Interview with Simeon Quarrie, Founder & CEO at Immersive Storytelling Start-Up: VIVIDA

We create immersive training experiences for corporate training, specialising mainly in Cybersecurity and Diversity & Inclusion, but not like you have ever seen before. In the past we have allowed EY executives to live a day in the life of a black man entering a corporate environment for the first time, and given Sky employees the chance to date a cybercriminal that is trying to glean information from them for targeted attacks.

Through our unique blend of storytelling and technology, we create experiences that really stay with people, particularly in subjects that can be dull or difficult to understand. Thinking back to your own education at school – I am sure everyone can remember a lesson where the teacher used a certain technique, or you did something out of the ordinary. You probably remember what the lesson was about and elements of what you were taught even though it was 10, or 20, or 30 or even more years ago. That is what we are trying replicate but in the corporate training environment – memorable experiences that will increase retention and incite real change.

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I have always been passionate about my job, which has always involved production of some kind. Whenever I have thrown myself into something, I have always tried to think about how I can make that project unlike anything the client has seen before. This started with wedding photography of all places – I would create these incredible shoots for clients and started to think that the same skill set and techniques could apply to more or less anything.

After a while I branched out into corporate settings, starting to use storytelling to make things that were often boring, or hard to understand much easier to consume on topics like resilience or fire safety training. Since then I have been lucky enough to take the company in a direction that matters to me, with topics like D&I and cybersecurity being very close to my heart.

When you have a passion for your work and a passion for the subject matter, it makes a huge difference, and that is something that myself and the VIVIDA team has, which resonates throughout all of our training experiences.

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

Before the pandemic, we were all about virtual reality. Our experiences would have the protagonist living the training, moving around environments, and looking around the settings.

Almost overnight that wasn’t possible – our roadshow events we would do with companies couldn’t take place at scale, let alone the impossibilities of strapping a VR headset to someone’s head whilst socially distanced.

So, we had to think again, and whilst at first, it was a real shock, it ended up presenting us with an opportunity. We have since pivoted to making immersive, interactive video experiences, but none of the magic is lost as the user is still able to control the experience and go on their own journey. Whilst before we were fairly limited in the number of people we could reach as we had to physically sit them down and get them into a headset, we can now reach a much wider audience – all people need is a computer or mobile device and they can take part in our training.

What can we hope to see from VIVIDA in the future?

The next year or so is looking like it’ll be big for us, so watch this space. We have recently worked with The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), helping us to scale up and reach more people and have gained some real insight. We have picked up a number of exciting clients and partners and are continuing to improve our offering in the hope that we can ensure our experiences reach as many people as possible and be as effective as they can be in making learning matter so that it sticks.