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Being a Medical Doctor & Entrepreneur during COVID19 – a Story of Two Dutch Doctors, that Published a Medical Bestseller

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Veerle Smit Compendium Geneeskunde

We talked to Veerle Smit, CEO & co-founder of Compendium Geneeskunde about the essence of six years of medicine and here is what she said about it.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Veerle Smit: Luckily the family is doing well. Romée (co-founder) and I both work as medical doctors and run our company on the side. These are very strange times that both impacted our business, social and doctor life. 

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Compendium Geneeskunde.

Veerle Smit: When we were third-year medical students, we missed an overview of all there is to know about medicine. We didn’t like that all the books were different and there wasn’t one book you could fall back to. We decided to create this ourselves. Together with 250 doctors, medical specialists and students we wrote: “Compendium Medicine”. It’s become a medical bestseller, consisting over 35 disciplines of medicine. We’ve sold more than 100.000 books. All doctors and nurses know us, it’s amazing to see how many people we have helped to study and love medicine even more over the years.

How does Compendium Geneeskunde innovate? 

Veerle Smit: We’re constantly on top of everything. We try to have a diverse team and make sure to have a young team. When someone has a new idea I always say “Just go and try it.”. The motto of our company is “better regret what you have done than what you haven’t done”. Romée came up with that one. 

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?

Veerle Smit: We’re actually very grateful that our sales are going even better than normal. We’ve always worked remote and hire people without ever have seen them in real life. We connect over digital “borrels” (Dutch word voor having after-work drinks). Normally we make sure to see each other at least four times a year, now that’s not possible. But all the borrels, check-ins and meetings are making sure the team stays connected, and we’re continuing to grow.

Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?

Veerle Smit: We had to pull the plug out of some ideas for the time being. We wanted to organize congresses. Since we’re both doctors we understood pretty soon that this crisis was going to take a while. That’s why we luckily could postpone the idea and didn’t waste too much time on it. We try to make the best out of the situation. For example, in March we worked day & night to make a free book for all our fellow doctors that had to work on the ICU and COVID department without being trained. Within three days it was ready and we have put it on the website for free. It was amazing to have the feeling that we could help, even though it was just a little bit.

What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Veerle Smit: A lot of Google meet. Our whole business runs online on our website and 90% of our readers find us through social media. So we’re mostly using a lot of social media, Hootsuite, mailblue kind of programs. 

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Veerle Smit: We have all medical publishers as competitors, but we actually don’t see them that way. We’ve created such a unique product that we’ll always be the only one with exactly these books. Since we’ve always read and used our products, we’re planning to continue making new products that we love as well. If you don’t use something yourself, why should anyone else?

Your final thoughts?

Veerle Smit: Don’t see what could have been if it hadn’t been for COVID, see what you can create now. 

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