During the 2016 Olympics, it was a company from Tilburg that contributed to the athletic performances. Thanks to the Propeaq light glasses, athletes did not suffer from jetlag.
“It’s an inconvenience for regular people, but for a top athlete, it might mean the difference between winning or losing a medal,” says director Toine Schoutens.
Light influences our sleep-wake rhythm, our energy, our mood. This phenomenon has fascinated Toine for years. He first experienced the effects of light while he was working in healthcare. “It amazed me how extraordinarily it benefited people with a mood disorder.” Light therapy became the basis for his company FluxPlus.
One of the products is the Propeaq, which has a regulatory effect on disturbances of our biological clock. Built into the light glasses are four blue LED lights that – like morning light on a nice day – energize you. Those who wish to sleep, slide red lenses into the glasses at night. Red light simulates the setting sun, which makes us naturally sleepy.
FluxPlus developed the glasses and corresponding app partly at the request of international swimming coach Jacco Verhaeren. “Before, he used to lug light boxes around the globe,” says Toine. The Propeaq was first used during the Games in Rio. “We counsel 115 athletes from 5 countries, and 18 of these actually won a medal.”
The company supplies not only products, but also counsel. Organizations working with night shifts like ANWB, Achmea, Holland Casino and several hospitals regularly call on Toine for advice. In 2014, partly because of FluxPlus, DJ Giel Beelen managed to break the radio broadcasting record.
FluxPlus depends on Dutch celebrities acting as role models. The company from Tilburg relies on word-of-mouth promotion and media exposure. “We are only a small firm with a limited marketing budget.”
The Propeaq was designed by a Dutch company and the built-in electronics are also ‘made in Holland’. The glasses are assembled in China. At the moment, the patented product is available in stores and webshops in nine countries (The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, United Kingdom, Ireland, China and Russia) and on platforms such as Amazon, Bol.com and eBay.
Though not a Tilburger by birth, Toine feels good in this city. He has his office at business park ‘t Laar. “A stone’s throw from my house.” That, however, is not the only advantage. Toine loves the entrepreneurial climate in the city. “It is businesslike, but neighborly.”
In his experience, the people and entrepreneurs of Tilburg are very approachable. “Especially if it’s done in a one-of-the-guys kind of way.” It is easy to establish contacts and get things done quickly. “But you also have to seize momentum yourself.” A final word of advice? “Make good use of the existing knowledge in this city.”
A new adventure
Propeaq will also be used during the Olympic Winter Games of 2018 in South Korea to reduce jetlag by teams and athletes from The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark.