Albuquerque startup EveryDay Contacts won an undisclosed amount of funding from NMA Ventures to help it hit the market next year with innovative disposable lenses that include a proprietary comfort coating.
It’s the second local investment by NMA, a $4.2 million microfund set up by prominent angel investors with $1.6 million in backing from the state’s Catalyst Fund. NMA generally invests between $300,000 and $600,000 in local startups.
EveryDay Contacts, which serial entrepreneur Lawrence Chavez launched last year, uses a moisturizing technology on lenses that adds comfort for users. The technology is based on a hydrophilic, or “water-loving” coating that attracts moisture to surfaces.
The coating was originally developed by another Albuquerque company, Lotus Leaf Coatings, which Chavez launched in 2010 after licensing a super hydro-resistant, or hydrophobic coating technology jointly developed by the University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories. Lotus Leaf initially marketed that as a surface protectant for things like textiles and metals, but the company discovered it can also manipulate the technology to create water-attracting, or hydrophilic surfaces.
EveryDay Contacts is now preparing clinical trials for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, which the company hopes to receive early next year to start marketing its lenses by mid-2020.
“The new funding will help get us through those trials and approval for market release,” Chavez said. “It will also help us build industry partnerships and a customer base.”
The company developed a unique marketing strategy to allow doctors to sell the lenses online directly to consumers after providing a prescription.
“It’s a doctor-enabled, direct-to-consumer model,” Chavez said. “It offers consumers everything they like about direct online sales, while assuring that the lens is right for the patient, since it’s prescribed by a doctor they trust.”
The company employs six people at a 3,000-square-foot facility in Albuquerque’s Broadbent Business Park.
NMA Ventures partnered with El Paso-based Hunt Holdings, which led the investment, said NMA Managing Partner Dorian Rader.
“EveryDay Contacts created a unique coating for lenses plus an innovative, direct-to-consumer model that keeps doctors directly in the loop,” Rader said. “That opens an untapped market opportunity.”
EveryDay Contacts is the seventh local startup to benefit from microfunds established around the state with contributions from the Catalyst Fund, a $20 million pool of money from the State Investment Council, the U.S Treasury Department, and private investors that Sun Mountain Capital in Santa Fe pumps into venture funds to invest in local companies. NMA and five other funds have received Catalyst money to date.
“The program is making money available for early-stage companies like EveryDay Contacts to grow to the next level,” said Sun Mountain Partner Lee Rand. “Catalyst-backed funds like NMA now have a robust pipeline of deals they’re looking at.”