Carrying on our exploration of the circular economy, we are joined today by Lieke van Kerkhoven, the co-founder of FLOOW2, a sharing platform for healthcare and beyond.
Lieke had experience in the healthcare sector leading up to her work with FLOOW2, having worked across the Netherlands in different managerial positions after studying medicine.
In our conversation, we get the low down from Lieke about the last decade with FLOOW2, the difference between FLOOW2 and FLOOW2 Healthcare, and how she initially linked up with the other founders.
She talks about the central importance of communication in the sharing and circular economies and unpacks the varied nature of the platform they have created.
Lieke does not shy away from talking about the difficulties they have faced and goes into moments when she has almost had to throw in the towel. Somewhat ironically, the crisis-stricken year of 2020 has offered the company lifelines they might not otherwise have had access to!
Lieke lays out their position as the global leader in their market, explaining this in the context of the small market they are serving. The conversation also covers the way they serve their clients, the different sectors of the business besides healthcare, and the important shifts in mindset that precede meaningful change. For a thoroughly thought-provoking and informative chat, be sure to listen in!
Lieke Van Kerkhoven
Starting in 2012, Lieke has been driving the global change towards a circular economy by bringing the innovative concept of sharing to the healthcare sector.
She co-founded FLOOW2 Healthcare, the first sharing marketplace for healthcare organizations to share equipment, services, facilities, knowledge and skills within or between organizations.
Before becoming involved with FLOOW2, she worked in healthcare; she studied medicine and has been working in several managerial and organizational positions in healthcare organizations in The Netherlands and abroad for 10 years.
Tune in to find out:
- The beginnings of FLOOW2 and the seeds of the idea for the platform.
- Strategies and pitches that Lieke uses to try get people on board with the model.
- The different factors of FLOOW2 that appeal to organisations; sustainability, economics, and more.
- Examples of how the FLOOW2 platform has been utilised effectively.
- Communication on the FLOOW2 platform and how collaboration drives this progress.
- The primary goal of changing mindsets as a means to jumpstart the necessary practical shifts.
- Hurdles to implementation and organisations where these values do not fit in.
- Low points for Lieke and the stresses of working in the circular economy space.
- The interest that has arisen for FLOOW2 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The process for FLOOW2 when working with new partners; agreeing on terms, communication, branding, and launches.
- Getting started on the platform and the client journey when working with FLOOW2.
- The critical element of trust in the sharing economy and the role played by reviews.
- Using the FLOOW2 platform for personnel changes and the limitations of this framework.
- The surplus of sharing platforms and the lessons that Lieke and her team have learned in the space.
Links mentioned in this episode:
Read our follow up article:
Implementing Circular Practices: It All Starts With Mindset
“...the first five years were more [of] a missionary than sales ... because we really had to tell people about the why and inspire them. Why is the Circular Economy smart for you? ...now so we see a shift in mindset” — @Lvankerkhoven
Barry O'Kane 0:05
Welcome back to Happy Porch Radio. We're talking all things circular economy and the technology involved in that. I’m incredibly excited today, we spoke to Lieke from FLOOW2 and FLOOW2 Healthcare. Since the 2012, Lieke’s been driving the global change towards the circular economy by bringing the innovative concept of sharing to the healthcare sector. She co-founded FLOOW2 and FLOOW2 Healthcare which is the first sharing marketplace for healthcare organisations and a platform for other sectors. Before becoming involved in FLOOW2, she worked in healthcare, she studied medicine and has worked in several managerial and organisational positions across the Netherlands. Emily, I really enjoyed that conversation, what did you think?
Emily Swaddle 0:51
Yeah, I agree. Barry, it was really interesting, especially the diversity of work that FLOOW2 is doing and the different sectors that they're involved in. There's so much going on there. And we obviously just had one episode to talk about it. But I feel like we could have gone on for hours.
Barry O'Kane 1:06
Yeah, there's so much variety. Like I said, what's interesting to me is a platform that's obviously driven by the technology. But actually, the technology is a small part of a much more diverse and interesting solution, which involves communication with multiple different groups, and making sure that they're sharing is used and maybe apply to different contexts. And yeah, just really fascinating.
Emily Swaddle 1:30
Yes to and Lieke spoke about that a lot the importance of getting the communication right, and doing it from the offset starting from hitting the ground running and being persistent with it, which was a really, really cool message.
Barry O'Kane 1:46
We touched on, and I think she may be downplayed a little bit her, her personal, I guess the drive to keep going for, you know, through the tough times, not just the current tough times, but eight years of getting, a new concept - never mind a new business - off the ground.
Emily Swaddle 2:02
Yeah, there's so much to do there.
Barry O'Kane 2:04
Yeah, so much there. So, as usual, we'll for everybody listening, we'll share all the notes and the links and so on that we discuss in this episode on HappyPorchRadio.com. And without any further ado, let's meet Lieka.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 2:23
Well, hi, I'm Lieka Van Kerkhovan. I'm based in the Netherlands. I have a background in medicine and I've worked several years in healthcare before getting into FLOOW2 healthcare in 2012. FLOOW2 is the company pioneering the sharing economy for professional organizations, businesses, governments, municipalities, public organizations, and also healthcare. Of course, we were one of the first and we still there. So happy to meet you.
Barry O'Kane 2:50
Awesome. Yes. Thank you so much for joining us on HappyPorch Radio, and also joining me as my co host, Emily. Hi, Emily.
Emily Swaddle 2:56
Barry O'Kane 2:58
Lieka, so let's start right at the beginning, where was the genesis of FLOOW2 and FLOOW2 healthcare? Who came up with the idea? And how did the whole thing start?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 3:05
Well, like I said, it started in 2011. I think the one with the first idea he was working in construction, he was selling big equipment to construction companies. And he knew that he was selling this very heavy and expensive piece of equipment to this company, and to another company, the same kind of equipment, but just 10 kilometers down the road, for example. And he knew that both of them weren't using that piece of equipment all of the time. So he started thinking, Okay, this should be different, perhaps they should be able to share this kind of equipment. And then things got rolling, FLOOW2 was launched in the summer of 2012, targeted at the construction market, but that was also kind of the middle of the financial crisis. So the financial sector was hit very hard. There was a lot of supply but there was no demand. So the founders of FLOOW2, were kind of thinking, Okay, we should also try other markets. And I was, came up with sort of a similar idea of working in healthcare because I worked in a clinic. And we very often lend or borrowed pieces of equipment from another neighbouring clinic, or we shared staff or we rented out our operating theatres, for example, because an empty operating theater is very expensive. So we'd rather rented out to a competitor than have it's not used at all. So I thought that should be different. And you know, you should have a platform there was a whole informal economy going on with hospitals and clinics trading and sharing the thing. So I thought, that should be different because now it's very inefficient. It depends on on personal contacts, long email, "email all" lists, so I have a desk and someone use it that's very inefficient and also very annoying. So I got in touch with FLOOW2. That was in December 2012. And we said, okay, let's investigate this healthcare market as well. So we jointly founded FLOOW2 Healthcare.
Barry O'Kane 5:05
Awesome. That's really interesting to me from the technology side where you going from sort of manual, this is happening anyway process. And then your, I guess applying or using a platform. Is it fair to call FLOOW2 a platform?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 5:20
Yes, it's a platform. Yeah.
Barry O'Kane 5:21
So what? What did that look like when you started talking or introducing people to the idea? Okay, let's stop doing this informally. And let's try and do it through this platform.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 5:29
Yeah, you have to imagine that in 2012, the circular economy and sharing economy even more, we're very, very much in the childhood phase. So it was just the idea was just kind of launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey, Airbnb was coming up. So most people had heard of that. But that is, of course, a very, completely different idea. So people said yes, I can imagine but for a company, there were big issues with trust. So we really had the first five years or so being were more on a missionary than on sales conversations that felt like that, at least. Because we really had to tell people about the why and inspire them. Why is the Circular Economy smart for you? It's not because also when you come with a sustainability story, many people in the in the traditional business, they kind of get suspicious because they think, Oh, it's just going to be expensive and cost me a lot of money. And then yes, I have a marketing advantage because I do something green. So we spent five years just educating the market. And now since two years or so we see it kind of a shift in mindset. Almost every company has some sort of sustainability built into their corporate governance and policies. Circular economy has become more mainstream, and we more we now get the questions of how and what so how can we start and what can you do for us? So it's coming very slow.
Emily Swaddle 6:56
That's interesting that you said you have to educate the market for so long, that's a really kind of feels like a noble pursuit to put yourself in that position where you know, you're going to be setting something up that actually, many people are going to resist. Was there something? You already mentioned a bit about the kind of financial benefits that this had specifically in the healthcare sector?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 7:19
Emily Swaddle 7:19
Can you give us a bit of like the spiel that you used when you were trying to get people on board? What were their kind of benefits that you highlighted specifically for flow? Two?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 7:28
Yeah. So we have reinvented ourselves in that way, multiple times. We didn't start this as a noble venture, you know, but it's, I guess it's one of those things that you start, and then you're in the middle of it, and had you known it would have been that difficult upfront, you would never have started. But, you know, then we were going so we couldn't really we didn't want to stop either anymore. So in the beginning, it was very much focused on on the sustainability aspect. We always say that's three advantages. Of course, its first one is financially because it's If you have something standing idle, it costs you money if you rent it out, or if you sell it to someone else, then you make money off your idle with your idle assets, or you rent something in or you buy something from someone else and you save costs, then it's sustainable because we optimize usage of what's already there. So we save energy and resources for producing more new equipment. And it's social because it stimulates collaboration throughout the organization but also cross sectoral and cross organizational. So in the beginning, we really focused on the sustainability aspect, but that wasn't running anywhere and at all. Companies run ready to you know, make a decision just based on sustainability. So we really de greened our our entire communication our website everything I remember us sitting behind the computer going through our entire website and taking out everything green and focusing on the on the financial benefits because that is that is in the end where decisions were still made. You know, you can have someone in organizations does get enthusiastic about sustainability aspect, but then he has to go up to the decision makers and they always want to know, is it going to give me money? So we focused on the financial aspects. And now I think what we most often see is that there is the initial contact is because companies want something with Circular Economy, sustainability or socially. And then there is also the financial benefit, which is just very sweet.
Barry O'Kane 9:28
really interesting. So, I find that really funny, you're de greening the, the story. But so now so now what you're saying is that that's kind of really flipped 180 degrees and people are looking at the sustainability first, or is it a case of more 50 you know, sort of equal?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 9:46
No, the initial point of contact is usually because organizations want a circular solution, or typically a social solution. And then it makes their life very easy if they want to implement this in organization that they can say but guys We're also going to save a lot of money or earn money, you know, create an extra source of income because we are going to rent our stuff out or sell it. And it's kind of now for everyone at different positions in an organization, there's something to get enthusiastic about. So everyone has she has something that they can say, okay, that's why it works for me, because we have this multiple value proposition.
Barry O'Kane 10:25
So let's try and make things a bit more real. If we can. Have you got some success stories or case studies or anything, you know, examples that were FLOOW2's used so that we can talk about,
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 10:38
yeah, sure. We have several well, running platforms right now. Another evolution that we've gone through that's perhaps good to mention is that in the beginning, we created FLOOW2.com and FLOOW2healthcare.com because we had the vision that every organization was going to share their supply of, demand for capacity publicly. And then, you know, along the road, we discovered that there was a lot of resistance for that. And for private companies, it was the the unwillingness to share because they were going to, they thought they were going to give information that is sensitive for competition if they were going to share what they have standing idle or what they need. And for more public organizations like healthcare organizations, they said, if I'm going to share what I have standing idle, then some newspaper is going to come along and say that I have all this idle capacity. So I probably have my procurement processes off, you know, and wasted public money. So this public sharing was a big hurdle. And then some clients came and they said, but we want to share internally, just within our organization, connecting departments and different branches of organization, or we have a network of trusted partners and we want to share just with these partners. So now we mainly build white label private sharing marketplaces for organization or networks. And the some examples of that is a Dutch care organization for disability care. They have like 800 locations spread throughout the country. And the location can be just a home where five clients live, but it can also be a bigger daycare being you know, they have supermarkets, hairdressers, everything. So they have a great variety of capacity. And they grew through mergers of smaller organizations. So they have several regions that were not connected to the central brand. So their main interest was a social one. Because they said food is sharing, we want to connect all these regions to the central organization because we think if they are going to talk about furniture or client stuff, that they're also you know, going to collaborate better on other aspects. So they're intrinsic motivation was a social one. And they now have a very successful sharing platform for the entire organization with a great variety of capacity and, also staff, but things like medical aides that are left over when client moves out or moves on or something happens. Very basic things like furniture, but also jobs for our clients. Because these clients typically have a daily activity. So it can be like folding the laundry for hospitals. That is something that these clients do during the day. For them, it's you know, it's productive activity, and they post these jobs to the platform. And then other locations can say, Oh, that's nice for my client as well. And then the client gets over there. And so that's how they use it. We have a hospital that has an internal sharing marketplace wholey different kinds of capacity. It's also different because the hospital is one building with a lot of departments. And the organization I just mentioned has, you know, it's spread throughout the country. And the hospital has medical equipment, but also excess stock. Also jobs for staff that, for example, have to reintegrate after illness and can't their own job because it's physically too heavy. So they can do administrative jobs as another department, for example. And in another sector, there is werflink.com that's in Belgium. It's a platform for the entire Belgian construction sector. So building sites and companies can actually advertise supply and demand for resources, building resources, but also heavy equipment and those kinds of things. And that's also very successful. It's in three languages. And we're now looking to expand actually in the UK, but also in the Netherlands. And the Netherlands, we also have and that's, again, another sector, it's Park sharing, and that is for business parks or industrial areas, where they have a variety of companies very close together, and one has a forklift and the other one has a meeting room. The other one has catering services. So they all have that but they typically don't know each other so everyone just drives through their own company every day and then just try it out again. So these marketplaces make capacity supply and demand transparent, just for one business park. But there is also an sort of umbrella Park sharing that you can also advertise your supply and demand to, because some capacity is only useful to share locally, you're not going to drive your forklift from the south of the country to the north. But other kinds of capacity if it's more rare or more expensive, or I don't know, you may want to share it with the rest of the country. So you advertise it to the umbrella platform
Barry O'Kane 15:31
So much variety in all of that.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 15:34
Barry O'Kane 15:34
Rreally interesting challenges too. So I've often read and thought and talked about the type of marketplace product where you're needing to kind of connect, you know, both sides, it's kind of, you know, chicken - egg, which one comes first. And you've got the added complexity of doing that with a platform where there's multiple, potentially of these marketplaces. Is that why the white label idea really, maybe, works where, as an example, within a hospital, it's relatively easy to share. Within, you know, maybe there's a mailing list or an intranet or something where everybody can see that this is happening, and they can share the story and the links and so on. Is that, is that how it works? Like, is it normally the organization or comes along and says, okay, we implement this product, and then it's them that drives things forward or are FLOOW2 involved in training and support and helping encourage use and facilitation?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 16:31
Yes, the platform is just one thing. But if you just throw platform at people, nothing's going to happen. So it's a communication effort, basically. And indeed, if there was a hospital or some other kind of organization that has a platform just internally, then we strongly collaborate with the internal communication department to actually let people know that it's there and what it's meant for and share successes, because once you get the initial enthusiasm, you know It's more difficult to keep people getting to your platform. So you really need a communication plan, like sending emails or, you know, taking it up in the newsletter of that organization or intranet, or those kinds of things. We strongly support organizations in that, and in a sense that we have a lot of content because we've already created it once and then they can use it and make it their own, sort of, and share it with their employees. And the other examples that I mentioned, if we go into a different sector or branch or region, we always work with a partner. We never go alone. It's not like today we decide, oh, Germany is an interesting market. We just go there and you know, put our product on the market. It's always because there is someone in Germany it can be a person but it can also be another organization or coalition or, I don't know, it can be all kinds of organizations. And they say this is a good idea and we want to make this available for our members. or clients or my network. So it's always a joint effort. The example I mentioned in Belgium, it's the result of the Green Deal procurement that they have signed. And our partners there are the Flanders government, but also Besix, which is a very large construction company. So it's a joint effort. I am actually now working on a very big collaboration in Canada with the Canadian Coalition for Green Healthcare. They are a network of hospitals throughout the country, making hospitals more sustainable. And they said, We want to make this service of sharing available to them. So we are now rolling out in Canada as well. So that's how it works. We always work with a partner.
Emily Swaddle 18:41
It's interesting. You've mentioned you mentioned a lot the importance of kind of effective communication, whether that's with clients in the beginning to kind of get them on board or even internally with clients to get the whole organization understanding the process and the and the the importance of the platform. I imagine for you that comes from kind of a personal place of the importance of Circular Economy and especially having worked in healthcare yourself, is that right? Does it? Is it like something quite personal for you?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 19:12
Yes, it is. It also has become that, you know, after being on the front lines for so long, you know, you've really wanted to be successful now and it kind of grew on us. At some point we said it's probably our life's mission to get this going. Because I don't know what else do anymore. If it's not working. No, but we realized that you know, you have your technique and but that's just a means to an end. Because the end is basically a complete mindset change of people. That's what Circular Economy is basically about, you know, you can have all kinds of innovative products and services and change rules and legislations but I always say that's just the outside and that's, you know, that's very nice for us because we know a lot about the outside. That's the rational part of things. But it's also the tip of iceberg because the real change is happening inside within us, you know, we just have to change the way we look at each other and our environment. At how do we measure success? If you're talking about companies, how do you gratify people? How did you stimulate them? How did you stimulate creativity? How what kind of culture do you have, and that's the real change that has to happen. And then circular practices are going to, you know, come out fluently. If you work on that basis, it's not the other way around. You can't push it.
Emily Swaddle 20:29
Hmm. That's really powerful. I like that idea.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 20:33
I always use the analogy of a toddler thats trying to cram the triangle through a square opening. You know, if you're coming with a circular products, or servers and you're trying to push that through, your still very linear organization or to you're still very linear clients or suppliers. Then it's never going to work no matter how much force or I don't know how ever your can but it's never going to work. You have to work on the basis you have to make people understand why is this? Why are we doing this? And why do we want this? And then, you know, first change the mindset, and then it will follow.
Emily Swaddle 21:08
So within that, as have you come across instances with clients where you thought or maybe even explicitly said, Actually, I don't know if this client is ready for this level of circular investment.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 21:23
We have had so many of those.
Yes, we've had so many conversations that, you know, they they want something with Circular Economy, but they don't really want it. It's just, you know, it's hip, and they think we have to do something with it, or it's good for our image or someone else in the organization, probably very high up in the tree said, Well, we need Circular Economy, but then the people below them, they don't really understand. So they have to start working with a concept that's completely new to them. But they still think in the linear away so they are going to approach it in that way as well. I've also seen you know, it's not rare for us to have a two year period with an organization before the first point of contact until actual implementation. We've also seen many times that we had very good conversations with a person that was very enthusiastic and they had to, you know, they had to go through the organization, it's kind of a struggle for them sometimes. And once the project was up and running, they leave because they're just tired. You know, they say, I don't want to work here anymore. I can't have these struggles full time. So we've seen it all I guess.
Barry O'Kane 22:32
It's really interesting what you say about struggles and Emily's question about I guess, motivation. If something feels like you're constantly fighting against all these, it's more than just sort of obliviousness or or people being unaware. But it sounds like in some cases, people are actually fighting against opposition or people disagreeing, which makes me also think about that when you were describing your first five years of just trying to explain everything to everybody. Have you been through periods where you were yourself kind of reaching the point where you're going, you know, this is too hard, or I need a break or what for has been the low points as well?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 23:09
Yes, of course, you try to keep up your spirit. But I guess it's with all these success stories, you know, you read of someone who had this brilliant idea. And then, you know, they get in some kind of magazine and you read their story. And then they say, well, it was eight years or 10 years, but you don't question those eight or 10 years, but there are very low points in that period. And it's, you know, perseverance, or just
Emily Swaddle 23:32
Yeah, eight or ten years is a long time.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 23:35
Yes, exactly. And some loose and some win, of course. We all had the entire team, we've had low points where we thought, Well, perhaps it's just not ready yet. You know, we weren't too far ahead of the market, or perhaps the idea is not as brilliant as other people say. For healthcare specifically. I've had I think two times when I said okay, now I'm just going to, I'm going to let it go. I'm just not going to pull or push anymore. I'm just going to see what happens. And well, I have had two children and also in this time, so it was around that time and I said, I don't have any energy left. So I'm just going to leave it to the market. But every time something happened, that I said, Okay, so there is potential, you know, there is genuine interest. I have to keep doing this, because I still believe in it. And it is a good idea. And the early adopters, you know, are getting ready. We just have to stick around and that will make it. So every time when I said, I'm letting it go down, something came across our path, which may made us say, okay, it's not that we really have to keep going. So yeah, and now actually, we're now because it's 2020. So it's eight years now and we are actually we said 2020 is make or break, it really has to start happening or perhaps you know, it's not going to happen. And now with this Covid crisis, I think something is happening to the mindset of people, because collaboration, all of a sudden was possible when people saw that, but they also saw the relevance of transparency of stock and supplies. So actually now, we've never had more requests from all kinds of organizations, but also the world and people really want to know. Okay, so what exactly do you do? And how could I make that work for me or my particular situation? So? Yep. We're kind of surprised that now, because we said, well, it's going to make a break. And now all of a sudden, there's so much interest from everywhere.
Barry O'Kane 25:38
Yeah, that's that's a nice optimistic, I guess outcome from all the current situation. I'm interested then to talk a little bit about the platform itself. Can you kind of describe the process of you've got a new partner or a new project that's going to use the platform, what's actually involved in going from that point to getting something up and running
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 26:00
If we have a new partner for collaboration, then we usually first of course, we come to an agreement on the terms and we completely leave it to them to activate the market. So we, we supply them with everything we have the eight years of experience, we go through the entire platform possibilities. And then they have to talk to their network and see if there's interest. Then usually there's a demonstration of the platform, and we make it into the specific branding of that organization or that network. So it's completely in the look and feel of the partner organization or the client. So that's also because trust is so important. And then there is a communication effort, we usually try to have a kind of launch, like really make it a moment that this thing is launched and that people know that Okay, that's what it's for. And then it's a continuous communication effort together with the client or the partner organization to keep people coming to the platform.
So yeah, that's basically it.
Barry O'Kane 27:03
Yeah. So that's something that you or FLOOW2 do the you set up the tools and do the branding and so on is that you meet
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 27:09
Barry O'Kane 27:09
Okay. And once that's up and running, and if I'm the person who's maybe working in the hospital or in the in the company or the, or the network, what's my experience of Okay, now I have a, you know, whatever, forklift truck or something and I know it's free. What's my experience? How do I go about finding out about this, and then actually sharing it and then maybe getting something shared the other way?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 27:31
Yeah, so you probably received a login details, or this platform was advertised in the organization, and you're going to create an account. And the platform itself works very intuitively, you know, like all the other platforms that we use, because it's really built for all kinds of people in all levels of the organization to be able to understand it. So just go online, you know, you click on Create an advertisement and you can upload your fork lift. Add some additional information or pictures, maybe you can even fill out the planning schedule. If you say it's only available on Tuesdays, for example, then you just publish, and then your colleagues can find it. And you can send messages through the system. In case or if you want to sell something, well, there can also be arranged, you can do payment through the platform, we can connect to financial administration of an organization, for example, in a hospital, and they are not used to making that kind of transaction. So we really had to connect to their financial administration otherwise, you know, a chair of 10 euros or 10 pounds, you know, the transaction itself will be much more expensive because they really had to make a separate process of that. So we have another example, which is also in the Netherlands and we call it Pharma swap. It's for pharmacies, to sell to each other prescription medication that is about to expire. And that's a very it's a hidden source of, of waste. Many conversations about waste of medication go is about medication that's already been with a patient. But this medication has always remained in the pharmacy. So it was always stored in a proper conditions. But it was ordered because there was a particular prescription for a client for a patient and then the patient dies or moves on or changes treatment and that medication remains on the shelf because it can't go back to the wholesale organization. And these pharmacists are now because they're all trading this kind of things through WhatsApp and then the regular mail but it's sometimes packages of like, multiple thousands of euros. So it was a very sensitive time when the you know, the package was in the middle and everybody was just hoping it would arrive in the proper state. So we created the platform and we also facilitated transport in that case, and that's a particular situation where people are just selling. So one pharmacist can say, okay, and what is from you, you can either place a bid. If you think your price is too high, or you can buy it directly, then it's approved and you get an invoice and the other one gets in gets subscription of the of the transaction. And then the message goes through the organization does facilitating the transport, and it gets picked up and it gets delivered the next day. So yeah, the logistics can be different for every platform.
Barry O'Kane 30:23
Wow, yeah, that's, as you say, really variable between them the where, I guess the specifics of where the platform's implemented.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 30:30
It can be very niche, or it can be very broad.
Barry O'Kane 30:33
So that pharmaceuticals is a good example of something where the recipient needs to know that it's, you know, there's a quality standard there. It's been stored properly, or and maybe another environment, maybe other things need to be cleaned properly or whatever. Is there a trust factor there? Or is it always a case of well, we work in the same organization or same network so that trust is built in?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 30:53
Yes. So the whole success of the sharing economy is the critical factor is trust. So that's why you see on these platforms that reviews, for example, are crucial. We have that to the Pharma one example that I mentioned, it's a closed community so you only get an account if you're verified pharmacist. And then of course we rely on professionalism. So we say he's also a pharmacist so but you have to be able to give the documentation that this medication was always stored under the proper conditions they signed for that. And you can only buy something if you have a prescription already so you it's not possible to you know, buy a lot of stock from other pharmacists and then you know, keep it in your pharmacy and then you know, pre sell it or give it out when it's a better price. For example, you can only buy something if you have a prescription so you can give it out immediately. In other cases, that's also you know, we have to reviews but you can upload pictures, you can also upload additional documentation, like the proof that you've always kept it and maintained it under proper conditions. I can imagine we don't have that yet. Because there is no request from the market. But I can imagine that at some point, you would want to have a third independent party inspecting expensive equipment before you actually buy or rent something. So yes, it's it's greatly dependent on professional trust between companies. That's a big difference with the consumer sharing economy. You know, it's your company reputation not your personal reputation. And we try to build in all kinds of things in the platform to enhance that trust.
Emily Swaddle 32:29
You also mentioned Lieke it earlier about how the platform can be used as well for personnel exchanges. And this kind of implication of trust and professionalism. Presumably, that's also a big factor there. I'm just thinking about kind of instances of protecting staff members from I don't know too many temporary contracts or their own kind of personal and professional well being in terms of changing organizations or departments or what have you Are those the sort of things that you've come up across?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 33:00
Yeah. So what it's used for now mainly is to have temporary jobs for people, like I just mentioned, in one case, it's for the clients. So that's, they just need the daily activity. In the in the hospital, we had the case where there was a nurse on the physical therapy department, and she, I don't know, she had an injury. So she couldn't do her own job, because that was physically not possible. And then she just did administrative tasks on another department, which, you know, that meant that she didn't have to stay at home. And she kept in a work rhythm and she was actually useful for organization until she was better and she could go back to her own job. In the COVID crisis. We have seen on Park sharing, we have seen because some organizations, you know, they hardly had any business anymore. But other organizations all of a sudden had huge online activity. So they really needed hands in their warehouses. So we saw staff moving from one organization to the other. Of course, that always happens with the consent of the Staff many organizations, and people see it as an advantage, you know, to be able to do different work to gain another perspective, gain more experience. But it does remain a sensitive topic. And you always have to be very careful that you make it very clear what it's used for and what was not allowed lets say.
Barry O'Kane 34:19
That's really interesting, though, the example you get you gave there of something happens that significantly changes the environment of the business.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 34:26
Barry O'Kane 34:26
...but the platform, did you have to do anything to the platform, you know, to allow that kind of adaption of Okay, well, maybe there's an opportunity for staff to move or experience or contribute in a different way? Or did you know, were they able to just use the platform to help them adapt to those changing circumstances?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 34:44
Yes, so we did plant the seed of the possibility. So it was a communication effort. As always, we built the platform so as to be a one stop shop. Of course, some of the platforms right now are niche, sharing platforms for just very specific products or very specific market. But every platform in the very basis is built as a one stop shop for all kinds of capacity because we envision that if this becomes a professional practice, if it really gets integrated into daily activities, then you don't want five platforms. You know, just to mention your company, car manae your company cars, where your staff and your meeting rooms. You want one place where you have complete oversight. Management has insight in what's happening. So the platforms are built, to be able to cater for all kinds of activities. So that can be a forklift. It can be bandages that are, you know, in excess or it can be someone that needs to re-integration or you know, has a day a week idle because the business changed. So it can all kinds of activities can be posted to the platform.
Barry O'Kane 35:50
And does that also. Or is it maybe there's opportunities to, for example, if to integrate with other third party tools or other software tools like existing inventory management or asset tracking?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 36:02
Yeah. So we can connect to that, that can be dynamic, or it can be, you know, like, regular. So if organizations say yes, that's fine, but I already have an inventory stock software something, and I'm not going to enter those 2500 items into your platform. I guess Okay, so let's make a connection. And you can manage it at once. And for example, on the Pharma swap, we also have three wholesale organizations that are advertising their stock that is about to expire, and they kind of have this situation. Also, in that case, it's like they have 20 items of one kind instead of just one. But if they sell one, they don't want to go and change their whole advertisement. So we build in a sort of thermometer. If a transaction is done through the platform, then we know that we have to deduct one or two from their advertisement. So that goes automatically if they sell something through another way, and we don't know, of course, and they have to change it manually, but we always try to automate things as much as possible
Barry O'Kane 37:08
Awesome. Ah, there's so much there. And it's such a big, interesting and varied topic. But I think we're sort of starting to run out of time for this episode. But one thing that I always like to give an opportunity for. Leike, Is there anything that we haven't asked, that you think is, you know, that you're particularly proud of, or that you think is important to share?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 37:31
Well, no, I think we've touched upon many topics already, perhaps a little bit hidden in some, some conversations. But the main thing, the main experiences, that technique is not you know, it's it's important, but it's not the trigger. It's communication in the end. And in this particular case, you know, we were there when the sharing economy kind of gained ground and there were at some point in the Netherlands alone, there were like 350 sharing platforms. Yeah, you can even share your dog I believe and
Emily Swaddle 38:04
borrow my doggy.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 38:05
Yeah, I'm not sharing my dog.
You know, people have this, this idealized idea of Airbnb, you know, I build a platform and I'm going to be a multimillionaire, you know, just if I put out a platform that's going to be successful, but they forget the about their earning model. And that's very difficult, you know, that's particularly about sharing economies, not so much Circular Economy, because thats about much more Of course, you know, you have to be kind of realistic about, you know, you have motorcycle sharing platforms, for example, that's really great. But, you know, at least here in Europe, people drive their motor only, I think, five months a year at max, you know, you have to be die hard to also go into winter but now it's not your platform is not having any traction and the other months, so you have to redo your marketing. So you have to be realistic about your expectations and about your goals. I think if you want to do something like this. Or just call us because we, you know, we have spent eight years making this software and invested a lot of money. And our thing is always don't don't try this at home. You know, just call us and we're happy to share. We're happy to set up some kind of collaboration. And so you can do your share of the market, if that's your thing. And you just use our software.
Barry O'Kane 39:29
Yeah, that's really cool. I that's something that I think happens a lot as, as a technologist myself. It's very easy to think, Oh, you know, I just build a tool and it'll magically happen, when that may be the smallest part of the pie. Really.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 39:41
Barry O'Kane 39:42
He talked about the communication and the complexity of multiple sdes and design environments and convincing people and explaining it. That's a much bigger human challenge.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 39:51
I've had many Oh, not not many. I've had a couple of organizations that said, Yes, Yes, I know. I you know, I have a nephew that kind build some kind of sharing thing. And then, you know, they showed it to me and I said, you know, this doesn't look attractive, people are not going to use it. And then a couple of weeks later that no one is using it, but then you, you know, you've wasted your momentum. You have to do it right from the beginning.
Barry O'Kane 40:17
What's the future for FLOOW2 to FLOOW2 healthcare? What's the vision? What's next?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 40:22
We have kind of made it a point to not have any expectations, you know, you in the traditional economy, you draw business models and make plans and you know, only to adjust them when time proceeds. This is a very unpredictable market, the Circular Economy and you know, things like COVID can happen and then everything's upset anyway. So we try to go organically. Also, you know, in exploring our markets, we only go where there is traction. So if there's a partner or anything, that's why we're in crazy markets, or we are in crazy countries that you would normally not really logically go to. So we keep flowing and see what happens. That's, that's our approach. And because if we make plans, we are only gonna have to, you know, readjust next month. So there's no point. We are the global leader in the sharing economy for professional organizations. But that is still a very small market. So we really hope that now things are gaining more traction now that the concept is gaining more attention and awareness that we really can expand and implement our service across the world. Yeah.
Barry O'Kane 41:35
Outstanding. Yeah. I really like that. And it's inspiring, as you say, sort of, to be involved in that positive movement is really cool. So just finally, so for any listeners who want to find out more about FLOOW2, FLOOW2 healthcare or the work that you're doing, where should they go?
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 41:51
Well, there's floow2.com and then floow2healthcare.com. And FLOOW2 is F L double o w two. And well just send a message if you want more information,
Barry O'Kane 42:02
awesome, yeah, so that's F L double o w, the number two dot com or floow2healthcare.com. And as usual, we'll put all those links and everything we've mentioned into HappyPorch Radio on the show notes. Thank you so much Lieke. That was really great conversation. Thanks for joining us.
Lieke Van Kerkhoven 42:18
Thank you. Good luck.
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