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Startup Offers Direct-to-Consumer Online Lens Replacement

ARTICLE BY: INVISION STAFF

The firm is seeking to raise $1 million.

The founders of Los Angeles-based startup Lensabl say they’re providing consumers direct access to the optical lab, at least virtually.

Lensabl has launched an online prescription lens replacement service that targets consumers directly.

Lensabl co-founders Mike Rahimzadeh, left, and Andy Bilinsky.

“Our goal is to really simplify the lens replacement exercise,” said Andy Bilinsky, who co-founded the firm with Mike Rahimzadeh.

The founders started out selling frames in 2013 in a model not unlike that of online eyewear giant Warby Parker. But customers started requesting the ability to order frames with the proper prescription lenses, and they soon realized they’d happened upon an industry pain point.

“We knew that a lot of customers faced this issue, and if we could partner with a lab in order to directly fill the orders, then we could realize big cost savings that we could pass along to the customers,” Bilinsky said.

When they also learned that “no other brand agnostic lens replacement service existed online,” Lensabl was born. The lens replacement service began in late 2016.

The process works like this: The customer selects his or her lenses, which can be clear, tinted or transitional and provides the prescription. Lensabl then sends a box with a prepaid shipping label. Finally, the lab creates the new lenses, fits them back into the frames and returns them. (Consumers can even swap out their Snap Spectacle lenses for clear or transitional prescription lenses.)

Prices range from $77 to about $400, including shipping. The company is committing 5 percent of each order to support the non-profit New Eyes for the Needy.

In May 2016 the company raised $300,000 in seed funding. Bilinsky said Lensabl is currently raising more money, with a goal of $1 million for the new round.

Bilinksy said the firm hopes this year to begin rolling out additional services, including online eye exams and a solution that would allow other online eyewear sellers to offer lens replacement.

Online Startup, Lensabl, Offers Rx Lenses Only, Direct to Consumers

By Andrew Karp
Monday, December 5, 2016 12:05 PM

Lensabl partners Mike Rahimzadeh (l) and Andrew Bilinski.

NEW YORK—Two young internet entrepreneurs are launching a direct-to-consumer online service that sells only prescription lenses. The no-frills service, called Lensabl.com, debuted recently with a menu offering an assortment of clear lenses, sun lenses, reading lenses and lens treatments, most of them generic products with basic features.

Prices range from $77 for a pair for plastic single vision lenses to as $277 a pair for digital free-form progressives in high index plastic.

Consumers only need to provide Lensabl with a frame and a current prescription, and the company, which is based in Los Angeles, sends the frame to a nearby prescription lab. The lab then processes the lenses, mounts them in the frame and sends the completed eyeglasses back to Lensabl, which returns them to the customer in a specially designed box containing a case, cleaning cloth, cleaning spray and product literature. The turnaround time is two to four days.


Lensabl includes a lens cleaner, a cleaning cloth,
case and product literature along with its lenses,
which are mounted in a frame supplied
by the customer.

Lensabl co-founder Andrew Bilinski and partner Mike Rahimzadeh first saw an opportunity to sell prescription lenses online several years ago while operating an online eyeglass frame brand, Ivory & Mason. Customers began asking for lenses along with their frames, so the partners began supplying them with locally sourced lenses, which they sold at deeply discounted prices.

“We had a feeling there were a number of pain points involved with buying eyewear, and lenses were one of them,” Bilinski told Click. “When we saw a lab price list, we were blown away by the price difference between what they charge and what an optical store or optometrist charges. People would email us their Rx and we would literally cut the price in half.”

Customers liked the low prices as well as the convenience of getting new lenses without having to visit a retail store. So after exiting Ivory & Mason last year, Bilinski and Rahimzadeh began developing the Lensabl concept. Bilinski said the company has already attracted about $300,000 in seed money from investors, and sales are beginning to increase as Lensabl gains visibility through social media marketing and word of mouth.


Lensabl offers clear prescription lenses,
sun lenses and reading lenses.

“We’re offering a service for the masses by allowing people a new way of getting lenses,” said Bilinski. “Our version is the most convenient and cost competitive. Our pricing and process attracts customers. We cut 60 percent to 70 percent of the price compared with leading retailers.”

Bilinski acknowledged that there are advantages to buying lenses from a brick-and-mortar store where a qualified optician can match the lenses to the frame and fit the glasses on the patient. “You can’t do better than an in-person interaction,” he said.

However, Bilinski sees lenses as commodities and dismisses brand and performance distinctions. “Lenses are all the same regardless where you get them from,” he remarked, adding that “many people don’t need super sophisticated lenses.” He claimed Lensabl’s customers are satisfied with their purchases, and that remakes account for only 2 percent of sales, a number that compares favorably with many top labs and optical retailers.

Bilinski said Lensabl plans to expand in 2017. Several new features are under development, including a tool that will allow customers to take their own PD measurement. The company also plans to roll out a program in first quarter 2017 through which other online retailers can use its services. Plans are also underway to offer customers an online eye exam through Lensabl’s website.

Lens Wars: Lenses Only Online

While everyone is freaking out about mobile eye exams, online eyewear and Donald Trump, several companies have quietly gone after the online lens business. Optical lenses have become a little pricey. By the time you add in your coatings, fashion and performance options, all of sudden you have a $1,000 pair of lenses. Add in your frames and whatnot the full ticket without insurance can be up to $2,000. A hefty price tag.

We have pulled together several companies by primarily eyecare professionals who are going after the lens biz. It makes $ense. No need to stock frames, no need for the 3D try-on-must-share-a-selfie-because-i-can’t-make-my-own-decision business and returns.

1.) Crystal Vision Lenses Interesting site of which I am not sure what this is all about. First they have a big eyeglasses.com and a reference to visit their stores. It looks like eyeglasses.com did a different site just for replacement lenses. They also offer an option for eyecare professionals to order from them

2.) Eyeglass Lens Direct (Sugarland, TX). Not much is said about the company, just they have over 25 years of optical experience .

lens-wars-eyeglasses

why-buy-from-eyeglass-direct

3.) eyeglassX (Framington, MA) Launched in 2012 these are Eyecare professionals promoting both lenses and frames online. They show up on page 1 of google for  Facebook page has over 9500 LIKES.

Shop page on Facebook

Shop page on Facebook

4.) Fuse Lenses (Clearwater, FL) Is all about replacing sunglass lenses. This is what they say: Fuse Lenses is on the constant lookout for the popular brands of sunglasses that may need new lenses. We can revive your old pair of shades with a brand new set of amazing lenses or create a whole new look with one of our 20+ color options.The very best quality replacement lenses for your name brand, expensive, awesome sunglasses. Costa del Mar, Oakley, Spy, Von Zipper or whatever you need... People must like them as they have over 23,000 LIKES on Facebook .

Fuse Lenses has several Give Back Platforms

Fuse Lenses has several Give Back Platforms

5.) Lens Factory (Louisville, Kentucky) Has been around since 2013 which is when we received a press release on them. Their come-on is is Love Your Frame and keep your frame, they will re-furbish it provide new lenses .

lens-wars-lensfactory

6.) Lensabl (Los Angeles, CA) Start up company, Lensabl was founded in 2016 by Mike Rahimzadeh and Andy Bilinsky, both serial entrepreneurs who noticed a large void online, for the accessibility of replacement lenses, – so, Lensabl was born. The company is currently being backed by seed money from MeUndies founder, Jonathan Shokrian, and Ben Nazarian from Propel Factory, amongst others.  In addition customers can mail in their Spectacles (SnapChat) and select from a number of lens types: prices start as low as $77 for clear prescription lenses. Prescription sunglass lenses are also available, starting at $97.  Shipping is included, and all lenses come with anti-reflective, anti-scratch, and 100% UV protection.

lensable

7.) Lenses Only (Bloomfield, CT) Another eyecare professional who has brick and mortar locations that promotes lenses only.

8.) Lens Rx (Staten Island, NY) They also sell both eyewear and lens only options. But they show up on page 1 of google. Of interest is an affiliate program, which mean that anybody with a website or blog could put  their link up and make money

9.) Replace a Lens (Denver, CO) Discount eyecare professional who is promoting online lens replacement.

lens-wars-replace-a-lens

10.) Replacement Lens Express (Manchester, CT) Family owned and operated ‘optometric lab’ since 1982.

lens-wars-replacement-lens

Partnering with New Eyes For the Needy

Partnering with New Eyes For the Needy

11.) Use My Frame (Rock Falls, IL). Couple items are interesting on this site. They have a tab on Glass lenses, which is a strong trend in the lens biz. Not a big market, but more sports performance sunglass companies are offering a mineral glass lens option.

use-my-own-frame

These are only a few Lens Only options and I am surprised there are not more. I would think the consumer want to try on their eyewear and sunglasses. They may use an app or a 3D try on technology, but nothing says it’s me than to actually hold, feel and put on the frames. That is really not the case with lenses. Lenses, to most people are not sexy, they are the medical device part of the sale, like a walker or oxygen tank.

Bottom line, an interesting new development in the online and lens wars. What do you think?

Similar Posts:

Snapchat spectacle buyers demand clear lenses

Snapchat spectacle buyers demand clear lenses

FASHION

Los Angeles – Earlier this year, Snapchat launched sunglasses with video cameras to be associated with the social media platform. Already popular among savvy Snapchat users, the fans of the sunglasses have already started to request clear spectacles for the brand.

As of now, fans have gone through other companies in order to replace the tint of the glasses to clear instead of the original form with dark-tinted sunglasses. The glasses are used as a small wireless video camera that can take snaps from your view. They directly connect to your phone via Bluetooth and wi-fi and are able to connect with the Memories portion of the app as well. The glasses launched earlier this August available in black, teal and coral colors sold at approximately 130 dollars a piece.

Seeking out clear alternatives instead of the vibrant colors for the shades, companies such as Lensabl charge 77 dollars for a swap, according to WWD. The publication also reported that Snapchat has no plans to offer clear-toned glasses, although the company is aware of the demands of its fans. For now, in order to get these glasses in a clear color, customers must choose an alternative third party until Snapchat decides to offer these in-house.

Photo: Snap/Spetacles

 

https://fashionunited.com/news/fashion/snapchat-spectacle-buyers-demand-clear-lenses/2016121813996

50 LA startups to watch in 2017

http://www.builtinla.com/2017/01/09/50-la-startups-watch-2017

 

This LA Startup Will Upgrade Your Glasses For You

There is no reason that when your eyes get worse and you need an updated prescription that you should have to buy new frames. The unfortunate reality is that most companies don’t re-lens your frames and you are stuck paying bug bucks for another pair of glasses that include new frames and lenses. Thankfully, Lensabl is fixing this problem by offering an affordable option to get a new prescription fitted into any frame all without leaving your home.

LA TechWatch chatted with cofounder Andy Bilinsky about the origins and inspiration for the company and where it’s going.

Tell us about the product or service.

Lensabl is the most simple and most affordable way to get new prescription lenses in any frame. Select your lenses, send us your frame, and we will make brand new lenses to your exact specs, fit them into your frames, and send them directly back to you.

How is it different?

Currently no brand agnostic lens replacement services exist. Lensabl is the first of its kind. Lensabl counts opticians as well as optical retailers like Lenscrafters as its competition.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

We are attacking the prescription lens market. In 2013, prescription lenses were a $11B+ marketing for us adults alone.

What is the business model?

We charge customers for lenses they select.

Are customers provided a doctor that you can contact about your specific prescription and eye issues?

Customers are not provided a doctor, they are prompted to submit a valid prescription received from a doctor. In the coming months, lensabl will introduce an online eye exam so that customers do not need to see an in person doctor.

Tell us a little about your background and what inspired the business?

We previously created and ran a direct to consumer online eyewear brand. We sold frames primarily, and later introduced prescription lenses as a low cost add on for our frames. I have extensive experience in startup ecommerce companies and Mike (cofounder Mike Rahim) previously ran a digital agency creating websites.

Lensabl Cofounders Andy Bilinsky and Mike Rahimzadeh

Tell us what building your company in LA has been like?

Building our company in LA has been great. The creativity in the startup scene in LA is through the roof, and the marketing channels we have had access to like influencers by being based here has been extremely helpful. Also it’s great to have a very tight knit, yet accessible investor scene within a few miles of our office.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?

In the next six months we plan to scale our customer base, introduce an online eye exam, become an out of service insurance acceptor, and partner with online eyewear sellers to enable them to offer prescription lenses to their customers.

If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?

Troy Carter. We respect Troy and his success very much. He has invested in innovative companies and also wears prescription glasses. We believe he would understand the problem we are solving very well and could offer great advise and experience for us.

What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?

We are proud to be a LA-based company. We feel inspired by the rest of the LA startup community and have met other great entrepreneurs by being so close in proximity. We are part of an innovative group of companies here in la that are looking to disrupt traditional industries and we feel that the LA community has helped inspire us to go after our dream.

What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?

Just the tight knit community that has evolved around entrepreneurship and promoting the success of lots of LA based companies that didn’t get the love they deserved early on, shows that anything is possible here in LA and there is a supportive community that can help you reach your dreams if you’re willing to put in the effort.

Do you think LA will land the Olympics in 2024?

We sure hope so!

 

Andy Bilinsky – Co-founder of Lensabl

Andy Bilinsky - Co-founder of Lensabl

Don’t let other’s negativity deter you from pursuing your dreams and making them realities.

Andy Bilinsky is the co-founder of Lensabl – an LA based start-up focused on improving how consumers purchase replacement lenses (both prescription and non) all from the comfort of their own home.

Where did the idea for Lensabl come from?

The idea for Lensabl came out of a previous eyewear business. My co-founder Mike Rahimzadeh and I sold really cool frames for an affordable price direct to consumer, and customers started requesting the ability to order frames with the proper prescription lenses. They were fed up with long wait times at Optometrists offices and multi hundred dollar price tags at LensCrafters. We decided there had to be a better way

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

We work 24 hours, as the work in a startup never stops. Up at about 630 am answering emails. Into the office by 830 for conference calls and strategy sessions. Having a cell phone at hand allows us to reply to emails and talk to other team members at any time from anywhere. Coffee definitely helps too!

How do you bring ideas to life?

Hard work and determination. We have a great engineering team that is able to take cool concepts we discuss and draw out and bring them to life

What’s one trend that really excites you?

VR/AI

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

To do lists – they are the only way I am able to survive. So many moving pieces to starting a business that without some type of organization and reminder, I wouldn’t be able to

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t let other’s negativity deter you from pursuing your dreams and making them realities.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

That I am funny 😉

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Set goals. Write them on paper and print them out. Post them all over your room/office. Make sure they are always right in front of you.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Monday morning strategy meetings. The weekends allows us to take our mind off work a bit. This is often when our best idea are bread. So, we come back fresh Monday mornings and discuss ideas and goals to tackle for the week, with specific deliverables. This recurring meeting has really helped us stay focused and grow quick

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

On my first startup I was unable to raise money as quickly as I needed to, and almost ran out. I needed to come up with another strategy – fast before the money ran out. I was selling a product direct to consumer, but it was hard to acquire customers. I not only needed the money to continue funding the business, but to show investors that I had a viable business. I was able to find an online retail site that loved my product and ended up making a huge order. My profit on the order was low, but it got my product in the hands of hundreds of customers who eventually came back to my site for more, and it didn’t cost me a thing. Based on that deal, I was able to secure investment.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Virtual Reality education using VR headsets. Rather than just for game, more for training and education.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

A massage from Soothe the day after I did some marathon training. I could barely get off the couch let alone get in a car and drive to a massage parlor. A great Soothe masseuse came to my house and I felt a million times better after.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Hootsuite. It lets me schedule my social media posts in advance. Even on very busy days, my posts are published on time, and I can focus on other tasks.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Business Adventures by John Brooks – Bill Gates and Warren Buffet both agree that it is the best business book ever written.

What is your favorite quote?

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape”

https://ideamensch.com/andy-bilinsky/

TIME TO GET THE LENSES YOU NEED

The fact that everyone is different is what makes the world such an interesting place. Some people may share common interests while others a different by a large margin. There are several aspects of life to consider that will help you live a better life. For the most part, people focus on the personal based care like their health. Something that falls under that category is your vision.

Time To Get The Lenses You Need

How this startup is capitalizing on Warby Parker’s blind spot

Andy Bilinsky doesn’t wear glasses.

But, the LA tech veteran and co-founder of Westwood-based Lensabl knew the cost of replacement lenses was expensive and downright annoying. Together with co-founder Michael Rahimzadeh, they created a way for consumers to get new lenses into their old glasses starting at $77.

“The premise for Lensabl is quite simple: we think that it should be easy and inexpensive to get prescription lenses,” said Bilinsky. “Traditionally, that hasn’t been the case.”

While running an eyewear company (which has since been sold and cannot be named for legal reasons) several years ago, the duo partnered with a local lab that manufactured lenses for optometrists. Doing so allowed them to start offering their customers a way to buy frames with lenses for a low-cost add-on, saving 50-70 percent off of what they were used to paying.

Bilinsky and Rahimzadeh started seeing their customers’ behaviors shift. Instead of purchasing a single pair of sunglasses, they were buying two or three pairs with their prescription lenses because of how much money they were saving.

“The idea that selling prescription lenses as a low cost and an easy product to purchase was something that really resonated with customers,” said Bilinsky. “We were a small brand at the time, and we had trouble competing regardless of how sophisticated our offering was. So Mike and I started scanning the market and we found there were a lot fewer sellers of lenses.”

Ultimately, the duo opted to sell off the assets and inventory of their previous venture and focus on Lensabl, which launched in September 2016. Unlike their previous company, Lensabl only sells lenses. Customers provide a valid prescription, answer four-to-five questions depending on the specifications of the lenses and a few days later (two days for customers in California), they receive a package from Lensabl. The customer puts their frames in a protective case and drops a pre-paid envelope in the mail. A few days later, they have their glasses back with the new pair of lenses, a cleaning kit and a carrying case.

“From a convenience factor, we are an online service that’s easier. People don’t have to go somewhere to do it,” said Bilinsky. “People were used to buying glasses at the doctor’s office, so we need to make sure we are delivering product to customers as close to the amount of time it would take them if they had a local optician around the corner.”

Bilinsky is no stranger to the LA startup scene. In his career, the LA native has gone from Live Nation to Hautelook to BeachMint. His subsequent startup, ChirpAds, was acquired by PlayHaven, which was then acquired by RockYou. In his free time, he was running the eyewear business, and the series of acquisitions provided him and his business partner with the opportunity to shift their focus.

“We’ve been fortunate from the other disruptive incumbents in the eyewear space like Warby Parker that have made eyewear so accessible that we see customers are now treating eyewear like fashion accessories as opposed to medical items,” said Bilinsky. “You can now buy three or four pairs for the price it took to buy one pair. We find that — fortunately for us — people have been looking for a way to service the additional frames, and are much more active in buying frames as direct response items on a whole variety of sites because the prices are so low.”

In May 2016, the startup received $300,000 from local angel investors Jonathan Shokrian, founder and chairman of MeUndies, and Ben Nazarian of Propel Factory. The startup was recently named as one of Built In LA’s 50 LA startups to watch in 2017, and the team of four said they expect to close a round of funding in Q1.

“We knew we had the perfect opportunity to bring a new concept to the market that would fix the two major pain points that we had seen: price and convenience,” said Bilinsky.“The vast majority of online sellers don’t offer prescription lenses. We see an opportunity to be a third party partner to those frame brands to enable them to sell lenses because it’s a huge revenue stream they’re missing out on.”

http://www.builtinla.com/2017/01/19/lensabl-replaces-prescription-lenses-cheap