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Hubble Contacts Founders Ben Cogan and Jesse Horwitz Disrupting The Contact Lens Industry

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contact lens

There is a trend going around where businesses are completely eliminating the middleman and passing the savings along to consumers. Hubble Contacts is disrupting the contact lens industry by doing just that. Founded by Ben Cogan and Jesse Horwitz, Hubble Contacts delivers fresh daily contacts for only $30 per month, which was unheard of. The contacts are produced by St. Shine and FDA approved, so you know your precious eyeballs are safe. If you are unsure of your prescription, Hubble Contacts also helps you book an appointment with an optometrist in your area. The contacts range from -0.50 through -12.00 and later this year, Hubble Contacts will be offering toric lenses to cover patients with astigmatism. Ben and Jesse raise $7.2 million in funding and officially launched their contact lens business November 2016. We took a deeper look into this subscription-only e-commerce startup.

What are your backgrounds?

Ben: I grew up in New York City and graduated Phi Beta Kappa/Magna Cum Laude from Princeton. Prior to Hubble, I worked as a Senior Customer Insights Associate at Harry’s (the direct-to-consumer, subscription-based razor brand). I helped to build the Customer Insights Team where I surveyed and interviewed customers, modeled new business opportunities, and generally came to learn all things shaving.

Jesse: I also grew up in New York. I studied economics and finance and graduated from Columbia University, where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa/Magna Cum Laude. I later joined the investment team for Columbia University’s endowment in 2013, where I spent the last few years investing across the alternatives landscape – private equity, venture capital, hedge funds, and real estate. During my time at Columbia, I built a strong network across the investor community, including Two River, a life sciences merchant bank that invested in and brought together the Seed round for Hubble.

What makes Hubble Contacts different from competitors?

Ben: Hubble is America’s first direct-to-consumer contact lens brand that is dedicated to making it affordable and convenient to purchase high-quality daily contact lenses for about half the price of other brands. Because of Hubble’s subscription service, wearers will never run out of contacts again―a more convenient, healthier approach to avoid over-wearing.

How would you describe your team?

Jesse: Hubble’s earliest team members were our friends and family. The CTO, Paul, is one of my best friends from college and the Creative Director, Dan, is one of Ben’s best friends from middle and high school. Paul, Dan, and everyone else on the team are highly self-sufficient and are given a lot of responsibility in their respective areas.

How did you guys meet and decide to be cofounders for Hubble Contacts?

Ben: I met Jesse at Bridgewater in summer 2011. I began to recognize a void in the marketplace for affordable, high-quality contact lenses and started to develop the concept for Hubble. Through exhaustive research and strategic planning, I realized that my business model had legs and with the advice and guidance of the Harry’s team, I began to put my plans in motion. Shortly thereafter I realized I couldn’t do it on my own and contacted Jesse. Jesse loved the idea and we continued to build the Hubble brand together.

How are you able to keep costs so low?

Jesse: We accomplish this by cutting out markups from intermediaries to sell our own brand of lenses directly to consumers. This means that lenses generally cost less than half the price of competitors.

Ben: Secondly, Hubble is willing to accept lower profit margins than the 80%+ that are common in the industry.

Did you come across any obstacles?

Ben: Contact lenses are not only a consumer packaged good, but a regulated medical device. This means Hubble is both subject to FDA regulations as an importer of contact lenses manufactured elsewhere, as well as regulations that govern the sale of contact lenses online. Navigating this thicket of rules was challenging, but ultimately necessary to be able to start the business.

Who are some influencers that you are inspired by?

Ben: I am inspired by Jeff Raider, who is the co-founder of both Warby Parker and Harry’s, businesses that directly paved the way for what Hubble is doing now in the contact lens space. Jeff has remained a mentor to me since I left Harry’s.

Jesse: I am is inspired by Mike Bloomberg, an entrepreneur that has had tremendous success across many walks of life (business, politics, etc.).

What is happening in 2017 for Hubble Contacts?

Ben: 2017 is going to be a really important year for Hubble. Most important priority is growth. We’ve acquired more than 20K customers so far, but keeping up the momentum is our highest priority goal, and we’ll do this by expanding our marketing channels and refining our message. In Q3 of this year, we’ll be launching toric lenses to cover patients with astigmatism.

What is some advice you can give to young entrepreneurs that want to start their own business?

Jesse: It’s almost cliché now to say that it’s not your idea that matters as much as your execution. And while to some extent that is true – we spent hours and hours in the FDA databases to find a contact lens manufacturer back in 2015 – your idea matters a lot too. Contact lenses is a broken category today (high costs, inconvenient access, poorly designed packaging) and Hubble was founded to fix that. We think a new business really must fix a problem in the world to succeed.

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Bob Day

    October 22, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    You should start a quality afordable hearing aide business. The industry is controlled by a few companies who price gouge the people who need them. Another industry thats ripping consumers off is the prescription eye glass industry. The mark ups on both these industries is criminal.
    Thanks for your time.

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Why Amazon’s Second Headquarters Should Choose Northern Virginia

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Amazon’s second headquarters

Among the top 20 shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters, Northern, Virginia is not a stranger to the massive tech company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have frequently conducted business in the region. Bezos is known to own The Washington Post and Amazon’s cloud service AWS is situated in a huge data center in the northern Virginia region. It is no surprise that Northern, VA is listed on the list. This region proved to be a safe home for Bezos’ businesses, it would only make sense that Northern, VA is the next home for HQ2.

While the nation waits for the announcements of Amazon’s second headquarters, speculations rise as Amazon employees crowd ARLnow.com. The local news-source for Arlington Virginia have reported major traffic from an internal Amazon site. The article reporting the county’s green building council had received over 6,000 page views and 3,500 visitors from an Amazon web page that is only visible to Amazon employees. Amazon’s interest in the community’s dedication to sustainability is predicted to help the company’s future development of a sustainable building of their own.

The area is surrounded by copious international airports including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Richmond International Airport for Amazon’s consideration  of transportation. The bid for Amazon had reports of the Hub property as a potential site for Amazon’s second headquarters. This 85-acre undeveloped location is near the Dulles Airport, perfect for Amazon’s demands.

Amazon’s second headquarters

Amazon announced that they are developing a second headquarter of up to 8 million square feet in order to accommodate 50,000 workers. The plan to bring in 50,000 lucrative jobs to the new location will create billions of dollars in investment for the community. This opportunity for economic expansion does not come often, but neither does a perfect business location in Northern Virginia that is close to Bezos’ other businesses.

A possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters is on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along Metro’s Silver Line. “We are very excited that Northern Virginia is included on the short list as a potential location for Amazon’s second headquarters,” spoke the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova. “Fairfax and Loudoun counties are able to offer a great quality of life coupled with an innovative and business friendly culture for future Amazon corporate neighbors and employees. With our highly educated and talented workforce and a location close to Dulles International Airport and a new Silver Line train station, we hope we will have the opportunity to welcome Amazon HQ2 to Virginia.”

Small businesses and agencies within Virginia are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Virginia.

If you are an agency from Virginia, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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Why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Chicago

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HQ2

Most of the cities on the top 20 shortlist for Amazon HQ2 had given some extreme proposals. The majority of the pick is located on the East Coast with an important city that is Chicago, Illinois. The city of Chicago is an important business hub that is currently attracting millennial entrepreneurs and corporate talents. The region offers a broad selection of professionals that are specialized in tech, logistics, advertising, and more. This is a huge bonus for Amazon if the tech company picks Chicago as the rightful city for HQ2.

Chicago ranks high in tech, affordability, and infrastructure. These benefits will fulfill Amazon in their search for employment, land, and logistics. The city offers the O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport to the company for traveling affairs. This is just one of the city’s proposal, the entire bid for Chicago was put together by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner. There is a promising bid that if Amazon chooses Chicago, then the massive tech company will collect at least $2 billion in incentives and $1.3 billion in tax revenue back. Employees are still expected to pay the taxes, however, it would be Amazon who is receiving that money back and not Illinois.

HQ2

Image From PBS

There are 10 total potential sites to situate HQ2. One includes the Sterling Bay’s 70-acre Lincoln Yards, and many more sites including the Illinois Medical District. The forefront for a new location is The River District, Riverside Investment and Development in River West. This 37-acre site connects to Chicago’s downtown, River North, Fulton Market, and more. The best deal for any other location. 

Amazon will be able to create a substantial amount of benefits from Chicago’s bid for Hq2. Illinois has given over $1.4 billion of tax money to companies like Amazon ever since 2001 when EDGE was created. The EDGE Tax Credit Program provides tax credits for businesses that make capital investments in Illinois and more. The massive tech company is more than qualified for this program and this will be deemed beneficial to Amazon if they participate. 

The Chicago metro area grew by 0.6% and it will only get better from here. The region is populated by a big number of young and educated students from the notable schools of University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The work force in Chicago are tech driven and strives for professional support, which is an attractive atmosphere for all companies. Amazon  should be using up that advantage as well. 

HQ2

Proposals are still being presented to Amazon by representatives. Small businesses and agencies within Chicago are now able share their professional insight to Amazon. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Chicago.

If you are an agency from Chicago, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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How The Technology of 23andMe Benefits You

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23andMe

Tracing down our ancestry is a difficult but possible task thanks to 23andMe. Ancestry research is an obsessive hobby that is provoked by curiosity. You can discover historical events, trace medical conditions, find birth parents, and understand yourself through DNA testing. With 23andMe, people can now discover the truth about their genes. Through extensive DNA analysis, 23andMe can interpret your biological roots from a simple saliva sample.

More than 500,000 consumers have bought a test from 23andMe. For it to work, consumers have to spit into a tube and ship it to the company. To retrieve your results, you must first create an account on the 23andMe website and log in within six-to-eight weeks to view your data.

The massive biotech company employs scientific researchers to study customer data for research on inherited disorders. The team is filled with quality workers and a pool of professional partners in fields like pharmaceutical and biotechnology. 23andMe hopes to provide consumers who wanted to know about their DNA information on any potential genetic disorders or diseases. For the first time ever, the genetics company offers direct to consumer genetic tests on breast cancer. Anyone who is curious about their future health risk, 23andMe is the ideal service to get answers from.

In tracing back your genetic roots to compare you to a total of 150 regions, people can now discover their DNA background. 23andMe have united many disconnected families from their service. The option to publicize your results to rekindle with other family members have proved to serve a great purpose to users.

23andMe

Image From 23andme.com

The precision of 23andMe is impressive. The results are not vague responses. The scores show percentages and specific breakdowns on your ancestry. With a total of 150 regions, 23andMe ensures an informative report to fulfill your curiosity. The ancestry discovery has given people an identity and the chance to reconnect with their culture. Customers have the opportunity to share their results for research purposes, so most have consented while others chose to remain anonymous.

The health and wellness report will analyze your genetic risk for up to 10 diseases. This information is intended for people who are concern about their future health. The data comments on your potential variants to lactose intolerance, saturated fat and weight, alcohol flush reaction, genetic weight, deep sleep, muscle composition, sleep movement and more.

The more serious analysis are the findings of potential late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, AAT Deficiency (a lung and liver disease), Celiac Disease, Hereditary Hemochromatosis (iron-related) and Hereditary Thrombophilia (blood clots), and others. Users do not have to oblige and see the results, you can choose to keep the answer hidden.

Although the company have experienced issues with the FDA in the past, since last April, the FDA agreed to allow 23andMe to sell direct-to-consumer genetic predisposition tests for 10 diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Celiac disease. This innovative business idea is benefiting many consumers. 23andMe’s technology have reconnected families, provide useful knowledge, and give health warnings.

23andMe

Image From 23andme.com

The innovative biotech company proves just how rapidly technology is advancing. DNA testing will only improve from this point on. 23andMe have benefited many customers with their technology. As they continue to grow and improve, a 23andMe spokesperson shares how the technology of 23andMe benefits you:

How does 23andMe work?

“You can read about the process on our website here. You choose from our two products – the  Ancestry Service and Health + Ancestry Service. You can either buy the kits from one of our retailers (Target, Walgreens, CVS, Amazon, etc.) or from our website. Your kit will take 3-5 days to arrive, you follow the kit instructions to spit in the tube provided, register your kit with the 14-digit barcode associated with your kit, and mail the tube back in the prepaid package.

In approximately 6-8 weeks, we’ll send you an email letting you know your reports are ready in your online account!”

What inspired 23andMe?

23andme

Image From 23andme.com

“Our company’s founders believe that everyone has the right to access their personal genetic information. We believe in the power of genetics to transform health and empower people, and that your genetic information is the most valuable thing you can contribute to help accelerate research”.

How will people benefit from 23andMe?

“23andMe customers will benefit in three ways:

  • Access Revolutionary Science
    • The only crowdsourced data set for genotypic and phenotypic big data analysis.
    • Health and ancestry reports driven by top-tier scientific rigor
    • Data-driven drug development by accomplished scientists
  • Discover Evolving Insights
    • Explore your unique health, ancestry, wellness and personal trait data
    • Engage with family members or connect with new ones
    • Learn more as new reports are released
  • Improve Healthcare
    • Easily participate in disease-fighting research
    • Drug development based on human genetics
    • Stay informed about the impact you’re making”

Are the analysts completely accurate?

23andme

Image From 23andme.com

“We proved through the FDA review process our ability to accurately call, or find, these variants with 99.9% accuracy when compared to Sanger sequencing results, the gold standard for accuracy.

23andMe uses an Illumina genotyping chip, widely used in academic and medical research, to capture genetic information and samples are processed in a CLIA-certified laboratory, the gold standard for laboratory testing, that also adheres to CAP (College of American Pathologists) standards. These are the same standards applied to doctor-ordered tests. We also have a variety of proprietary validation processes and quality controls that are applied to data before information is ever returned to a customer”.

How does 23andMe stand out to other competitors?

“We offer the only FDA-authorized genetic health reports directly to consumers, without a prescription. We also have a unique Research division, in which our customers can consent to participate in research (over 80% of them do consent) and answer questions that we can then use for research. Our customers have contributed to over 100 studies/published papers to date!”

How does the company overcome setbacks?

“Our CEO has said she doesn’t shy away from conflict. If you put your head down, do the work you need to do, and don’t give up, persistence will pay off. In 2013, when we received the letter from FDA warning us to stop marketing the Ancestry + Health Service, we didn’t give up. We believe people have a right to their genetic information without going through a doctor, and we are committed to providing it in the most responsible way possible. We will continue to work with the FDA to get more genetic information out to the public”.

Are you looking to improve? If so, how?

23andMe

Image From 23andme.com

“Yes, we are constantly looking to improving and working to provide additional information to our customers. Prior to November 2013 had more reports than we currently offer. As an FDA regulated company we’re working with the agency to provide health-related reports to our customers, beginning with carrier status, authorized by the FDA in February 2015, and genetic health risk reports, authorized by the FDA in April 2017. In fact, we just announced the FDA clearance of our BRCA 1/2 (Selected Variant) report, that is the first FDA authorized genetic test for cancer risk, and also expanded our Ancestry Composition product to over 150 populations around the world. We also just launched our Conditions pages, where customers can rate various treatments for common health conditions they suffer from, including asthma and depression”.

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