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

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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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Business

How Office Design Enhances Productivity

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Did you know that how your workplace design can impact the productivity of your employees? Aside from this, office design also affects employee safety and health. A study by international architectural firm Gensler in the US states that even small workplace designs such as lighting and spatial layout affects employee productivity. So how does environment impact the health, safety and productivity of employees?

Sitting Down

Our work has a big impact on your health. Most of the time employees spend a lot of time on their desks, so they are becoming sedentary. As we all know, sitting down for long periods of time has adverse affects on our health. It makes us gain weight, which in turn can lead to more problems like heart disease and obesity. Getting sick could lead to more days away from work or hospital stays, which could inhibit productivity of the employee.

Designing office spaces that encourages movement or walking can help curb these problems for employees and employers alike. There are workstations that are designed to be used in either sitting or standing position. An open space design also encourages employees to walk from one section of the office to another. Sometimes something as basic as an ergonomically correct chair can help prevent ailments like back aches.

Lighting

Good lighting can help people see details clearly and increased visibility can help increase productivity. But, this does not mean to say that you can skimp on lighting in the office because a 1983 study shows that poor lighting is connected to low production levels and social satisfaction among employees. Many offices are composed of cubicles to give employees privacy to do their work. However, the cubicle arrangement also blocks natural light, which means that some employees are not exposed to natural lighting during an entire work cycle.

Humans are wired to seek natural lighting. In fact, all office workers in Europe must have exposure to natural light. Employees who had the best views were the most productive and were most likely to describe themselves as healthy.

Noise

Acoustics is another key contributing factor to productivity. To achieve acoustic comfort, the office must have appropriate acoustic support that is conducive to interaction, confidentiality and concentrative work. If it is too noisy, workers will not be able to communicate with each other let alone concentrate.

Other Factors

Aside from these factors, employers should also provide workers with suitable ventilation, access to greenery and the gym to help encourage healthy lifestyle. Even something as basic as giving them access to increase or reduce temperature in the office can impact their productivity. Employers should also encourage employees to personalize their workstations so that employees are happier. Work space design should allow employees to socialize with each other easily while at the same time giving them access to views and privacy, so that they can work properly and productively.

Good lighting, comfortable furniture, pleasant color schemes, and access to views or natural lighting can help generate positive energy in the office and employee mood. 79% of UK based employees report that a good working environment is important to their sense of job satisfaction.

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Business

Things To Think About Before Quitting Your Day Job

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If you’re thinking about quitting your day job to go full time as a businessman or freelancer, there are many things you need to consider first. First of all, your job is like a security blanket. Letting go of it might sound adventurous at first, but it also comes with certain risks. Before you result to flipping a coin or removing the petals of a flower, here are some things you need to think about before taking the plunge.

Flexibility

Going into business or freelancing will give you flexibility for better life-work balance. Going to business for yourself will allow you to adjust your schedule so that you don’t feel like you’re chained to your desk the whole day. This is very beneficial, because you can work out your own schedule to fit your lifestyle. If you have children for example, you can be home when they are sick or when they’re home from school. Going into business or freelancing is also a good option for people who like to travel.

Benefits

One of the many reasons why people stick to their day job is the health benefits. This is a big factor to consider should you decide to quit. Health, dental, and retirement benefits can be expensive to put up on your own. Before deciding to stop working, make sure that you can afford to pay for these on your freelancing or business income. Work up a number before you decide to see how many clients you need to sustain paying for insurance on your own. Knowing how much you need will also result in a smoother transition when you leave your job.

Nest Egg

It is also easier to leave your day job if you have your finances in order. If you’re not sure if you can afford it, try to figure out how much you need as an emergency fund to serve as a buffer. This isn’t strictly for emergencies like getting sick. This will serve as funding for daily expenses until your business becomes profitable. One of the best ways to figure this out is to write several business plans to flesh out your ideas. Not only will this allow you to strategize if plan A does not work, it also gives you an idea what you will do using different scenarios.

Your Job Is Failing You

Do you feel yourself stretched too thin or unfulfilled? This might be because your job is failing you and quitting might be the answer. A business or going freelance, on the other hand, will give you time to think about or try new ideas. It will be like breaking out of the 9-5 routine and going on an adventure on uncharted waters. If you feel trapped, quitting and starting a business might just be a good option for you.

Self-Starter

You also need to ask yourself if you’re a self-starter. When you’re in charge of your own schedule, it might be tempting to get up later or to procrastinate starting something. When you don’t have a boss looking down your shoulder, you need to be a self-starter and self-motivator to get yourself going.

Deciding to quit your job to start a business or to go freelance full time is a big decision. Considering the above factors will help you decide if striking it out on your own is a good fit for you. It is also best to remember that you can find another job if it does not work out for you.

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Business

Make The Most Out Of Meetings

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Companies invest lots of time and energy to conduct business meetings. It can be frustrating if the meetings fail to bring the desired result. Meetings can be painfully boring and you may try to avoid it, but with proper steps, you can come out with a winning smile from the conference room.

Be prepared

You are invited to a meeting with a definite purpose. Be prepared to be an active participant in the discussions. Try to know the topic of discussion. Keep your notes ready. Plan how you want to execute your points. The more you do your homework, the more confident you feel about the proposed meeting.

Develop a plan and write a summary

Once you know what you want to accomplish in the meeting, you need to develop a plan to execute it. Write all the major points you want to communicate in the meeting on a paper. Avoid complex language. If you use lucid language, everyone can follow and understand you. If a written summary is ready in your hands, you feel more confident before entering the venue. Be prepared for the questions. Try to answer the questions patiently.

Network

Try to build a network for yourself when you participate in meetings. Arrive early and have some time to get to know the people. Mingle with all the participants of the meeting with some casual conversations. Building a good working relationship with the people outside your team can help you progress in your career.

Smart use of time

It is very important to finish your presentation within the time limit. Do not stretch the duration of the meeting with an unending series of questions and answers. People may not encouragingly listen to you if you extend it too long. Participants should not feel that their time is wasted.

Participate and encourage participation

Most people do not find meetings engaging enough. They either play with their phones or whisper within themselves. You can impress everyone with your listening skills. Do not distract yourself from the discussions. Ask appropriate questions after each of the presentations at the meeting. When you present, try to maintain eye contact with the participants. Appreciate when they ask you good questions. You can add some variety in the stiff environment of the meeting by arranging some creative games in-between.

Learn from the past

If you have been to business meetings before, you already have a clue how to go on with your idea. Learn from the mistakes you made before. If this the first time you are participating in a meeting, get some information from your team or review the past presentations made by your seniors.

Time to shine

When you are invited to an important meeting, make the most of it. Do not be apprehensive. Take it as a chance to show your potential as an employee. Your seniors will appreciate your efforts when you prepare yourself hard for the event. When you participate actively in the discussions and ask intelligent questions, you get a chance to impress your colleagues.

 

Meetings are a part of the modern corporate world. You cannot afford to miss all the meetings. If you can prepare yourself well for the meeting, you feel more positive and confident.

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