Most contact lens users are rule breakers, guilty of wearing their lenses too long, which can lead to infections and inflammation. Daily disposable lenses are seen by optometrists as a healthier option than weeklies or monthlies, but their higher cost—upwards of $50 each month—means that a majority of people opt out.
In 2015, Benjamin Cogan, a researcher at shaving startup Harry’s, grew frustrated with the price of his lenses and began to look at the industry with a friend and former colleague, investment analyst Jesse Horwitz. They learned that four lens manufacturers controlled about 95% of the U.S. market. Cogan and Horwitz decided to steal a page from other direct-to-consumer companies like Warby Parker and Casper by cutting out middlemen and offering daily lenses at a more affordable price.
They partnered with Taiwanese contact lens manufacturer St. Shine Optical, which already had FDA approval and had been distributing lenses at a small scale throughout the U.S. Cogan and Horwitz decided on a subscription model that sends patients a month’s supply for $30. Other brands will usually only offer a comparably low price if customers place a bulk order. “Millennials aren’t interested in laying out $500 for a 12-month supply of contact lenses,” says Horwitz. “A subscription is more manageable.”
Hubble reached $20 million in subscriptions in its first nine months of operation, and it continues to add more than 20,000 new subscribers each month. The company recently expanded into Canada, and is now looking to enter the European Union and Australia. Cogan and Horwitz say Hubble’s success is due in part to the modern, playful packaging (courtesy of design firm Athletics), and a simple ethos of convenience and affordability. “Lens technology has been good enough for a long time now—it doesn’t need more innovation,” Horwitz says. “By focusing instead on user experience, we can encourage healthier practices among wearers.”