Riley Ellingsen '22: Hearsight

Author: Grace Morrison and Olivia Poole

Riley Ellingsen ESTEEM '22 discusses founding heARsight, a company creating augmented reality glasses for real-time subtitles to assist the deaf or hard of hearing, highlighting the impact of the ESTEEM program and the transformative power of entrepreneurship in making a tangible, large-scale impact on people's lives.

Riley Ellingsen, CEO and co-founder of heARsight shares the origins and motivation behind his company, which develops real-time subtitle technology through augmented reality glasses for the deaf and hard of hearing. heARsight began as an idea between Ellingsen and co-founder Danny Fritz during their time in the ESTEEM program and gained traction through the McCloskey New Venture competition. With support from Notre Dame's IDEA Center, mentors, advisors, and participation in additional accelerator programs, heARsight evolved from a competition entry to a promising startup. Initially intending to pursue a career in medicine, Riley found entrepreneurship a powerful way to make an impactful difference in people’s lives. He is motivated by the social impact of his work and encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to learn about their potential customers, take risks, and persevere in the face of challenges.

"Impact is a goal for me personally and something that I want to always have in my career. People like to say that there are a lot of risks associated with startups and with being an entrepreneur. But I think it's worthwhile when I get another sign-up on the waitlist, or when we talk to another potential customer and hear kind of their anecdotes about how it could change their lives," explained Riley. "It's really hard to give up on that. You just have to keep going and keep trying."

Riley's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs resonates with clarity and conviction. Get to know your customers, embrace the market and give it your all. Riley acknowledges the inherent risks in entrepreneurship but emphasizes the immeasurable rewards when your innovation touches lives. Every new customer, every story of how heARsight could revolutionize communication for the deaf and hard of hearing, is a testament to never giving up on what matters – making a difference.

Riley exemplifies what the University of Notre Dame ESTEEM program stands for – turning potential into impactful real-world solutions. If you are inspired by stories like Riley's and crave a platform to launch your own ideas into meaningful ventures, consider applying today. Take the first step towards your entrepreneurial journey and profoundly impact the world.

Originally published by Notre Dame ESTEEM at on April 18, 2024.