Lars Gierveld and Thomas Schippers – Two Dutch innovators

Many innovations arise when thinking from multiple and different angles. Thomas Schippers and Lars Gierveld have a broad scientific background in which social/philosophical, professional and business perspectives on media have been combined.

The two men met each other five years ago in the Dutch National ThinkTank: an annual melting pot of graduated Master students and PHD’s with excellent study results and extracurricular activities. In the ThinkTank, which lasts for three months, those ‘high potentials’ develop innovative solutions for a persistent social problem, thereby supported by McKinsey & Company. In the year Thomas and Lars participated, the ThinkTank focused on bottlenecks in and innovative solutions for the Dutch health care sector.

Their studies and working experiences proved to be a solid base to develop the idea for a national cross-media portal, on which, in a structural B2B cooperation, audiovisual health information from the public broadcasters is combined with textual information from knowledge organizations in the health care sector. Thomas and Lars were convinced that this cooperation would inspire and better both industries, and, even more important, would result in a trustworthy initiative for all citizens looking for reliable health information.

Although some main players in both industries declared them crazy, trying to bring together a wasp’s nest with a snakes pit, Thomas Schippers and Lars Gierveld were offered several jobs. Strengthened by this interest and convinced that the realization of their idea is best served by being completely independent, Thomas and Lars cofounded their innovation company Mediavedi in 2007. Their first mission consisted of developing and unrolling this media portal together with the main stakeholders from both broadcast and health care industry. Two years later the portal, named Gezond24, was nationally launched.

Whilst working on Gezond24, Mediavedi was discovered by the health insurance companies. Charmed by the refreshing and decisive approach, they asked the men to create a quality mark for websites that offer reliable and safe health information to the public. Thomas and Lars accepted the offer and so a new project was born: ZegelGezond or HeathySeal. Again, Mediavedi created a completely innovative valuation system, based on scientific peer reviews and social 2.0 trends. ZegelGezond will be launched in the Netherlands this year. Already, we receive international interest.

Next to those main projects, we do other things, simply because we like it and can! We’ve initiated an expert meeting about Virtual Reality in relation to the mental condition, a symposium about Children’s Generated Content and produced some short movies. Our latest project is a website where people can play Cupid by matching two single friends. In all projects, Thomas and Lars combine their creative and pragmatic skills.

Thomas Schippers (31) graduated with honours in three Master studies: ‘Theatre, Film and Television Sciences’ (Utrecht University), ‘Cultural Policies and Management’ (Utrecht University) and ‘European Audiovisual Management’ (Media Business School Madrid).

Lars Gierveld (30) graduated in the following three Master studies: ‘New Media Studies’ (University of Amsterdam); ‘Radio and Television Journalism’ (University Groningen) and ‘Strategy & Innovation’ (University Groningen).

What are you working on right now?

Currently we’re preparing the national launch of ZegelGezond: a new quality system for online public health information. The completely automated valuation system was tested in 2010 during a half year pilot with 30 participants, amongst them: hospitals, patient organizations, pharmacists etc. The test results are currently being processed in the ICT-system. We expect the launch in April/May 2011.

Simultaneously we’re working on our most recent project Inlovia, a dating site that focuses on people who want to play Cupid. The website combines the possibilities of the internet with a traditional way of matching: finding love via friends. Inlovia is currently available in nine languages and more will follow. We’ve launched it December 2010 and after two months it is already used in 90 countries worldwide and more than 350 matches have been made! We’ve just signed a cooperation contract with a Turkish internet company for their territory and are now looking for other local partners to represent and promote Inlovia in their area.

3 trends that excite you?

1. Wisdom of the crowds – web 2.0

We’re only at the beginning of understanding (and thus applying!) the immense opportunities web 2.0 offers us. The shift from one-dimensional to two-dimensional communication puts all traditional ways of communication upside down. Organizations were used to talk to silent coach potatoes, but now those potatoes are able to make some noise too! Instead of conservatively despise their signals, new ways of understanding and using their feedback should, are and will be developed. A digital revolution – yet again!

2. Transparency as the new moral

Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but also blogs, allow people to be the boss of their own communication. People create their own truth on the basis of what they select to see, hear and read. And relatively more popular trends are the sharing of information, discussing it and exercising influence. All this together adds up to a digital society in which transparency is the new moral. But who to believe and on what ground?

3. Digital society in relation to traditional ones

We are excited about trends that affect people and society through new usage or new applications of media. This mustn’t be seen as a plea for following each new media hype or purchase every media gadget. It is much more an argument to thoroughly think on opportunities and dangers of these trends and integrate them in projects and businesses that favor society as a whole.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It all starts with a viable idea! In case we think we’ve got one, (market) analysis, argumentation and preparation are key. This usually results in a short Business Proposal. Next step is to approach main stakeholders and create enthusiasm, believe and energy. We involve them directly, not only by listening seriously, but mainly by convincing them this is their project, their chance to make a difference. ‘Creating together’ is one of our most important credos. Because most of our projects are on a national scale and industry transcending, the formation of a dynamic network is key. So we bring together those stakeholders we believe have the complementary strength to realize the idea.

What inspires you?

We believe in chances, instead of obstacles. If people are enthusiastic, dedicated, cooperative and patient enough – a lot of incredible ideas can be realized. This is exactly what this amazing video shows us: everything is possible!

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

As said, our ideas and projects are brought to life through enthusiasm and cooperation. Of course this way of working goes along with making the mistake of trusting people and organizations that confound this trust. Of course we’ve learnt to deal with this by professionalizing and formalizing the conjunctions, but we are also pretty unteachable concerning this. Thinking in terms of upside businesses, trust and enthusiasm are a more important base than juridical contracts, which are far more preconditional in our eyes.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Think new, but don’t blindly put off the old. Combine, combine, combine.

What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?

It may sound as a cliché, but we would say that our hearts, heads and hands are the most important tools to help to bring ideas to live. Be inspired, think it over thoroughly and do it! Tools like mobile telephones, e-mail, books, chat functions, linked databases and social media are highly supportive. Use them well, but don’t make any of them a goal in itself.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

We would like Rob Wijnberg to be interviewed on IdeaMensch. He is an inspiring, young philosopher and chief editor of a national newspaper in the Netherlands.

What is the most valuable material asset in Mediavedi?

Our desk. We’ve made it ourselves at the time we started Mediavedi. We were incredibly busy with our first big project and all the startup activities, but somehow we managed during the evenings and weekends to put on our carpenter cloths and built our desk. Because of all the blood, sweat and tears we’ve shed, we enjoy our own handmade desk every day!

What is the most valuable immaterial asset in Mediavedi?

Either at success or at failure, we think it is highly important to put things into perspective. Therefore we take the things we do seriously, whilst not taking ourselves too earnest! Glorifying at success or being pathetic at failure are both arrogant and self destructive characteristics. In that way, relativization is one of the most important immaterial assets in our company.




Email: [email protected]



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Inlovia




Email: [email protected]