Dot takes top prize at Slush Tokyo pitch for braille smartwatch

30 Mar 2017

Tokyo skyline. The Slush Tokyo pitch event was won by Dot Inc. Image: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Dot Inc landed top spot at Slush Tokyo’s pitch contest, with judges enamoured by its potential for a huge market.

A maker of medtech devices for the visually impaired, Dot Inc was selected as top of the class at Slush Tokyo today (30 March).

Seeing off competition from 75 other start-ups, Dot was praised for having “a lot of passion, a huge market, and the will to do amazing things in the world”, all leading to its latest success.

Dot produces a braille smartwatch, targeting the hundreds of millions of visually impaired people that it claims were left behind by modern technology companies.

Dot is an active braille device, connected to smartphones via Bluetooth. It can receive any text information from apps, with buttons allowing users to input information of their own.

“I want to thank you all for giving me the opportunity to make a difference. Let’s change the world together,” said Eric Kim, founder and CEO of the company, after receiving the prize.

In winning the competition, Dot took home 10,000,000 yen, split evenly between straight cash from Recruit and an investment by Kotaro Chiba and Paul Bragiel.

The other finalists for the pitch-off included Elsius Biomedical, and Macrospace.

Elsius, a Canadian company founded in 2015, specialises in developing technology to improve current clinical systems., founded in March 2016, makes it easy for brands to discover, connect with, and pay influencers to share inspiring stories. MacroSpace uses robotics and VR to help synchronise a human to a humanoid robot via the internet.

In Ireland, the start-up environment is thriving. Enterprise Ireland’s touring pitch event, for example, is taking in seven stops around the country as it seeks out the next Stripe or Movidius.

Not to be outdone, the Northern Ireland pitch scene is bustling, too.

A programme called Upstart has opened a call for this year’s pitch event, with £50,000 on offer in prizes, including £10,000 in cash.

Seeking start-ups operating in AI, data, cyber, fintech, SaaS and the internet of things, the organisers are accepting companies of all shapes and sizes, from new ideas to post-investment.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic