Proiectul Oculus is the Start-Up of five ambitious former JA students from Romania. With their idea of the Mitra Glasses they became the best Romanian JA company of in 2016 and received the AT&T Excellence in IT Award at the European JA company finals in Lucerne last year as well!
The Mitra Glasses are a device designed to improve the lifes of visually impaired people and to guide them idependently through their everyday life by using sensor technology and efficient algorithms.
This idea has also convinced the jury of the 5th Youth Entrepreneurship Award (YEA) in 2017 by AmCham EU and Junior Achievement Europe in which the young entrepreneurs had to compete against Start-Ups with much older leaders in charge and more experience in the real world market.
We were curious about how the young entrepreneurs are feeling like a week after the victory and called the Proiectul Oculus’ leader Tudor in Romania.
Congratulations Tudor to to winning the 5th annual Youth Entrepreneurship Award! Are you already back in your hometown?
Yes, Alex Simion, one of our Software Developers and me had to come back straight after the competition as we are in the middle of our final exams in high school. As we are schoolmates we went to the principal together and she fortunately gave us the permission to leave for a few days – even though we now have to do our practical exams this week.
What about the remaining teammates of Proiectul Oculus? Did you play Rock-Paper-Scissors to decide who’s going to fly to Brussels?
No, the decision was set quickly. Certainly, every single one of our awesome team would have loved to go. But we are in our final weeks of high school and of course we were happy when we got the invitation to the finals but we also got a little stressed out about what the schools would say and about the finals. So we decided as already mentioned.
How come you applied for the YEA in the first place?
We saw the promotion on facebook but it was Victor Dumitrache, an employee of JA Romania who gave us the final motivation to seriously apply. We started to do this “just for fun” and it turned out we had to face a lot of work – we had to really focus on writing a neat business plan and to meet the requirements but it looks like it totally paid off…
How did you feel during the competition itself?
It was great fun and at the same time so impressing to meet the other founders! Too funny, the founder of SocialSharks, Petr, he brought his wife with him to the finals and we’re just 18 and competing against him! The atmosphere was really friendly and we found ourselves betting on each other after the pitches – my teammate and I were uncertain until the very end who should win.
What exactly did every Start-Up have to do during the finals?
The main event were the pitches and the questions, both took five minutes each. We were surprised how interesting the questions were instead of super difficult. One question for example was about the weigh distribution of the glasses and we had not thought about this ourselves. Finally, this also helped us to get new inspiration.
The prize itself consists of two parts – mentorship and money, 10,000$ to be precise. I guess everyone is curious what you guys are going to do with the money…?
Well, I’m going to Miami…no just joking (laughs)!
We’re grateful to receive this prize as this gives us the ability to move this project from 80% to 100% completion!
We will be able to finish the Research and Development process as well as to realize a Kickstarter campaign to commercialize the Mitra Glasses. The Development itself was being realised with less than 5,000€, so 10,000$ giving us access to much more resources and help.
Regarding the mentorship – we are going to decide soon in which fields we would like to receive mentorship and AmCham EU is going to find us experts in this field.
As you’re now able to speed up the whole development process of the Mitra Glasses, could you already set an approximate date when the first pair is going to be available?
Our goal is to distribute the glasses via insurances, medical suppliers and the internet by the end of this year to provide low and middle-income customers with the Mitra Glasses. Until then we’re going to work on the finalization of the hardware and will start our studies in different countries – but thanks to clouds and the team spirit within the group we’re confident to manage all of this!