33. WeWALK

WeWALK’s AI-powered white cane detects above-ground obstacles with ultrasound, helping visually impaired people to live a more autonomous and independent life.

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DEI Award Winner

For the business that demonstrates committed diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative and how it has been embedded in the company.

Startups 100: DEI Award

Founder: Kürşat Ceylan and Gokhan Mericliler

Year founded: 2020
Website: wewalk.io

There’s 253 million people with vision loss and 50 million of them depend on white canes, guide dogs, or another person to get from one place to another. For too long, blind and visually impaired people have depended on these legacy methods. 

Kürşat Ceylan, WeWALK’s co-founder, has experienced the frustration of relying on these same, impractical aids himself. Born blind, he had already taught himself to program to build assistive software that could help his needs. But he was stuck on how to use these skills to help others like him. Until, after giving a speech in the United Nations, he had an epiphany.

“I was making my way through the airport, trying to hold onto my cane, my smartphone, and my suitcase when I collided with a pole,” recalls Ceylan. “I realised there had to be a better way.” 

Founded in 2019, WeWALK marries the power of AI with a white cane to create a modern blind aid. It offers a safer and more independent mobility experience by detecting physical obstacles on the sidewalk and alerting the user through vibrations and sounds. 

The power of the technology seeks to give blind and visually impaired people more autonomy in their lives and seeks to catalyse a social transformation wherein visually impaired people can feel more included. 

WeWALK’s social mission and innovation has earned it impressive credentials. It currently has an R&D partnership with Imperial College London, RNIB, and Microsoft. It was also selected as Amazon’s Startup of the Year and named a TIME Best Invention. 

These notable achievements have also shaken up a media storm, leading to the brand featuring in more than 750 media outlets including CNN, BBC, Forbes, and Bloomberg. 

Strategic partnerships hint at the transformational power of the WeWALK technology. It has secured insurance coverage for its smart cane in Australia, and is also currently collaborating with the Ministry of Education in Turkey, showcasing how technology can be a key ingredient to facilitating accessibility in education. 

WeWALK has secured £2m in angel investment from the likes of Manchester City and also received funds from NESTA, the Social Impact Fund in the UK. 

WeWALK sees itself as an indispensable companion for the visually impaired in the near future. But its founders also understand that not everyone will be able to afford advanced hardware. That’s why it has also started a fundraising campaign, to help provide canes to families that cannot afford them. 

With plans to extend its products beyond the blind community, and help other diverse groups with varying disabilities, WeWALK is putting its tech to good use. Walking into position 33 in our list of the top 100 startups, we’re excited to see where their journey will take them next.

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