If the whole point of contact lenses is that they are supposed to be more convenient than eyeglasses, then why is the process of securing them such a nuisance in this day and age? Simple Contacts is simply simplifying the process of refilling contact lenses. With the startup’s mobile app, you can give yourself a check-up and get the appropriate contacts sent direct to your doorsteps without the need for a doctor visit. The Simple Contacts team, experienced at fixing broken models from their experience at Sols, is now taking on the contact lenses industry and contact lens users across the nation can breathe a sigh of relief, while reordering their contacts on their phone.
AlleyWatch chatted with founder and CEO Joel Wish about the startup, its origin, and what they plan to do with their latest round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Notation Capital, Founder of CityMD Dr. Richard Park, Autonomous Ventures, Justin Kan and other prominent angels for a $2M Seed.
Tell us about your product or service.
Simple Contacts is a refill service for contact lenses. Customers take a vision test on their phone, get a prescription from an Ophthalmologist, and refill their lenses in less than 5 minutes. Far faster, cheaper and more convenient than the current process which involves a visit to a doctor’s office.
What inspired you to start the company?
We started Simple Contacts because getting contact lenses is a pain in the ass. There are so many hoops to jump through, it’s such a waste of time and money. Why do we need to see the doctor every year when Ophthalmologists think eye health exams are not required annually for most patients, and 79% of people’s prescriptions never change? Maybe it’s because the bulk of Optometrists’ revenue comes from upselling glasses and contact lenses and they need the guaranteed yearly foot traffic.
We knew there had to be an easier, faster, and cheaper way. In fact, we solved a similar problem for foot issues with my last company Sols (custom orthotics without a doctor’s office visit – backed by Founders Fund and Lux Capital).
Using a similar model, we created a solution for contact lens refills.
How is it different?
We’re by far the fastest, easiest and lowest priced way to get contact lenses by providing a prescription renewal and lens purchase in one simple process.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The retail contact lens market is $4.9B and growing. We are targeting contact lens wearers with stable, healthy, vision who want to a quick, easy way to reorder lenses that they love.
What’s your business model?
We charge for lenses and vision tests.
Are customers provided a doctor that you can contact about your specific prescription and eye issues?
Yes – All patients are able to contact us about their prescription and contact lenses.
What was the funding process like?
Ryan and I have raised money previously and relied heavily on people who know our work and wanted to be involved in our next project.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
No one believes that what we’re doing is possible! It’s a completely new way of approaching vision care and required a lot of extra education.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Team. We’ve assembled some of the best product, operations and marketing talent in NY, many of whom have worked together previously.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We’re going to expand access to the product from 21 to 46 states, make our tests even easier to take and improve our internal tools so we can support our patient growth.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
If their company is just getting started and is in ecommerce, I’d say they should hack their MVP together from whatever tools already exist and focus from day one on driving revenue.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Our top priority at the moment is expanding access from 21 to 46 states and finding ways to reach larger groups of our audience with our message.
Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?
I’m a fan of being outside, Prospect Park is definitely my favorite place to go on a nice Fall day.