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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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3 Comments

3 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

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Business Insurance And Why You Need It

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Business insurance is a requirement that you should not ignore even if you are in a low-risk workplace. For certain business sectors such as healthcare industries, mechanical workshops or amusement parks, getting a liability insurance is essential. Finding the best insurance can be a challenging and complicated process, but it is better to get an insurance coverage. Disasters happen, and you need an authorized protection to save you from severe economic loss.

Why is business insurance necessary?

If you start a business and employ some people, you need to have business insurance. It is a legal requirement. The insurance coverage varies from one country to another. Almost all countries have made it compulsory for the companies to get a liability insurance. You may think that your business is small and has less risk. You can also think that you can afford the losses your companies might face. The business experts always advise getting a proper insurance for every kind of business. There can be natural disasters like floods or earthquakes. Fire accidents and thefts are not the only risks. Your business can incur massive losses due to disruption of work. There can be cash crunch, skilled labor crisis, road work, police barricades and criminal acts too. You should consider all the aspects before buying an insurance coverage for your company.

General Liability Insurance

Almost all trades have some liabilities. So, a general liability insurance is essential. Before you hire some employees for your business, get a liability insurance first. Your company becomes the ‘employer.’ It becomes a legal need if you wish to make your business a limited company. If any of your staff falls ill or faces any fatal accident during working hours, your company becomes liable. You need to discuss with your insurance broker about the amount of liability insurance cover your business needs. If there is any death because of their work in your company, you need to arrange appropriate compensation. So, you should avoid any expense trimming while buying insurance for the company.

Professional Liability Insurance

It is also known as errors & omissions (E&O) insurance. This is not a one-size-fits-all insurance. Each industry has different concerns while running the business. So, you need customized coverage for your business. The professional liability insurance protects the business from the claims that the company was negligent in performing their services accurately. When you buy the E&O insurance, make sure you appoint an attorney for your company who can defend the lawsuits filed against the company.

Property Insurance

Property Insurance is a must when you run a business. Be it your own building or leased property, you need coverage. This insurance covers your business inventory, equipment, signage, and furniture from any losses due to fire, storm or burglary. Home based businesses still do not get much coverage from property insurance. You need to ask your insurer for extra coverage.

Product insurance

Apart from the above-mentioned insurance policies, you should get an additional product insurance to cover your manufacturing business. It covers any loss due to manufacturing, distributing and retailing hitches.Buying insurance for your business is complex. You need a trustworthy insurer. Every business needs a unique package based on the requirements of the company. You should always review your insurance policies and keep them in active status.
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Business

How Millennials Are Changing The Workplace

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Millennials are reshaping the traditional corporate structure. With new CEOs entering the workforce, more companies have been adapting new tactics for managing, motivating, and improving. Millennial entrepreneurs have set the new standards to doing business, focusing on collaboration and efficiency. Soon by 2025, millennials will accommodate 75% of the workforce. This will replace the baby boomers, who have been recorded as the largest generation in the workforce. This instant switch leaves other generations questioning their management. These are 4 ways millennials are changing the workplace:

Emphasizing Technology

Millennials are the generation born after year 1982 and before 2004. This was essentially the era of technology beginnings. To be raised in the ever changing state of development, this generation foresees big things for the digital future. This need for rapid growth has created various platforms for creators, entrepreneurs, and more. Millennials have a profound belief that technology is the future, and so we should precisely use it to our advantage. Networking has been perfected with Linkedin, while Youtube is colonized by content creators, and Slack has better connected employees.

Open To Change

Millennials were born to alternate between innovation and tradition. To be raised in the era of constant development, generation Y has cultivated the skill to be open to change. Arguably, change is intended for growth, so that is how Millennials greet it. The digital age has disrupted traditional systems for the better, a concept that was impossible in the past. Due to the inconsistency they’ve experienced growing up, millennials have subdue their harsh conditions by advocating innovation. Although innovation is a new idea, generation Y strictly believes this is an optimal lifestyle.This generation does not believe in a constant, that everything has potential. Camden embodies that figure of high potential. Organizations are racing into the city of Camden, for it is the next startup hub for Millennial entrepreneurs. With the economy’s rapid growth and welcoming nature, businesses are rushing in to secure their space. Just outside of Philadelphia, the city of Camden possess hope, just what entrepreneurs need.

Work With Purpose

Millennials differ from baby boomers in one drastic motive. The new generation seek a sense of control and innovation that past generations seem to lack. Millennials deeply value purpose, to even go the extra mile in changing jobs for content. Perhaps it’s due to their entitlement, but Millennials are stubborn to the belief of following your inclination. 60% of employees confess that it is critical to allow them the capacity to do what they do best. Many Millennials will settle in the lower paying job, as long as it allows them the ability to express their talents.As observed in the city of Camden, non-profit organizations scatter throughout in order to rebuild the city of hope. Devoted organizations and passionate millennial entrepreneurs in the city are growing and giving back to the community.

Work Flexibility

The typical 9-5 business hour job is declining as Millennials continue to enter the workforce. The Census Bureau estimated that 13.4 million Americans work from home. The data will only increase when more Millennials start to work. This new career outlook stems from the disfavored opinion against office confinement. In the strong devotion for both work and freedom, Millennials compromised with the issue by creating careers from the comfort of their own home. Freelance work has been the popular option for Millennials, since it allows independency.   
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Business

How To Be More Productive During A Slow Week

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There's always something that needs to be done when you’re very busy with work. But what happens when a project is finished and you get a few days before it all starts again? A slowdown in work is normal but it can be boring especially if you’re used to being in the thick of the action at work. During this time you're probably looking for some things to do just to remain productive. Here are some great ideas to consider if you want to remain productive during a slow week.

Lend A Hand

Other departments or co-workers could be struggling to meet deadlines. Lend a hand to show that you are a team player. Ask if there is anything you can do to help (with your boss' approval). Aside from staying productive, you could learn something new or get a glimpse of how co-workers or other departments work or function and how it affects your side of the job.

Succession Planning

Have you thought about what happens to your work or teammates should you go up in smoke tomorrow? You should consider this seriously and think about succession planning. You basically take your job description and break it down so that each task is outlined per month. If this document does not exist, create it. It will make your job easier should you leave your job and your boss will thank you for it.If you have one, update it. It is important to keep your succession plan alive.

Call To Follow-up

When you're busy, you don’t have a lot of time to spend talking to people on the phone. Now that you have a slow week, it’s time to pick up the phone to catch up with clients, suppliers and stakeholders. Start with small talk because this will gradually become a lengthy discussion when you ask for their thoughts on how things are going. You can also bounce ideas around in order to gain their trust and foster the spirit of teamwork.

Give Yourself An Annual Review

Reflect on your performance this past year and think of ways you can do your job better. Aside from this, you can ask yourself if you're happy with your career or which direction you want to take it. Thinking about these things can help yourself grow as a person and employee. Bring up these insights during your next evaluation. Supervisors like employees who see the big picture.

Check In With Your Boss

Now that you have time to catch your breath, check in with your boss verbally or through email to update achievements and discuss the next steps. Employees sometimes forget to pass on good news to their superiors or to update on the future direction of projects. Catching your breath during a slow week is a good way to get managers up to speed. Aside from this, checking in with your boss reinforces your capabilities for bigger things in the future.Slow days at work are rare, which is why doing these kinds of things are important. Focusing on your interests and staying proactive can help advance your career, improve professional knowledge and keep you on top of things.
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