The founder of a MedTech firm aiming to improve the world’s eye health says the support he received from Virgin StartUp to scale up his business was invaluable.
Dhruvin Patel, 27, from London, is the CEO and brain behind Ocushield, which produces and sells the world’s first medically-rated screen protectors to fit everyday devices, helping to cut out harmful blue light.
Everyday devices like smartphones, tablets and computer screens emit blue light. Staring at screens like these too much means we are exposed to a lot of blue light, causing headaches, blurred vision, fatigue and dry eyes. Blue light also blocks melatonin – the hormone that reminds your body when it’s time to go to sleep. Ocushield’s technology claims to block up to 90% of blue light wavelengths.
Dhruvin started researching the effects of blue light in 2013, while studying for a degree in optometry at City University, London.
Around that time, new lens coating became available for glasses to cut out some blue light. But as someone who doesn’t wear glasses, Dhruvin initially wanted to create a product that could help people in similar situations to himself and something which was more effective, as these coatings only removing around 15-20% of harmful blue light.
Around 18 months after the initial idea, Ocushield was born. With 500 pre-orders, it was all systems go. But it was after Dhruvin participated in Virgin StartUp’s StepUp accelerator programme that the business really started to kick off.
StepUp is a two-day programme designed for founders who want to take their business to scale.
Dhruvin said: “StepUp was really useful. At the time, I was still working part-time and working two days a week in Ocushield and it allowed me to go through the different elements of the business I needed to consider.
“It gave me the confidence to put myself in the right position and really focus on what I needed to do. It allowed me to help bring some structure to the organisation and get the right advice. Without a programme like StepUp, I don’t think I’d have got the right advice. The people were great, and the guidance was fantastic.
“What Virgin StartUp offers is really unique and it was key to allowing me to grow the business. I still look out for all the different Masterclasses that go on today.”
Since launching in 2015, Ocushield has helped more than 60,000 people and the product range has grown to fit around 60 different devices. Ocushield has been featured in publications like Forbes and products are currently used by employees at organisations such as JP Morgan, Barclays, NHS, Facebook and Google.
Dhruvin came into healthcare for a reason – to help people – and isn’t phased by putting aside his original ambitions of working in an optical practice to taking on the business world.
He said: “As an optometrist, commonly known as an optician, I may be able to see 20 patients a day- so, 100 or so a week. With Ocushield, I can help a lot more people and the satisfaction is far greater. There’s a lot more we need to do to educate people about blue light and living a healthier life with devices.”
And despite more copycat entrants into the market, Dhruvin is confident none can match the technology and healthcare-led capabilities of Ocushield.
He added: “We’re a growing brand, selling direct to the customer through our website and Amazon. And, we have just launched a partnership with our first retail chain, Urban Outfitters, which will be going live in November in USA and Canada.
“We have competitors that have come around recently, especially in the glasses space. Whenever a market is growing there usually is more competition. We're happy there is, but at the same time consumers who buy other brand products may not be getting an effective product. We're proud that our filters are class one medical devices, ensuring we remove blue light effectively and help protect people’s eyes and sleep.”
Find out more about how you could scale your start-up with our StepUp programme.