This month we shine the spotlight on Jeh Kazimi, founder of tablet service, Breezie, which helps older generations get connected and stay social.
How did you come up with the idea for your product?
In 2010, my mum was over from India, and, for over five months, I observed her frustration at using even the most basic internet applications like Skype, to keep in touch with my dad.
I have been a lifelong IT helpdesk for family and friends – and I know I’m not alone – so I decided it was about time someone fixed that.
When I looked around, existing solutions designed to help older people use the internet were horribly designed, downright patronising, and used decade-old technology.
Wanting to solve these problems sparked the idea for Breezie.
What do you aim to achieve?
Quite simply to help the 5.7 million UK adults aged 55 and over who have never used the internet, feel less isolated by offering a solution that never patronises people and is simple to use without being low-tech. Technology can have life-changing benefits for people who are lonely or less mobile, if only they can access it.
How does your product help people?
Breezie is an intelligent and fully personalised service that comes with all content and apps pre-installed, off-the-shelf, on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 touchscreen tablet.
It alters the usual Android operating system interface to hide clutter from popular everyday applications such as Skype, Facebook, and Gmail and simplify the user experience.
In short, it makes digital life a whole lot easier and allows people who have never used the internet to enjoy its many benefits, from ordering prescriptions online, to keeping in touch with relatives.
What initial challenges did you face?
At the outset, it was difficult to attract talent and capital.
Investors didn’t consider the ‘grey’ market very attractive – although that has changed dramatically over the past three years.
Talented individuals want to work on mass market solutions, and the perception was that Breezie was less innovative and behind the technology curve.
Once we demonstrated just how far ahead Breezie was, in terms of cutting-edge technology, we have been able to build an incredibly talented and passionate team.
What has been your proudest moment to date?
The image that will always stay with me is of this 92-year-old woman in Middle Town Grange, walking around her care home and showing off her son on a video call from the US. She kept repeating: “See, I told you I have a son”. It was her 92nd birthday, and we made it possible for her to Skype with her son, who she hadn’t seen in three years. It was incredible and almost everyone there was in tears.
What are your plans for the future?
In the UK, over 750,000 people say they feel lonely in later life. Nearly 500,000 of those are not online. There are still millions of UK adults over the age of 55 who have never used the internet. In five years’ time, we hope that Breezie will have directly contributed to reducing these numbers significantly.