Navi Team Spotlight

Navigating a Brighter Future for the Visually Impaired
The Garage
Aug 21, 2023
Two young entrepreneurs wearing white shirts and black hoodies pose in front of a wall with a colorful mural.

Navigating a Brighter Future for the Visually Impaired

By: Dani Savin

In a world where accessibility remains a paramount concern, Navi emerges as a beacon of hope, as they work to usher in a new era of independence and mobility for the visually impaired. Founded by two passionate advocates for assistive technology, Hyeyun Jeong and Taejune Yoon, Navi was inspired by a deep seated desire to eliminate the barriers faced by blind individuals in navigating urban landscapes. The company’s mission is clear: to empower blind people to live life without constraints, fostering a more inclusive and accessible world.

Hyeyun’s personal journey as someone keenly interested in assistive technology – coupled with stark observations of the lack of accessibility in both Korea and America – ignited the spark for Navi. Drawing attention to the fact that even in advanced societies like America, blind or vision-impaired individuals often encounter challenges at street crossings, Hyeyun and Taejune recognized the need for change. Shockingly, Chicago, a bustling metropolis, was found to be lacking even basic audible cues, placing visually impaired pedestrians at serious risk. Navi is determined to reshape this landscape.

Navi aims to revolutionize urban mobility for the visually impaired with a multifaceted solution: to create a safer experience for crossing streets, to empower individuals with the ability to navigate independently, and to promote awareness and understanding of accessibility among the general public. At the heart of this vision is the commitment to offer a more affordable alternative to traditional tools like service dogs, canes, and camera-based applications that have their limitations.

Navi stands out by virtue of its innovative approach. Traditional tools often fall short in delivering real-time information and seamless integration. In stark contrast, Navi’s intelligent assistant aims to provide a truly interactive experience. In the future, the app aims to extend its services beyond crosswalk assistance, connecting to map APIs to help guide users to their desired destinations.

Jumpstart has been a huge help to the Navi team, because in the words of Hyeyun, “I’ve been interested in entrepreneurship but was unsure how to get started because I knew nothing about business or startups. I heard about the program through some upperclassmen who participated in previous years, and I happened to have an idea I wanted to work on but had no idea how to get started. I learned more about the program and thought it’d be the perfect opportunity for me to jumpstart my idea with the resources and mentorship available!”

The road ahead for Navi is illuminated by a powerful commitment to development and growth. While the company’s immediate focus is on Chicago, its long-term goals extend to expanding its reach to cities beyond. The team is dedicated to refining their Minimum Viable Product (MVP), with plans to introduce advanced features that redefine navigation for the visually impaired. By combining cutting-edge technology with a resolute commitment to social change, Navi not only enhances the lives of the visually impaired but also enriches the fabric of our cities.

Dani is an incoming freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying Journalism and RTVF at the The College of Letters and Sciences. Dani joined the team at The Garage to help facilitate the 2023 Jumpstart Pre-Accelerator summer program, working as a key pillar of the community to assist in daily operations and event execution, curate content for digital, print, and video publication, and strengthen community bonds.

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