It’s easy in the startup world to loosely throw the phrase “changing the world” around in a cavalier fashion. However, there are very few companies that are truly changing the world; most are solving an isolated problem for a small subset of the population. Enter Smart Vision Labs, a company that is tackling a problem that is affecting 2/3 of the US population. The company simplifies vision care for anyone through the use of smartphone to provide diagnoses and subsequent treatment. If this ambitious company proves successful with an eye towards the future, Smart Vision has real potential to change the world by providing ubiquitous access to vision care.
AlleyWatch sits down with CEO to discuss the eye-care space, how it has evolved over time thanks to technology, and his vision as to how technology will fuel the future of vision care.
Tell us about the product or service.
SVOne Enterprise is an intuitive and quick vision testing technology. It captures a person’s refractive error on-premise and sends the data to a remote network of eye doctors through a cloud-based telemedicine platform for analysis. SVOne Enterprise provides people with an accurate eyeglass prescription via email within 24 hours.
How is it different?
There are a few companies that are trying to solve the challenges that exist in vision care. Smart Vision Labs uses wavefront technology developed for custom LASIK in its mobile aberrometers, and can identify vision errors and how to correct them using the information gathered from how light waves travel through the eye. By combining an intuitive interface with proven technology, Smart Vision Labs is able to give patients the most accurate prescriptions while reducing the footprint of heavy machinery commonly found in optical stores.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
The global vision care market was valued at $100 billion in 2015, with the U.S. vision care market at $40 billion. Within the U.S., we see a great need for vision care: there are over 200 million Americans who need vision correction, but only 100 million exams performed every year.
Our technology exists to to give consumers easy access to affordable vision testing and immediate prescriptions. We are also aiding eye doctors to increase their client base while reaching as many patients as possible, especially the millennial generation and beyond.
The technology is amazing. How much does it cost though?
We provide the hardware to eyecare professional for free and they pay a small fee for each patient whose eyes are screened using the telemedicine platform. There are no upfront fees for eyecare professionals.
What is the business model?
We are a B2B2C Business. We work with eye care professional who use our devices to provide vision exams to consumers.
What inspired the business?
We realized the extremity of the problem that uncorrected vision poses around the world — over one billion people suffer from vision problems that could be fixed with a proper eye glasses prescription but are left unchecked due to: 1) cost of technology, and 2) lack of eye doctors or access to care. We founded Smart Vision Labs to solve the problem of vision care and the problem of overpriced and immobile technology.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Two big milestones that we plan on achieving include 1) driving further awareness among both consumers and eye care professionals about the availability of SVOne Enterprise, and 2) growing the number of refractions we perform and ensure that people have the convenience of receiving the accurate prescriptions they need to work, live and play with perfect vision. To accomplish this, we plan on aggressively going after the NYC market. In addition to the many optical stores in Manhattan, we also see a lot of opportunities for SVOne Enterprise to exist in other settings, such as offices, schools, malls, drug stores and more.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Focus is the foundation for the first four to five years of the company. Doing everything for everyone is a sure way to fail. Developing the skill to say “no” is important for founders.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
There are so many notable people in the NYC that we’d love to meet, but one that we’d want to connect with the most is Mayor Bill De Blasio. We’d love to hear his ideas on the merging of tech and wellness and how new technology can help reach all people across NYC.
Why did you launch in New York?
We’re headquartered in New York, a market that’s the perfect intersection for consumer retail and emerging technology. In a bustling city where everyone is busy, New Yorkers have become the early adopters of new technologies – especially those that offer flexibility and convenience. SVOne Enterprise helps address that by giving quick vision exams for busy people.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Pocha 32 in K-town, it’s always a good time