Fundsup had a chat with Lucy Bennett and Job Sesink of Ziggy Mobility, who are Revolutionising Personal Care with Innovative Solutions
A Dutch version of this article can be read on the website of our partner: Emerce.
How did Ziggy Mobility come to fruition?
“Our journey began in 2020 when we were approached by wheelchair users and their caregivers facing communicative challenges, especially when walking behind someone they couldn’t see and communicate with clearly. This issue was brought to our attention by Nicole and Yrsa, who, as mother and daughter, were passionate about finding a solution. As word spread, we discovered the magnitude of this issue and decided to push for a solution.
With Erasmus MC and TU Delft, we collaborated to develop a simple and easily usable solution. Initially, we received a feasibility study grant of 40K euros from NWO, which allowed us to explore the commercial potential. After finding potential for positive impact and supporting commercial feasibility, we progressed on to Take-off II, a 250k Early Phase Trajectory funding from NWO. Along with participation in the YES!Delft SocialTech program, this has allowed us to spin off Ziggy Mobility as a company, and make meaningful steps towards the market.
In collaboration with Rijndam Rehabilitation, our innovation was awarded the IPSEN Rehabilitation Year Prize, along with 20K prize money. This opened doors to collaborations with physiotherapists and gave us the opportunity to conduct pilot projects. The positive response from people fueled our enthusiasm, and we began exploring new projects in the rehabilitation sector.
Throughout this journey, we made conscious social decisions that aligned with our values, allowing us to maintain ownership of Ziggy Mobility. However, we aspire to accelerate our progress and are now looking to hire more people. We want to perfect the technical aspect of our solution, making it as simple and effective as possible. We need individuals who can help us manufacture the product and sales experts, especially in the care industry. Our goal is to get the product out there quickly because the care system in the Netherlands is facing a crisis; through aging population, in the next 15 years it is predicted that we will need one in four of us to be a carer. The magnitude of this problem becomes even clearer if we look at the current 55 million people with dementia worldwide. Care needs to be attractive, and not feel like a burden. Ziggy addresses this problem by putting care giver and wheelchair user side-by-side as equals, transforming their caregiver-receiver roles to equal personal roles.
Are you planning to work with distributors or dealers?
“Yes, we aim to collaborate with major dealers like Medipoint, Welzorg, and Vegro, who distribute a wide range of mobility and care products. Our goal is to establish partnerships with these dealers to not only serve individuals but also care facilities. By doing so, we can offload the distribution and maintenance aspects to these dealers, making our solution more scalable.
While we do want to work with dealers, we also value personal interaction with individuals in care homes. We believe in maintaining a personal approach whilst working through dealers.”
Are you planning a funding round? What kind of investors are you seeking?
“Yes, we are currently seeking investors who share our mission of improving personal care throughout one’s life. We are looking for individuals or organizations that want to join us in enhancing personal care and align with our values. We aim to raise 280K euros in funding to scale our operations, hire production engineers, and establish dealership contracts. Currently, we have a significant number of customers on our waiting lists, and we need the resources to meet the demand. Additionally, we have secured a small EU grant for CE market certification, and having experts in-house will expedite the process, allowing us to bring our product to market faster and at an affordable price.”
Do you have other products in mind apart from Ziggy Mobility?
“For sure! We have identified many problems within the realm of care homes, and our ultimate goal is to create an innovative and simple care device empire under the Ziggy brand. We see many examples where a low-tech solution can have high impact, particularly within mobility and elderly care. Our focus is on listening to the daily experience of individuals – in this way we ensure that positive impact is made.”
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
“One of the most important lessons we’ve learned is that our motivation should always stem from the needs and desires of the people we aim to serve. We started Ziggy Mobility because we recognized that people wanted and needed our solution to improve their lives and the lives of others. By continuously engaging with users and listening to their feedback, we stay motivated to take action and help them. This user-centric approach ensures that our product remains focused on meeting the needs of our buyers.
In addition, it’s crucial to prioritize and determine what can truly make a difference in people’s lives. We have learned to value the opinions and insights of those directly affected by the problems we aim to solve, rather than solely relying on what others may say. By maintaining a close connection with our target audience and incorporating their perspectives, we can develop a safe and desirable product.
Our partnership with YES!Delft has been instrumental in connecting us with decision-makers in the South Holland region. Through their support, we have had the opportunity to engage with stakeholders in the governmental social domain, including ministries, care homes, and innovation experts. We have also interacted with dealers and manufacturers, widening our network and gaining valuable insights from a broad range of perspectives.
Additionally, winning second prize in the YES!Delft SocialTech program provided us with an advisor from YES!Delft, who has been instrumental in providing guidance on strategy and opening doors to their network of contacts.”
Where do you see Ziggy Mobility in 5 years?
“In five years, our vision is to have Ziggy Mobility products widely available across the Netherlands and Europe. We aim to have successfully tackled several other problems in the care industry, further expanding our product line. Establishing strong relationships with dealers will be crucial to our growth. We aspire to have a dynamic and efficient pipeline that swiftly addresses various challenges, making a significant impact on people’s lives. While profitability is important, our primary focus will always be on creating meaningful solutions and positively transforming the personal care landscape.”