Sustainable weed control, a flex bikeshare system for Municipality employees, creating circular city waste streams and reducing costs for offshore wind farms. These are a few of the innovations the startups participating in the Startup in Residence program are working on this year. Let’s meet the founders and talk about what their working on!
Mark Goos, founder of VLNTR signed up for the wildcard challenge and is going to help kill two birds with one stone: reduce the shortage of volunteers and help long term unemployed people develop the right job and social skills to make the transition back into the labor force easier.
What is VLNTR exactly?
“We’ve developed a platform that connects supply and demand and gives organizations software tools to efficiently recruit and manage volunteers. In other words, we’re going to make it easy for schools, municipalities and all sorts of organizations to find and manage volunteers. And for volunteers, it’s also super easy find the sort of work you’re interested in.”
What makes the platform unique?
“There is an ever increasing shortage of people doing volunteer work. And part of the problem is that there isn’t really a single resource where you can find an overview of volunteer jobs. You need to sign up or apply for individual organizations and commit before you even know whether or not you like the work. Our platform gives volunteers a lot of flexibility and no commitments if you don’t want any. An afternoon, a weekend or a weekly thing, your choice.”
Where did you get the idea?
“I was really interested in becoming an entrepreneur and I wanted to do something that had value and impact. In 2017, my grandmother got sick and it was difficult to find volunteers to help with giving her extra care. So that’s where the idea came from, but at the time, I was only 17, so I was too young to start a company. But we did win the Young Business Award in the student category that year and started building the company after that.”
What will you focus on for the Startup in Residence program?
“For me personally, I had to learn to focus and prioritize. Starting a company is great, but with so many options and possibilities, it can also be very overwhelming. It’s really about prioritizing, doing things step by step and having a solid business model."
Anything you need?
We’re always interested in working with more organizations, but also companies that are interested in giving something back to the community and doing volunteer work. Feel free to contact us!