In this guest post, Colin Pudsey, Founder of SilVR Adventures shares what it has been like launching his business into the aged care sector and provides learnings for others considering a venture in the sector. SilVR Adventures won the Technology category in the 2020 Future of Ageing awards.
In 2018, the global number of people over the age of 64 eclipsed the number of children under the age of 5 – the first time in history that this happened! Source: Our World In Data
This fact grabbed my attention while browsing one afternoon in the middle of 2019 and planted the seed that bloomed into the SilVR Adventures business.
I did not have any network or experience in aged care, but I started by researching problems in the industry – there was no shortage of issues; funding, governance, quality of care, workforce conditions, technology improvements, the list went on and on, but something stood out and resonated with me – the chronic problem of loneliness, isolation, and depression among our elders.
Even pre-Covid, 50% of residents in care homes experienced feelings of isolation and loneliness and this could be linked to increased risk of heart disease, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.
I thought there must be an innovative solution and soon landed on virtual reality. VR had been around for a few years and early traction had tailed off, but I believed in the potential and was encouraged by new companies and capital in the space – I began making plans for SilVR Adventures to lead the application of VR to the ageing population.
Now, it was time to get to know the industry. Make no mistake, that takes time if you are starting a business in a new sector, to extensively build your network and knowledge. LinkedIn was particularly useful, along with networking events and participation in several start-up accelerators, enabling me to connect with fellow entrepreneurs, founders, and start-ups in the sector, which has proved to be hugely beneficial.
The more meaningful connections I made, the more it became apparent that this was a community full of passionate individuals, inspiring leaders, and a wealth of knowledge and expertise to be shared. It is why we started the Aged Care Enrichment Podcast – as a platform for learning and transfer of knowledge.
SilVR Adventures turned 2-years old in July and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far – taking 1000’s of older adults of meaningful shared experiences in virtual reality across ANZ, demonstrating improvement in overall happiness and wellbeing – even picking up a couple of national awards along the way.
Marketing has been hugely important to our brand awareness and growth – it’s essential to use the right positioning and messaging. We are creating and sharing stories – empowering care teams with innovative tools and solutions specifically designed for older adults, to enable them to match VR experiences to participant’s identities and deliver meaningful experiences and activities that bring joy.
We have sophisticated tech but also appreciate the need to keep it simple to operate, working closely with care teams to embrace feedback opportunities. This has helped shape our comprehensive training and technical support and ensures our customers get the best out of our solution and deliver amazing VR experiences to their residents and patients.
In addition, we are working with academia in several areas of VR research and a key development of the business has been establishing our Board of Advisors. We’re fortunate to have some wonderful people helping us grow and expanding services into dementia care, palliative care, and disability care too.
If you are an entrepreneur wanting to get into Age-Tech, then it’s an opportunity ripe landscape for technologies and services built to improve the lives and wellbeing of ageing people and their caregivers, and consider this, if you are lucky enough to reach your eighties or nineties, what quality of care and life would you like to have?
If you would like to know more about how immersive virtual reality experiences can benefits older adults, then please visit us today: https://silvradventures.com.au/
Entries for the 2021 Future of Ageing awards close on August 6 – futureofageing.com.au