Perfect human sight is the greatest gift that a man can get. Years ago, I remember on one of my Rotary Eye Camps in a village near Bangalore, an old lady came to the Eye Camp with the help of her assistant holding her and guiding her to take the steps due to poor vision. The doctors checked her eyes and gave her a pair of spectacles. On wearing the spectacles the lady was overjoyed and filled with tears. She could see perfectly which she had not for years. Her dependency on others and quality of life improved immediately. This incident bought emotional tears to all the people around her. Like the old lady, there are millions of Indians who have poor quality of life due to lack of proper sight as they cannot afford proper spectacles to correct their sight. I seem to be amongst the more fortunate ones who can afford the luxury of sight correction.
My Issues with Hypermetropia, Myopia and Presbyopia
As far as I am concerned, I have always tried to maintain my eyes inspite of long-distance sight (hypermetropia) correction from my teenage years. As I aged (presbyopia), the complexity of near-distance (myopia) reading and long-distance sight have emerged. My lenses that Essilor fitted to combine both of these into one lens in a spectacle resulted in near catastrophe while driving on the highway. As a result I preferred to maintain two sets of spectacle for hypermetropia and myopia. With presbyopia, I have to fit new lenses as the vision for hypermetropia and myopia keep changing. This means a new set of spectacles every year or so to maintain proper vision.
My Experience This Time Getting Vision Correction on Digital
Every year, I visit the optometrist around the festive season to get my vision tested and procure new set of spectacles and lenses as per the advise of the optometrist. Given the lock down situation, I thought of procuring the spectacles through the digital online platforms like Myntra, LensKart, Titan Eye and Amazon, etc rather than shopping for at the physical optician stores. I wanted to try out Lenskart as my daughter had bought two pairs of spectacle recently and was a very loyal customer of them. While all the catalogues of Myntra, Titan Eye and Amazon offered just the spectacles, Lenskart offer the spectacles and a zero-powered bluecut and anti-glare computer lenses fitted along with it. Similar spectacle designs on platforms other than Lenskart turned out to be cheaper as Lenskart was loading the price to the lenses additional. I needed powered lenses to be fitted at an additional cost and throw away the lenses already fitted with Lenskart spectacles.
My WhatsApp Interaction and Talk with Amit Chaudhary of Lenskart
Pissed off with the experience, I WhatsApp Amit Chaudhary, Founder of Lenskart. That’s when I realized the business model of Lenskart versus other digital and brick and mortar opticians out there. Here are some of the excerpts of my telephonic conversation with him
- Lenskart is the largest AR eyewear venture in the world
- Over USD 150 mil of eyewear is sold by them through their platform and lenses are manufactured and fitted through their fully-automated robotic facility
- AR technology and fully-integrated robotic manufacturing facility makes them the cheapest provider of eye wear in the world due to the scale
- They are targeting a total addressable market of around 1.5 billion eyes in India
- They are therefore integrated to provide the full solution of spectacles and lenses as operationally there are challenges of product warranty when customers buy spectacles from them and fit the lenses outside at a local opticians.
There is a stand out quotes that while talking with Amit that summarized their business model
“We are the Maruti of the eye wear business. Customers like you form the top 10% who are the Ferrari’s who would like spectacles not only for functional, but for esteem value”
I like the lazer sharp vision of Amit. As entrepreneurs like him who raise lot of VC and PE capital at some time want to dominate and move away from their core business model and value proposition in the pressure for growth, profitability and valuations.
Although Amit offered to service me as an exception, but that is not core to their way of working. Consumers sometimes miss out on this and crib and bad mouth the start ups on social media, missing out how these start ups are making the world better by offering sight to millions by being cheaper, better and faster. Remined me of the old lady in tears who could see properly and so did I on Amit’s perspective.
Kudos to such start ups which are bringing in technology and production techniques to reach scale!