StartUs Presents: BatSuite

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BatSuite is a device for visually impaired people. Find out below how it aims to replace the white cane and provide the blind with an extra sense!

Describe BatSuite in 50 words or less.

BatSuite is a wearable device that helps blind people feel their surroundings. The device translates echo sonar into vibrations and sound. These notifications alert the users about obstacles in their surrounding and thus improve their mobility and safety.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

It could be a coincidence as well as our general mindset. We started with this project at Startup Weekend Vienna, where we decided to find a useful application for hardware we brought with us. After some brainstorming we came up with the idea of improving the life quality of the blind and visually impaired and to build BatSuite. During the weekend we already managed to validate our idea twice. First it was validated by the blind who told us that such a device would be really useful for them. The second validation came from the Startup Weekend jury which placed our team among the winners. These two validations gave the whole team a significant kick to continue working on the idea and to pursue our dreams of making the world a better place!

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

The market and segment which we decided to enter is quite specific. At an early stage we have identified a couple of problems that we will have to face. First of all, most of the blind people live in developing countries and thus have very limited financial resources. There are 39 million blind people in the world and 19 million live in India. Moreover these people are often stigmatised by their disability, which makes them afraid to explore new places and meet new people.

Therefore we hope that we will be able to bring BatSuite to blind and visually impaired people all around the world and improve their life quality as well. It would be amazing to see these people get more out of this world thanks to our device. Moreover we hope that as it is common now to see the blind with a white cane, in 7 years it will be common to see them with BatSuite.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

I would say that there have to be constant traction and improvements with your startup. This needs to correspond with your project plan and its time frame. I cannot say that we are already successful but we are working hard on bringing the device to the people. We started in the middle of January and since then we got through an accelerator for hardware in Berlin, developed 4 new prototypes, got an angel investor, and right now we are negotiating for the series A round of capital. We hope that we are going to be successful with the negotiations, which should enable us to bring the first batch of BatSuite to the customers towards the end of the year.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.

There is nothing like a typical working day for us. This is due to the fact that we are still waiting for capital. Without it we are not able to finance our life without additional jobs. Therefore we do as much as possible during our free time, evenings and weekends. During the working week we do as much as possible in business development while many weekends are devoted to hackatons and hardware/software development. But we’re hoping that after getting some capital we will be able to devote our full time to the project and progress even faster.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the wearable device for the visually impaired like you imagined it in the beginning?

Not so far. We thought at first that the first version was going to fully substitute the white cane, but we found out later that it cannot. But the current version has proven to be very useful and it’s a great supplement to the white cane. Currently we are developing new hardware that would be able to do more precise measurements and thus it could fully substitute the white cane.

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?

For the first four month we were financing everything by ourselves. Now we’ve got an angel investor who joined our team at the end of May and is providing finances for the operation until the additional capital is going to be raised. Based on our forecast we will need at least one more capital round in order for the company to finance itself.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

I think that our idea and market of wearable and healthcare supplements are quite unique. Although there are various projects that are trying to put the same sensors in use, our team focuses on simple, affordable, and design. These three features differentiate us from other competitors. Moreover, we have been able to develop a broad network in Slovakia, Germany and Austria. Therefore I would say that staying focused and being part of a network help us make further progress.

What do you look for in team members?

Since Startup Weekend, our team has changed a bit because two members could not continue working with us. Therefore we had to look for two new ones who could substitute them if we wanted to continue. At this time, we were looking for members who could not only commit to the team and idea, but ideally also added some new skills to the team.

Why would a talent join your team?

At this stage I think a person has to have mainly the same mindset as we do. This means that they want to do social business and thus have a positive impact on society. They must share sympathy towards the cause we are supporting. The motivation and the vision to help are the key aspect which all of our team members possess. Without these personal traits, we would not be able to have such a quick progress.

What was your most memorable moment so far?

Each session where we meet with a blind person and test with them is quite memorable and a bit touching as well. It feels fantastic when you see that your device can really help people, and when it works the way it is supposed to. Although we’re developing the device closely with our customers, we will never be able to fully understand their disability and the world without sight. So it feels rewarding when we see that we are able to translate feedback from our customers into something really meaningful.

So far we have visited several associations for the blind and I have to say that each of them was memorable. The main reason is that there are so many inspiring and skillful people there who do not consider their disability to be a disability. And getting to know these people is giving us a lot of drive to continue.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

You definitely need to find a well-balanced team. The team members should have the same aspirations and be goal-oriented, as well as able to execute an idea. In our case we have people who focus on hardware, software, business development and general idea application.

Also, I have a feeling that the startup environment is often being exaggerated and some startups forget what they wanted to achieve in the beginning. Then they get sucked into the bubble of competitions, conferences and startup jargon rather than focussing on their customers’ needs.


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