Just under two years ago, Yvonne Coolen and her husband Hans van Montfort were on the point of retiring. However, their eldest daughter suddenly suffered severe hair loss, with no obvious cure. Hans, himself a doctor, launched a research programme to develop an effective serum. This led to the foundation of a new business, Van Montfort Laboratories, that now aims to conquer the entire world from its base in Maastricht, with the hair serum Esthecin (‘developed for Esther’).
Yvonne Coolen, now CEO at Van Montfort Laboratories, admitted that it seemed quite illogical to start a new business right at the end of your career. Nonetheless that is exactly what they decided to do, once they were convinced of the effectiveness of their discovery. “We paid for everything ourselves, and stood on our own feet, right from the start. From the very first days we believed in our product, and it is fantastic that it can now be used to help so many people. The fact that we can boost people’s self-confidence is our greatest source of satisfaction.”
Esthecin is manufactured using natural, plant-based ingredients. The serum is registered as a cosmetic product rather than a medicine. As Yvonne explained, “If you want to produce a medicine the route to market is completely different. The most important thing, however, is that Esthecin works.” By massaging the serum into the scalp, the roots and hair follicles are nourished. That then improves the quality of the hair. “The product is suitable for treating both androgenic and telogen hair loss: in other words in cases where hair follicles are still present,” explained Yvonne.
Van Montfort Laboratories is based on the Brightlands Health Campus Maastricht (BHCM). “This is a great place to be thanks to the opportunities for cross-pollination with other companies,” continued Yvonne. For the production of Esthecin, we are collaborating closely with our ‘neighbours’, CRB Benelux, a scientific laboratory for personal care products. The parent company of CRB is based in Switzerland and that is where Esthecin is actually produced.”
The road to entrepreneurship
The rapid development of their business meant that Yvonne and Hans have had to learn the skills of the entrepreneur quickly. The Maastricht Business Contact Centre assisted Van Montfort Laboratories by introducing them to financial institutions for financing their business, and by increasing their name awareness. “We both have a background in care; neither of us was conversant with the world of business. If I had known how much work was involved in starting this business, I would perhaps never have taken the plunge. On the upside, we learn something new every day and we are backed up by a team of young people. For marketing, design, ICT and logistics, we work together with local, small businesses. In other words, we are helping create job opportunities in Maastricht and, partly thanks to the publicity for Esthecin on various TV programmes, we have become a calling card for the city.”
The success of Esthecin is such that an eyebrow and eyelash serum will soon be launched. “Although Van Montfort Laboratories is a healthy business, we aim to take the backseat in a year or two’s time. Our company has all the potential to become a worldwide player but if we hope to upscale to that level, then we will have to be taken over by a large company.”
More info: www.esthecin.com