First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Melle Janssen: Luckily, we have all been safe and healthy so far. There had been one scare where we potentially contracted COVID-19 through contact with someone who was tested positive a few days later, but it turned out that we did not get it ourselves.
Tell us about yourself and how you founded Mind Mansion.
Melle Janssen: Mind Mansion was started as a school project, where we wanted to use both gamification and virtual reality in a way that could help people. We quickly realized we wanted to help people who deal with fears and phobias to better live their lives. And this we do by creating virtual reality simulations that can be used in the treatment of these fears and phobias. After a half year of school projects, we decided to continue it as a start-up because we all felt a strong connection with this idea and wanted to continue it. This, combined with the traction we were already getting; it was a quick decision to go on and start up our own company.
And how does Mind Mansion innovate?
Melle Janssen: We combine both new and old technologies to create a new way of treating people who have a fear or phobia. We use the newest virtual reality hardware, combining this with adaptive virtual reality environments and biofeedback to provide the practitioner with the best possible tool to use in the treatment.
Instead of having a static virtual reality environment in which the practitioner has no way to influence the variables and situations, we have created a solution combined with a dashboard that makes it possible for the practitioner to change any important variable in the simulation that is required to give the best client-focused treatment as possible.
This dashboard also incorporates biofeedback as an extra data stream for the practitioner to use in their sessions, as well as the option to see exactly what the client sees through their eyes, markdown notes for later conversation, or for their own report.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Melle Janssen: Our main issue at the beginning of the pandemic was that a lot of health institutions first had to deal with how they could keep their treatments and sessions going (for example, through video calls) and dealing with the pandemic in general. However, after a while, they were starting to get time to innovate and were looking forward to innovating more within their organization, which is positive for us.
And even though it was not possible for us to go outside and show our product, we used this time to make it even better and innovate in a way so that the product has gone to the next level.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Melle Janssen: There are some competitors, both nationally as internationally, but due to our unique combination of all these technologies and the way we use them, we can provide a unique software package to the practitioner that gives added value to their treatment.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Melle Janssen: The advantage is that our team exists out of 4 founders, so we can talk with each other. But also outside of that, just speak with people about your worries, even if it’s just your family or friends. You can stick all the stress and anxiety you have regarding your business within yourself. Still, at a certain point, your ‘container’ in which you are storing this will get full, and there is nowhere to store the potentially newly gained stress and/or anxiety.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Melle Janssen: Something that we have found out is that it is important to just keep talking and keep asking your target audience what they want. You can imagine a product being as amazing as you think it might be, but if you just start designing and creating without ever testing your idea, it might not turn out as great as you thought it would be. Combined with that, you should not try to make every person you speak with happy since then; you might keep getting pulled in between multiple opinions, constantly changing some minor detail of your product.
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