BE MY EYES THRIVES IN SILICON VALLEY

The idea was simple yet brilliant: giving the blind vision via app-based volunteers. In just one year Be My Eyes have received worldwide recognition, success and praise. We were proud to call them INDEX: Award 2015 Finalists and Investment Summer School candidates, but for the Danish born design, it’s only just the beginning…

Be My Eyes have come a long way since the release just last year. Since the INDEX: Award 2015, the organisation has been scouted, received substantial funding, and even branched out to the US! Named one of the best apps in 2015 by Popular Science, and in Social Tech Guide’s 2015 Nominet Trust 100, Be My Eyes is now thriving amongst thousands of other leading high-tech companies in the Silicon Valley.

Shortly after the organisation received seed funding from American and Danish investors last August, CEO of Be My Eyes, Christian Erfurt, relocated to San Francisco for new development opportunities, while Founder and app inventor, Hans Jørgen Wiberg, remains working from Denmark.

Last fall, Be My Eyes were selected along with six other international tech companies to take part in Singularity University’s Startup Accelerator programme. The programme is the first developed specifically for both profit and non-profit startups, and aims to leverage “emerging technologies to improve the lives of millions”. Commencing in September, the team attended a hands-on 10-week programme focused on accelerated learning in forecasting, prototyping, business fundamentals and fundraising. Be My Eyes also received generous grant funding to further develop the app.

According to Hans, the experience has been pivotal in their development and has “changed their perspective”. Specifically, Hans explained that it has helped the team clarify their understanding of their business, and their trajectory for the future.

“They see the world in this exponential way, and we’ve now realised that we’re part of this groundbreaking movement,” he explained.

“To describe it in a very simple way, we’re like Airbnb and Uber, in the sense that we provide a life-improving global service through simply providing a connection.”

“The potential you can see with this kind of technology is just amazing,” he added.

Looking ahead the team are planning a two-year runway to “develop and scale a sustainable business plan,” according to Hans. Currently, Be My Eyes is available in 140 different countries and in 80 different languages, but the team are constantly working to reach as many people as possible. They’re specifically looking forward to delivering the long-awaited request of Be My Eyes for the Android, which will be available this year.

“Right now we have 25,000 blind people signed up, and about 330,000 helpers signed up,” Hans said, but he also noted there are many others that still need help, adding that many visually impaired people still lack independence and aren’t realising their full potential. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide.

In the near future, the organisation may also look at providing a premium model for those who need further assistance. “The app will always be free, but we may eventually offer additional services for a small fee,” Hans said. “This will also help with keeping Be My Eyes viable as a business.”

 

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