From psychology student to social entrepreneur
Tess van Logtestijn studied Psychology and Business Economics. When her mother fell ill, they came up with Stamps, an app to keep your family, friends and colleagues informed during intensive (medical) processes. Now this app really exists, after extensive market research. Tess tells us about her experiences as a starting entrepreneur.
How did you end up in entrepreneurship after a Bachelor's degree in Psychology?
I have always been interested in well-being and illness, and particularly in how the two interact. How can you influence this in a positive way? I researched this during my Bachelor's degree in Psychology at Utrecht University.
I love to study and observe, but the biggest challenge is to put something into practice. That is why, after my Bachelor’s in Utrecht, I obtained a Master’s degree in Business Economics with an emphasis on management and strategy, in Amsterdam. While orientating on my next step, I realised that for me impact, autonomy and creativity were the most important. To me, it was therefore a very logical step towards entrepreneurship.
You have just started your own company, Stamps. What does Stamps do?
Stamps aims to be a social enterprise. The main goal is to create impact, by supporting people who are in an emotional journey.
With our app Stamps, people can share their medical story and thus keep their loved ones informed. Although the simple question: 'How are you?' is always well-intentioned, in a medical process it can be stressful to tell the same story over and over again. Or to copy and paste it into different chats.
In Stamps, you can write down how you are doing in your own way and invite people to follow your updates. It's easy to keep everyone informed about how you are doing. Moreover, the name 'Stamps' is no coincedence: we believe in the power of the stamp. It is therefore possible to send a card, flowers or another 'little something' from the app.
How did you come up with this idea?
When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time in 2021, she received lots of messages and phone calls from family, friends and colleagues. That was very nice, but sometimes difficult because she had limited energy. She then used an app for travel bloggers to keep interested parties informed with short daily messages and to keep track of her 'journey to health'. In the end, as many as 130 people read along, and they could also respond if they wanted to.
It gave my mother a great deal of support to be able to reflect every day on how she was feeling at that moment, to write about it and to receive responses. A while ago, one of her followers started to record in the same way how she tried to lose 40 kilos with the help of a coach. It stimulated her to reach her goal sharing and receiving daily messages. It was partly because of these experiences that my mother and I came up with the idea for our app Stamps.
From October to December 2021 you participated in the Student Validation Program, a programme at startup incubator UtrechtInc that helps students get started with their startup. How was that?
A lot of fun! Starting a startup can be quite lonely and overwhelming, and at the beginning my mother had even less energy because of the treatments. I was planning to do a thorough validation study and had a strong need for guidance. Not just for the market research, but for all the steps you need to take when you run around with an idea. This programme gave me this structure, and made me realise that I am not alone.
I loved meeting others who are enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and hearing their ideas. But also the atmosphere - and the coffee - at UtrechtInc, with workplaces and offices for startups in the Kruyt building at Utrecht Science Park. As a student, I never knew there was such a place!
What did you learn from the programme?
The most important lesson was: step out of your comfort zone. For me, that meant going to network meetings and telling people about myself and my idea a lot. To my surprise, I noticed that actually everyone wants to help me further, even if it is only by putting me in touch with someone else. ‘Always end your pitch with a question' turned out to be very good advice!
The great thing about stepping out of your comfort zone is the fact that you unconsciously lower your expectations, so that in the end it was always more fun or better than expected. I met a lot of interesting people and had some great experiences. For example, I was a guest on a podcast and I participated with my startup in the Fresh Feedback Night, an event of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and UtrechtInc Students, where students brainstormed with me about ways we can help our app users to share their story and emotions.
While orientating on my next step, I realised that for me impact, autonomy and creativity were the most important. To me, it was therefore a very logical step towards entrepreneurship.
How did your studies prepare you for entrepreneurship?
One of the first workshops of the validation programme was about Customer Discovery. Namely, the main reason many startups fail is that the solution does not fit the problem, you must first find out the problem by having an open conversation with your intended user. The techniques I learned during my Psychology studies came in handy here.
Many Economics students will be familiar with the Business Model Canvas. Well, try putting that into practice! Actually, that is what I like about entrepreneurship. You can study models endlessly, but when you actually start taking action, you are forced to think twice, three times or even ten times, and really consider the implications. Make it work!
Was it exciting or scary to choose entrepreneurship?
The choice itself felt intuitively very good. Everything that comes after is certainly exciting and sometimes a bit overwhelming. To me, that’s definitely worth it. There is a chance that I can create real impact, by making Stamps a great success and fulfilling my mission: to enable more people and their loved ones to experience the connecting power of openness and emotional support.
And if that doesn't work out, what's the worst that can happen? That I learned a lot from it.
For this article, Tess was followed for six months. The Centre for Entrepreneurship spoke to her in October and December 2021, and again in April 2022. The ten weeks she participated in the Student Validation Program, she shared weekly updates on Instagram: @uucentreforentrepreneurship.
Curious about Tess's future adventures?
Using her own app Stamps, Tess shares her experiences, ups and downs as a starting entrepreneur. She does so in Dutch. You can follow her by downloading the Stamps app and using 'trajectcode': D0A37.