From left to right: Cassandra Seah (Founder) & Cheng Yu (Co-Founder)
When her grandfather began having memory lapses and even forgot how to come home, Cassandra Seah was prompted to do something. She then began creating and developing games to help patients who were stricken with dementia. Through her undergraduate studies and NTU’s undergraduate research programme (URECA), she discovered her passion for research and creation.
With a compassionate heart for the community, Cassandra also regularly volunteered her time with the local community centre. That was when she met her co-founder Cheng Yu, who had been a grassroots leader for over 7 years. Recognising that their passion to give back to the community were aligned, the duo founded GenConnects.
GenConnects creates products and installations that aid in the rehabilitation of dementia patients. Their aim is to build an ecosystem that enhances dementia care, amalgamating sensory, cognitive and motor stimulation through fun games. By adapting the application of multi-sensory stimulation (MSS), GenConnects aims to facilitate sensory learning and slow down the onset of dementia. This is achieved through their two key products, MatchLink and SenseLink.
MatchLink is a multi-sensorial cognitive game for dementia patients or seniors at risk of dementia. The game is made up of 24 sensory plates that are textured and colored, with 8 different levels of play. It is primarily used by occupational therapists and caregivers to engage the elderly in an interactive way, increasing their functional and cognitive ability stimulation. A unique feature of the game is its scoring system, which allows caregivers to track and monitor the patient’s progress. This is complemented by a profiling service that tracks sensory and cognitive scores recorded from the game.
SenseLink is a cognitive and multi-sensory wall and space installation that seeks to add color and stimulations to empty plain walls in medical facilities, creating a livelier and fun environment. SenseLink installations has cognitive and motor tasks embedded within, incorporating the use of sense of smell, touch, sight and hearing when the patient interacts with it. The incorporated activities take into account the use of cognitive skills, such as memory, coordination, constructional and orientation skills.
Cassandra shares, “I hope to be able to create products to enrich and enhance people’s lives. I try to always incorporate three key things in my work: Lifting our community, conserving our environment and pushing for innovation.”
According to Alzheimer’s Disease Association, dementia has affected 50 million people worldwide, and this number is expected to rise to 82 million by 2030 and 152 million in 2050. As one of the fastest ageing populations in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is poised to see the number of dementia patients double by 2030.
Of course, Cassandra had faced a fair share of struggles in building her business from scratch. She shares that obtaining funding for scaling was a challenge. Besides, they had to get connected to the right individuals in order to gain a foothold in the industry.
When asked to advise fellow startup entrepreneurs, Cassandra shares, “ Running a start-up is risky, you have to be very flexible and change quickly to suit market needs. It is also important to stay humble and open to learn.”
Visit GenConnects’ website to find out more about their work.