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At some point, for some reason, it was decided that eyes and teeth didn't count as "healthcare," an if you wanted them covered it required having separate insurance. Yet, the cost of vision care and benefits keep going up each year, with people often paying more than $300 on average for a pair of glasses, even if they are covered.
That realization if what Antonio Moraes and James Wong to found XP Health, a company that uses artificial intelligence to help employers provide cheaper vision benefits platform for their employees and their families.
"The user experience was very inconvenient and not transparent. That’s when we started developing our AI technology to help people find the perfect pair of glasses for them," Moraes, the company's CEO, told me.
"Suddenly many large tech companies started to see our solution as a way to enhance their existing vision plans and provide a better employee experience and help them save money."
The company is also attracting interest from investors as well: on Thursday, XP Health announced a $5 million seed round funding led by Valor Capital Group, along with Semper Virens, Village Global, J-Angels, Stanford StartX, and angel investor Jeff Epstein, former CFO at Oracle.
XP Health plans to use the new funding to support its growth plans, which include further developing its AI technology and scaling its R&D and engineering teams. That also means expanding its production capacity to serve over 100,000 employees in the next 12 months
Founded in 2018, XP Health uses AI so that employees no longer have to go to a physical store to buy glasses, providing them with a 100 percent digital experience for vision care from home.
"We're proud of our very user-friendly modern interface that makes accessing vision benefits easier and takes the guesswork out of the equation by transparently communicating to the employee what they have for remaining vision care benefits," said Moraes.
The company also provides personal stylists, who are assigned and dedicated to each employer and who help them try-on up to six pairs of frames from some of the world's leading designers, including Tom Ford, Ray-Ban, Armani, Gucci, and Coach, with a prepaid return label included.
"Because of our proprietary deep learning model that uses facial recognition technology, we can recommend the best frames based on facial dimensions with 98% accuracy," Moraes told me.
Finally, the company also offers its members onsite care, so the company is providing "a complete vision experience to their offices."
Employers that use XP Health are mostly in the tech, biotech, financial services, and services industries. It has over 30 clients clients, including companies like Zoom, Chegg, and Sequoia Consulting Group. According to Moraes, the XP Health platform is able to reduce costs by up to 80 percent, helping companies lower costs by 90 percent with vision benefits and vision care. It is also able to increase a company's existing vision benefits coverage by an average of 10X.
Along with the new funding round, XP Health also announced a slew of new members to its Board of Advisors.
They include: Ellen Meza, Director of Global Benefits & Mobility at DocuSign; Yogi Panjabi, former VP of People Technology and Analytics at Palo Alto Network; yRobert Chang, M.D., Associate Professor of Ophthalmology; Sharon Lee O.D. U.C. Berkeley School of Optometry alumni; Dr. Robson Capasso, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, and Associate Dean Stanford School of Medicine; Steve Schramm, co-founder Orative; Doug Solomon, Chief Legal Officer, RMS, and former SVP, General Counsel at NetSuite; and David Glick, CTO at Flexe, and a former VP of Operations and Fulfilment Technologies at Amazon.
"We are truly blessed for having the advisors and investors that we have. They share our mission to provide a better experience with vision to 100 million people and have deep expertise in many areas," said Moraes.
"To do our mission, it was essential for us to look at critical experts in the vision, benefits, and technology industries."
XP Health's platform is riding a wave of transformation in healthcare that was happening even before COVID, but has accelerated rapidly in the last year or so. That includes a growing adoption of telemedicine across many different areas, along with consumerization of services and products, with user-centric design becoming more and more a central piece in this process. Finally, there are innovations that improve outcomes without leading to higher costs and ideally reducing costs.
XP Health is working on all these fronts in the vision space, with the goal of making high-quality vision care accessible to everyone and providing the best experiences in the space, Moraes told me.
"When I was 20 years old, I set myself the goal to reach my first million people by the time I turned 30. I spent 10 years creating and growing an impact-investing fund that invested in two healthcare companies that surpassed that goal," he said.
"In my co-founder’s James case, he spent almost 10 years in large tech companies developing machine learning technologies touching billions of people. With XP Health, our ultimate goal is to create a deep and lasting impact to 100 million people and starting this by reinventing vision benefits."
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