Name: Devika Wood
Location: London, United Kingdom
Industry: Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness
Reason for starting? At the age of 10, I became a young carer for my grandmother. Something that many families face everyday in the U.K. Social service funded care only provided us with 15 minute daily visits, and I was therefore catapulted into the role to care for her. Over 12 years of caring for my grandmother, we had around 150 different poorly trained carers coming in. This proved detrimental to us as a family and to my grandmother’s health. There was a lack of communication about the care being provided, including medication not being logged. This led to her being over prescribed antipsychotic drugs that ended with my grandmother getting schizophrenia at the age of 90. Caring for my grandmother had a lasting impact on me. In 2016, I met my cofounder and, through being in the right place at the right time with the right support network around me, we launched Vida in May 2016.
How do you define success? Success to me means leaving the world a little bit better because I was here. It is being able to look at my life during any given moment and know that if it were to end today I would be completely and utterly satisfied with what I have accomplished up until that point. To be successful, you must not believe in regret, but rather in learning from past experiences and using them to become stronger. I define everyday success as being able to bring joy into someone’s life. Whether that be being present for someone going through tough times, smiling at a stranger, telling someone they look great. We don’t know what people may be going through, and a touch of kindness can have an incredible effect.
Biggest success: I was in a very abusive relationship during my late teens and early twenties. I almost failed university as I couldn’t attend, often due to being covered in bruises and feeling exhausted and depressed. The moment I left him, I had to fight hard to get my life back on track, I completed my degree from King’s College London, my Masters from Imperial and have worked in some incredible groundbreaking startups. I class every achievement as a huge success, because for me, I had to fight through adversity to get through them. Cofounding Vida is a dream come true for me, and I pinch myself everyday that I am doing it!
Vida aims to disrupt the care industry through developing technology to reduce admin overheads and solve the logistic issue of delivering and monitoring care. Our aim is to evidence base our technology through servicing clients around Greater London and the South Coast of England. We are the first care technology provider and platform to be CQC registered. I believe that quality of care is of paramount importance, and we need to support and train our carers to a higher level. They have traditionally not been treated with the respect they deserve. Carers do an incredibly challenging job and have been paid below minimum wage. At Vida, we aim to prove that you can pay carers £11.50 up and charge clients £16 and have an outstanding and scalable business. We are building our platform and will continue to do so and in October we will raise a Series A.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Overcoming how I perceived myself is my biggest personal challenge. Having confidence and a strong positive perception of yourself is critical to being successful in life, and that positive mental attitude defines how far you can go. I was very self-deprecating after the abusive relationship and a real shadow of myself. I found it impossible to see what everyone saw in me, which was a strong, accomplished woman. I work hard everyday to silence the deprecating voices in my head, and it’s a challenge! Launching Vida has given me self confidence that I didn’t have before. Having people invest in me and Vida shows me that people respect me and see the potential of what we are building. Having clients put their faith and trust in us to care for them, is the highest level of respect I could ask for.
Cofounding Vida, I knew it would be emotionally very challenging. We care for clients from different walks of life and varying health states. Everyday we face having to make decisions about our clients and the care they receive. We decided from the start that we would go in at the lowest rate in the industry, £16 per hour, so that outstanding care was accessible to the majority without compromising on quality. However, we get clients coming to us often in the worst situations and left without care and funding from the government, and £16 is a lot for them. We have taken on a few clients without charging them, and been at a loss financially. This stems from actually having cultivated an ethos in Vida, from caring for my grandma, that no one deserves to go without the care they deserve and need. If we are able to, we will always help in any way we can. My entire team works tirelessly to support our clients and their families, day and night. I am so proud of what we have achieved!
Who is your most important role model? My grandmother is the most important role model in my life. She sadly passed away when I was 22, but the strength and tenacity she had to keep fighting for her life was incredible. My grandmother lived through two civil wars and came to England in the 50’s with my mum who was 10. They were one of the first Indian families to be in England, and faced so much racism and discrimination. My grandmother was abused by my grandfather but protected her family and those she loved with such grace. My grandma was kind, put everyone before her and brought me up whilst my parents had strong careers. She instilled in me to love, protect those less fortunate and be warm and kind to everyone around you. She was a fighter, and gives me the strength to fight through some of my toughest times and to never project hurt or hate to those around me.
Edited by The Story Exchange