Planting the Seed
Contributed by: Sam Ifergan, President and CEO, iGan Partners
The Important Role Early Stage Funding Plays in Growing Canada’s Digital Health Sector
As an entrepreneur and investor, it’s not every day you have the opportunity to work on a world-changing project. So many factors need to line up; not just the product, technology and its impact, but finding the proper funding, talent, and opportunity to capitalize.
In 2014 when iGan Partners first heard about a Canadian venture promising to bring sight to the blind, we were obviously skeptical. But after witnessing the technology and examining the opportunity including a two-day visit at eSight’s Ottawa offices, we became believers. Their technology would be able to provide revolutionary improvements in vision for up to 85% of the legally blind. We knew that was too much of an opportunity to pass up. We also understood how important it was to do this right. The company had the technology in place, but still needed the management and funding to truly make an impact.
The first step of the process was moving head offices from Ottawa to Toronto, and in doing so transitioning from a culture of engineering and design to one of marketing and sales. We then secured the financing to move forward, and allow management to focus on launching their first low-vision electronic glasses.
A key challenge was finding the best management team for the job. We told our recruiting firm to not just focus on Canadian candidates, but to identify the best available talent. We decided to recruit Brian Mech because of his extensive experience with the legally blind community in the U.S. and the role he played in designing the retinal implant that Second Sight used to go public.
Stamp of Approval
In February of 2017, eSight 3 was launched, and became the gold standard for head-worn sight restoring technology. The launch was featured in more than 120 media outlets including The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. Since then it has changes the lives of thousands of visually impaired individuals and their families.
The next challenge was then getting the stamp of approval from leading Ophthalmologists. We completed a robust clinical study with leading institutions that demonstrated unprecedented improvements in sight. We then began to scale in North America with a larger team and also received CE Mark and built European distribution. Today, eSight is available in almost 40 countries.
Vision for the Future
iGan and eSight are poised to take on the breakneck pace of both marketing and design in the digital health space, with a commitment to relentlessly innovating and patenting. Our goal is to dominate the low-vision marketplace, and we see our world-leading visualization team’s work making its way into other applications, especially augmented reality.
This is exactly the kind of venture iGan was created to help. eSight’s exciting tech, untapped market, and extraordinary potential for impact make it a candidate for boundless success. All it needed was the proper guidance and funding, which is where we shine.
How eSight Works
- A high-speed, high-resolution camera in the middle of the eSight electronic glasses captures what a user is looking at in real time.
- eSight’s powerful computer instantly processes the high definition video and displays it on two OLED screens in front of the user’s eyes using cutting edge optics.
- eSight’s proprietary algorithms enhance the video feed.
- The video is presented in such a way, that it allows the user to see again in real-time
- Full color video images can be clearly seen by the eSight user with unprecedented visual clarity and no perceptible latency or delay.
- With eSight’s patented capability, users can adjust the eye wear to the precise position that, for them, presents the best view of the video while maximizing outer peripheral vision (which is often still functional for people with low vision). This, along with imperceptible short latency, ensures that a user’s balance is not disturbed and, hence, no nausea occurs– common problems with immersive technologies such as virtual reality headsets. Perhaps more importantly, it is the Bioptic Tilt that allows eSight users to be mobile while using the device.
- Only 15% of legally blind people are completely without vision; this device can be life-changing for the other 85%.
About Sam Ifergan
Sam Ifergan is the President and CEO of iGan Partners, a Toronto-based venture group focused on healthcare IT, medical imaging, B2B data-driven SaaS. He has over 20 years of entrepreneurial, technology and venture capital experience. Prior to founding iGan Partners, he co-founded several companies in the medical device, internet and telecom sectors. Sam holds an MBA from the John Molson School of Business and a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from McGill University.
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