Should I start my own social initiative? Here how’s Cassandra did it with GenConnects.
Despite many challenges meets along the way, her persevering spirit is inspiring. She shared with me how hard it was to achieve sales for her multisensorial game for persons with dementia (MATCHLINK), as nursing homes and hospitals only bought 1 or 2 sets. However, she really believed that the product would benefit the elderly, and winning numerous awards was a testament to it. She’s set on improving her product, and has plans to further her research in this area. Here’s her story:
Why did you start GenConnects?
Cass: I started creating and developing games for Dementia because my grandpa forgot how to come home, a home he’s been living in for more than 50 years. It was very scary looking at how he has changed over the years and the idea of him losing his memories or forgetting close family members was very painful. This prompted me to do something. Through my undergraduate studies and URECA, NTU’s undergraduate research programme, I discovered my passion for research and creation.
How did you start GenConnects?
Cass: I started through an undergraduate research programme in 2015 and a year-long collaboration with a local hospital. Through observational studies, shadowing and sharing sessions with stakeholders I was able to create various versions of the prototype. After three iterations, my co-founder and I put our savings together to get this going.
How did you assemble your team?
Cass: The team consists of my co-founder, Cheng Yu, and myself. We met while volunteering at the local community centre. Cheng Yu has a passion for serving the community and has been a grassroots leader for the past seven years. We both have the desire and capacity to give back to our community which was why it was a really good fit.
What are the Challenges you face?
Cass: The biggest challenge we face was getting enough funding to go at a good pace. Running a start-up can be pretty difficult as you have to be able to handle many job roles effectively and efficiently. Another challenge was the difficulty in reaching the right people as we were really new in the industry.
What keeps you going?
Cass: My passion lies in learning, exploring, discovering new ideas and solutions for vulnerable groups within our society; the elderly, economically disadvantaged and minority groups. Often, these are the people who genuinely need our help to empower, enrich and ease their lives.
The number of persons with dementia is rising rapidly worldwide due to higher life expectancy and it is essential to delay the onset and prevent further incidents of the disease. It spurs me on knowing that I can make a difference, that I can create a positive effect that snowballs into something greater.
What’s your dream?
Cass: I want to celebrate having the right dynamic in the team, great partners who are open to new innovative ideas and willingness to support us. I’m also grateful for the company growing steadily as a startup.
What do you want to achieve?
Cass: I hope to be able to create products to enrich and enhance people’s lives. When it comes to career ambitions, I do not think about it from the perspective of specific positions. Personally, an ideal life for me would be one where I can contribute to solving problems that neglected groups have through my work.
If you had a magic lamp which will grant you a wish, what would you ask for?
Cass: I wish for everyone to believe and to make a difference in any way, for our environment and our community!
How can the community/public support you?
Cass: It would be wonderful if the community can support us in implementing new community spaces that are dementia friendly, educating each other more on dementia prevention and changing social stigma about dementia.
Let us know who you want us to cover next! Got a recommendation? Hit us up, we’re always listening. We’d be happy to discuss about the initiatives you want to start too!
/Written by Amelia Lim, Chief Storyteller at UNFRAMED./