VentureClass: Women Entrepreneurs in the Spotlight


Promising pitches and success stories. Last night, Venturelab North, TheNextWomen and Northern Knowledge hosted a special VentureClass to shine the spotlight on women entrepreneurs, with several pitches, and keynotes by Suzan Wierenga of KAW Architecten and Hilde Hacquebord of Diataal.


Tips from an architect

Suzan Wierenga is in TheNextWomen Top 100 of most successful women entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. She bought KAW Architects when she was 30 years old and is also actively involved in initiatives promoting social and sustainable housing. 

Suzan has three tips for starting a successful company: “First, make sure you have a clear profile. Know who you are and where you want to go. Second, find ways to combine doing what you’re good at, what you love doing and what pays well when you make choices. And lastly, figure out the different types of people you’re working with. There are managers and leaders and both are good for certain growth stages of your company. There are innovators, and people who just like to do what they’re told, and both types are totally fine if you assign them the right roles.”


A personal way to learn a language

The first to pitch is Leah Hamilton, co-founder of MYNN, a language learning app with a personal twist: “Mynn helps you learn languages in their real-world cultural context. That last part is important, because language apps or learning methods have an isolated context. We offer a way to learn by providing curated content on topics users are interested in. In other words, you get articles, podcasts or news to help you learn. This added cultural context gives you far more motivation than just memorizing a list of words for example.”

MYNN is currently available in beta and is also a finalist for this year’s Philips Innovation Award.


Improving recovery time after surgery

Medical students Roosmarijn Tellman and Carleen Doppen developed a prototype app for the new ERAS protocol in hospitals. ERAS stands for Enhanced Recovery After Surgery and the new protocol is very effective in reducing recovery times. “But the biggest issue is that these protocols have to be strictly followed”, Roosmarijn says. “That’s why we came up with an app that helps patients follow the protocol. We’re currently working with two surgeons at the University Medical Center Groningen and in talks with a developer to build the app.”


Healthy gums

Gum disease is the second most common dental disease worldwide. And most procedures dentists use to get rid of the bacteria are invasive and involve pain or discomfort. GumCare Companion developed the Fluxion, a non-invasive device to clean gums. Co-founder and CEO Sophie van Dijk: “It’s pain-free and creates a vacuum to remove bacteria causing gum disease. We’re currently working hard to receive the CE marking and expect to launch in Q3 of this year.”


Tips from a linguist

The final keynote speaker of the evening is Hilde Hacquebord, founder of Diataal. The company develops tools and tests to help children in primary and secondary school develop their language and math skills. Hilde also has a few tips for aspiring entrepreneurs: “Focus on your own motives, treat the product like your baby and consider the relevance of what your doing. Networking is also very important and make sure you don’t plan too much. First things first. Of course you also need to be flexible, open to new opportunities and dare to take a few risks. Lastly, you also need a bit of luck.