Hi! It’s me, Spiffy the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with the latest scoop on entrepreneurs making a difference in healthcare for all of us around the world! Today’s rockstar is Quinn Wang, MD, the co-founder and CEO of Quadrant Eye, who is working hard to make eye exams accessible to people online. Are you ready to be enlightened?
Spiffy: Welcome Dr. Wang! Can you start by telling me about the challenges you’re addressing?
Quinn: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Quadrant Eye's mission is to use online eye exams to bring high-quality eye care to anyone, anywhere. We are first addressing the fact that 153 million people are either blind or visually impaired due to uncorrected distance refractive error (e.g. needing glasses or contacts). Without corrective eyewear, millions of children are losing educational opportunities, and adults are excluded from productive work lives. Affected individuals and families are often pushed into vicious cycles of poverty because of their poor (but correctable!) vision.
Spiffy: Wow! Keep going . . . can you tell me what motivated you to try to provide online eye exams?
Quinn: Well, Spiffy, I was trained as an ophthalmologist at Duke University and the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF). At the height of 2020’s shelter-in-place, eye exams were deemed to be nonessential, and eye clinics and operating rooms closed down. During this time, many people were left without eye care access. When my clinic opened back up again, I took care of a grandpa (Bill) who went blind during shelter-in-place. He had been too afraid to leave home and didn't have anyone to ask for eye care advice. He had gone from 20/20 vision to light perception only, and it turns out that this tragedy could've been prevented had he had access to a simple online eye exam.
Spiffy: Oh, my. You’re right, how can we let this sort of thing happen? How is Quadrant Eye going to help make the world more equitable?
Quinn: We are working on an online eye exam that can check vision and also screen for serious eye problems. We want to eventually be able to build out a more complete eye exam (including hardware components) and then deploy this fully remote exam to eye health deserts. My personal goal is to decrease the number of preventable tragedies like Bill's.
Spiffy: That’s amazing. Have you had any recent milestones you’ve achieved?
Quinn: We recently raised an oversubscribed seed round to flesh out our online eye exam, get closer to product-market fit, and obtain the necessary resources to start executing on this internal nonprofit mission.
Spiffy: I always need to ask—can you share about an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you learn from failure?
Quinn: Actually, Spiffy, during my first fundraising round (pre-seed) I failed to hit my target raise. From there, I learned that I had to build a better team, obtain better metrics, and tap deep into the values that drive me to power on to success.
Spiffy: And what is something unexpected you’ve learned lately?
Quinn: I've learned that getting a "no," whether it be from an investor or a potential strategic partner, can help you spot and correct very real weaknesses in your business.
Spiffy: It sounds like you know how to correct the weaknesses! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today, Dr. Wang, it’s been an honor!
Quinn Wang, MD, is the co-founder and CEO of Quadrant Eye. She is a Duke University and Univerity of California-San Francisco trained cataract surgeon whose goal is to move eye care online. (Nominated by Mighty Health)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s stories of founders building a more equitable world at www.ladderworks.co/blogs/spiffys-blog