Image

Techleap.nl Updates

Yves Prevoo, Founder & CEO @Easee – bringing eye care to the masses

Pete Dreyer

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Last but certainly not least in our Rise Program interview series we chat to Easee CEO and founder Yves Prevoo about his mission to make eye care accessible to everyone, in the comfort of their own homes.

Image

How long has it been since you had your eyes checked? A month? A year? Never? Eyecare is an afterthought for many of us, but the numbers are crystal clear; 4.3 billion people globally need regular eye care – that’s over half the world’s population. 

So, why do we neglect our eyes? Maybe you think your eyesight is fine so you don’t need a checkup, or perhaps booking and attending an eye test seems like too much hassle when your sight seems fine. The truth is, we all need regular eye tests to maintain good health, but most of us only go to see an eye specialist when we’ve already developed issues.

Through Easee, Yves Prevoo wants to change that. By allowing you to take an eye test in your own home, Easee makes vision tests and regular checkups accessible to everyone. Easee has been clinically validated by University Medical Center Utrecht, so you can test yourself safe in the knowledge that you’re getting exactly the same level of care as you would get at your local optician, and Easee will issue you a prescription just a few hours later. 

It’s fair to say, home testing is a revolutionary moment for global eye care. The realisation dawned on Yves whilst he was working at Pfizer – a multinational pharmaceutical corporation where he spent almost 10 years. ‘I was actually doing an executive MBA in the US and Germany at the time,’ he says, ‘and it got me thinking about my career. I wanted to find something where I could really have an impact on the world.

 

Image

‘At the same time, I was working on a project in the optical industry as part of the MBA program. What we saw was a total lack of innovation there – if you wanted glasses, you still had to go to a store to have an eye exam. I figured, if we could decouple the eye exam from the sale of glasses, then not only could you buy glasses online, you could also test yourself at home.’

It was the perfect realisation at the perfect moment in time – a ‘moment of clarity,’ he says. ‘It really reflected my personal situation,’ he says. ‘I felt that if I wanted to make an impact on the world, I had to be willing to leave everything else behind.’ So, he did. Yves left his secure, well paid job to pursue an idea that he admits, wasn’t even guaranteed to work. ‘We didn’t know if we would be able to build the technology,’ he shrugs. ‘The outcome was very uncertain, but it was an adventure. That was a really life-changing decision for me.’

Successful though Easee is now, things didn’t come easily at the beginning. As a small startup in a huge industry, Yves was more or less on his own and had to fight to be taken seriously by specialists. ‘It was hard work,’ he nods. ‘Especially in the early stages – you don’t get a lot of recognition or positive feedback, and because you’re so small you don’t have any leverage to negotiate with potential clients.’

‘I knew from working at Pfizer that having an impact in the medical sector is an uphill battle. When we first started developing our technology, we consulted with lots of optometrists, eye doctors and opticians who all said it could never work. They didn’t think the tests could be done accurately with our system, but technology has evolved to the point that we can standardise how images are viewed on screens. Once we proved in clinical trials that the system worked, and that it was just as accurate as going to an optician, that was huge for us.’

Image

As well as providing easy, free checkups for home patients, Easee now works with a raft of partners in both healthcare and retail, helping to treat patients at the likes of Maastricht UMC+ and UMC Utrecht, whilst teaming with huge retailers like Mister Spex and GrandVision to provide accurate prescriptions for people who want glasses. Not only that, Easee has just kicked off a large multicentre clinical trial to show how it can be used in the aftercare treatment of cataract patients. ‘That medical space is definitely the future for us,’ says Yves. ‘We wanted to start by focusing on the highest volume procedure that there is, and that’s cataracts. All cataract patients have to have multiple checkups after the procedure; our value position is, those checkups could be done from home, and you only come in to see a specialist when there’s a problem.

‘It’s a super simple solution,’ he adds, ‘but because of the volume of cataract patients it provides huge value to society. We actually did a study and assessed that for cataract treatments in The Netherlands alone, replacing physical tests with at-home Easee tests could save €25 million a year.’

With Easee right on the precipice of realising it’s incredible potential, the company was a natural fit for the Rise Program. Though he admits that he’s always been sceptical of accelerator and incubator programs, Yves felt that Techleap was a different proposition. ‘I’ve never been convinced about the amount of time and effort you invest versus what you get out of it,’ he shrugs, ‘but even during the selection process for the Rise Program, I noticed that the Techleap team made a lot of effort to find out about our business and come up with valuable insights and advice for us.

As well as providing easy, free checkups for home patients, Easee now works with a raft of partners in both healthcare and retail, helping to treat patients at the likes of Maastricht UMC+ and UMC Utrecht, whilst teaming with huge retailers like Mister Spex and GrandVision to provide accurate prescriptions for people who want glasses. Not only that, Easee has just kicked off a large multicentre clinical trial to show how it can be used in the aftercare treatment of cataract patients. ‘That medical space is definitely the future for us,’ says Yves. ‘We wanted to start by focusing on the highest volume procedure that there is, and that’s cataracts. All cataract patients have to have multiple checkups after the procedure; our value position is, those checkups could be done from home, and you only come in to see a specialist when there’s a problem.

‘It’s a super simple solution,’ he adds, ‘but because of the volume of cataract patients it provides huge value to society. We actually did a study and assessed that for cataract treatments in The Netherlands alone, replacing physical tests with at-home Easee tests could save €25 million a year.’

With Easee right on the precipice of realising it’s incredible potential, the company was a natural fit for the Rise Program. Though he admits that he’s always been sceptical of accelerator and incubator programs, Yves felt that Techleap was a different proposition. ‘I’ve never been convinced about the amount of time and effort you invest versus what you get out of it,’ he shrugs, ‘but even during the selection process for the Rise Program, I noticed that the Techleap team made a lot of effort to find out about our business and come up with valuable insights and advice for us.

Image

‘When we had the first session, it was clear very early that this was a program for really high-achieving scaleups,’ he adds. ‘The other 9 entrepreneurs in the batch were all of a really high calibre and the benefit of that is that we’re all facing the same battles. The openness with which we were able to share challenges and experiences with each other, made the program very valuable and really unique in The Netherlands.’

If there’s one message that has been unanimous among all of our first Rise Program entrepreneurs, it’s one of perseverance. There are no overnight successes. No-one stumbles on a great idea and suddenly makes lots of money; creating a company takes time and energy, and tenacity. Out of the first batch of Rise Program companies, Easee’s premise is perhaps the easiest to understand – it’s technology that allows everyone to test their eyesight at home – but it still took faith and persistence to make it happen. ‘That would be my north star as an entrepreneur,’ says Yves. ‘The success of a startup has something to do with the idea and the people involved, but I think it has the most to do with your own resilience and grit. There are times when you just have to keep going even though it feels like all the odds are against you.’

Even the best of us only have finite reserves of determination, he warns. ‘You need a lot of people around you that can support you,’ he adds, ‘not just your team but your partner, family, friends. I think that’s a requirement to bring out that inner resilience.’

Techleap.nl Rise Program

Yves was selected to join the Techleap.nl Rise Program. Do you want to join an exclusive group of entrepreneurs and take your company to the next level? Check your eligibility HERE

https://www.datocms-assets.com/18598/1590652746-frame-1-6.png