If you’ve been in the virtual audience of the #VUHackathonBattle – and/or if you’ve read the D1 and D2 debriefs – you already know which are the two amazing start-ups that ended up in first and second position of IT4Anxiety’s inaugural hackathon. If not, you may want to catch up first. Anyway, get ready to meet the Psylaris and Psyflix teams!
Meet Psylaris, the winner of the VU Hackathon Battle:
During the hackathon, we met and talked with four of the eleven members of the Psylaris team: Mike Verhiel, CEO; Christoph Lynen, CTO; Kira Temme, Country Manager; and Meike Thijsen, Office Assistant. The company works on Virtual Reality for mental disorders. According to their website, Psylaris is “the most comprehensive VR therapy product from the Netherlands including EMDR, exposure and relaxation”. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. During EMDR-VR therapy sessions, users relive traumatic or triggering experiences in brief doses while the therapist directs your eye movements. EMDR is thought to be effective because recalling distressing events is often less emotionally upsetting when your attention is diverted. Psylaris might have been one of the oldest established team that competed on the 18th and 19th March. Indeed, everything began in 2017 when Christoph and Mike witnessed lots of problems in the mental health field and wanted to answers those. “The company was not the goal, offering a solution was”, they said. Yet, one thing leading to another, they grew bigger and bigger as time flew by.
The Psylaris team was the only team already quite familiar with the IT4Anxiety project prior to the hackathon, as they answered the call to join the consortium in last November (fact unknown by the jury members at the time, themselves not involve in the IT4Anxiety project but one). In their shared-with-other-start-ups offices, they were tipped off about the project, as their indirect colleague thought IT4Anxiety might be in the same line of work. And what an excellent tip! Psylaris eventually applied to join the project. Mike admitted that “we really like this project because it’s different in the fact that it is more patient-focus. […] Also, the project is very well balanced between IT and health care".
As we talked, one thing became very obvious: the team is high on energy fed by how much they care and want to make an impact on people’s lives. “On a daily basis we see numbers coming back to us. […] It doesn’t mean anything to us. But every once in a while, we have a user calling us, wanting to thank us for changing his life.”
Because Psylaris is no longer in their beginning phase, one could wonder why they were motivated to join the Dutch hackathon. They explained that there was expertise, a network, that could help them: “yes, we are already in the market, we are producing results, and we are having an impact on the people. Then we hope a lot of interesting parties will reach out to us to collaborate. […] We always need more help!” One can guess that they were heard...
Meet Psyflix, the run upper of the VU Hackathon Battle:
The two co-founders of Psyflix, Tim Wind and Bram van der Boom, attended the hackathon. Their concept: Netflix for psychotherapy! Indeed, Psyflix is an online video platform training tailored for mental health practitioners.
This idea was already in Tim and Bram’s heads when the pandemic disrupted our lives, including our opportunities to go to our therapy (maybe when it was needed the most). In March 2020, psychologists – and everyone really – had to go online. They didn’t want to, but they had to in order to follow up with their patients. To do so, they needed training. The team explained “we started out of a need and passion.”
More and more videos complete the Psyflix catalogue every month. Bram emphasised that “each expert in one field, from around the world, explains one kind of therapy”. Every kind of psychotherapy is considered, they all have their advantages and the platform has no purpose of favouring one above another. The goal is to offer training, access to knowledge, and to make “how to” videos in the field of therapy.
About their motivation to join the hackathon, the team confessed “we are starting up and there is a lot we don’t know. We are psychologists, not businessmen. We want to learn to expend in the proper way.” They were also eager to get connections and to meet potential partners. One may believe they did...
Now that you know more about those two great startups, you might want to keep up with their advancements. Be sure to register to our newsletter and to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to follow their work with our consortium. Also, by doing so, you won't miss the information to join us for the next hackathon. We already know that it will be on the 29-30th of October 2021 in Germany. Stay tuned!