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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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6 Comments

6 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

  6. Peter Tharp

    May 8, 2020 at 10:37 am

    I am a customer of Hubble. Recently, I got a new prescription and sent that to their website. Unfortunately, they sent me the old contact prescription and then refused to accept the old prescription back to the company. I tried a dozen times to reach a manager that would recognize their mistake and do the right thing but without success. I don’t know if this is part of a scam or a scheme but they have exhibited poor customer service in this case. I hope you have better luck.

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Business

TikTok Is Toast: Get the Secret Weapon Brands are Using to Power Through

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Just when you thought the drama surrounding TikTok couldn’t get any juicier, the US government drops a bombshell. Just days ago, President Biden signed a bill that could ban TikTok across the entire country. 

TikTok has been asked to find a “new, non-Chinese owner” within the next 9 months according to CNN. The company is within its rights to comply (which will be tough) or file a lawsuit. Unsurprisingly, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is already leaning toward the latter, announcing it’s ready for a legal battle.

With over 170 million Americans entrenched in the app, the prospect of its sudden disappearance sparks more questions than answers. What does a “ban” actually entail? For one, it doesn’t mean you’ll face legal action as an individual who still uses TikTok. And it doesn’t mean the app will magically vanish if you already have it downloaded.

Instead, the ban threatens to remove TikTok from Apple and Google’s app stores, which means no more updates, security patches, or bug fixes. This could pose a security risk to TikTok’s loyal user base.

But fear not, social media enthusiasts, because while the chaos unfolds, brands and influencers can use this time to get clear on their strategy. While the rest of the digital world is losing its mind, you can set your brand up to thrive like never before.

Enter Penji: Your Secret Weapon for Social Media Domination

It’s hard to stay relevant and have an effective social media strategy when things are so volatile in the digital world. But that’s only really true if you’re working alone.  

Particularly for marketing, design, branding, and social media agencies, getting help from professionals is crucial. You likely need copywriters, marketers, designers, and coders as the bare minimum.

So who’s Penji.. and who cares? 

You could say Penji is an ‘all-in-one chaos solution’ for brands with lots to do and little time to do it. They’re a design team that creates the visual assets that power numerous brands year-round. Penji can create custom:

  • Ad designs
  • Organic social posts
  • Custom illustrations
  • Logos & branding
  • Blog graphics
  • Infographics
  • Email templates
  • Landing pages
  • Web & app designs
  • And more

If you can name it, Penji can probably design it. Brands are getting crazy results. For example: 

RevenueZen saw a 25% increase in customer engagement and a 20% boost in sales after partnering with Penji for their new website.

Rush Order Tees upped their productivity by 2200% with the help of just 5 Penji designers who mastered their brand visuals.

How does it work?

Penji is an unlimited graphic design service, which means they don’t put limits on how many designs you can get each month. You pay a flat monthly fee and request any designs, anytime. There’s no contract, so you can cancel or pause anytime too. 

Step 1: Create a Project: Go to Penji’s dashboard and select “Create a Project.” Choose a category (eg. logo) and provide all the details your designer needs to knock it out of the park.

Step 2: Get Matched Right Away: Once you’ve submitted your design brief, you’ll be matched with a pro designer via our AI matching system. From here, just sit back and relax.

Step 3: Review & Give Feedback: Within 24 to 48 hours, you’ll receive the first draft of your design. Provide point-and-click feedback directly on a project, and the designer will make revisions until you’re completely satisfied. There’s no limit to revisions, and you can swap designers if you don’t like the direction.

Step 4: Mark as Complete and Download: Once you’re happy with a project, simply mark it as complete. You can then download the files directly from the Penji platform, no need for external links or emails. Your files are securely stored in the cloud, ensuring easy access whenever you need them.

Not only can you communicate directly with your designers, but also creative assistants, project managers, or art directors depending on which plan you choose.

Never Hire an Unreliable Designer Again

For brands dealing with vetting and hiring headaches, Penji offers a hassle-free alternative. By eliminating the need for constant hiring/firing and payroll management, brands can bypass the headaches associated with maintaining a freelance (or in-house) team. Instead, you can tap into Penji’s pool of vetted creative talent, handpicked to meet the demands of even the pickiest clients.

Retain More Customers with a Bulletproof Brand Identity


Customer retention is another area where Penji helps businesses shine. By providing on-brand, consistent quality across every project, you’ll build trust and loyalty with your clients. With a dedicated team of creatives, project coordinators, and quality control experts, Penji ensures you put your best foot forward at every touchpoint. That means your customers won’t hesitate to pick you over a competitor – the design does the convincing.

The bottom line? With costs roughly 70% lower than hiring in-house designers, Penji offers a cost-effective solution without skimping on quality or speed. You’ll boost your production rates drastically for a fraction of what you’re used to spending. 

So don’t let the TikTok ban scare you away from focusing on social media growth. Partner with a design team that just gets you – and your social media strategy will start running like clockwork.

Ready to Win at Social Media?

If your interest is peaked and you’re ready to power your social media channels with more ease than ever, watch a quick demo to see how you can get all the designs you need in one place.

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Fiverr vs Penji vs Canva: Who’s Your Winner?

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Graphic design is essential in business branding. And you don’t want to skimp out on design, especially when you have big-time competitors in your niche or industry. Fortunately, graphic design is so much more accessible for business owners because you can hire graphic designers, do your own graphic design work, or subscribe to a graphic design service. The top choices for these models are Fiverr, Canva, or Penji. The question is, which is the best option?

Companies Overview

If you’re unfamiliar with any of these companies or services, let’s give you a brief introduction to each one.

Fiverr

fiverr logo

Fiverr is a freelance gig platform for hiring remote workers, like web developers, podcast editors, video editors, and so much more. Graphic designers are also available to hire on Fiverr. Many graphic designers specialize in various design work.

Penji

penji logo

Penji is a subscription-based graphic design service. You can subscribe to the graphic design service and request unlimited design projects. With Penji, you can request up to 120+ design types, including web and app designs, presentation designs, motion designs, and illustrations.

Canva

canva logo

Canva is a do-it-yourself graphic design application that will help you design anything related to your business or brand. You don’t need graphic design experience to use Canva. They offer templates to help you get started with designs. Plus, you can edit those designs based on your branding.

Features

Fiverr

fiverr graphic design page

Fiverr provides businesses with two ways to find freelancers. First, you can find freelancers using the search bar. You can type “graphic designer” and find available designers to collaborate with. You can narrow your search by finding designers based on your design needs. For instance, you can browse “logo designers” instead of graphic designers.

As you select graphic designers, you can see that designers offer various plans depending on your design project. Plus, they indicate the following:

  • Number of designs they can create
  • Number of revisions
  • Turnaround time

Plus, you can also find reviews from previous clients to know their working experience with one of your top choices.

The other way to find freelancers is the Fiverr Enterprise platform. Fiverr specialists will help you find the best graphic designers, creatives, and other employees for your team. Plus, the platform includes onboarding, management, payment, and compliance.

Canva

canva homepage

Meanwhile, Canva is a software loaded with many intuitive features to help you design your projects. Features depend on the plan you choose. However, here are the basics:

  • Drag-and-drop editor
  • Access to 1 million templates, 3 million photos and videos, and thousands of design types
  • AI-generated designs
  • Printing and delivery

However, if you need more than that, you can access the following on the paid plans:

  • Resize and translate designs
  • Brand kits
  • Remove backgrounds
  • Plan and schedule content
  • 1TB of cloud storage
  • 24/7 customer support

Penji

penji webpage

Finally, Penji has many features to get you started, from designing your first request to downloading and chatting with your designers.

Here’s what to expect when subscribed to Penji:

  • Request 120+ designs
  • Get matched with the best designer for your project
  • Swap designers
  • Manage multiple projects
  • Point and click revisions
  • Team collaboration
  • Designer chat
  • Real-time updates

Turnaround Time

Turnaround time for Fiverr freelancers depends on the graphic designer. They will indicate how long the delivery date would be. Most graphic designers would have at least a 1-day turnaround time.

Meanwhile, if you are using Canva, turnaround time is usually instant. After all, you’re designing your project. However, if you have a complex project or need to create multiple designs in one go, it could take hours or days, depending on your availability, to design your projects.

Finally, Penji guarantees a 1 to 2-day turnaround time on most designs. If you’re subscribed to the Agency plan, they ensure same-day turnaround. However, some complex projects will take more than two days to complete.

Pricing

fiverr profile
example of a fiverr profile with pricing page

Fiverr pricing depends on what designs you need. But as the name suggests, Fiverr refers to the $5 starting point that freelancers can charge clients with when working with them. However, $5 worth of projects can be low-quality.

Meanwhile, Canva has three pricing tiers, depending on your needs and budget.

  • Canva – Free
  • Canva Pro – $12.99/mo
  • Canva for Teams – $14.99/mo (for five users)

Finally, Penji has a flat monthly rate for all design work. Here are the pricing plans for this design service.

Design Work and Production

Design work by Fiverr freelancers varies from experience level to design specialties. Many Fiverr freelancers produce decent work for clients, considering the rates they charge. However, not all design work from Fiverr is 100% the best. Plus, considering Fiverr is the best for short-term work, expect one or few design variations for a project.

For Canva, we can use templates as the point of comparison for design work. Thousands of creators submit their templates to the graphic design software. Many templates look the same because it is the trend or looks modern. Regardless, Canva templates look decent to use as the base design for your brand. However, you need to modify it to your brand to avoid using similar templates from competitors or other brands.

Finally, Penji produces amazing designs for clients. Penji ensures that the cream of the crop joins the company to create designs their clients love. That said, they have various designers with different styles to ensure that your design specifications are met. Plus, Penji produces designs faster than Fiverr and its other competitors without sacrificing quality.

Competitor Analysis

graphic designer

One fair comparison to make is between Fiverr and Penji since both deal with actual designers and their work. Here are a couple of comparison points for these two services to help you narrow your options further.

  • Design variations – Fiverr freelancers can create a few variations. Meanwhile, Penji designers can produce multiple variations since you can switch between designers.
  • Work volume – Fiverr designers can produce a limited number of designs, depending on plan inclusions. Ideally, they’re a good option for one-off projects. However, Penji can produce more than 10+ designs, especially if you have a monthly volume of designs.
  • Comfort – Penji allows you to sit back and run your company since Penji can be considered an extension of your team. Meanwhile, you need to browse and interview freelancers on Fiverr. Plus, you have to worry about payment and management.

But if we were to put Canva back into the equation, Canva has the upper hand in pricing. Plus, if you’re creative enough, you can produce great brand designs without the help of designers.

Final Thoughts

Graphic design work can be done and delivered in three ways: doing it yourself, hiring a freelancer, or subscribing to a graphic design service. In this three-way showdown among various design services, each has its strengths and weaknesses. The three services have different models, which could benefit users or subscribers in getting their designs. Eventually, it’s up to you which is the best design service option that will help you get the best designs for your brand. 

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Graphics Zoo Review: Is this unlimited graphic design service worth it?

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Due to the increased demand for affordable graphic design, various unlimited graphic design services has been popping up online. The graphic design industry expanded, offering more options to clients.

We can say that the scene is more competitive now than ever. However, let’s focus on Graphics Zoo for this article. We weigh in on if their services can keep up with the fierce competition in the “unlimited” section of the industry. 

What is Graphics Zoo?

Graphics Zoo is an unlimited graphic design service that allows users to request designs on a monthly subscription. All clients have to do is create a submission with full specifications of their design requirements.

It’s also best to attach references to help designers take the creative path towards the client’s preferences. The great thing about an online graphic design service is its flat monthly rate, with no added fees for revisions. 

Graphics Zoo Business Model

Unlimited graphic design is a type of business model which allows clients to submit numerous requests per account. After presenting the design preference, expect a 24-hour turnaround or more before you can receive your output. If you receive a design output that’s far from expectations, you can point out the changes you want to make for the revision. Graphics Zoo has a flat monthly rate with no contracts involved. It means you can cancel your subscription anytime without having any legal worries. 

You might also like: Design Pickle VS Penji Review

Graphics Zoo’s Market

The design service is excellent for startups, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. As long as the business needs a continuous supply of custom graphic design, Graphics Zoo is worth a shot. Here are a few examples of companies that worked with Graphics Zoo: 

  • Enicode
  • Bread of Life Inc.
  • Western Rockies Federal Credit Union
  • Perfect Imprints
  • Green Guard

According to their website, Graphics Zoo has more than 750 satisfied customers with at least 50,000 approved projects. It’s also highly rated by their customers, earning whopping 4.9-star reviews. 

Pros and Cons of Graphics Zoo

Graphics Zoo Pros 

  • PROOF management system

Graphics Zoo offers a robust system that provides a collaborative space for designers and clients. It streamlines the whole submission and revision process. Using the tool, the clients can click on any submitted designs to pinpoint areas that need revision. It also allows users to leave a comment to provide more instructions to the designer. 

  • Graphics Zoo offers a stellar project management system that allows efficient communication between both parties. 
  • Brand profile features add accuracy and efficiency per design project. It quickly provides the design’s purpose to designers. 
  • Graphics Zoo offers a comprehensive design selection across various graphic design categories. 
  • The ability to share one account among multiple users is helpful for most businesses.
  • Excellent customer support and design project management system
  • A team of versatile designers that can provide designs for any business types

Graphics Zoo Cons

  • It’s possible to encounter ill-paired designers that are not fit for other project requirements. It might consume time because of countless revisions. 
  • You can only have one ongoing project per day. So if you’re a business with a high design output demand, you should opt for a plan with more designers. 
  • Graphics Zoo’s system only allows you to chat with the designers. If you’re more inclined to video calls, it might be a problem for you. 

Graphics Zoo’s Pricing Plan

Graphics Zoo offers three monthly plans with robust features: 

Business Plan

  • $349 per month
  • All basic features
  • One dedicated designer
  • Additional $349 for additional designer
  • Five brand profiles
  • Three users
  • 14-day guarantee 

Business Unlimited Plan

  • $449 per month
  • Everything included in the business plan
  • Unlimited brand profiles
  • Unlimited users
  • White-label platforms
  • Customized web design service
  • 14-day guarantee 

Agency Plan

  • $849 per month
  • Everything included in previous plans
  • Two dedicated designer
  • 30-day guarantee 
  • When starting a project with GraphicsZoo, making the most of their streamlined and user-friendly platform is crucial. Here are some key strategies for a successful collaboration:
  • Use Slack for direct communication with your designer. This allows for instant feedback and praise, ensuring clear and efficient revisions or approvals.
  • Prioritize clear and detailed communication. Never assume your designer has implicit understanding of your needs. Be explicit in your project briefs, and don’t hesitate to share comprehensive information about your brand and objectives.
  • Remember, effective communication is as vital with your design team as it is in any other part of your business. The clarity and detail of your interactions can significantly influence whether the final design meets your expectations or falls short.
  • By following these guidelines, you can foster a more productive and satisfying partnership with GraphicsZoo, leading to designs that perfectly embody your vision.

Tips for GraphicsZoo Users

When starting a project with GraphicsZoo, making the most of their streamlined and user-friendly platform is crucial. Here are some key strategies for a successful collaboration:

  • Use Slack for direct communication with your designer. This allows for instant feedback, ensuring clear and efficient revisions.
  • Prioritize clear and detailed communication. Never assume your designer has implicit understanding of your needs. Be explicit in your project briefs, and don’t hesitate to share comprehensive information about your brand and objectives.


Other Unlimited Graphic Design Companies

If you’re looking for more options with a similar business model as Graphics Zoo, we did the work for you. Here is our full list of unlimited graphic design services.

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