When looking into contact lenses as an option, people are surprised at how expensive they can be. Until now, companies could charge you want they want given that sight is a necessity and you very few alternatives. Thankfully, Hubble Contacts has emerged. It’s an e-commerce option for contact lenses that avoids middlemen and the bloated margins. Delivering consumer-friendly pricing that can be half of its competitors, this company will help you see savings immediately.
AlleyWatch sat down and spoke with Jesse Horwitz about the young startup and their recently announced round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a Seed round of $7.2M from Wildcat Capital Management (lead), Founders Fund, Greycroft, Two River, Dr. Brian Levy and Oscar Salazar.
Tell us about your product or service.
Hubble is a direct-to-consumer contact lens brand.
What inspired you to start the company?
Contact lenses are way too expensive and customer experience is poor because four manufacturers dominate the market.
How is it different?
We partnered with an independent manufacturer to create our own brand of lenses that is more affordable and delivered through a better customer experience than other offerings – thoughtful packaging, intuitive website, and easy subscription service. We are selling daily disposable lenses because these lenses are the healthiest, most comfortable, and most convenient for the consumer.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Contact lenses are about a $10 billion global market.
What’s your business model?
What has been the biggest struggle?
Selling a prescription medical device to consumers is a big responsibility that we take very seriously. We hold ourselves to the highest standard on lens quality, compliance, and interactions with vision care professionals. We have created a national network of independent optometrists who are partnering with us for customers curious about our lenses.
What was the funding process like?
We had no set expectations when we went out to raise. We had done several months of research, liked the idea, and just wanted to see what the reaction was among investors. We were very gratified that it was received so positively.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Our raise was pretty quick – about 5 weeks in all – and our investors have been incredible to work with.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Contacts are a great category because they are both recurring revenue and a substantial out of pocket cost for consumers.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We’re just launching, so we’re focused on executing well. If 6 months from now the business is running smoothly across marketing, fulfillment, user experience, and doctor network, and if customers are liking the brand and the lenses, we’ll be thrilled.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Focus on the micro. We really dug deep into the details of this industry – combing through FDA databases of manufacturers, running demand experiments, educating ourselves on the relevant law, etc. It was not grand visioneering that got us here.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Selling contact lenses. We’re just getting going on this front and have so much to do. In addition to the spherical lenses we’re selling today, we’re planning to add astigmatism lenses and eyedrops in 2017.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
We’re oddballs – we set up camp uptown, instead of downtown. Much better deal on the space and much more of it. And we like proximity, so we hit up the Old Castle Pub, which has good burgers, good wings, and is the closest bar on the planet to our office.