Sonoma eyewear startup ThinOptics seeks boost in funding, public's vision – North Bay Business Journal

The founder of a Sonoma startup hopes his company’s vision will help others solve theirs.
On Oct. 12, ThinOptics launched a campaign on StartEngine.com, hoping to raise $2 million to expand its marketing and testing efforts for a trio of eyeglass products billed as some of the thinnest in the world. As of Oct. 19, the campaign had gained about $300,000.
The company was incorporated in 2010, spawned by a problem co-founder Teddy Shalon’s friend was having. While out on a bike ride, he was unable to read texts on his cell phone, since he wasn’t carrying his bulky reading glasses.
From that, CEO and co-founder Gadi Ponte, a Silicon Valley engineer, logistics manager and businessman, asks the prevailing question in a campaign video: “Why not have glasses that can come with you everywhere?”
Operating as of six years ago, the company now produces and sells readers, sunglasses and full-frames with cases that fit ideally on the back of cell phones or in a thin pocket. The thickness ranges between 2 and 4 millimeters. Readers come in a variety of lens powers starting at 1.0.
ThinOptics also makes and sells blue-light blockers for avid computer device users.
How do they not break?
ThinOptics glasses are made with a durable, bendable material called Nitinol. It was developed by the U.S. Navy, according to ScienceDirect.com. The lenses are also made with polycarbonate material. The products are made in a plant in Taiwan, then flown to the United States, where the company conducts testing and packaging. So, no cargo ship is required. The cases and components are sourced globally, with a current concentration in Asia.
The 7,000-square-foot headquarters is located in Sonoma.
At a price range of $20 to $60, the glasses are sold on Amazon and the company websites, in addition to some eye doctors’ offices as well as a limited number of CVS, Walmart, Best Buy and TJ Maxx stores.
The company raked in about $9 million in revenue last year, Ponte said. The products have now sold in the last five years to about 2 million users in 127 countries, he said. The optics businessman added that the company plans to use the StartEngine funding to “scale” the business, which is defined as growing the company at “an accelerated rate that is both stable and sustainable over time.”
According to Fortune Business Insights, the global reading glasses market will be valued at about $53 billion by 2026.
Dr. Jeff Ricks of Sonoma Eyeworks in Santa Rosa said he’s noticed more computer use, which has exacerbated during the pandemic, leading to more people needing to correct reading vision.
“For the most part, readers will leave millions of pairs all over the place, and they lose them. So I think there’s a market for this,” Ricks said.
Susan Wood covers law, cannabis, production, biotech, energy, transportation, agriculture as well as banking and finance. For 25 years, Susan has worked for a variety of publications including the North County Times, now a part of the Union Tribune in San Diego County, along with the Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe News. She graduated from Fullerton College. Reach her at 530-545-8662 or [email protected]

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