During their studies in the Netherlands, Aleksandar Dimitrov and Branislav Nikolic were having trouble adjusting to the long, gloomy Dutch winter days. They came from Bulgaria and Serbia, both sunnier countries, and had trouble waking up in the morning and staying active through the darker Northern European days. During their MSc Entrepreneurship studies, they began to look at technology products on the market that could boost their overall energy levels.
They found that most solutions that used light to improve energy were inconvenient, and did not use personalization or smart technology. Dimitrov, Nikolic and their third co-founder Nikola Vucinic, decided to create their own product, and so AYO, an unusual eyewear that mimics the natural bluelight from the sun, was born. AYO would go on to raise over $370k in crowdfunding, move into Indiegogo’s Marketplace and sign a deal with KLM Airlines, making the glasses available to all business and economic passengers on many international flights.
Ayo’s popularity continues to grow as one of only a few products on the market that gives you control over your internal clock. The unique glasses emit blue light through their frames, providing a natural alternative to energy drinks, sleeping pills and caffeine. You can fully control and customize the light from the eyewear through the accompanying smartphone app. Applying chronobiology and circadian rhythm research, Dimitrov, Nikolic and Vucinic designed the clinically-backed AYO light to gently enter your eyes, triggering retinal ganglion cells to send signals to your brain. As a result, AYO can control how your brain releases melatonin, helping you boost energy and set a natural sleep rhythm based on your habits and lifestyle.
“The science behind AYO follows the latest developments and studies in the field of Chronobiology (the science about our body clocks) in the past 20+ years from leading institutions, such as Harvard, Oxford and NASA,” Dimitrov says.” The glasses came to market at a time when control of our internal clock was gaining popularity. In 2017, the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology was awarded to three American researchers to recognize their discoveries of mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm. AYO is one of these few products that allow you to control your circadian rhythm through personalized, smart technology.
The creators stress that by wearing this for even 20 minutes a day you can improve energy and relieve stress in the workplace, sleep better and deeper, and beat jet lag quickly and easily. Frequent fliers use AYO to skip those power naps and overcome jet lag after long flights, which is why KLM not only sells AYO on their flights, but also awarded the inventors as the winner of the Air France / KLM Innovation Challenge. AYO was also recognized as the best product sold on-board by Travel Blue and the Global Shopping Forum.
Indiegogo Backers bring AYO to life.
From the beginning, Dimitrov, Nickolic, and Vucinic knew crowdfunding was the right way to launch their idea into the world. “Back in 2014, while we were still developing one of AYO’s earliest prototypes, we already knew that we would like to showcase AYO to the world through the innovative concept of crowdfunding,” said Dimitrov.
Nearly three years later, the AYO team found success through crowdfunding — exceeding their initial funding goal on Indiegogo. Thanks to backers, AYO was able to reach their campaign goal of $50,000 less than 48 hours after launching on Indiegogo. But their impact wasn’t limited to funding. “Our overwhelmingly supportive backers were with us along the way, giving us ideas and sharing feedback to make AYO a truly exceptional, wearable product,” explained Dimitrov. “The creation of AYO most probably would not have become a reality without Indiegogo and our amazing community of backers.”
To keep AYO’s momentum going, the team decided to take advantage of Indiegogo’s InDemand program. InDemand allowed AYO to pursue new audiences and receive additional pre-orders without deadlines or limits. After a successful run on InDemand, AYO moved to Indiegogo’s Marketplace — the place to find the latest innovations before they go mainstream. Loaded with the latest in tech, design and more, Indiegogo’s Marketplace features products from successful crowdfunding campaigns — all with guaranteed shipping.
“The Marketplace is another innovative concept of Indiegogo, allowing campaigners to continue selling their products to customers, even after they have been delivered to all the backers,” said Dimitrov. From crowdfunding to InDemand and Marketplace, launching AYO on Indiegogo proved to be an extremely worthwhile venture for the team. “The overall Indiegogo experience for us was immensely positive and brought us the possibility to sell AYO to more than 2,000 people from more than 80 countries worldwide,” explained Dimitrov. Shop AYO here and find other innovative products in our Marketplace.