The special glass products developed by founder and optometrist Dhruvin Patel, 28, keep screens crystal clear and colours true while blocking the blue light glare. This, produced by digital devices, TVs and even lightbulbs, can lead to headaches, insomnia and, over time, eye damage. After what began as Patel taking a fresh look at an underrated health issue while studying at City university five years ago, Ocushield is now on track for a £2.4million turnover in 2021 and seeing 100 per cent annual growth.
Following a start-up grant from Cass Business School, and in 2018 a five-figure angel investment, Patel is now looking to raise a further £600,000 this summer.
Design and distribution are in the UK, where London-based Ocushield employs a network of 14 with more jobs planned, and further expansion in the US is also underway.
Manufacture is in the Far East, and currently the multi-channel company is selling in 72 countries with 20 major retailer partnerships and sales through Amazon contributing up to 40 per cent of revenues.
“Devices are an integral part of our lives, screens are getting bigger and brighter and people are getting more concerned about the screen time they experience. That’s up to 11.5 hours a day for UK employees since lockdown,” Patel explains.
“Prescription glasses offer the option of a blue light filter, but I saw there was nothing for everyone else. Since lockdown demand has increased for our products as social interaction has moved online, our monthly sales have doubled.
“Joining Amazon’s Launchpad programme for startups in 2018 has made a huge difference to our growth, it opened the door to the US for us. Once we set up the operations they have run seamlessly and the global marketplace has become even more important since the pandemic. Brexit on the other hand has increased our freight charges.”
As a healthcare company Patel has underlined that focus by going through a nine-month process to get medical approval for Ocushield’s protectors which are the only ones rated by the official Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
For the blue light blocking formulations in the covers he worked for 18 months with material manufacturers and then screen producers “so we get a perfect fit,” says Patel. “We track all new product announcements so when a new phone, say, is launched we’re ready with the right size and shape. Everything is consistent.’
Currently Ocushield’s cover for MacBooks is fast catching up its iPhone bestseller reflecting the increasing working-from-home trend.
Repeat custom, with buyers’ feedback, has also driven developments such as the company’s lighting range. Its battery-powered, portable, Oculamp offers flicker-free and different colour temperatures along with protection from the blue rays emitted by the eco-friendlier LED lights used.
That convenience and functionality have made it a hit with commercial customers too, keen to protect staff whether in offices or working from home.
For Ocushield’s super-light glasses take up is particularly strong among concerned parents, professionals and the wellness yoga crowd.
From May biodegradable glue used in the products will enable them to be recycled.
Becoming an entrepreneur while qualifying as a healthcare professional, Patel found himself pulled in all directions. After taking the plunge and going into the business full time there were still sacrifices, he says.
Then fellow optometrist and Ocushield’s business angel investor Asad Hamir helped him usher the company through the critical growth stage after start up.
Now roll-out of other health services such as flat-fee remote eye-testing for company staff are a key part of this year’s plans as the business becomes the centre of an expert clinical community.
Looking ahead another market where Patel is confident Ocushield could contribute as a supplier is the schools and education sector.
“No one is really owning the digital eye care space online. For solving blue light problems,” he declares, “we aim to be the go-to place.”