Hats off to him. Pun intended. And if ever I get a hole in my skull, I want Maikel Beerens to fix it. It looks great and you don't even have to be afraid that your hair looks untidy because the plastic prosthesis fits invisibly into the skull. I've stroked it gently with my hand and feel almost nothing. So I can be fully confident that I won't look as if I'd starred in Abel Ferrara's film 'Driller killer'.
Our turnover enables us to help more patients throughout the world.
Don't forget that we're just a manufacturing company", says inventor and founder Maikel Beerens. "We have to generate turnover which enables us to help more patients around the world."
He wants to help. It's in his blood
Xilloc, the company that Maikel Beerens has devoted his heart and soul to, now has five team members. He already has twenty-five hospitals as customers and is main supplier to twenty of them. He works (and sometimes lives) in the Biopartner incubator on Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus. Half of the faculty building houses young start-ups in every possible area. There are twenty-eight of them who meet regularly, share knowledge and experience, and have easy access to the university and the wide range of research it offers.
"We don't come from a nursing background but we focus on the patient all the same. Sometimes it's as if I have two different jobs: one in health care and one in research and technology."
A perfectly fitting skull implant
"Do you want to see it?" and he leaves the room only to return a little later, not with a colleague called Marc but with the replica of Marc’s skull. Plus a perfectly fitting implant more than ten centimeters in diameter on one side and with a messy, bumpy piece of skull on the other side.
Of course, this is very much a niche market. Nevertheless, that may protect Xilloc from big, rich competitors who only look at economies of scale and decide that it can't work. But can it work? It's not as if this technology will be reimbursed automatically. Xilloc makes it work!
Maikel studied medical technology because he wanted to do something technical and help people. These two things have now come together. Building a pump for the pond in the garden or and a pump to drain blood is the same technology, but in a much more interesting area.
Boundless commitment and irrepressible creativity
Maikel is honesty personified. He began his studies in a rather unpromising way. He had difficulties reading, concentrating and—tempted by the freedom of independent living as a student—his attention tended to wander. Looking back on that now, it’s easy to see an independent spirit who could not express his boundless commitment and irrepressible creativity in the classical confines of a university.
He was reprimanded. But fortunately for us and our potentially breakable skeletal system, the penny dropped in the nick of time when his weight passed 92 kilos and he looked in the mirror and thought 'this isn't me'.
His CV reads like a match report
From that moment on, his CV reads like a sports report. He won the prize for the best thesis in the Netherlands that year. He lost 21 kilos. He decided to commit himself fully to work for Maastricht University within the company Maastricht Instruments for three years but was already dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur. When he was offered a permanent post there—the endless settled-for-life perspective in one of the most permanent posts in the Netherlands—he woke up with a start. And this time he was completely awake.
The feeling continued to nag him. What did he really want? He asked himself if he would still be striving to invent one great idea after the other in thirty years, or would he have his own company?
What appeals to him at Brightlands is the shared initiative and the real engagement with maximum space for individuality.
Real engagement and space for individuality
That’s when the real work starts. Don't think that the job is complete as soon as you have the key to your new office in your pocket.
There's a lot going on here—at Biopartner alone, half of which houses exciting start-ups. The place is full of unbridled energy, dynamism and people who are building on their dream. It’s an attractive place to see.
Maikel spends entire nights there regularly. "Yes, if I've worked on a product or presentation until six in the morning, I don't feel much like going home. Then I sleep downstairs here where we have a really comfortable sofa. The university takes a bit of a dim view of that but maybe they'll finally see it as a natural side-effect of their own success."
Results achieved in the past offer a guarantee for the ones in the future
Beerens has learned that when you approach new challenges with the same amount of passion, energy and the right mindset as you did with your achieved challenges, you will have the new positive outcomes in your own hands.
As a small company, Maikel does not want to shoot his mouth off too much but he has a strong impression that big organizations largely create their own problems by innovating too little. You should do it if only for the young talent that you attract. Perhaps there's a useful tip in there. He is always on the move. When he's in his car, he listens to the book Good To Great by Jim Collins on YouTube. Or he takes a Spanish course.
So what's on the horizon? "I've just emerged from the starting block but I do have an idea about how I want to run this company. I believe that a company should be able to look after itself for the foreseeable future. My aim since the start of the company is have it functioning without me within five years."
I believe that a company should be able to look after itself within the foreseeable future.
And what about Marc—the man with the trapdoor in his skull? Did he pull through? Did he ever! But what is even more important is that he has become entirely different to what he had ever dared hope for. In fact he is just Marc. As if nothing had ever happened.