A startup founder who turned down two of the BBC’s fiercest entrepreneurial Dragons has landed private investment worth 1,000% more for an even smaller stake of his company.
Eye health innovator and qualified optometrist Dhruvin Patel, 29, created Ocushield while at university in 2015 to combat the effects of harmful blue light emitted from the tech devices we use every day.
Ocushield produces and sells the world’s first medically rated screen protectors to fit everyday devices, helping to cut blue light.
Smartphones, tablets and computer screens emit blue light, causing headaches, blurred vision, fatigue and dry eyes. Blue light can also negatively affect your sleep hormones. Ocushield’s technology – from screen protectors to bedside lamps, and even glasses – blocks up to 90% of blue light wavelengths.
With more than 150,000 products sold far worldwide, Patel wants to take his business to the next level.
Last year, he and business partner Asad Hamir impressed on Dragons’ Den and secured £75,000 worth of investment for a combined 15% of the business from Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani.
But during the six-month period after filming and before agreements could be signed, the business exploded with a further £750,000 in sales, which naturally shifted the valuation of the company. The Dragons couldn’t negotiate a new investment reflecting the increased value, so Patel turned down their offer.
After further growth, especially during the coronavirus pandemic as screen time shot up, so did the demand for Ocushield products. The business is now valued at around £6m.
Now Patel has landed £910,000 worth of investment from a suite of private investors – for just 13% equity.
Investors include Rubix Ventures – a fund built by athletes and other high-profile founders – and ex-Balenciaga and Gucci Group leader James McArthur, who was also the co-founder of the highly successful Pasta Evangelists. Former Irish Olympic cyclist Dan Martin and ex-Premier League defender Scott Dann are also invested.
The increased level of investment will now be used to enhance Ocushield’s product line, help more people realise the effects of harmful blue light and improve eye health worldwide.
Patel (pictured above) said: “After appearing on the show, our brand and revenue went up and up. We realised we were giving Peter and Tej too much of a good deal, but the Dragons couldn’t negotiate outside of the Den to make the deal more palatable.
“While it was a shame we couldn’t have them involved, we’re sure Tej and Peter would have made the same savvy moves in our positions as budding business titans, so there’s definitely no hard feelings.
“By securing investment like we have now, it means we can further support eyes to thrive.
“I started researching the effects of blue light in 2013. Around that time, new lens coating became available for glasses to cut out some blue light. But as someone who doesn’t wear glasses, I wanted to create a product that could help people in similar situations to me.
“When your eyes are healthy, you sleep better, you feel better, you get more done.
“As an optician, I could see around 20 patients a day. With Ocushield, I can help so many more.”
Patel and the Ocushield team are now working towards achieving B Corp status to showcase its social impact and further cement the brand as a leader in its field.
Ocushield is also now donating £1 from every web purchase to Guide Dogs UK.