Tsvetanova at the FACE panel discussion in Prague. Photo: FACE/Guillermo Verdejo
Austrian startup develops tablet for the blind
The Local · 21 Mar 2016, 17:03
Published: 21 Mar 2016 17:03 GMT+01:00
An Austrian startup led by a young Bulgarian woman has created an innovative technology for the blind -- a smart tablet which displays results using braille.
“When I told my mum that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, she asked me if I was crazy!
"There were a lot of discussions at home, but today my family is happy because I’m happy,” explained Kristina Tsvetanova early in March at an entrepreneurship panel in Prague.
Kristina is the CEO and Co-founder of BLITAB Technologies, a company that has designed the world’s first tablet for blind and partially impaired people.
By using "smart liquids", the device displays small physical bubbles converting text into Braille and representing graphic elements with tactile relief.
BLITAB won in 2015 the “Best European Social Startup” and the “Creative Business Cup”, among many other prizes. However, setting up the company wasn’t an easy task for the founders.
“Nobody believed in my idea of creating innovation in the social area in Bulgaria, especially for disabilities. Nobody supported me, neither the government nor the public bodies. Even my family didn’t believe that this would happen.
So, with the right people, with the right co-funders, we moved from Bulgaria to Vienna, where we established our company,” said Kristina.
She told The Local "I am 27, and I moved to Vienna in 2012 because I had the idea of a tablet for blind people in Bulgaria, but at that time nobody believed that this is possible, nobody supported me."
"Bulgaria is the last country in innovations in the EU according INNOVATION iNDEX 2015. All this led me to the thought that I have to leave the country or my idea will never be a product."
"That's why I moved to the heart of Europe to develop my idea from scratch. I do not regret that now BLITAB Technology Ltd is an Austrian company and one of the top enterprises with social impact."
"And if you ask today somebody about the tablet for blind in Bulgaria, everybody knows the innovation from BLITAB."
Product concept image for the BLITAB. Photo: BLITAB
Nowadays, BLITAB is an award-winning startup that has achieved great recognition. As Tsvetanova explained, “now, we already have support from Bulgaria, from the presidency, the government and the social ministry there, and I believe many people worldwide saw the potential of social entrepreneurship.”
A very common fear among new entrepreneurs
The story that Kristina shared is the same that many entrepreneurs experience when, at the beginning of their journey, they don’t get the support they expect from their family and friends.
According to a research carried by experts at the FACE Entrepreneurship (Failure Aversion Change in Europe), one of the most common fears new entrepreneurs have to face when starting up is the social fear.
Founders are often afraid of being exposed to their friends, family and co-workers, who may doubt or even laugh down their intended idea. Moreover, potential entrepreneurs fear that, if they fail, they may be considered a failure for life and may not be given further opportunities.
To help others overcome their social fears, Kristina participated in a panel and networking session organized by FACE Entrepreneurship and entitled Face Prague.
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The event took place at the Ministry of Industry in Prague, and it counted with the participation of three other renowned entrepreneurs: Ragnar Sass, Marek Fodor and Dennis Tan.
Fighting fear of failure in Europe
The four speakers shared the doubts they faced when explaining their beloved ones their decision to embark on the entrepreneurial path and all of them agreed on the need to challenge the concept that Europeans have of failure.
“Being an entrepreneur is actually about identifying our failures, acknowledging that we are doing mistakes, learning from them and never doing the same ones again”, concluded the panel’s moderator Vitek Horky, Brand Embassy's co-founder and CEO.
FACE (Failure Aversion Change in Europe) Entrepreneurship is a European Commission campaign born in the framework of the Horizon 2020 Programme to challenge the concept of failure and to promote ICT entrepreneurship among young Europeans through the understanding and confrontation of the most common fears they face. The Spanish Communication Group Grupo Secuoya leads the project, which also counts with the support of Telefonica Open Future and Microsoft Bizspark.