VARI-STEPP wins the 2nd price of the Dutch Export Award for SMEs
VARI-STEPP joined the Task Force Health Care in 2015, after experiencing rapid growth since its foundation in 2013. Creator and owner of VARI-STEPP Leon Damen: “Everyone who encounters the product is enthusiastic; VARI-STEPP has been compared to the likes of the paperclip and Post-it. People tell me: ‘How is it possible that this great innovative idea did not yet exist!’”
VARI-STEPP is particularly suitable for use in wet rooms, as the door sill acts like a water bar, however it is not an obstacle because it’s compressible(see Illustration). Leon Damen initially designed the door sill for a nursing home, but quickly discovered that his invention could be applied in many (healthcare) settings where traditional door sills form an obstacle. Damen: “I realised that this door sill filled a gap in the market and decided to patent the product; two years later, VARI-STEPP was founded. And business is booming! This solution is ergonomic for staff, contributes to accessibility and fall prevention for elderly people.
Becoming a TFHC Partner…
Damen: “I was first introduced to the Task Force Health Care in 2014, thanks to business connections who were already partners. VARI-STEPP joined the Task Force one year later, mainly because of the many health-related companies affiliated with the TFHC.” Another important reason for becoming a partner is the Task Force’s extensive network abroad and within the Netherlands. “The Task Force has great connections at the ministry of Foreign Affairs and a good working relationship with RVO. As a TFHC partner, (international) doors are opened which would otherwise have remained closed to me. I am thankful for these opportunities.”
After quickly taking over the Dutch market, the company aims in 2014 to internationalize as soon as possible. “The next step is expansion. The ageing population is a worldwide phenomenon, I have to look beyond The Netherlands. TFHC-partnership is a great asset when planning to export and trade missions are a great tool to get to know the ins and outs of international entrepreneurship.” The company has already taken its first steps on the German, Swedish and Danish markets and VARI-STEPP expects to sign a contract with distributors in UK and Turkey this spring. “Thanks to the Task Force I was able to pitch my product during several trade missions, says Damen. “This really put me on the radar and major foreign hospital and elderly care organisation expressed interest in VARI-STEPP”.
Our new developments…
In addition to entering the international market, Damen continuously works on improving his product. Over the summer of 2015, a fire-proof version of the VARI-STEPP was launched. At the moment, the company is working with one of their partners (TTP) towards the development of coloured versions of the door sill, which is currently only available in black. However, very soon you will be able to order a VARI-STEPP in every colour.
Winning our first Export Award…
In march 2016 VARI-STEPP has won the 2nd price for the Dutch Export Award for SMEs. The jury awarded her because of the socially responsible character, a good vision and thorough investigation into the international market.
Leon Damen, creator and owner of VARI-STEPP