PORTLAND, Ore., Nov., 2016 — Vision care startup Sightbox has raised $1.8 million to fund a new service for people who wear contact lenses. The service combines popular aspects of vision insurance, online retail, and customer service for consumers while also generating new business for the more than 50,000 local optometry businesses across the US.
Company founder Travis Rush, a 15-year veteran of the vision industry, hopes to offer an alternative to established vision care plans by bundling eye exams with an annual supply of contact lenses and extending a payment plan to customers that allows them to pay over time.
“There are parts of the vision industry that, by design, tend to be predatory on the customer. For example, typical vision plans take a monthly fee and hope you never go see an eye doctor. They profit when the consumer does not receive health services. Such plans often mislead consumers by referring to themselves as ‘insurance,’” says Rush. “You also have online contact lens retailers continually shipping products from expired prescriptions or those not authorized by a licensed doctor, which can lead to eye injury and even blindness.”
Sightbox not only encourages our members to visit their eye doctor once a year, we actually schedule the appointment for them. Hopefully, we will be saving a lot of unnecessary eye damage and medical bills in the process. We want to make Sightbox the simplest possible experience for people who wear contacts.”
Sightbox currently markets the annual membership service, $39 per month, to individual contact lens wearers. Rush said that the company will also begin offering membership enrollment options through employers, with plans offered alongside other more traditional health and vision benefits. The new funding will assist in this expansion.
Tom Sperry is the co-founder and Managing Director of Rogue Venture Partners – an Oregon based venture capital fund that led the investment in Sightbox. “We are excited to add Sightbox to our roster,” says Sperry.”They jumped out to us because their product demonstrates incredible focus on a specific consumer problem within the vision industry. Sightbox has already created a significant advantage in an area that has historically either been overlooked by the slower-moving big players, or not fit into their brands or business models.”
“We know that the healthcare market is shifting to more consumer centric models,” adds Vic Gatto, the CEO at Jumpstart Foundry, a Nashville-based healthcare innovation fund that also participated in the round. “We see great potential in the Sightbox product. Our confidence in their leadership’s ability to scale the company with strong technology and incredible customer support strengthened our decision to invest. We’re proud to have Sightbox in the Jumpstart portfolio.”
Other participants in the funding round include Portland Seed Fund, an early-stage venture fund focused on Pacific Northwest companies, and VistaRiver Healthcare Solutions, a comprehensive healthcare service provider.