Dhruvin Patel took out a Start Up Loan of £500 through delivery partner Virgin StartUp in 2015 to start his business Ocushield, an innovative line of products designed to protect eyes from the harmful blue light emitted by screens. The technology gives users fresher feeling eyes and better sleep after using display screens. Dhruvin used the funds to buy a web domain and some simple graphic design.
“I wanted to take out the lowest amount possible, as I wasn’t sure I needed a lot of start-up capital, but really wanted the support. My mentors were Rob Willis and Udhi Silva. Working with them was the most beneficial part. When starting out I didn’t know which steps to follow, people that have done it before and can provide advice.”
Prior to starting Ocushield, Dhruvin, 29, was studying to become an optometrist at City University, London and working at Vision Express. He produced a research paper looking at how blue light can be detrimental to people’s health. The paper not only stressed the light’s impact on our eyes but the effect it has in suppressing melatonin, the hormone which gets the human body ready for restful sleep.
“The technology to filter out blue light already existed for people who wear prescription glasses (filtering only 19%). But I wanted to create a more effective product for people who do not wear glasses. Our products as standard filter up to 40% of harmful blue light.”
Dhruvin began trading while still at university and Ocushield turned over £55,000 in its first year. It has continued to grow exponentially ever since.
“I appeared on Dragons’ Den on 1 July 2021 and secured a deal with Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani. But then I had to turn it down as the business had grown by £1 million between the episode being shot and the time it took to negotiate the shareholders’ agreement. The business worth is now projected to be worth £6 million.”
Dhruvin is now seeking a further £600,000 in funding to accelerate Ocushield’s growth in the UK and the US and has already secured £400,000.
Trading during Covid has brought about benefits and challenges for the business.
“We had to adapt to increased costs of manufacturing in the Middle East and Far East, which rose tenfold. But on the flipside, because of Zoom fatigue, more customers were conscious of their eyes, and our marketing reached a whole new audience.”