Entrepreneurial Mind of the Month: Nienke Helder

Let’s talk about sex! For most people sex equals pleasure and joy. But what if sex is a bit more complicated caused by sexual dysfunction? For those women Nienke Helder (27) started her project Sexual Healing during her graduation at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Her inspiration came from her own experience with sexual dysfunctions.

‘’I started with this project during my graduation. I designed a collection of objects that helps women overcome sexual problems after a traumatic experience. The current approach by specialists is very physical, but actually it is a psychosomatic problem. Sexuality is very personal and that’s why it is a big advantage that you can use my products outside the clinical environment. You can experiment your sexual preferences with the set of sensory objects and explore what feels good. In this way women can overcome their fear or pain.’’

‘’To design the collection, I did a lot of design research and held a lot of interviews. I spoke to gynecologists, sexologists, psychologists and pelvic physiotherapists. I also spoke to a lot of women who went through the same experiences as I had. In this way I could optimize the design every time.’’

After designing her collection, Nienke needed help with turning her collection into a business so she could help as much women as possible. ‘’After my graduation I needed help with starting my business. Since I am a designer and not an entrepreneur, I had no idea where to start. Via Instagram I got in touch with Radboudumc. I went to their innovation breakfast and met a business coach from Mercator Launch. After talking to the business coach, I signed up for the IMPROVE program.’’

Nienke learned a lot during the IMPROVE program. ‘’The IMPROVE program taught me many lessons. I had difficulties with writing my business plan, but the IMPROVE program does it in small manageable steps. Each week they serve a different part of the business program, so you could really focus on that one part. The business coaches also helped me a lot with the fundings. I got a ‘’starterslening’’ from Gelderland Valoriseert.’’

Although Nienke is a fresh entrepreneur herself, she does have some advice for starting entrepreneurs. ‘’Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You make better decisions when you have time to think. You should always believe in yourself, but sometimes I panic too much. Last year I did a seminar with my former practitioner for General Practitioner’s in training. This was the moment I realized the roles were reversed. First, I was the patient and now I can help other people.’’

Read more about the improve program

Foto bovenaan door Boudewijn Bollmann