Aaron Dallek is on a mission to help people see better—and disrupting conventional eye-care models in the process. Opternative, the refractive eye-exam company he co-founded in 2012, delivers prescriptions in 24 hours or less—without a doctor visit.
“Some 2.5 billion people worldwide need corrective lenses but don’t have access to care,” he says. “We’re making eye exams available to people with just a computer and a smartphone.”
The 25-minute exam, a series of ophthalmological images and medical- history questions, costs $40–$60. Patients receive a digital prescription from an ophthalmologist licensed in their state. “We’ve just scratched the surface of the number of people we can help,” Dallek says. In 2016, Opternative raised $6 million in Series A funding and now serves adults aged 18 to 40 in 33 states.
Dallek is no stranger to entrepreneurship. At age 14, he launched a computer consulting firm. Other ventures have included a printer cartridge brokerage and recycling company, a startup consultancy, and a carbon information management software company, which he sold.
But even with all this hands-on experience, Dallek says his time at Berkeley Haas was invaluable. “Haas helped me build a foundation of knowledge that I use to this day,” he says. “I’d been running businesses for years but needed to learn strategic skills, like finance, which was totally new to me.”
Question the Status Quo and Beyond Yourself carry particular resonance for Dallek.
“In our company we often say that ‘the juice is worth the squeeze,’” he says. “It means we’re willing to take risks and challenge business as usual. And we’re also committed to choosing the world and making personal sacrifices to help others.”