EqualEyes is a mobile solution for blind and visually impaired that runs on a Android. Our solution is intended to replace single-purpose devices, by bringing their functionalities together in the shape of a smartphone.
1) How does 2ndSight work?
The product is a platform on top of Android and it consists of two parts:
– It features a specialized user interface that enables the blind to effectively use touch screens. It has been designed from scratch with thought on blind users first.
– Second part of the solution are apps that make everyday tasks easier for blind users. They share a unified UX and tackle a number of problems like communication, navigation, everyday tasks (reading, note taking…).
2) Where did the inspiration for EqualEyes come from?
The solution originated from my domestic environment, since my mum has sight problems. It was first presented as a concept for Imagine cup competition. Imagine cup is biggest student competition organized by Microsoft and tries to tackle problems facing humanity by using technology. We entered competition with Android solution and ended up between 18 best teams at worldwide finals in New York, among 350 000 students.
3) What charities and organizations are you working with to develop EqualEyes?
Ever since the Imagine cup competition we are working with local associations for the visually impaired and blind in Slovenia to help us develop the product. Now that we are in UK we have connected RNIB and we’ll soon start cooperation on more concrete level.
4) How long has EqualEyes been in the making, and who is the team behind EqualEyes?
We started as Imagine cup team in December 2010 but as we we’re all in Computer science masters class, we had to postpone opening of the company to finish the exams. The company in Slovenia was opened in January 2012 and we’ve been seriously working on the solution ever since.
The team consists of four founders Luka, Blaz, Zan and me Tine. We all have technical background but I’ve taken over business development. Our first Slovenian investor Tomaz acts as our consultant. We plan to add 2 to 3 people in next months, both on business and product development site.
5) You are currently based in the Wayra hub, what benefits have you received by being one of the companies in the Wayra hub?
There is a lot of stuff. First ones are definitely investment money and co-working space. Co-working space has especially benefited us since we’re foreigners and we had other teams helping us with movement to London.
Other benefits are:
– Mentors to help us and give us advice when needed. They also help with connections.
– Wayra team! Since they’re experts in various areas we use them for advise on different subjects. They help us with their connections, especially inside Telefonica/O2. We also have weekly progress reports and monthly sessions with them.
– Telefonica/O2 partners: because we’re a mobile startup it’s bonus for us to see partners of O2 showing up in our booth. We had a chance to present our solution to various partners including some ODMs inside Android ecosystem.
– Telefonica/O2 infrastructure: having access to 20 million O2 users in UK and infrastructure helps every startup on their way.
– Lectures from interesting guest speakers that Wayra invites. Guests vary from tech people to marketing and/or just plain awesomeness.
– Networking: meeting new people that might help you immediately or somewhere in the future.
6) What has been your biggest challenge so far at EqualEyes?
There isn’t only one big challenge, but rather a couple of smaller but critical ones. We needed to get the product working reliably and add enough features so that users will use it as everyday phone. We’re getting there with first public testing just around the corner. Another challenge in movement to London and establishing efficient connection between Slovenian product development and UK based business development.
7) In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with EqualEyes?
We want to enter UK market and establish our brand in the UK by the end of 2012. International expansion will follow afterwards.
If everything goes to plan we’ll also enter related markets such as elderly and people with different disabilities. There are a lot more opportunities, but we want to get it right with our first audience right now.
8) If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Doing stuff is more important than being super smart; don’t excuse yourself by being ‘unrewarded genius’. Save real problems: Americans don’t need their 3rd burger for half a price. World has bigger problems. Go outside your usual zone, there isn’t one only way to get to desired goal; use your imagination.
- How to prepare a pitch (thestartupmag.com)
- The Scottish Tech Start Up Scene (thestartupmag.com)
- Can any startup be a Lean Start Up? (thestartupmag.com)