by Zac Beker
Founder Features showcases alumni of all CO.LAB programs, including accelerators, CO.STARTERS, Kiva, Business Breakdown Sessions and more. Learn more about the CO.STARTERS program and apply at colab.co/costarters or by clicking the button at the bottom of the page.
In this founder feature, we talked to Janki Vansia to learn more about her company, Opty. Janki commuted to one of CO.STARTERS cohorts for 9 weeks last year all the way from Atlanta, and for those of us in the region, we know just how not-fun that drive can be. But clearly she is relentless when it comes to her business, and we’re excited to see her product popping up in retail stores in our area this year. See below for our conversation with Janki.
Do you remember the lightbulb moment for Opty?
When I was in college, I would never wear my glasses. People would wave to me, I wouldn’t see them, and they would come up to me asking why I didn’t wave back. Everytime, I would have to say, “Sorry, I’m not wearing my glasses.” It happened so often that one day, I asked myself, “Why don’t I ever wear my glasses??” I then realized the process of cleaning them was such a hassle I’d rather not wear them! I went back to my dorm and started googling. I found out that 1) There isn’t a quick, safe solution to cleaning your glasses 2) There isn’t any educational information on how to properly clean your glasses and how not to scratch and damage them while doing it. The lightbulb hit when I realized that your microfiber cloth has the ability to make your glasses unwearable. The next week was spring break, I went home and went into our materials room and started testing out materials that led me to build Opty.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and career experience, and how that helped you started a business?
I graduated Muhlenberg College in 2018 with a degree in Business Administration. However, because it was a liberal arts school, I learned about a myriad of topics from sociology to moviemaking. My work experiences were also varied from doing PR at fashion company to being in media management at a TV company. This notion of I can be a learner and doer of anything if I put my mind to it helped me not be afraid to take on Opty.
What part of the CO.STARTERS experience was the most impactful for you and your business?
The most important part of CO.STARTERS was learning from others. The group activities would help spark a myriad of ideas and help me figure out problems that I couldn’t have solved on my own. Everyone in the class had different expertise and experiences which was important because they saw my problems through a different paradigm than I did.
What is one piece of advice you would give to an upcoming CO.STARTERS participant who wants to start a business?
One piece of advice is to truly listen to feedback. When creating a product, you have put your customer first–they’re the ones using/buying it. One theory that has helped me with this is the Jobs Theory. I highly recommend reading about it.
How can our entrepreneurial community best support you?
The best way is by spreading the word! I would love Opty to start much needed conversations with friends about what really happens when you don’t clean your glasses properly. Opty isn’t just here to protect people’s glasses, we’re also here to save people money and to bring awareness to proper eyecare. And finally, check out Opty for yourself at useopty.com!
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Learn more about the CO.STARTERS program and apply at colab.co/costarters or by clicking the button below.