- Be My Eyes — a mobile app that enables anyone to assist visually impaired people through live video calls — announced it has raised $2.8 million in Series A funding
Be My Eyes — a mobile app that enables anyone to assist visually impaired people through live video calls — announced it has raised $2.8 million in Series A funding. This round of funding allows the company to further develop its unique business model while keeping the visual support service free and unlimited for visually impaired users.
“As we grow and age, we all need help seeing at some point,” stated Be My Eyes CEO Christian Erfurt — who co-founded the company with a legally blind craftsman named Hans Jørgen Wiberg in 2014. “It’s been a pleasure to see that not only do people want to give their time to support this large population – but companies want to make their customer service offerings more accessible. For them, we’ve built a simple but beautiful tool.”
This round of funding was led by Cultivation Capital. And Be My Eyes also announced it welcomed new Paul Weber and Michael Buckley. Be My Eyes has been previously backed by angels and investment funding from Singularity University, the founders of Zendesk and the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco.
How does it work? Be My Eyes calls a real person on-demand to describe what’s in front of a blind user’s camera. Initially, the service was supported entirely by volunteers. And now the company is partnering with companies to provide expert-level support through a new feature in the app (Specialized Help). Microsoft signed on as the company’s first video support partner in 2018 followed by Google, Lloyds Banking Group, and Procter & Gamble. Companies are able to provide Specialized Help globally or by region and support services are free to Be My Eyes users.
“In call centers around the world, we’ve seen the Be My Eyes software greatly reduce ticket handling times and increase satisfaction rates, from both support agents and blind or low vision callers,” says Alexander Hauerslev Jensen, Chief Commercial Officer at Be My Eyes. “What’s more, each call that a company receives brings attention to parts of the product or service that can be designed more inclusively.”
In the first year, Specialized Help received very positive reviews.
“The Google Disability Support team is thrilled to be building a more accessible support experience through the Be My Eyes app,” added Kyndra LoCoco, Partner and Programs Manager at Google Accessibility. “It’s our hope that others join us on this journey.”
Be My Eyes has a community of users that has doubled in size each year since 2015. And Be My Eyes’ “micro-volunteering” platform has become beloved amongst blind and sighted users alike. Plus Be My Eyes has amassed what amounts to the world’s largest global community of visually impaired people (nearly 200,000) and a volunteer community many times that size (more than 3.5 million).
“Be My Eyes is a great example of how technology can help bring communities together and empower people who are blind or with low vision,” explained Neil Barnett, director of inclusive hiring and accessibility at Microsoft. “By working together with Be My Eyes, their incredible sighted volunteers, and the growing community of organizations participating in the Specialized Help program, we can help more people around the world live independent lives. We are honored to be part of this vibrant community and provide support for all of their customers through our Disability Answer Desk services.”
Here is a video of how it works: