IIT BHU Alumni Start-up Showcase Series: Eye-D

In continuation of the previous article of “IIT BHU Alumni Startup Showcase Series” which exhibits the entrepreneurial activities taking place among the institute’s alumni, we present you with the second article. In this article, we will share with you the story of Eye-D, a product of GingerMind Technologies developed by Mr. Gaurav Mittal, a 2010 graduate from the Department of Mathematical Sciences, IIT (BHU), Varanasi

Founded in Aug 2014 by Gaurav MittalSubodh Mittal, and Vaibhav Asthana, GingerMind.ai is a startup that incorporates Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Virtual Reality to help its users solve their everyday problems. One of their products, EYE-D is an artificial intelligence-based application that assists the visually impaired.

The team developed the app as a standalone solution to improve the life of the dim-sighted, and serve as a companion for their daily needs, and help them become more independent. The app offers different options for blind people to be aware of their location, their surroundings, navigate places, and readout printed texts. With 70,000+ active users globally from 160 countries, their product EYE-D helps users read over 1.5 lakh pages every month in 12 different languages.

Gaurav and his team have been greatly appreciated and encouraged for their work. GingerMind recently was selected among 8 startups from India to interact with Hon'ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi Ji during Startup India’s International Summit - “Prarambh-2021” on 16th January 2021. They also won the National Startup Awards 2020 by Startup India. Every winning team was granted a reward of Rs. 5 lakhs as a recognition to create a sustainable and scalable business that tackles complex problems in the country. They were also among the Top-7 Artificial Intelligence startups of 2020 by the Government of India's Atma Nirbhar AI Challenge. The product received the Best Innovator Award at the 8th India Innovation Initiative National Fair 2016. Their team won the ASSOCHAM ICT award for the year's social startup in 2017 and was also recognized as one of the top 50 emerging startups by NASSCOM in Sept 2019.


“One can get anything if he is willing to help enough others get what they want."

- Zig Ziglar

The journey started in 2012 when Gaurav visited the National Association for the Blind during Citrix's CSR days. Sitting among the visually impaired people there, a blind man approached him. He implored Gaurav to develop technology that could enable him to know the color of his clothes in the mornings. He wanted to wear shirts and pants that matched! Hearing this, Gaurav started to ponder how he could leverage the existing technologies to make day-to-day functioning easier for the visually impaired.

His colleagues and he then started to brainstorm and discuss the possibility of an authentic solution. Between 2012 and 2014, they developed seven hardware prototypes that performed different functions such as reading texts, enabling the users to know their location, and understanding the elements of their environment. In 2014, they received their big push when they received funding from Microsoft, Citrix, and Intel. With this money, they established their startup, GingerMind Technologies. In 2015, Gaurav left his job to focus on Eye-D full time.

Eye- D has always been grant-run. It is due to these grants that they are able to make it so affordable and even free for some. This wouldn’t have been possible had they gone to investors. Having left his job, and the rest of the team being freelancers, they faced financial troubles from 2015-2017. But these hurdles couldn't break their spirit, and they overcame it with their perseverance and hard work. Eye - D’s small team of 8-10, has not spent a single rupee on marketing yet. Due to the nature of their company and the originality of their product, they have observed a lot of exposure from NGOs and nonprofits, word of mouth, and newspaper journalists.

As for further plans, they are launching a new project, an Eye-D based Navigation Assistant. The 3% quota for physically disabled students remains vacant every year as visually impaired students have their autonomy jeopardized in many everyday tasks, especially those that involve moving through an unknown environment. They have to depend on others to navigate throughout their college life. To overcome this, Gaurav and his team will be mapping 150 top colleges in India to develop this application and help multitudes of students.

Gaurav motivates student entrepreneurs to go for startups with social impacts owing to the great potential in agriculture, sanitation, poverty alleviation, etc. Many NGOs as well as the government provide enormous support and help in the form of funds and grants. Taking a page from his learnings, "Plan and validate your revenue model early on. A startup shouldn't be your baby, don't be too attached." he says, adding "Treat it like an activity, be pragmatic, be practical."


This article has been prepared by Madhav IDD MnC 2024


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