Winning Verizon Powerful Answers Award has changed the trajectory of Smart Vision Labs. Before January, we were two guys, a big idea, and a prototype that barely could be called minimum viable product. On January 10, 2014, Verizon announced that we were the $1 million winner of Verizon Powerful Answers Award in healthcare category. The award and the recognition have dramatically accelerated the pace of the development of the product and company itself.
We started out to solve a big problem in developing countries where 500 million people are losing their vision due to uncorrected refractive errors. Our idea is straightforward—simply by taking a picture of the eye using your smartphone, the Smart Vision Labs technology can measure your refraction and tell you the lens power needed for your vision correction. Our idea is really about taking advantage of the sensor, computation power, and connectivity on the smartphone that sits in our pocket.
Like most startups, we were starving for resources. We learned about Verizon Powerful Answers Award from Frank Rimalovski’s tweet on the competition. It was no brainer for us to apply. Thanks for the business plan we wrote for the NYU New Venture Competition in spring of 2013, it was relatively painless to put together a well thought application for the Powerful Answers Award competition.
In October of 2013, we flew to Verizon Innovation center in San Francisco for the final pitch to a panel of judges. That was the first time that I felt this could be huge. In January 10th, Verizon announced the winners of the 3 categories in Healthcare, Education and Sustainability at CES in a live event. That event alone put Smart Vision Labs on the map of American startup world.
Since winning the award, we are able to attract top talents and build a team of top notch engineers to develop this exciting product. We are planning to send out our beta devices to Guatemala in summer for the first field service.
If you are one of startups in NYU community and planning to apply for the Verizon Powerful Answers Award (deadline is June 30!), feel free to reach out to us. We would love to see another winning team from NYU, as would Frank.