Denis Devigne of “We can get involved in your communities”

The first thing you can do is think back to loved ones you haven’t spoken to or seen in a while. How can you surprise them? How can you share something that will light up their heart and emotions to remind them that you haven’t forgotten about them? Our suggestion, of course, is a surprise […]

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The first thing you can do is think back to loved ones you haven’t spoken to or seen in a while. How can you surprise them? How can you share something that will light up their heart and emotions to remind them that you haven’t forgotten about them? Our suggestion, of course, is a surprise VidDay video gift.

As a part of my interview series about the ‘5 Things We Can Each Do Help Solve The Loneliness Epidemic’ I had the pleasure to interview Denis Devigne, the President & Co-founder of

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Denis was a real globetrotter. The more people he met, the more he realized the value of relationships and experiences over possessions. He turned those ideals into a business: VidDay.

Denis has given families and friends that are away from one another an easy way to celebrate special occasions. His company’s goal? To make a billion people smile, with a collaborative, sustainable, and eco-friendly gifting solution that gives back to the world with every video.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us? What was it that led you to your eventual career choice?

Sardinia is home to some of the oldest living people on Earth. Why? Apparently, it’s all down to social connections.

I was on the road for some time before starting VidDay. As I travelled, I noticed that families and friends that lived together, celebrated together, and commiserate together, were happiest. Social connections and bonds is what keeps us happy, healthy and hopeful.

Back home, I felt this was missing. We move away, lose touch, become lonely, more often than before. I wanted to create a solution that let us continue to live our lives, but without losing these valuable connections.

I thought: “How can I connect people who are apart, to celebrate special occasions with their loved ones?” And that’s how VidDay was born.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I remember receiving my first reaction video, sitting in my little room in Winnipeg, and hearing from a customer in Australia.

I had helped this woman rally her family and friends for a 40th anniversary video for her parents. There were over 100 people who contributed, the video went on for more than an hour! It was incredible.

Unbeknownst to her parents, she had captured them watching the video. They were literally laughing and crying with tears of joy, overwhelmed by the gift. She later sent this to me as a thank you, telling me that “watching her parents’ reaction almost had her in tears”.

This moment stuck with me, and is what keeps me going. We’ve gone from inspiring moments like this, to building classrooms, planting trees, and supporting underserved communities with much needed belongings.

Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting?

When I first started VidDay, I got a little over eager with the app. It was way too early in the business, but I outsourced the development to a team of developers overseas. Very trusting of me.

I quickly realized how fast a team of developers can run up a bill. You’ll never get things right the first time. Building any app isn’t a one-off project — it’s a living, breathing organism that needs constant updates and involves many iterations.

It’s exciting to start a new business, but going alone without doing proper research can be a costly learning experience.

Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

No one comes to the table with everything they need to build a successful startup. What I’ve found is that the most successful people are the ones who have a team of reliable partners, who all believe in the business.

It might have been a costly lesson, but it was a lesson nonetheless. I learned not to be afraid of taking risks and trying something new. At the time, my lack of understanding didn’t stop me. Instead, it made me feel like anything was possible.

It was a blessing in disguise! Especially as it led to me meeting my co-founder and first team member, Jeff Laxson. Together, we went back to the drawing board and tried a few more different approaches, which led us to our third team member and co-founder, Kyle Sierens!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re thrilled to have delivered our millionth smile, and are working towards our goal of making a billion people smile.

Our next big project is our pledge to donate 1000 free videos to volunteer organizations, charities, and individual do-gooders. We’re focusing on those that are still striving to help their communities during COVID, despite social distancing setbacks.

We’ve seen some inspiring videos from various organizations. It’s heart-warming to know that we are helping bring people together during this time, and enabling organisations to keep doing good.

Can you share with our readers a bit why you are an authority about the topic of the Loneliness Epidemic?

Before the pandemic, we were already focused on uniting family and friends that were apart. Our mission has only become more prominent this year as the problem has escalated.

People that have had weddings, birthdays and other celebrations cancelled, are finding solace using VidDay.

Since March, our company has helped hundreds of thousands of people across 150 countries, stay connected, and celebrate digitally and safely.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this story in Forbes, loneliness is becoming an increasing health threat not just in the US, but across the world. Can you articulate for our readers 3 reasons why being lonely and isolated can harm one’s health?

It comes down to mental health. Having people in your life to plan events and create special moments with, allows us to feel like we are a part of something bigger.

We are social beings — so being around each other is healthy and what we need. That’s why we’ve received millions of videos and photos and what’s common in all of the media is the smiles, joy, excitement, and raw human emotion. We see it in the individual clips and then a culmination of all that energy in the reaction clips. Tears of joy, bouts of laughter.

On a broader societal level, in which way is loneliness harming our communities and society?

Being part of a community used to be a given. We stayed in small towns, clustered in small groups. We joined neighbourhood groups, lived in multi-generational houses, stayed in one job for life.

Things have changed. We have the ability to explore the world, meet new people, experience new cultures. But loneliness can be a side effect. There’s been a shift in the role stability plays in our lives.

But why not combine the best of both worlds? We can’t join the local book club, but we can join one online. We may not be able to have the same neighbours for decades on end, but we can create group chats.

We might not be able to celebrate every birthday together, but we can send video messages! This ‘face-to-face’ connects us, and reminds us that there is something bigger than us.

The irony of having a loneliness epidemic is glaring. We are living in a time where more people are connected to each other than ever before in history. Our technology has the power to connect billions of people in one network, in a way that was never possible. Yet despite this, so many people are lonely. Why is this? Can you share 3 of the main reasons why we are facing a loneliness epidemic today? Please give a story or an example for each.

Without these digital tools, we’d be in a tougher position. Now it’s normal to leave a new job, role, or even industry every few years, meaning it’s difficult to maintain in person relationships. Add in the remote working effect of the pandemic, and it can be a challenge to stay connected with work colleagues, alongside friends and family. But being able to use social media or video messaging to have more face time with loved ones makes all the difference.

Now we’re able to pick and choose when we want social time with our family. This can sometimes lead to an imbalance, and some loneliness, but that’s when making the most of technology comes in handy. Speaking of family, we cannot forget the decline in nuclear family households. Multiple generations often lived under one roof — and in some cultures, this is still the case. But there’s been a shift to independent living, and it’s no bad thing.

And it’s not that we are socializing less, it’s that we are socialising differently. A coffee date has turned into a call. A birthday party has turned into a VidDay video.

Ok. it is not enough to talk about problems without offering possible solutions. In your experience, what are the 5 things each of us can do to help solve the Loneliness Epidemic. Please give a story or an example for each.

The first thing you can do is think back to loved ones you haven’t spoken to or seen in a while. How can you surprise them? How can you share something that will light up their heart and emotions to remind them that you haven’t forgotten about them? Our suggestion, of course, is a surprise VidDay video gift.

Second, we can get involved in your communities. Volunteer once a week with a charity.

Not being able to get on a plane doesn’t mean you are unable to connect with others. Can’t experience a new language or food? Look online! Can’t meet up with friends in a different country? Organize a VidDay celebration, or a group call.

Though winter is coming in the northern hemisphere, don’t forget the value of being outdoors. Wrap up and go for a walk. The ‘awe walk’ phenomenon is upon us, so take a moment to literally, smell the roses.

Finally, if you can’t find a community or existing group to join online, make one. Though it’s tough to be the one initiating a chat, group or online celebration, doing this favour for your loved ones and having social time is a double whammy for combating loneliness. Starting VidDay helped me connect to people, and feel good about the work I was doing. Find a project that makes you feel the same way.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A movement we’d like to see is bringing easy to use technology to elderly people who may not be tech savvy. With Covid separating us from our senior citizens more than ever, it’s time to find solutions that help us show them they are not forgotten or alone. Plus by staying connected to them, we can make sure we don’t lose their wisdom before it’s too late. I’d call this movement — maybe it could be a podcast — “Talks for Wisdom.”

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to grab a bite with W. Brett Wilson, a Dragon’s Den co-star who is a father, as well as Canadian ‘prairie-boy’! His accomplishments and philanthropy work is inspiring.

He’s also got a wealth of life experience that gives him pretty unique insights into success, and how to prioritize health, and relationships with friends and family.

Four years ago I actually met Mr. Wilson briefly for a photo at one of his speaking engagements. I gave him my elevator pitch for VidDay, and I’d love the chance to tell him about our success. Our values have been inspired by his approach of re-evaluating our definition of success.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on LinkedIn, or follow VidDay! We’re also on Instagram at @viddaygift, Facebook at @ViddayGift, YouTube and Twitter at @ViddayGift.

Thank you so much for these insights. This was so inspiring, and so important!

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