This story is the second in a series introducing the three winners of the health-focused Amsterdam City Fellowship accelerator, which is part of the City of Amsterdam’s Social Entrepreneurship Program.
Watch the video below to meet Frank Schalken, founder of VraagApp (Dutch for QuestionApp) who shares the mission of his growing enterprise, his biggest achievements to date, and how the City of Amsterdam and Impact Hub helped VraagApp develop its business model.
Self-reliance for people with cognitive disabilities
More and more people with a lower IQ find our increasingly complex society hard to navigate. And they have questions on topics ranging from topping up their transport card to deciphering complex official letters.
With VraagApp they can send questions about daily challenges to a group of volunteers. The first volunteer to accept a request gets to chat with the asker and to answer their query.
Our app also offers people who want to do good the chance to contribute with flexible volunteering; they decide when and if they can answer the questions they receive. But, no matter what, VraagApp guarantees each user a satisfactory solution within the hour.
VraagApp goes national and secures pilot with City of Amsterdam
We are proud to have launched the app nationally in October 2017. We currently have nearly 120 volunteers, who helped answer more than 170 questions.
People can use the app at cost of just 1 euro per month or receive a license from one of our 6 partners – healthcare institutions and municipalities committed to purchase licenses and distribute them to those whose lives would be made easier by the app.
Thanks to our participation in the Amsterdam City Fellowship, we secured a pilot with City of Amsterdam’s Health and Work & Income departments. People with low IQ are a priority for the City, as they often deal with issues such as unemployment. The municipality is looking for easy-to-use solutions, such as VraagApp, which can help prevent bigger problems.
How Impact Hub and the City Amsterdam helped VraagApp grow
It was very helpful to meet other impact entrepreneurs and to discuss about our common challenges. We also enjoyed a few great masterclasses delivered by Impact Hub, on topics such as sales and client acquisition, as well as on making a strategic roadmap for the next year
We also got introduced us to several civil servants within the City of Amsterdam, including Healthcare Policy Advisor Johan de Vries, who became one of our ambassadors. Johan really helped us navigate different municipality departments and to explore opportunities for the pilot we recently secured. This pilot will include people who receive support under the Social Support Act, as well as clients of the Work, Participation and Income department.
More about the Amsterdam City Fellowship:
The Amsterdam City Fellowship, which is part of the City of Amsterdam’s Social Entrepreneurship Program, facilitates collaboration between impact entrepreneurs and the City of Amsterdam. The aim of this close collaboration is to co-create and implement innovative solutions to health-related urban challenges. During an 8-month incubator, which ran until December 2017, impact entrepreneurs developed their innovative products / services and received expert guidance and mentoring from the municipality and Impact Hub’s extensive networks.
And after a Business Model Challenge phase – during which we helped participants refine adapt their products to client needs and explore potential sales avenues – VraagApp, Start met Happen and Rain(a)way were selected to continue collaboration with the municipality and work on ensuring that people with cognitive disabilities or living in care institutions feel more supported and empowered, as well as making Amsterdam more climate resilient.