Meet Dr. Kristen Nwanyanwu, MBA/MD ‘09
Medical Product Innovator
Dr. Nwanyanwu is a board-certified ophthalmologist, a vitreoretinal surgeon and Assistant Professor of ophthalmology and visual science at Yale School of Medicine. Kristen is also the Principal Investigator at SEEN Lab — the Sight-Saving Engagement and Evaluation in New Haven which seeks to decrease preventable blindness in diabetic retinopathy. She has lectured nationally on health disparities, access to care, and the surgical management of diabetic retinopathy.
After completing her MD/MBA at Penn/Wharton and beginning to practice medicine, Kristen thought she would probably give up the business world all together. But as she moved forward in the medical profession, she began to see a real need for innovative product solutions that were actually created and vetted by eye doctors.
Kristen founded Eyeful, a company that designs products specifically for her field of expertise. The first problem she chose to solve was to create a stylish, functional case for the ophthalmic lenses that are essential to eye doctors. She had gotten tired of crawling around on exam floors searching for lost lenses and concerned about the image her weathered case projected to patients.
Tell us a bit about your company
Eyeful is the premier, luxury case brand for ophthalmic lenses. Used by eye care providers to examine eyes around the globe, these lenses are an investment and should be treated as such.
What inspired you to start your business / what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
I was tired of crawling around on the patient exam room looking for my lenses. As a practicing vitreoretinal surgeon, I wanted something functional that projected professionalism to my patients. I created Eyeful to innovate for eye doctors so we can be our best from the exam room and beyond.
What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?
After I graduated Wharton with an MD/MBA and chose to practice medicine, I thought I would give up business all together. I love that this allows me to pursue both in parallel. It’s just unique enough to give me that extra spark to innovate for eye doctors every where.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
We just launched our first product!!!! It was incredible to have a vision and see it come together. Now, I love engaging with our customers and creating a community of eye doctors with similar values.
What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?
Lead with gratitude and follow with patience. It’s such a privilege to be an entrepreneur and build things that don’t exist, but that takes time, especially if you’re starting something new and being disruptive.
What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
Right now it’s just me and I’m automating everything. I would love to experience the challenge of how to scale. I am hopeful that time will come.
What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?
I have been surprised at how gracious other entrepreneurs have been with their time. There are several alumnae that supported me when I was starting this venture and continue to be sounding boards (Tiffany Johnson Lewis, Margaux Guerard, Phuong Mai) as I move through the process.
How can the WAFFA community help you?
I would love information on best practices and how to get things started.
Check out Eyeful here!