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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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5 Comments

5 Comments

  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.

  2. Kathleen Awai

    May 10, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    I believe you are not true to what you agree on. The easy to DISCONTINUE POLICY is so FAKE. I have SENT several emails to discontinue my subscription…IT HAS NOT HAPPENED!…DON’T SEND ANY FUTURE SHIPMENTS, THE TELEPHONE NUMBER TO AUTO DRAFT FROM YOU ACCOUNT IS NOT IN SERVICE.BUT THE PRODUCTS KEEP COMING, MY BANK ACCOUNT HAS CHARGED ME OVERDRAFT FEES, BECAUSE I LIVE FROM PAYDAY TO PAYDAY.

  3. Kristen L Bates

    January 14, 2019 at 10:37 am

    This is the worst and most unprofessional company I’ve ever order from. They tell you you can get contacts with a valid prescription when you put in your information they’re not going to honor your prescription and less this done by Hubble. The worst I hope you go out of business I hope no one ever ordered from this company again they do false advertising don’t put your money or your credit card in this companies hand they are bad for business they are unprofessional I had to call the office 10 times to talk to someone Carlos Krista and Amy are the worst so if this is a supervisor or boss reading this I expect you to go back if you the tapes because those people need to be fired. Not because I say so because a the professionalism they did not display I hope you all do not order from this company have a great day

  4. Pingback: Hubble Contacts Corporate Office - Corporate Office HQ

  5. Jenny T

    August 12, 2019 at 12:06 am

    Good to see a couple of Gay men and lovers, make it big time in the business

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5 Things You Need To Know About Millennials

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Millennials (aka: Generation Y) are an interesting breed.  We've experienced quite a drastic change within our lifetime and the way we communicate with one another is very different than the generation before us.  Unfortunately we're not that easily understood and people tend to categorize us without knowing all the facts.  Below are 7 things you MUST know about millennials before you begin to make judgement.

It's harder for us to get a job

Contrary to what others may think, our generation aren't fortunate enough to get a job with just our high school degree.  For most of us, a Bachelors is barely enough to get accepted.  Our parents and grandparents had it much easier than we did in this department.  Demands for our education is increasing, our cost of living is higher, our student loans are piling higher than we'd like...and job opportunities are scarcer than before.

We're not buying Houses

We're considering many other alternatives as most of us still prefer to be in the cities where our job opportunities are highest.  And unfortunately that also comes with a very high rent, so we prefer to room with others to save on living expenses.  And we're also marrying much later as well, so the need to have our own american dream house doesn't need to be realize so early.

We're not driving anymore

Again...back to the whole idea of cost of living rising.  It cost on average anywhere from $500-$800 a month to own a car in most cities, and that's not even including the cost of parking and tickets you're likely to rack up.  With Uber and Lyft in most major cities nowadays, we're looking at other alternatives to driving.

Not all of us are Entrepreneurs

Yes...it's true.  With the boom of entrepreneurs in the recent years, it's easy to assume that most millennials are following similar footsteps as Zuckerberg and Jobs.  The truth is, although the idea of running your own startup is very appealing, most of us are actually straight up trying to create a profitable company.  We're still for the same dream, except without the early-stage hustling and grinding.

We want to work for a cause

The work we do does define us, and as Millennials we're NOT okay with settling for a meaningless job that simply pays the bill.  The job doesn't have to be high paying, as long as the work we do is meaningful and we are apart of something that's making waves. 
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Business

How to Ask For a Favor

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how to ask for a favor
Do you know how to ask for a favor? Asking for a favor might be hard especially if you’re the independent type. Like it or not, we need to ask favors now and then if we want to succeed. Favors have varying degrees from the very easy: "please come to the conference call tomorrow" to the onerous "please introduce me to your contact at Apple". Lucky for you, people like doing favors. Studies show that people comply with requests to avoid awkwardness and it also suggests that favors are less of a burden than we think.But regardless of studies, asking for favors can still feel strange. Therefore being deliberate in the way you ask a favor can make a big difference in the outcome. When asking for a favor, remember the following:
  • Set the stage: "I need to ask a favor"
  • Provide reason
  • Provide means of escape
The phrase, "I need to ask a favor" is a very powerful verbal contract. It also implies reciprocity. If you help me now, you can ask a favor from me in the future. This two way relationship of give and take acknowledges that the favor is not totally one-sided. But aside from this, it also makes the other switch gears into receiving mode. This will give your friend time to have an "uh-oh" or "happy to do so" moment. Consider these:"Friend, can you cover my shift tonight? I'm not going to make it due to an emergency" or"Friend, I have a favor to ask. Is it possible for you to cover my shift tonight? I have an emergency".In the first scenario, the friend is off guard and might feel that he has to do the favor. In the second scenario, setting up the stage to ask the favor gives your friend a second or two to decline or accept the favor.

The Reason

According to Robert Cialdini's book, Influence; giving a reason to your favor increases the chances of a positive response. If you know how to ask for a favor be sure you're providing a reason makes people react positively even if the reason is makes no sense to the request. People like to know that they are being asked something. If you're asking a millennial for a favor, consider reading this article  about 5 things you need to know about Millennials. It'll give some insights on what makes millennials tick.

The Escape Clause

When learning how to ask for a favor, it's good to keep in mind an Escape Clause. People are inherently good especially when they are asked to comply with a request. This is because giving is better than receiving. However, when you ask a favor your goal is two-fold: getting what you want and making the giver feel good about helping. The best way to do this is to provide and escape clause so that your friend can graciously decline in the event that they cannot do you the favor. Remember you are giving them the choice to comply. You are not commanding them.

Good Escape Clauses Include:

  • "I understand if you can't help. But I thought I'd ask".
  • "I understand if you can't come because you're busy".
  • "I would like an introduction to your friend from Apple but I understand if it makes you uncomfortable".
Friends and colleagues cannot always come through when you ask them a favor due to a variety of reasons. However, you can always ask them favors with grace and gratitude so that you maximize your chances of getting what you want. Hopefully you will be able to pay back the favor once they ask something from you.
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5 Airport Hacks For Business Traveling

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business traveling
Do you want to skip long queues, drink for free, get good prices on seats or learn how to get a free upgrade to first class? If so, read on because we’ve compiled 5 of the best airport hacks for business traveling. These tips can help you save money and make your trip a bit more comfortable.

1. Sign Up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

If you want to skip long lines, signing up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry will allow you to breeze through security lines. Once approved, you are whisked ahead and there is no need to take off your shoes or remove your laptop from its case. It makes business traveling easy and more civilized. The US, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands and other countries have similar pre-scanning programs that work with Global Entry.The TSA PreCheck makes traveling domestically simpler while Global Entry makes returning from an international trip easier as it eradicates paperwork and long queues. Basically, they are clearance from the US Customs and Border Protection that designate people as low-risk travelers. All it takes is a background check, interview and payment of fees and you can clear customs in a hurry.

2. Boarding Pass

Boarding passes like tickets are downloadable and printable nowadays. However, we are still a slave of technology and many of us have had embarrassing moments where we can’t find our boarding pass on our phone or the app suddenly hangs. Avoid these embarrassing moments by taking a screenshot of your pass and showing it to the boarding gate. Screenshots are easier to find and don’t require the use of an internet connection.

3. Pay For First Class Lounge

This hack comes in handy if you travel a lot. The first class lounge costs around $30-$50 and has access to free drinks (including alcohol), internet, comfortable seats and free food. In some airports there are even shower rooms and quiet rooms for sleeping. If you have a long lay over, the first class lounge can be money well spent. Business traveling in style.

4. Book the Red-Eye

Taking the red-eye can be less stressful than taking other flights. Taking the last flight in or out helps you avoid the hustle and bustle of the airport and roads. Choose late night flights especially if it's an overnighter. If it leaves at 10pm, you can avoid rush hour traffic, lines at security and check-in will be minimal and the airport will be less crowded and you can fall asleep during your flight and wake-up at your destination.

5. Save On Internet Fees

Roaming for your cellular device can be very expensive for data and internet. Instead of racking up charges, sign up for Boingo, a wifi hotspot provider. They charge around $4.98 per month for internet access in the Americas and $59 a month for worldwide coverage. Check your American Express platinum card if you can get a subscription for free so you can network while you're in the air.Check if your airline has a loyalty program. This will encourage you to travel more frequently as your rack up the miles and get more perks. Keeping this in mind will make your business trips cost less and traveling easier.
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