Opternative Changes Name to ‘Visibly’ to Better Reflect a Move Toward Partnerships

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CHICAGO—Opternative, seeking to rebrand and reposition itself as a technology company with an eye on partnerships, announced this morning that it has changed its company name to “Visibly.” The new name “fully embraces the solutions [the company] offers the eyecare industry and appropriately represents the broad scope of who we can serve,” the company said in its announcement. Brent Rasmussen, chief executive officer at Visibly, told VMAIL in a telephone interview that the company’s former name, Opternative, carried “a negative connotation...not only in the industry, but, obviously, with optometrists.”

He added, “I thought it was important that we rebrand the company with a name that really better represents the partnerships that we are actually building with individual eyecare professionals and with eyecare professionals who own four or five practices.”

Planning for a new name began about a year ago and was aided by an outside branding agency, Rasmussen said. The effort involved interviews with board members, industry experts, doctors, investors and internal employees to “ensure the new name … reflects the audience the company serves today and plans to serve in the future,” according to the announcement. Coincidentally, the debut of the new name today (Dec. 11) coincides with Rasmussen’s one-year anniversary with the company. The company’s new web address is www.goVisibly.com.

Founder and chief science officer Steven Lee, OD, said that in addition to its negative connotation, the old company name “positioned the brand as an existential threat” to optometrists and other ECPs. “This is why it was important for us to rebrand the company with a name that better represents the partnerships we’re building with eyecare providers and eyewear retailers in the industry,” Lee said in the announcement.


Brent Rasmussen, CEO.

The effort to line up industry partnerships has been moving ahead quickly, and Visibly today has five times as many partnerships as the company had in March 2018 when Rasmussen spoke at the VM Summit in New York City, he said. “It’s going really, really well,” he said of the effort to build partnerships. “We’re super excited about it and we will continue to advance the technology and we will add different technologies on top of our existing platform going forward.”

Over the past year, Visibly has expanded its partnership reach into Mexico, and expects to “launch officially in Germany” in January 2019, Rasmussen said. “We will probably be in 20 countries by mid-2019,” he added. “And that’s really exciting for the company.” When he came on board a year ago, there were no international partnerships.

Visibly raised $9 million in November in an “A3” round of funding, bringing to $18.5 million the total investment the company has raised, as VMAIL reported, Trust Ventures and Pritzker Group Venture Capital led the funding round, some of which will be devoted to marketing efforts around the new company name, as well as patient/consumer education, Rasmussen said.

“The reality is most consumers or patients globally don’t understand or have an idea that you can actually use this technology to get a new prescription online,” Rasmussen said. “Part of our job is to inform and educate,” he added, noting that the marketing team will be investing significant dollars in education-type programs and content going forward.

Visibly also has made progress on the regulatory side, Rasmussen said. There are 11 states in which the company currently cannot offer online tests. Five of these states require real-time audio-visual connections between the patient and doctor. Rasmussen said Visibly expects to launch a real-time connection to satisfy this requirement sometime next year. The firm has hired optometrists to provide the “live” component, and they will be based at its offices here.


Steven Lee, OD, founder.

There also are five states that have legislation in place that basically prohibits the practice of telemedicine, “so those [states] are off the table for now,” Rasmussen said.

In addition, Visibly has worked to overcome hurdles placed in its path by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rasmussen said Visibly has submitted documentation that the agency has requested and is working toward the agency’s approval for its online eye test in the near future. (The company received a warning letter from FDA a little over a year ago, which advised the company that its online eye test mobile app did not have the agency’s marketing clearance or approval, as VMAIL reported.

The FDA’s request for additional information has been completed, Rasmussen said in the interview. “We have submitted all of the [information] to the FDA and we are in the final stages of the approval process,” he said. “It’s been a really, really good experience with them, and so we are excited about that and, hopefully, we should become FDA approved overall very shortly,” he noted.

Rasmussen attributes some of the company’s progress to investments earmarked for expanding the company’s staff. “We’ve doubled the size of the company and that helps,” he said. “We had six engineers when I started and now we have over 25 and maybe even up to 30 by the end of the year….. We’ve got a whole data team, a whole product team and full engineering team [who] are really doing a lot of stuff on a global platform,” he explained.

Visibly was founded in 2012, and its online vision test allows patients to renew their prescription anywhere, anytime, according to the announcement. Visibly has issued hundreds of thousands of prescriptions with a 99.6 percent satisfaction rate, and it offers ECPs, eyewear retailers and other organizations “customizable software solutions to enable a better patient and consumer experience.”

“Our company believes that every human on earth deserves affordable access to eyecare, wherever they are, all of the time,” Rasmussen said. “Our new name Visibly represents this belief and inspires confidence within the industry to embrace positive change that will help more people see more clearly, more often.”