In our technologically saturated world, with ever-increasing use of devices like smartphones and tablets, maintaining eye health has become a significant concern for all ages, from children to seniors. Yet, knowing your eye condition without a healthcare professional’s consultation is a challenge, especially for rural areas with insufficient medical infrastructure or individuals with limited mobility. beSUCCESS spoke with Kang Seok-myung, CEO of Pixelro, the company behind “Nenoon” – an innovative service that digitizes eye condition diagnoses via an app.
Q: Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, my name is Kang Seok-myung, the CEO of Pixelro. Our company develops medical and healthcare devices, and associated services. We’ve been in operation for 6 years, promoting our business domestically and internationally.
Q: You had a long tenure at Samsung Electronics. What motivated you to leave a stable job to start your own venture?
Samsung Electronics’ C-Lab program allows employees to develop their own products. I participated in the C Lab program three times and was mostly involved in creating healthcare services for TV or mobile devices. This ignited my interest in health issues and motivated me to create products that could prevent diseases in advance.
Samsung is a large corporation providing stable employment, but there were limited opportunities for personal product development. Thus, I sought the entrepreneurial experience, particularly for developing novel healthcare services such as senior services or nursing, which required field experience.
Q: Could you introduce your primary product developed in the C Lab and at your company?
At Pixelro, we’ve developed a film that corrects farsightedness. It assists the elderly or visually impaired in viewing mobile phone screens more clearly.
After releasing this product, we realized the importance of diagnosing presbyopia and subsequently developed an eye exam kiosk for use by ophthalmologists or opticians. The kiosk currently offers comprehensive services for customers to self-diagnose macular degeneration or presbyopia and receive a farsightedness correction film.
Q: You’re aiming to expand your product line. Did you face any challenges when initially entering the market?
Not many startups in the digital health sector are involved in eye health care. There are products that measure vision through VR goggles, but Pixelro seems to be the sole provider of a service that prevents eye diseases.
Q: Your field appears to require substantial research and development. Why did you choose to establish your business in Pangyo Techno Valley?
Seongnam City provides considerable support in the fields of medical and digital healthcare. As Pixelro’s products target children and seniors, we needed data from diverse age groups for empirical tests. Choosing Pangyo, due to its proximity to hospitals, enabled us to receive expert advice from professors at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital. Additionally, we sought a region with a high smartphone usage rate among the elderly population, and Seongnam’s seniors exceeded other areas in this regard. Another critical factor was the concentration of various IT companies in Pangyo, which adds to its appeal.
Q: Besides the PoC support program, what other support does Pangyo Techno Valley provide?
Recently, the GBSA has extended its assistance beyond certification-related services to include advertising and marketing. Furthermore, Techno Valley’s accelerator program offers excellent opportunities. Pangyo provides comfortable spaces at affordable rates, and networking opportunities with other experts yield invaluable insights. For instance, we recently upgraded our eye exam kiosk based on feedback from other workers here.
Q: Pixelro is looking to enter international markets, and you recently attended the Viva Technology Fair. How did the European market react to your product?
I had previously participated in Dubai GITX 2022, but Viva Technology was a unique experience.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a growing interest in non-face-to-face medical services and medical data overseas. Each country has its own regulations, so meeting directly with relevant parties and discussing breakthroughs was beneficial.
I learned that we need to categorize Pixelro’s products into medical devices and healthcare services for a strategic overseas market entry. Receiving diverse feedback from potential buyers was an invaluable experience.
Q: What are your plans for the rest of 2023 concerning overseas markets?
As of July 7th, we’re still exhibiting our products at events in Thailand, and we plan to attend the International Hospital and Medical Equipment Industry Fair (2023 K-HOSPITAL FAIR) shortly.
Additionally, our products have piqued the interest of Japanese buyers, so we plan to localize our product for them. We’re currently seeking vendor companies and preparing to establish overseas branches.
Q: As you expand your business globally, what is Pixelro’s ten-year plan?
Starting with eye health care, I envision challenging the global health care industry, encompassing overall family health, and creating a platform that bridges the gap to the medical device field.
When faced with medical conditions like eye disease or dementia, our services could connect individuals to hospitals, suggest health supplements, and even propose necessary insurance services.
The younger generation, adept at using smart devices, will age into seniors in a few decades. We aim to be a company that enables them to self-diagnose, find necessary medical services, and secure the medical equipment they need.
Q: As a seasoned entrepreneur, what advice do you have for aspiring business starters?
I recommend seeking various feedback and assimilating it into your business concept. Once you’ve started your business, you’ll have numerous opportunities to network with various companies. Receiving feedback from experienced business individuals and applying their opinions to your venture can help cut costs and make informed decisions.
Q: Could you share Pixelro’s ultimate goal?
Experiences across life stages, from childhood to old age, often come through our eyes. We aspire for Pixelro to play a pivotal role in safeguarding your eye health, enabling individuals to vividly remember faces seen throughout their lives.