As a person whose father uses two pairs of glasses (one pair for reading and writing, and the other for watching TV) and one optical lens to perform his daily activities, I had a dream to create one magical eyeglass to replace all his other glasses.
Combining the knowledge I gained through my studies in Innovation and Technology Management at the University of Tartu with my computer science background, I started to approach the idea as an aim rather than a dream. Together with Murad, who was my course mate from undergraduate studies in Azerbaijan and is now also mastering software engineering at UT, we started to think of ways to turn this idea into reality.
With this in mind, our paths crossed with UT IdeaLab and its STARTER programme, which provided great support to us in the sense of helping to shape our idea into a tested business model. At the end, hard work, sleepless nights, and being dedicated to our aim resulted in the development of the minimum viable product of our magical eyeglasses, ZoomX.
ZoomX is an all-in-one eyeglass that resolves all your hassles. Controlled via mobile app, it allows a person to continuously adjust focus on the objects with respect to his/her vision. In other words, instead of buying three glasses, you can buy only one pair of ZoomX, and all you need to do is wear it, enter the app, and adjust focus. Moreover, as your vision gets better or worse in time, you don’t need to renew your glasses, but instead just change the focus of ZoomX.
You may have the best idea or even a ready product in the world. But if you don’t know how to turn this into a business by means of knowing who your customers are, how to reach and deliver your values to them, how to make money from it, then it does not go beyond a hobby and becomes useless.
NGAL, an intensive business development programme between Estonia and the US, helped us greatly in developing our project. Throughout the programme, we were surrounded by mentors and successful entrepreneurs and had a chance to learn from their experiences. Their feedback and advice helped us to define the scope of our project, validate our customers, identify different customer personas and segments, clearly state the values we propose, and identify channels to deliver those values to our customers.
During customer segmentation, we recognized that not all users are customers, and not all customers are users. Storytelling, on the other hand, was another contribution of the programme to us. We understood how important storytelling is in order to find a path to people’s hearts and spark an interest in your product. Gaining in-depth knowledge of team building, legal aspects, regulations, value streams, cost structure and so on were among the other things NGAL brought to us. We networked with key people in the ecosystem that would be helpful for us in different stages of our project.
NGAL was also unique in giving us a chance to experience travel, study abroad, cultural exchange, and hands-on experience in entrepreneurship all at the same time. The friendly atmosphere where all the teams helped each other to develop and improve their projects resulted in a fair competition, in which we won the second place and were awarded with a monetary prize of $2000. We want to invest this money in obtaining a patent for our solution.
On top of it all, I couldn’t have imagined that after swimming in the Atlantic ocean at noon, I would watch a baseball match at a stadium in the evening. That was a day that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
I would like to extend my thanks to the University of Tartu, UT IdeaLab, and the Harry and Reba Huge Foundation for bringing us such opportunities and unforgettable memories. All in all, I strongly encourage those who believe in their ideas to apply for NGAL and have the experience of a lifetime while turning ideas into reality.