This month Element readers decide on the 'People's Choice' from the 11 social enterprises in the Launchpad accelerator, thereby deciding who receives the $20,000 prize from Contact to help further their endeavours. Social enterprises are purpose-driven organisations that trade to deliver social or environmental impact. Click below to access the voting form, and click on each team's name to learn more.
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RB: Describe Mr Four Eyes
Ravi Dass: Mr Four Eyes offers personalised eyewear to New Zealanders at a price we can all afford. Our goal is to make eyewear accessible to everyone - especially Kiwi kids. So a big part of Mr Four Eyes is our one-for-one model, where, for every pair of glasses we sell, we donate a pair of glasses to NZ children.
RB: Tell us about the brains behind Mr Four Eyes.
RD: Mr Four Eyes is a husband and wife team. I (Ravi) wear a couple of hats, the first being an optometrist. The other being a keen volunteer. I've done a fair bit of charity work in the Pacific Islands and bring this side of my experience in to the business.
Steph, my wife and business partner, has also developed a passion for helping people. We both have a strong understanding and empathy for the type of challenges that many New Zealanders needing eyewear face, and together we're merging our skills to help overcome these.
RB: Tell us about the "aha" moment that bought Mr Four Eyes to life?
RD: It happened about five years ago after I saw a young patient struggling with her vision. Her mother came to me for a second opinion. She had passed school screening eye tests yet was still struggling at school. She was 10 but had the reading level of an 8-year-old. So I gave her reading glasses. This changed her life. Within three months she was reading like a 12-year-old again.
I increasingly started to see similar cases. Even people in their twenties with eye problems which had never been picked up or who simply couldn't afford eyewear. This made me wonder how many kids were not being diagnosed or treated? Or who couldn't afford it? Voila, Mr Four Eyes was created.
RB: What gaps does Mr Four Eyes fill?
We fill both social and business gaps. Socially, with our price point, we make eyewear accessible to everyone. Our one-for-one model also makes eyewear accessible to kids who otherwise wouldn't. Our new website will offer unique services like free home try and a re-glazing service to put new lenses into people's (new or used) frames for them. Both these services are currently missing in the market.
RB: What will society look like 10 years from now because of Mr Four Eyes?
Every child and adult in need of corrective eyewear will affordably have access to it. Mr Four Eyes will also have played a collaborative role to ensure all future NZ kids have their eyesight tested earlier and are treated to give them more opportunity to benefit from their education. Right now kids with vision problems commonly experience difficulty reading and concentrating as well as health problems like headaches.
RB: Do you see Mr Four Eyes evolving into something bigger?
Absolutely! Currently we're focused on the online (sales) side of the business, but we have big goals to grow our business beyond this to ensure that eyewear becomes accessible to all New Zealanders. There's also scope to expand internationally.
We see some great technological advancements happening in other industries that we want to apply to the eyewear industry. For example more personalisation, style, speed of delivery, and better value.