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Home Lifestyle This Daily Lens Startup Is Growing Into A Million-Dollar Biz

This Daily Lens Startup Is Growing Into A Million-Dollar Biz

Darryn Tan and Javad Namazie each met one another again in main faculty once they have been college students at Anglo-Chinese language College (ACS).

The 2 Singapore-born buddies are actually 41, which suggests their friendship has spanned over three many years.

Past being simply buddies, the 2 are additionally enterprise companions. In 2018, they began Two Of A Sort (TWOOAK), which is believed to be the primary homegrown model of contact lenses available in the market.

Neither of us had any background in shopper retail of any form, a lot much less within the contact lens trade, however we’ve each taken the plunge, stop our jobs and thrown ourselves headlong into this.

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

Previous to TWOOAK, Darryn had careers in each consulting and personal fairness, whereas Javad was a training lawyer.

So why did they select to stop their company jobs to begin a contact lens enterprise?

In accordance with Javad, TWOOAK was borne out of frustration and wished it to assist clear up a private ache level. They discover that common visits to the optician to refill on lenses are a chore and that almost all lenses should not low cost.

As a contact lens wearer, your solely two choices have been to decide on between a) unreasonably costly lenses, or b) commerce high quality for affordability and accept low cost, low-grade contact lenses

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

There was no center floor between high quality and affordability, so the duo determined to supply “top quality lenses at direct-to-consumer costs”.

Direct-To-Client Mannequin Eliminates The Common 15x Markup

By chopping out the intermediary and dealing immediately with producers, they’ll get rid of this trade-off. By saving on pointless mark-ups, they get to speculate extra in manufacturing to extend the product high quality.

Primarily based on their intensive analysis of over 18 months, TWOOAK discovered that conventional manufacturers pegged a 15 occasions markup from manufacturing facility to retail worth.

Prospects sometimes pay near $four for a pair or day by day disposable contact lenses, however firms solely pay as little as $0.20 to fabricate them.

Whereas economies of scale and expertise have pushed manufacturing prices down over time, retail costs have continued to extend as a substitute of lower.

Javad defined that the present provide chain includes many gamers — the producer, agent, distributor, optical store — and every considered one of them must make a revenue at stage of the provision chain.

Nevertheless, the patron is the one who bears the brunt of all this as they pay for these revenue margins.

In distinction, TWOOAK manages its provide from end-to-end — they’ve management over every little thing that occurs inside the sourcing, trials, remaining supply and on-going person assist.

This lets them preserve their prices down and go on the financial savings to the client.

The result’s that, although our contact lenses are dearer to fabricate, we are able to nonetheless afford to promote high-quality merchandise at inexpensive costs as a result of we cast off the pointless middleman markups between us and the tip shopper.

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

First Contact Lens Subscription Service In S’pore

TWOOAK provides their lenses based mostly on a subscription mannequin so its customers can relaxation assured that their lenses will probably be replenished on an everyday schedule and conveniently delivered to their doorstep.

Their plans begin from $21 per sleeve of 30 clear day by day disposable lenses, however customers may also decide to buy it a la carte for $25 in the event that they don’t want to commit.

One other distinctive factor about TWOOAK is that they solely supply a single product.

two of a kind contact lenses
Foundation day by day disposable lenses / Picture Credit score: Two of a Sort

Known as Foundation, it’s a day by day disposable hydrogen contact lenses.

It’s manufactured utilizing a moist cast-moulding technique which ensures the lenses are extra constant of their make and have a smoother floor end, offering higher consolation total.

It is usually one of many solely three contact lens merchandise available in the market that present Class I UV safety (the best certifiable customary of UV safety), blocking over 99 per cent of UVB and over 90 per cent of UVA rays.

When requested why they select to supply day by day contact lenses as a substitute of month-to-month ones, Javad mentioned that they supersede the latter when it comes to hygiene, comfort and eye well being.

When used appropriately, they carry a a lot decrease incidence of eye infections and different eye well being points as a result of it’s at all times a brand new, sterile contact lens that you just’re placing into your eye.

A contemporary new lens additionally doesn’t carry the protein buildup that reusable lenses develop over time. And naturally, not having to wash and retailer lenses each day simply makes your day by day routines extra environment friendly.

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

Took One Yr To Discover A Dependable Producer

When requested about enterprise challenges, Darryn mentioned that sourcing for a producer was probably the most necessary components of setting this up but it surely wasn’t a straightforward journey in any respect.

They spent a complete yr looking for somebody dependable that might manufacture an incredible product.

We have been our personal guinea pigs. We actually tried 100 or so merchandise and prototype lenses on ourselves, stored notes, in contrast experiences, and made a shortlist of producers to talk to.

To be sincere, we met with lots of people. Some have been earnest however the product simply wouldn’t reduce it, (whereas) some had respectable product however didn’t appear dependable.

– Darryn Tan, co-founder of Two of a Sort

Javad added that there are solely a handful of producers on the planet who could make the usual and specs of contact lenses they wished to deliver to market.

They ended up partnering a producer with a 20-year observe document, whose proprietary processes and applied sciences allowed them to make the form of product they wished.

two of a kind contact lenses
Two of a Sort lenses / Picture Credit score: Two of a Sort

Their lenses are manufactured in a world medical sciences manufacturing hub in Taiwan and are permitted by the Well being Sciences Authority of Singapore.

Javad pressured that they set very excessive requirements relating to product, be it when it comes to manufacturing high quality and security ranges.

As somebody who’s new to the trade, “establishing legitimacy and incomes belief” from stakeholders is essential — from manufacturing companions to customers to “trade insiders” akin to ophthalmologists and optometrists.

Partnering with new firms like ourselves will not be a precedence for producers who make lots of of tens of millions of lenses a yr, who don’t actually need “new” companies — not to mention new enterprise fashions.

We expect the tipping level for them was that our marketing strategy contained proprietary insights that demonstrated an intimacy of the market and product panorama that stunned them – no matter no background or not.

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

They Are “Buyer Obsessed”

As a part of TWOOAK’s comfortable launch, the founding duo determined to maintain the primary month or so free for household and buddies so they might work on fine-tuning their processes and resolve any teething points.

After they formally launched in April 2018, their studio was virtually empty for that month — just one or two folks would go to on some days.

It was completely disheartening, however slightly than surrender, we jumped hoops to repair the issue. I suppose it’s one thing each entrepreneur learns shortly — you should give folks a motive to care.

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

They realized in a short time on get the enterprise off the bottom: getting the phrase out and buyer engagement.

Javad pressured that TWOOAK is huge on shopper empowerment.

Shopping for behaviour and applied sciences have modified, however the trade has stagnated, and folks’s wants should not being addressed in the way in which that they may very well be.

We felt strongly about fixing the client expertise and the issues that the optical outlets or the incumbent conventional manufacturers don’t take note of.

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

Significantly, they don’t need customers to need to take care of overly-priced merchandise or really feel responsible for attempting out samples.

This is why they provide new customers free product trials and eye exams with none onerous promoting and any strings hooked up.

eye test singapore
Two of a Sort’s in-house optometrist conducting a watch take a look at / Picture Credit score: Two of a Sort

New prospects are required to e-book an appointment for a watch examination with their in-house optometrist, earlier than they’re given a couple of complimentary pairs of lenses to attempt at dwelling.

At TWOOAK, their optometrists make an effort to clarify how the attention and speak to lenses work so prospects stroll away with a greater understanding about their eye well being and eye care.

“Our mission is to deal with our prospects’ eyes like our personal,” mentioned Javad, including that they’re “buyer obsessed.”

There’s no level arising with a advertising and marketing gimmick to get folks for those who don’t have one thing of worth for them, and there’s no level arising with an enormous marketing campaign to get folks to purchase one thing they don’t want or gained’t recognize.

We attempt to be as simple as potential, give folks a motive to test us out, and be as sincere about our product.

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

Challenge 2×2: Contact Lens Recycling Initiative

In accordance with the Nationwide Surroundings Company (NEA), solely 4 per cent of plastics are recycled in Singapore and the rest results in landfills and incineration.

contact lens blister packaging
Blister packaging / Picture Credit score: Two of a Sort

Whereas day by day disposables are essentially the most hygienic and handy iteration of the product, they’re additionally those that generate fairly a bit in plastic waste, specifically the blister packaging.

We’ve seen the inventory construct up on-site, with all of the trial contact lenses our optometrists undergo, however on the similar time realised that we didn’t have an actual choice when it comes to get them recycled.

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

This is why they’ve give you Singapore’s first contact lens recycling initiative, which was launched in October final yr.

Known as Challenge 2×2, it collects your used contact lens blisters (of any model) and recycles them. The blisters are then processed into plastic pellets and repurposed into different functions and productions akin to automobile bumpers or plastic bottles.

“With Challenge 2×2, the polypropylene blisters are collected and delivered already sorted on the shopper stage, so minimal central sorting must happen. This is how we’re ready guarantee that what customers gather and contribute will truly be recycled,” mentioned Javad.

As soon as customers have stuffed up their recycling envelope with the used blisters, they’ll decide to drop it off on the mailbox or the closest advocate location.

“Advocate places are a grassroots community of startups, proprietors, SME companies and people which have kindly volunteered to host a drop off level at their place of job or enterprise,” defined Javad.

Up to now, TWOOAK has a community of six drop-off places and have acquired over 50,000 items from greater than 200 folks.

“It’s a really new initiative, however there’s been a whole lot of assist.”

“We’re proud to be the primary to offer what customers have deserved all alongside. It’s our humble hope that different optical retail firms and types observe go well with, and that different non-optical shopper manufacturers accomplish that as properly.”

Growing Into A “Million-Dollar Enterprise”

two of a kind founders
Co-founders Javad Namazie (left) and Darryn Tan (proper) / Picture Credit score: Two of a Sort

Whereas it’s nonetheless early days for them, Javad seems like they’ve had some “reasonable success” and are actually only a “couple of months away from being a million-dollar enterprise.”

As a bootstrapped startup, their gross sales totalled to about $30,000 inside the first three months of launch and revenues have doubled each month.

Quick ahead to at the moment, they serve a buyer base of over 3,000 folks and are at present working at 20 to 25 per cent gross sales progress month over month.

Whereas they’re pleased with their success to this point, the 2 are conscious that they nonetheless have a protracted approach to go.

“This is simply the beginning,” mentioned Darryn.

“We’re working onerous to maintain ourselves rising and need to introduce new merchandise and enter into new markets later this yr.”

By way of different future plans, TWOOAK can be planning to open at the least another bodily location in addition to develop its product vary to incorporate colored contact lenses.

Whereas additionally they have plans to introduce toric/astigmatism contact lenses in the long run, these are depending on whether or not it will likely be nearly as good as their present contact lenses, when it comes to each consolation and efficacy.

When requested to share a chunk of enterprise recommendation, Darryn mentioned that success is a journey, however execution and motion is every little thing.

“Respect and acknowledge that luck performs a task in any ‘wins’ alongside the way in which and when you must take the ‘losses’ now and again, ask your self what you could possibly’ve achieved higher, then do it.”

Echoing Darryn, Javad mentioned that whereas concepts are certainly low cost, execution is important.

Don’t be afraid to get your arms soiled, break your again and do the work. It’s the easiest way to grasp your personal enterprise, enhance it and make the client expertise higher.

Should you simply sit in an ivory tower and outsource every little thing, you’re doomed to fail as a result of nobody actually is aware of your enterprise besides you.

– Javad Namazie, co-founder of Two of a Sort

Featured Picture Credit score: Two of a Sort

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