Catching up with… GelijkSpel!

In our series “Catching up with …”, we catch up with former IMPROVERS to see how they are doing now and what they are working on!

GelijkSpel is an application that improves communication between the elderly and their loved ones in a fun, playful way. The app offers a game experience on different levels, so that young and old can play together again. The game adapts to the level of each individual player and therefore remains challenging and fun for all players. Their motto: “We believe that positive, light communication not only improves the bond between the elderly and their loved ones, but can also contribute to the stagnation of diseases of old age such as dementia.”

We were very curious to discover what GelijkSpel is up to these days. Let’s find out!

How did you come up with the idea for GelijkSpel?

Aniek: “During one of our courses we had to come up with an innovation in healthcare. We soon realized that we wanted to develop an app that would solve a problem. Now the question was, what problem could we solve? My mother works with people with dementia and told me that the memory-stimulating games they play are often very childish. Everyone knows that people with dementia are slowly deteriorating and that it is becoming increasingly difficult to communicate and do something with them. That’s how we came up with the idea for GelijkSpel: we wanted to develop a social gaming app in which the game level is individually adapted to the level of the player. This way you level the playing field and the chances of winning. That helps in creating fun interaction during the game.

We have worked on our “Proof of Concept” for a long time. This was a Tetris-like game where the blocks fell at different speeds. We presented this game to our teachers and fellow students and it was very well received. But the game turned out to be too difficult to adapt to the different levels of the participants, so we did not continue developing it. Because we really wanted to continue working on the idea, but didn’t know much about the business side of setting up a company, we participated in the IMPROVE track at Mercator Launch during the fall of 2018. This is where we started thinking about different games for the app.”

How are things at GelijkSpel?

“With the help of Mercator Launch, we received a starter voucher of € 2,500. We spent this money on developing the app. Artificial Intelligence students started developing about a year ago and we are almost ready to test our first game.”

What are you working on right now?

“Well, our first game: Pong! When you score more in this game, your bar gets smaller and the opponent’s bar gets bigger. This makes it easier for the losing player to recover. The app setup has just been finished and is now ready for testing. The game can actually be tested on anyone with a difference in level, for example you can also play the game with a mentally challenged person.

We’re also working on our second game. This will be Piano Tiles. With every game we develop we need think about ways we can adapt it to the different levels of the participants. With Piano Tiles, we want to work with recognizable songs, because recognizing a song can bring back memories for people with dementia and it would be great if our app could help them do that .”

Ultimately, we want to offer 3 games via de app GelijkSpel, free of charge. Our mission is to help people communicate better and have more fun with their loved one with Alzheimer’s. What the third game will be? We are still thinking about that, you’ll have to wait and see.

What challenges did you face over the last year?

“Our biggest challenge was that all five of us don’t have much background in business administration. Drawing up a contract is rocket science for us. So, we all had to start from level 1. Fortunately, we got to know many people through the network of Mercator Launch who could help us. It is nice to get a fresh perspective sometimes and business coach Rob really helped us a lot. In addition, we are all full-time students… so during exams the development process of the app slows down considerably. But we have now set an end goal for ourselves that we’re working towards and that really helps to get focused!”

What is your ultimate goal for GelijkSpel?

“Above all, we hope to be able to really help people with our app. Our first big goal is to get the app, fully working, in the Playstore with the 3 games. And in 5 years’ time, it would be nice to add 2 or 3 extra games to our app so that the company can support itself and we can continue developing the app. We want our games to keep getting better!”

What inspires you to do better every day?

“I know what it feels like to have a loved one with Alzheimer’s. And what it feels like when communication becomes increasingly difficult. If GelijkSpel would have been there back then, it would have really helped me connect with my grandfather. So, we really want to develop this app for people who can benefit from it in contact with their loved one. With dementia you mainly try to bring back memories. With GelijkSpel, we hope to create new memories.”

Do you have one last tip for entrepreneurs (to be) who want to turn their passion into their job?

“If you have a great idea, then you should go for it! Even if you do not have the ‘right background’ or all the knowledge you need. There are always enough people who want to help you. Find those people and you will get where you want to be!”

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