S1 E13 BeSpecular – through the world’s eyes

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BeSpecular was spurned from the minds of 5 smart founders who had made it into the popular Stanford Tech Entrepreneurship course. What started out as a neat concept, soon became an end goal and is now a budding company. Stephanie Cowper and Giacomo are passionate about bridging the gap between the sighted and visually impaired, not only because of their personal connections but because about 11% of the world’s population is disabled. And as November is National Disability Awareness month and 3 December is National Disability day, this is an important platform for us all to explore.

using-the-app2 using-the-app app

Show Notes:

Look out for insights into the following:

1. The Founder’s backstory:

Despite Stephanie’s age, she has had quite a bit of local and international experience, around business and technology. And it was during her studies at Stanford that she BeSpecular found her.

2. Do I need to code to build a Tech Startup

Studying at the Stanford Technology Entrepreneurship course gave her the platform to find her co-founders and the concept that would become BeSpecular.

3. It’s a side hustle

The idea was born during her studies, but Stephanie and her co-founder, Giacomo Parmeggiani, had to return to reality post Stanford whilst growing BeSpecular.

4. How does BeSpecular work

BeSpecular uses technology built in smart phones to connect the sighted community with the visually impaired, helping them to be more independent.

5. Beta testing

Stephanie explains the benefits of Beta testing and gives some insight into how to get it started and how to find earlyvangelists.

6. When to grow?

When you have a great product, people will beg you bring it to them, but it is so important to make sure that you don’t lose focus expanding before you are ready to give the same consistent quality to all of your users. BeSpecular is managing this well, despite the constant requests to expand to new regions or languages.

7. How do we make money?

Sometimes your users may not be where your bread is buttered. BeSpecular is looking to become a Service As A Software (SAAS) company to make money, building communities within corporates.

8. Access is important

About 87% of the global population uses an Android phone, so if you are building an app, you can’t ignore that platform.

9. Segmenting your market

When you have a large total accessible market, choosing an area to focus on is always a good idea, before expanding to the rest of the market. BeSpecular has done this by focusing on the visually impaired, working on building a product to help them before expanding to other disabilities.

10. Being open (and able) to make quick changes

BeSpecular started out helping the blind, but then quickly realised that they had deaf and blind users, which added a whole new level of complexities to their process, but they quickly learnt what they could and made the necessary adjustments.

Significant quotes:

“It’s still human. At the end of the day, we’re still human interaction and that’s why we pride ourselves on our service and on people saying please and thank you from both sides for the service.”

“There are 7 billion people on the planet, and there are 1 billion people with a disability. So 1 in 7 people has a disability of sorts.”

Links Mentioned:

BeSpecular website
BeSpecular FaceBook page
National Disability Rights Awareness Month and International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Stanford Technology Entrepreneurship


About the author, Charlotte

Charlotte, or Charlie as she likes her friends to call her, is what you would call a multipotentialite or a jack of all trades if you must. She been an auditor, an English teacher, a consultant, an executive assistant and product manager. She loves to read, watch shows, learn, tries to exercise, eats a lot, travels and tries out new things.

Entrepreneurship excites her not only because of its capability to bring joy (read freedom) to entrepreneurs, but also because it can vastly improve a country or continent for the better.

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