Marie Van den Broeck has always marched to the beat of her own drum. Ever since she was little, she considered everything people did as her plan B, wondering whether she would be able to come up with something better, a more solid plan A if you will. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that she ventured into entrepreneurship at a relatively young age, and that she ended up at Start it @KBC with a simple yet genius plan that ultimately led to Van den Broeck winning the prestigious UNIZO Student Entrepreneur of the Year award.
“I was an independent and curious child”, says Van den Broeck. “I was – and am – very critical and always wondered about how I could do things better and more efficiently. When I came up with My Add On, I knocked on several doors to see whether I’d truly thought of everything I needed to launch a successful product. I didn’t go to organizations like Start it @KBC or Bizidee to get praise or win prizes, I went there to be challenged and to make sure my ideas were useful and innovative. They asked me tough questions, but in the end I knew how to answer them And that’s a great start.”
My Add On
Van den Broeck started My Add On as a way to help solve mobility challenges for people with a disability, but she insists there’s more to the company: “I don’t want to limit myself to developing products. I want to be an active and vocal ally for my users.
Developing products does take up a lot of time though. It’s been a rather bumpy road, mostly because I wanted this product to be on point. We worked very hard on MySleeve – a helpful add-on to make crutches a lot easier and safer to use – and seeing how it delights people is such a treat.
Starting a company is messy. It’s not a straight curve towards success. It’s a lovely landscape of peaks and valleys. I was very grateful to have the people at Start it @KBC to help me, and to have a strong entrepreneurial support network for when the going got tough.”
Just a few months ago, MySleeve won the 2017 most innovative product award at Reva fair in Ghent, so it’s safe to say that things are looking up for Van den Broeck. But what does the budding entrepreneur have in store for the near future? “We are planning to launch this month, so I’m naturally very excited, but I won’t be resting on my laurels. In the next couple of months, I am going to work hard on expanding our product range and I am looking for companies abroad to distribute MySleeve as well. It’s a lot of work, so I’m also hoping to hire a few people.
Then, in a few years, I might like to find someone I trust and admire to take over the company, while I go chase a new challenge. I’m not sure, but for now: I’m fully focused on My Add On! Either way, there are exciting times ahead.”