The cancer survivor making a positive impact through disruptive technology

The cancer survivor making a positive impact through disruptive technology
Diane Douglas
Diane DouglasVIgiles Group Limited

Posted: Sat 25th Aug 2018

Enterprise Nation member Diane Douglas has faced very challenging personal struggles including cancer and the break up of a 13 year marriage, but she has gone to start a successful technology company. Here's her story.

We're proud to have people like Diane as members of Enterprise Nation. Join Enterprise Nation today and become part of an amazing community of small business owners.

Describe your business.

The mission of my business, Vigiles Group, is to make a positive impact through disruptive technology. We believe the Internet of Things should be applied at low complexity with the users felt experience at the centre of all innovation.

Vigiles is focused on providing game, hazard and crisis simulation using augmented reality and 360 video content.

In October 2017 our first pioneering mobile AR fire safety experience GetFiredUP rolled out to 13 cities and 50,000+ UK university students and we have launched an employee hazard identifier app with the UK's largest providers of student accommodation for their employee engagement.

Our goal is to be game changers for safety learning, central to a movement focused on shifting mindset towards a strong sustainable safety culture.

Psychologists determined that traditional methods of safety learning and tick box exercises are not effective and ultimately lives are at risk. The cost to UK industry £14 billion in sick days and preventable accidents annually. I want this to change.

What's the story behind your business?

The company was started with my now ex husband in June 2015, with the aim of offering fire risk assessments.

I was accepted into the Entrepreneurial Spark start-up programme in August 2016 and rapidly realised that my husband's and my core values were not aligned and we should not be in business together.

He hadn't really worked on the company and gave it to me. I went from being company secretary to director.

As someone who is passionate about social responsibility, and curious about technology I drew inspiration from my daughter Ellie who whilst at university had faced major disruption and experienced quite a miserable time caused by preventable alarm activations and fires in her student accommodation whilst feeling isolated and alone.

I evolved the idea of using next step technology to engage and inspire students and employees to get involved with learning about fire safety.

The ultimate lean start-up, I had a prototype built and then faced a series of challenges that no founder wants.

I was diagnosed with triple negative breast xancer and my husband of 13 years left me and my children who were then aged 7 and 11.

The day before surgery to remove my cancer, I took my prototype to a group of year 12 students at a local school and they loved it. I knew I had to continue and build my product. I developed my business, whilst undergoing gruelling chemotherapy and multiple surgeries.

I was awarded TechSpark SPARKies founder of the year in 2017, committed to the Export For Growth programme and was selected to attend EMERGE Boston with the UK Foreign Office, Innovate UK and Digital Catapult.

I feel passionate about the use of technology for good and responsible innovation.

When all is said and done, I am a single parent, cancer survivor, and grandmother; a very unlikely tech founder. However with passion and drive anything is possible.

My next challenge is securing investment to be able to scale and grow my business and ensure the model I am developing is sustainable and meaningful.

![]( 2.jpg)How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?

Becoming an Enterprise Nation member is one of the best decisions I have made as a founder.

The opportunities for meaningful networking are frequent and the member benefits extensive.

Every week there are opportunities for networking meet ups, pitching, and focused events including Meet the JournalistsMeet the buyer or similar which I have found to be especially useful and incredible opportunities.

Enterprise Nation has been pivotal in getting me covered in press articles including a centre page spread in the Bristol Evening Post focused on female founders.

What are your top tips for business success based on your experiences so far?

Pleasant persistence pays
This phrase was once shared by a mentor who assisted me in the early stages with my business vision. Our attitudes and approach to any given circumstances are vital. My business may have taken slightly longer to develop due to inevitable delays enforced by personal circumstances, but remaining persistent and pleasant on the good days and the bad days is critical to the culture of the company.

Mind set is everything
Anything is possible if you focus and have a positive attitude and mind set.

Make it count
When building a business, always consider sustainability and responsibility, and last but no mean least, whatever business you are in, its all about people, your team, clients, customers and the community.

We're proud to have people like Diane as members of Enterprise Nation. Join Enterprise Nation today and become part of an amazing community of small business owners.

Diane Douglas
Diane DouglasVIgiles Group Limited
Blending innovation and creativity to make learning more fun. Mixed reality mobile applications. People First - Safety Always

You might also like…

Get business support right to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive business tips, learn about new funding programmes, join upcoming events, take e-learning courses, and more.