you could play God, what do 5 years from now look like?

We’re a global business developing tech-based enrichment experiences that bring joy to millions of people each year.

8. Any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs?

If you really believe in what you are doing, then don’t give up and keep pushing! Every mistake or failing is an opportunity to improve and learn.

Read more about SilVR adventures here.

Written By: Holly Hamilton