Tim Van Dijk - Youplusplus
Tim Van Dijk - Youplusplus
Describe yourself and your project. How did you get the idea?
My name is Tim van Dijk and together with Caroline Mensch I’m working on YOU++, a web-based coding education platform for kids between 9 and 14 years old. We develop courses that combine programming with core school subjects such as Math, so that it’s easy to integrate our courses in primary schools. With YOU++, we want to show children how fun and easy coding can be, and ultimately teach them how to control and understand technology, rather than just consume it.
Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.
Before arriving in Lund last summer to study Entrepreneurship, I did a Bachelor in Math and Physics and a Master in Industrial Engineering in The Netherlands. After I graduated, I had a job as a software engineer for a while, until I decided to come to Lund and follow my dream of being an entrepreneur.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
During these three summer months, much of my time will go into the technical product development of the YOU++ platform. We recently launched the first demo; by the end of the summer, we want to have two full courses and the whole platform of publishing and sharing creations among users up and running, so that in September we can start running pilots in schools.
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
Thanks to Leapfrogs, we do not need to find a (parttime) job to cover our living expenses, which gives us the opportunity to pursue YOU++ full time. We want to put that time to good use, so that we are ready for a beta launch by the end of the summer. On top, I expect to meet some cool fellow Leapfroggers, who will liven up the otherwise deserted Lund this summer.
Tim Van Dijk - Youplusplus #2
Tell us what you have done on your project so far during the Leapfrogs time.
During the first month of the Leapfrogs time, most of my time has gone into development of the coding platform. We extended the existing demo of the Pacman game with the basis for a full course leading up to it, and added a second course where kids can create birthday cards for their friends using code. In the back-end, we have some basic analytics (so that teachers can track their students’ process),functionality to edit existing courses, and a functional points system so that kids get rewarded for accomplishing certain tasks.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
Besides the technical product development, we had the pleasure of meeting the founder of a startup that is developing educational Robotica. We saw some synergies between our situations and goals, so we agreed to develop a proof of concept for the integration of our course content with their robot. If successful, this may lead to a deal that will be mutually beneficial.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
The plan has not changed. Time flies, and two more months to have the whole platform functional is not much. So I will continue to focus most of my attention on coding. At the same time, Caroline will continue to push the market side of the business, securing (more) demo workshops in schools and starting to market towards our parent customer segment.
Tim Van Dijk - Youplusplus #3
How did you experience the three months?
The three month were highly valuable and a great experience for us. We were finally able to fully concentrate on the product and platform development, and successfully created our first coding course for kids
It was very fulfilling to see what is possible in relatively little time with 100% focus on YOU++
We are now actually having a product at hand that can be tested with real potential customers and we succeeded in setting meetings with schools to showcase it
Working in our office at VentureLab or at the World Trade Center in Malmö set a nice entrepreneurial atmosphere to proceed with our project while exchanging thoughts and advice with other budding and experienced entrepreneurs
We met numerous fellow Leapfroggers as well as other entrepreneurs throughout the summer, which was both motivating and enjoyable.
What has been hardest/most enjoyable?
Staying motivated on the days that nothing seems to work
Working inside at the office at the rare hot days that we could have gone to the beach ;)
Seeing the progress that we made every day, it is so much nicer to work on the project that you really care about without being distracted by other things such as university assignments etc.
Seeing what we can make do/work without any external help
Being able to put all the small ideas for our first course into practice
Contact with fellow entrepreneurs
Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?
Everything worked out quite well, we are really happy with our progress and outcome so far, we will definitely continue working with the project in the future and try to get as many kids as possible to learn programming.
In the coming 2 months, we will be running pilots in several schools in Lund and Malmo, and start to roll out the product to the parent market.
We were again confronted with the big drawback of not being a native speaker in the country you do business in. Sure, Swedes speak English very well, but it still creates a boundary, and since we are working with young children, whom we cannot expect to understand English, this becomes even more of a problem. As a result, in the long run, we will continue our efforts in our home markets.
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
Nothing stays ever the same, the things you created or built two weeks ago will seem unprofessional or even obsolete to you (e.g., code you wrote, designs you made). This can be demotivating, but actually it is a sign of fast progress, which we learned to recognise and appreciate.
Also, we learned the value of mono-tasking. In some of the weeks, where both of us were working more than full-time solely on developing the product, we got so much more done than in the months before, where we were constantly shifting between YOU++ and other activities. If at all possible, we should try to schedule our time in blocks. Serial monotasking beats multitasking every day of the week.
Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?
Focus, focus, focus - be persistent and disciplined and celebrate small wins (e.g., getting a button to work, schedule an important meeting).
Get into a rhythm. There is no clock-in time, nobody is going to care if you show up two hours late, or not at all - except for yourself in the long run. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, put the alarm same time every day, eat healthy, work out at least every other day, and don’t forget to mix in some social events every now and then. All of this will greatly improve your efficiency.