How is it to run a tech-startup like iThrive?
“So much fun, but also stressful at moments – so we also use our own app…!”
Are you doing this alone?
“Together with Klaas Punselie I founded iThrive. Klaas mostly works with the developers and I work with the team to break up psychological steps in small technical parts. For me, this is really a dream team. I benefit from my background in life coaching, I think that men just talk about mental health more easily with a woman.”
Many startups face the same challenges, what challenges do you see in startup-land?
“You start with a mission that you believe in and choose who will benefit from your product or service. Traction in the market is the first obstacle. There is little support and financing in the beginning of your existence, because you often need traction to bring in investors. The more radical the innovation, the more difficult it is to directly prove your concept. Accelerators and incubators fill this gap nicely, but the support in the transition from idea to sales is still scarce.”
Tip for startups
What would be your tip for startups, that enter the market with limited resources?
“The answer to that is: b2b. Both my cofounder and I are relationship builders, and that works. We searched for companies that want to collaborate, we shared challenges and found communalities. You start with a conversation, what does your potential partner need, is there a problem that we could fix? It works better than cold acquisition, the personal touch is very important. I would say, visit them in person, pitch your concept wherever you can. Are you in the phase of scaling up, then participate in an innovation program.”
What are you currently doing yourself?
“We are participating in this years’ Accenture Innovation Awards. The advantage is that it’s a year-round program, we take on any chance to pitch our product and get feedback. For example, a few weeks ago, I joined the Scale Up Academy, where I got to know other entrepreneurs that face similar challenges. It’s always nice to talk to someone who understands the startup-process, but might have found other solutions that you had never thought of yourself. Hopefully we’ll make it to the finals, so that I can do my pitch in front of 2.500 potential clients, investors and partners.”
What is on your agenda for now?
“Currently we are looking for business angels to help us realize the implementation of artificial intelligence and gamify the app, to ensure an even more effective behavior change. In the upcoming twelve months, we need 650.000 euro in total, mainly for the fundamental psychological research, gamification, development of a virtual agent and simple VR-interventions.”
Read the original article in Dutch on EMERCE