Brothers who are making a difference in the healthcare sector with VR.
Three years ago, Sander Kamphuis (23) attended a trade show in Germany together with his fellow students. That was where he first came into contact with Virtual Reality (VR). Sander: “As soon as I saw that technology, I knew I wanted to do something with it. I just didn’t know what.” Today, his brother Menno (25) and he are making a real difference with their VR treatment programs for people suffering from mild mental disorders, PTSD, fears, and phobias.
“We quickly realized that VR is little more than a fun gimmick in many sectors,” Sander says. In part, it was Menno’s final thesis project that led them to the healthcare sector. “The waiting times in the mental healthcare sector are extremely long; sometimes as long as six to nine months,” Menno explains. It was time for a change.
From fun factor to valuable healthcare technology
“With VR, you can truly make a valuable difference in people’s lives,” Sander says. Together with mental health psychologist and professor Ad de Jongh, the two got to work to make sure their product offers genuine added value for the healthcare sector. The combination of exposure to the trauma or fear through VR and psychological support makes it possible to treat people suffering from PTSD or other forms of trauma in a reliable manner. “Furthermore, our technology offers myriad possibilities. For example, you can use the application to overcome fears and phobias and people with a slight mental disability can use the technology to e.g. learn how to use public transport,” Menno explains.
Using Moovd for free during the corona crisis
When the product was ready for market, the corona pandemic hit. “Treatments in the clinic were halted and intensive programs were suspended.” Despite the dire circumstances, the brothers also saw opportunities. They used this unique situation to introduce psychologists to Moovd. Suddenly, everyone had to rely on video conferencing. We sent our software and a pair of VR goggles to fifteen municipal health institutes for free,” Menno says. “The institutes (Dutch: GGZ) were very enthusiastic and many immediately began using VR.” The excellent feedback they received helped them validate their product. “We are now truly ready for market,” says Sander.
From START program to investors
These past few years, Moovd has garnered support from various sources. “We started out in the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Saxion University of Applied Sciences. From there, we were introduced to Novel-T,” Sander continues. The two went through the START program and the Advanced Track. Sander: “We are now facing issues that we have never had to deal with before. The advice and coaching given by the business developers at Novel-T are based on their own experiences, which is invaluable.” Several weeks ago, the brothers got a call from a potential investor. Today, Moovd has an angel investor on board and the team is talking to venture capitalists.
Polar opposites sharing a passion
Menno: “Although we are brothers, we are polar opposites in every way. We know what each of us is good at and we leave each other to do what we do best. For example, Sander is good at organizing, designing processes, strategy.” Meanwhile, Menno establishes the connections and maintains the relationships. “Since we both still live at home, we are around each other 24/7 and work on Moovd non-stop. Menno will be moving out soon, which will be good for us in a way,” Menno says with a wink. “We believe more balance will ultimately make our company stronger.”
Market leader in healthcare VR technology
VR technology is changing rapidly and the brothers keep a close eye on the latest trends and developments. “We do not want to become dependent upon the device: the VR goggles,” Sander says. At the moment, Moovd’s applications are centered around treating patients with an existing condition. “We are currently working together with the police force to explore the possibility of using the technology in a preventative manner to combat PTSD,” Menno explains. New applications also mean scaling up. Together with a full team, the brothers want to achieve their ultimate goal: becoming the market leader in healthcare VR technology. “We are currently in talks with venture capitalists (VCs). In the short term, we are looking for a developer, an online marketer and a psychologist.” Their dream for the future? Menno: “We want to continue helping people in an efficient manner with our applications, as this will ultimately lead to shorter waiting times and faster treatment processes.”
Advice for novice entrepreneurs
“Not everyone knows how to start a business, but you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t take that first step,” Sander says. During his studies, he saw fellow students who had excellent ideas of their own but never did anything with them. “Do not sit around if you have a plan or a good idea. Just get started and take that first step. Do not be afraid to learn from your mistakes.”
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