Kevin White, a Flexible MBA candidate at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, was one of two $1 million prize winners at the first WeWork Creator Awards Global Finals in New York in January. WeWork is a global network of workspaces where companies and people grow together.
White received the award for the USee diagnostic tool and lens kit, a system he invented through his company Global Vision 2020. The USee system was designed to help provide prescription eyeglasses to people in lower-income countries. The World Health Organization estimates that 253 million people worldwide have an unmet vision impairment and that more than half of these cases are due to a lack of corrective eyewear. Other estimates suggest the number of people with vision problems could be as high as 2.5 billion, although many of them are corrected with glasses.
According to White, the USee diagnostic tool works like a pair of binoculars and requires minimal training to operate. The patient looks through the device while turning a focus knob until they can see clearly. The USee kit includes an assortment of premade lenses, which correspond to measurements on the diagnostic tool. The premade lenses are snapped into a frame providing the patient with an instant pair of glasses.
White, a former Marine, became interested in vision while running humanitarian assistance projects for the military. After retiring from the Marines, he set out to develop a business solution that would address the unmet need for corrective eyewear.
“I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about running a business, so I thought maybe I should go to business school,” says White. “In my search, I found Johns Hopkins and connected with Carey’s message of ‘business with humanity in mind.’”
White explains that he was also drawn to Carey by the idea of studying with Kevin Frick, Carey’s Vice Dean for Education. Frick has conducted numerous studies on the economic impact of eye care worldwide, an issue that White is trying to address with his invention. White says that he told Frick at orientation, “You probably don’t hear this very often, but you are one of the reasons I came to this school.”
White also cites his classroom experience as critical to helping him develop his business: “Every professor I’ve had has let me use my own company for projects. I’ve been able to develop my business plans with input from professors and fellow students while earning my degree.”
According to White, being at Carey helped him gain access to all of Johns Hopkins including its renowned schools of public health and medicine. White already completed clinical trials with the Johns Hopkins Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology, and he is working on an economic impact study.
The WeWork Creator Awards marks the second time White has been recognized for his work with Global Vision 2020. In September 2017, he was one of four winners of National Geographic’s “Chasing Genius” competition. A complete list of the WeWork Creator Awards winners is available on creatorawards.wework.com.