We interviewed Jack Brinn who started Reminiscience with his business partner Ashley Stokeld. Read on to find out all about the world of their exciting VR business…
Tell Us About Your Business…
Reminiscience uses virtual reality technology to capture 360 degree videos of multiple locations throughout the UK and the North East. These videos are taken to care homes for residents who no longer have the ability to visit the places to view and discuss. The videos increase the wellbeing of the viewers and also promote conversation and stimulation which is really beneficial to the elderly residents, many of whom suffer from dementia.
How did you get the idea for the business?
Originally we had a business working in the care sector working with training but we realised that we didn’t have the right skill set for this business as other people were making more progress than we were. We decided to rethink and focus on our skills. We highlighted that our skills were in technology and due to already working in the care sector we had a lot of knowledge in that area too.
With this in mind we looked for issues within the care industry and noticed a big issue surrounding lack of stimulating activities for people. This got us thinking – what would stimulate people in a care home? After this we bumped into someone who was using VR and that’s where the idea came from – if we could enable people who can’t leave a certain location to be able to explore somewhere else without moving, it would be perfect.
Describe your typical day.
We get to the office early, have a quick catch up with each other and grab a coffee. After that we clear emails and call ahead to the care homes to make sure everything is ok to go ahead, or to solve any issues that have arisen the days before. Then we go out and deliver activities or train care staff on how to use the technology in different homes. In the afternoon we would normally do another VR session or attend meetings with different care home groups. Other times we will go filming content that has been specifically asked for by residents and spend the rest of the time editing, rendering and exporting the content ready to be viewed on the hardware.
How many different locations do you have that are available to view?
We have about 250 as our business relies on the fact that we have a lot of different locations to make the experiences as personalised as possible, which always leads to better reactions and stronger conversations. We have to make sure we keep up to date with customer’s requests and remember to have the right locations available as our content library grows everyday.
With so many videos available, are you working with cares homes only in the North East?
At the moment covert the majority of the North-East. We’re using the North East to test everything out at the moment and have managed to build good relationships with the big care home groups in the UK. In the New Year we will be expanding, with plans to go nation-wide in the not too distant future.
What are the future plans for the business?
In the future we see VR in every care home. The technology completely complements the lifestyle of someone who can’t move, and gives them back their ability to explore different places.
We see our company facilitating the movement into high-tech within the care sector. We see homes using us to create personalised care plans for people and our software working with activities coordinators to suggest videos, so that people’s reactions get even better. Overall our business plan is to have a headset in every care home in the country which would be massively beneficial for the health sector.
What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
Two things really stand out. The first is the uncertainty of it all, there is no safety net and no back up. People will offer to help but at the end of the day, it’s up to you and that can be difficult, especially when working with something that is in ‘the unknown’ like moving VR into the care sector.
We thought working with people with dementia would be hard but it’s actually really rewarding. It gives you a different perspective on life and makes doing the work worthwhile. Watching people who are not interested in talking change and become stimulated to strike up a conversation is really special.
Everybody assumes running your own business it really tough – which it is – but at the same time, it’s not. It’s worth it because every day you are motivated and doing something that you enjoy.
Why did you choose to start a business?
I think the main reason, for both of us, is that we worked doing jobs that we didn’t enjoy and ended up not giving our best. The more you do something you enjoy, the more likely you are to be happy and put your all into it, so that was a really big factor for us both. The vision wasn’t just to be self-employed or an entrepreneur, it was to get up easily in the morning thinking ‘I actually want to do this’. The idea was not to dread Monday mornings, instead Mondays are days you look forward to.
We did it because we enjoy it, we saw an opportunity and we went for it. No one can tell you what to do and you can make all the decisions yourself – which is great.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur?
It goes back to the happiness factor. We really believe that what we do makes a difference. Being able to make decisions about the stuff that matters too feels good, if you make a mistake you just move on and no one tells you that you were wrong.
How did Rise Up help your start up journey?
Rise Up have personally given me a lot of help. They bankrolled a previous company that I tried, a long time before this, and taught me a lot about what my main skills were. Also the whole team has always been there for me, they’re great people to know and the team is a huge part of what Rise Up has to offer.
Rise Up also pointed us towards the Foundership program and without that we probably would have failed. Also, without the grants we received from Rise Up I don’t think we would’ve been able to afford our initial software and hardware for the VR. We still keep in touch even though it’s been a long time since we were on the Foundership program due to all the great help we got from Rise Up in the past.
I’d say that the University and Rise Up combined have been the largest contributors to our success at this point, especially in the start-up stage as the networks then were so important for us.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Always work out who your customers are and then talk to them a lot. Don’t waste your time building apps or doing anything until you have worked out exactly who your customer is and whether or not they will actually buy your product. There is a difference between having an idea and having a business, and with market research you can work out pretty fast which of those you have.
To find out more about Reminiscience visit their website: