Evita Willaert and My Add On on the power of entrepreneurship

26 November 2020

On Entrepreneur's Day, Marie, the founder of My Add On AND proud entrepreneur, had an interview with politician Evita Willaert of Green. This came about from an initiative by UNIZO to connect politicians with entrepreneurs to give them a better understanding of the world of entrepreneurship. Many aspects of entrepreneurship were covered, including the genesis process of My Add On and the challenges that need to be tackled every day. View here the full interview.

HOW DID MY ADD ON COME ABOUT?

First of all, Marie explained how My Add On came about. Inspired by her grandmother who suddenly had to walk with crutches, Marie developed a first version of the MySleeve as part of a school assignment. She decided to apply for student-entrepreneur status in order to combine her studies as an industrial engineer with her own business.

Getting started in business is certainly not simple. Budget raised Marie through her graphic designs and she then invested all the money in My Add On. Fortunately, there are a lot of worthwhile organisations helping young entrepreneurs, including UNIZO and Start-it from KBC. And Marie also mentioned that she participated in competitions to evaluate her business plan, where she received a lot of feedback and thus was able to fine-tune her business plan.

Would you like to see a demo of the MySleeve?
Then click further in the video to minute 5:29

MY ADD ON IS BUILT ON AMBITION

Nor do My Add On's ambitious 20x20x20 plans go unnoticed. Within 5 years, My Add On wants to have 20 products, in 20 countries and consist of a team of 20 permanent employees. To this end, My Add On also stays true to its values: empowerment and inclusion. Thus, the products are always developed from the needs of the users and they are involved in the whole process. Erika Willaert found this to be a very valuable philosophy: entrepreneurs contributing in a beautiful way for people in need.

CHALLENGES IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Of course, there are also a lot of challenges associated with entrepreneurship. There is a lot involved in a startup and it is not easy to get through the large amounts of information, Marie told us. In the beginning, for instance, getting the MySleeve medically approved was a very laborious process, something that took a huge amount of time. And the biggest strength as a startup is now speed. Evita Willaert confirmed that in practice, things can indeed still often be very slow. Fortunately, a lot of organisations, such as Vlajo, who can give startups the right push.

LOCAL, FAIR AND SUSTAINABLE

There is a very strong emphasis on sustainable and local production at My Add On, so Green's politician was very curious about the production process. The products are always developed from users' needs, which can be reported via the website. And then Marie could proudly tell that she was able to shift production from China to Germany. And even packaging and assembly are done entirely in Belgium. Marie explains in the video from minute 20:45 onwards how the production process at My Add On works.

IMPACT OF THE CORONA CRISIS ON STARTUPS

Like many businesses, My Add On is feeling the impact of the corona crisis. A lot of shops have to close their doors, so nobody sees the products on the shelves anymore. My Add On is lucky to be in a sector where most shops will stay open then, but for many other entrepreneurs it is different.

POLITICS AND STARTUPS

The interview ended with a call to buy more locally, an action under which UNIZO also puts its shoulders to the wheel. Erika said that she was very impressed by the story of My Add On and that she would certainly follow the story in the future. She also sees a lot of opportunities for improvement on the political level for better support of start-ups. We thought it was a very nice initiative by UNIZO!

Watch the full interview with Marie and Evita Willaert here

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