Startup in the spotlight: Redgrasp

Menno Vergeer is an internist at the UMC Utrecht and, together with Frans van Camp, founder of startup Redgrasp. He noticed that the many guidelines and protocols in hospitals were only read to a limited extent: they aroused little interest. That is why he devised an easily accessible knowledge game, with which knowledge in healthcare remains top of mind. With an initial prototype he and his co-founder participated in the Science Venture acceleration programme of UtrechtInc, with Redgrasp as a result! In the blog below he tells his inspiring story.

"Starting a business was actually a very incremental process for me. It started out as a kind of hobby, with the idea: I’ll see what happens. But at some point it was only a small step to really make a business out of it. As an internist I experienced two major assessments rounds in a hospital, during which the quality of the work was assessed. I noticed that as a result of such an upcoming audit, there was a lot of pressure from the top down on employees to learn things and put them into practice, while employees didn't feel like it at all. So there was a lot of resistance,  but the fun factor was missing.

Guidelines and protocols

The problem starts with the guidelines and protocols in the care sector. These documents contain a great deal of information on how hospitals and care facilities should be run. Sometimes thousands of different protocols can be found in a hospital. The knowledge contained in these documents is very important for cooperation. It contains agreements on how certain things are done to ensure that no mistakes are made. But these documents are boring and people don't take them home at weekends to read them through. In order to make the guidelines and protocols more accessible, you have to think of something else. What we have done is turn the content of these documents into a fun and continuous knowledge game.

We ask questions about the documents in a very accessible way. People can find out with a single click whether they know the answer to the question. Immediately afterwards, they receive an explanation of the answer. In addition, they can see what others have answered and comment on the question. Others can then react to this. This creates a social aspect. The game also works with a points count. With every well answered question you get points. Approximately 90% of employees in hospitals say they like the game more than e-learning. This is very important for us. At the end of the day, it's all about those employees. They have to provide the care. In addition, hospitals gain insight where they can improve. In this way, they can provide tailor-made training and prepare themselves well for assessments, for example.

Lean Startup method

If you want to solve a problem, you often start with a very small part of the problem and then you expand further and further. This is also the case when starting a business. At one point I found out that I couldn't do it on my own and that I needed someone. Luckily, I met Frans and we clicked immediately. When the product was in the prototype stage, we participated in the Science Venture programme of UtrechtInc. UtrechtInc uses the "Lean Startup" method. I had already read that book and so I already knew what it was all about. But experts at UtrechtInc really help you to implement the methodology as well. So they take you by the hand and point out to you every time: what have you learned, and what are you going to do now? For me, that was really useful. Just like the community of mentors, consultants and other entrepreneurs. It’s great that you have easy access to a lawyer and an accountant, for example, but it’s also easy to talk to other startupfounders, that's super valuable.

Thinking about whether you want to be an entrepreneur is already a very complicated step. If you think of that alone in your attic room, the chance that you will succeed is not so great. I would advise researchers  to talk to UtrechtInc first, perhaps to take part in a workshop or programme, and only then to decide whether they want to become an entrepreneur. I think that could be very valuable to many people.

Minor setbacks

At the moment I am a 50% entrepreneur, in addition to 35% patient care and 15% research. The most important thing you have to have as an entrepreneur is that you have to be able to deal with minor setbacks. In addition, you also need to be able to share an enormous and confusing process in small manageable pieces, and then eat them one by one. Something sometimes fails. But failure is just one of the steps to the next step.

One of the things I have experienced as a highlight is the appreciation of the employees we serve with our platform. It's always exciting, you wonder what they think of your idea. But in the end we see that our questions have a response rate of 60-70% while it’s not mandatory to answer. And 80-90% of people would recommend us to a colleague. Super nice of course. We had a champagne moment when we connected Radboudumc as a customer. One thing I like about entrepreneurship is that I have started to look at healthcare in a different way. As an internist in the UMCU I have always looked at it in a certain way, but I gained a broader perspective now I have visited so many people in my company who are involved in quality and safety, developing guidelines, or drawing up and implementing protocols. It’s a super inspiring and instructive process. I owe a great deal to the people who helped me with this.

Read more about Redgrasp