Meet Steve Druckman, Hubble’s New Chief Executive Officer
Fri, September 24th, 2021
When Hubble launched in 2016, it entered a contact lens market that was in desperate need of change. Disposable daily contact lenses were insanely expensive. As a result, many people chose less convenient or less comfortable contact lenses, or even tried to stretch out the lenses they had—putting their own eye health at risk.
Hubble came along with a disruptive business model and turned the industry on its ear. Jesse Horwitz and Benjamin Cogan were two visionaries who saw an opportunity to launch a direct-to-consumer, subscription-based online platform to deliver great contacts at significantly lower prices than competitors.
Hubble’s proof of concept was rapidly realized, with tens of thousands of consumers eager to get access to affordable disposable daily lenses that came automatically each month. The product was FDA approved and produced by one of the leading global manufacturers using proven technology and materials. Hubble was an instant hit, especially with customers looking for value and convenience.
Building on Hubble’s success, two years ago Vision Path launched ContactsCart to provide customers with a broader choice of other daily contact brands—but with the same commitment to affordable prices and with the same convenient subscriptions.
Now, with five years of operations in Hubble’s rear view, Jesse and Ben have handed the reins over to Steve Druckman, one of the nation’s leading e-commerce and direct-to-consumer business executives, to lead Hubble and ContactsCart to the next level as CEO of Vision Path, Inc.
Steve brings to Vision Path nearly three decades of experience in management, consulting, merchandising and marketing. He also brings a vast background across various online industries, including FreshDirect.com, InTheSwim.com and 1-800-Flowers.com, where he served most recently as President of Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets running Fannie May Confections, Cheryl’s Cookies, The Popcorn Factory, 1-800-Baskets, and Simply Chocolate.
We sat down with Steve to talk about his background and vision for the company and the path to the next level of success.
What attracted you to Vision Care and Hubble?
Hubble is a unique and strong brand, and the company’s founders have done a great job building a product offering that is fun and appealing to millennials and a younger demographic. They realized that the customer base is already comfortable shopping online for all kinds of products, and that there was an opportunity to introduce an affordable offering in the online contact lens category.
By creating a fun and engaging brand, removing friction from the process of ordering contact lenses and addressing consumer needs and concerns, we found a winning formula.
We’ve also recognized that many consumers want both value and choice. Hubble had great success with our private label brand, so why not offer other favorite brands being prescribed to consumers through our own platform and subscription model? That idea became ContactsCart, which is one of the primary drivers of our growth today.
What is your vision for the company?
At the highest level our mission is to help everyone to see the world clearly. We do that by providing a great selection of high-quality vision products that everyone can afford.
So far our primary business has been selling daily disposable contact lenses and we’ve scaled our company a very fast pace. Enjoying this rapid growth and demand for our products is a great position to be in, but we see an opportunity to do so much more for the same consumer base.
We’re currently looking to leverage the power of Hubble’s brand into a broader vision company that offers a full suite of products. We recently introduced a line of Hubble eyeglasses and we’re investing in that segment heavily. We want to capitalize on the appeal of our brand and the desire, especially among younger demographic customers, for a wide choice of frames and lenses that fit with their tastes and lifestyle.
And with a growing customer base for our contact lenses and eyeglasses, we see opportunity to expand into other eye care and vision-related products, including sunglasses, eye creams, and dry eye treatments. We see huge potential to transfer the ethos and personality of the Hubble brand to these other products to provide an unparalleled experience to our existing and future customers.
The other focus will be to enhance the customer experience and enable our customers to easily view and manage their subscriptions to fit into their lifestyle. We believe the combination of high quality, affordable product with the most customer friendly experience in the industry will allow us to continue to lead the category.
You got involved with e-commerce early on. Over the course of your career how have you seen online direct-to-consumer marketing change?
Obviously, what has made e-commerce so successful is the ability to shop and purchase from anywhere—your couch, your bed, a bus, while waiting at the doctor’s office, or anywhere you can be online. But the most successful e-commerce companies have been able to remove the friction from the entire process—shopping, buying, fulfilling, and even returning.
The biggest change I’ve seen during my career is the speed and efficiency by which products can get to the customer. That same speed and ease of use also applies when a customer doesn’t like a product—returning something should be just as easy as ordering it. So, from start to finish, the process has to be so incredibly streamlined that it delivers a tremendous experience for customers who become accustomed to the efficiency and the convenience. That’s what we are aiming to do here at Hubble.
It’s hard to predict what’s next. The pandemic has clearly driven more customers to shop online and brought many new customers to the online marketplace. We won’t know for some time whether it will be permanent or not, but it sure looks like the acceleration to online buying of all kinds of products is going to be here to stay.
How different will it be running a regulated medical product business as opposed to an online retailer of flowers or cookies?
While eye care is certainly a highly regulated industry, I’ve had to deal with rigorous government regulations in almost every business I’ve worked in. One of the previous companies I ran, for example, sold online cookies and they had a shelf life of only five or six days. So that presented a different challenge in that we had to get them to customers in a set period of time in order to comply with government “sell by” requirements and to maintain a level of quality that met customers’ expectations.
When you’re manufacturing and selling food products, the regulatory environment is very similar to medical products in a lot of respects. You have to know and track the sources of all the raw materials that go into your products. If there’s an issue anywhere in the supply chain, you have to be ready to notify customers, conduct a recall, and minimize any issues very quickly.
I’ve worked very closely with the FDA on many previous occasions, and I respect the important role the agency plays in protecting consumers. We will remain committed to meeting and exceeding government requirements and industry standards.
What aspects of your personality will you bring to Vision Path?
Probably first and foremost my competitive nature. I love tennis and play four or five times a week. My wife and I have three girls and one boy and I’ve coached all their many sports over the years. I love to compete and in business, especially in this category, I believe that healthy competition will continue driving us to do better, by finding new and innovative ways to improve our value proposition for our customers.
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