Launched in 2007, SoloHealth offers self-service health screening. Their inaugural product, EyeSite™ is an interactive kiosk that provides vision health information and customized vision reports, and also directs consumers to an eye care professional nearby.
SoloHealth was founded by Bart Foster, an entrepreneur with over 14 years of sales and marketing experience in the consumer products industry. Prior to founding SoloHealth, Foster worked at CIBA VISION, the Eye Care division of Novartis AG. He was also director of sales for Peachtree Network, an Internet start-up based in Montreal, and helped the company with an IPO which was listed on the Canadian Venture Exchange. Foster began his career with Kellogg’s, where he was awarded the “Golden K” Salesman of the Year. In April 2008, SoloHealth raised $1.8 million in seed funding from friends, family and members of the Atlanta Technology Angels (ATA). A $1 million Series A is in progress, led by Larry Gerdes, who is on the board of directors.
The EyeSite kiosk concept was conceived by Foster in 2004. Each kiosk is automated and entirely self-service, unlike similar eyesight screenings available in the market. The concept is driven by two growth trends Foster predicts will characterize heath care — consumer-directed health care and self-service technology. Quick and easy to use, the kiosks are placed in high-traffic areas. EyeSite kiosks allow consumers to assess their near and far vision, schedule an appointment with a local eye doctor and learn about general eye health conditions. SoloHealth’s aim is not to replace a doctor’s visit, but to emphasize the need to visit an eye doctor regularly.
The EyeSite kiosks collect information from users and utilize data such as user demographics and visual acuity to deliver customized, relevant content to customers. SoloHealth offers this service free.
Including glasses, contact lenses, eye exams and services, the US vision care market is over $26 billion. It would be much larger if more people got regular eye exams more frequently. Since September 2008, the company has screened over 100,000 people in Atlanta. Of those screened, 26% had never had an eye exam, yet 26% failed the distance test and 30% the near vision test. Forty-eight percent reported having a family history of eye disease and over 3% of all users requested an appointment with an eye care professional.
SoloHealth earns revenue from advertisers targeting the vision market as well as fees from referrals. In April-May this year, the company signed several corporate deals which earned them revenue of over $650,000. The company is not yet profitable, but Foster is confident of reaching profitability by early 2011.
SoloHealth aims to set up kiosks within the optical departments of mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart, Target, ShopKo, Sam’s Club and Costco. Large optical retailers like Pearl Vision, LensCrafters and Sears Optical are also suitable places for the kiosks. The company has piloted with kiosks in Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Kroger all over Atlanta.
SoloHealth has been able to tie up with several retailers since the VP of Sales, Pat Griffin, has over 30 years of experience in the industry and existing relationships with many retailers. The company got its big break when National Vision CEO Reade Fahs helped them secure their first location inside an Atlanta Wal-Mart.
In 2008, SoloHealth was selected from a pool of 1,500 contestants to be one of the top five companies on Forbes.com’s ‘Boost Your Business’ entrepreneurial list. It was also selected as one of the 2008 ‘Top 40’ Innovative Technology companies in Georgia by the Technology Association of Georgia and has won other awards like ‘Best in Show’ at the Kiosk.Com Self-Service Expo.
In the future, SoloHealth expects an exit in the form of an acquisition by a self-service kiosk company, health care media company or one of the large optical retailers or manufacturers. Till then, the company will expand into other branches of health care such as blood pressure, BMI and health risk assessments. At present SoloHealth’s main aim is to increase the network of EyeSite kiosks across the country.
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009