Every one of us has someone in our lives who is not fully independent, relies on accessibility, and struggles with the limitations of their lives and their health everyday. How cool would it be if we could employ the vast advances we've made in technology to make a real impact and improve the lives of our loved ones even if just a fraction.
CyberTimez aims to do just that.
CyberTimez's big vision is to use the Internet of Things to be of service to others. Based in Leesburg, VA this young startup is working on three products that could one day dramatically change the way people with limited accessibility live their lives. CyberArmz enables physically impaired users to access cabinets, drawers and appliances using a voice-controlled wearable device. CyberEarz uses ‘reverse teleprompter' technology to enable hearing impaired users to convert speech to text that is viewable on Google Glass. CyberEyez restores mobility, employability, and independence to visually impaired users by enabling them to navigate, communicate and operate in a sighted world.
The CyberTimez team, Sean Tibbetts , Jeremy Reed, Rex Hall, Dave Richardson, and Justin Ryan; think wearable technology is the next big thing that will rock the consumer marketplace. With the rapid adoption of personal computers and mobile devices, the transition into wearable computing platforms is inevitable. While there is still a lot of work to be done by industrial and product designers, the CyberTimez team does see a clear path to the next user interface being with us at all times and in all places.
They believe they are onto something big and recently got validation for it at the NOVA Coders and Startups pitch event where they won not only the People's Choice award with the highest votes from the audience but also the Judge's 1st place award.
Tech Cocktail recently interviewed Sean Tibbetts , one of the founders, and got him to share the story of his journey with CyberTimez. Here is a snapshot of that conversation:
Which is the hardest lesson you have learned so far with CyberTimez?
While lots of ideas have merit and some may be brilliant the business of bringing a product to market is extremely challenging. Without a solid financial backing be it from grants, loans or investors no product will see the light of day. We are working hard to bring three products to market in 2015 and have to make hard decisions constantly as to which events we should participate in to demonstrate our capabilities while at the same time keeping our minimal budget at the forefront of every decision we make. We have bootstrapped everything we've done so far and know with a little more exposure to the right audiences we will find our financing solutions soon.
How does the team keep itself motivated?
Our products aim to change the lives of our users. We know that by notifying the hearing impaired to everyday and even dangerous sounds in their environments, helping physically disabled persons live more independently and securing the most valuable inventories for businesses that we really are changing the world. Our motto is “always in the service of others.” When tight deadlines and budget constraints come, we still go on knowing that our work makes a real difference in real people's lives.
Which commonly offered startup advice do you disagree with?
Don't quit your job before launching your startup. I think this is complete bunk. While it may be a “safer” road with less struggle to have a paycheck coming in, it also prevents you from being 100% focused on your idea, your business and your goals. If you have to spend 40+ hours a week meeting someone else's goals, then how long have you delayed meeting your own? Get enough in savings to support you for enough time to land your first customer and get to work! The lack of a paycheck is one serious motivating factor for late nights, early mornings and supporting meetings across multiple time zones. The reward you get when people review your product, presentation and business far outweighs any amount of money in a paycheck.
A piece of advice you wished you'd known when you started.
Keeping up with your schedule is really tough. Use all the tools at your disposal, because you're going to need them. Whether it's keeping track of companies that want to provide you services, companies that want your services or just the local groups and meetings that keep providing great contacts, managing an entrepreneur's schedule is a challenge in and of itself.
Which is the best book on entrepreneurship you've read that you would recommend?
How to Sell Anything to Anybody. This book is an excellent read for anyone that needs to understand how to get their point across to any audience.
Your best personality trait?
My tenacity. I don't ever give up on anything that I see has real value for real people. By continuing to be tenacious it keeps the passion for what I do at the forefront of my mind all the time. I actually get told on a regular basis that the passion comes through in my voice, emails and presentations no matter how much I try to keep it in check. By being tenacious about making a difference I have lit a passionate fire for technology in my soul that I thought had gone out a long time ago.
Any personal weakness you'd like to share?
My follow through skills suck :) I use a LOT of Google tools like Gmail, Tasks and calendar items to keep me on track. I also love a good whiteboard. I tend to get too many tasks on my plate that end up leaving me replying to emails a week or more later and that's not good. I am working to schedule my days in such a way that I have set blocks of time for replying to emails, scheduling meetings and reading the latest articles that apply to what we do.
Any particular advantage or disadvantage of living/working in your founding city?
The biggest advantage is access to non-profit organizations and associations with members that need the products we build. By partnering with them we are able to get noticed on a national scale very quickly with nothing more than a short drive, conversation and demonstration. Startup funding on the East coast is still very stifled and only obtainable by companies with historically familiar business models and measures.
You can learn more about CyberTimez from their website www.cybertimez.com and reach Sean @seantibb or firstname.lastname@example.org