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Speqs raises $10 million, considers ASX listing

06/09/2017By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
The CEO of Australian tech start up Speqs has revealed the business, which will use an augmented reality platform to sell prescription glasses online, has already raised more than $10 million in capital from investors.

Mr Neven Botica, a Perth-based businessman with a background in manufacturing and distribution, also said the company board would attempt to generate further investment and did not rule out a potential ASX debut in the near future.

To date, capital raising efforts have easily exceeded the $3 million target initially stated in the business’s March information memorandum, as first reported by Insight in July.

A soft launch of the company’s augmented reality platform, that should allow potential customers to ‘virtually try on’ frames, was scheduled for late August. However, while the website is now ‘live’, Botica said the smartphone app was undergoing some additional testing and would now be released by mid-September.


"It’s technology which is going to change the way people purchase their eyewear… To my knowledge there is nothing else in the world that can do this right now,"
Neven Botica, Speqs CEO

Botica claims the software is sufficiently advanced to take PD measurements and perform other work normally undertaken by dispensers, and will also allow multi-focal wearers to purchase spectacles online.

Such a development would be significant, and controversial, given online retailers have traditionally been reluctant to sell spectacles with anything other than low-power single vision lenses due to the complicated nature of aspheric lenses.

Botica described Speqs as a world first a-commerce (augmented reality commerce) platform saying, “It’s an augmented reality virtual try on technology, so we’re going to have one of the first a-commerce platforms in the world.

“It’s technology which is going to change the way people purchase their eyewear… To my knowledge there is nothing else in the world that can do this right now.”

Botica also revealed plans for international expansion and said the company would exhibit at this month’s Vision Expo in Las Vegas.

“We’ve got a distribution platform with our technology, which is a different way of doing business. We’re dealing with various suppliers and we have other relationships that we’re trying to develop,” Botica said.

“Australia has a very mature eyewear market. If we can prove this model works in Australia, well there’s no reason why it’s not going to work everywhere around the world.”

The ambitious company has targeted $25 million in online sales in 2018, which would in part be assisted by cross marketing campaigns with major health funds. A spokesperson for Whitecoat, which reached an agreement with Speqs in March, said the two businesses had been working on a number of marketing strategies to help generate website traffic for the start up.

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“We will list Speqs on Whitecoat, and allow customers to download the Speqs app from the Whitecoat website. The site currently has more than 250,000 monthly visitors, researching providers and reading reviews. Secondly, we will send Whitecoat surveys to Speqs customers, allowing them to give their feedback on the service experience,” the Whitecoat spokesperson said.

“We also will introduce Speqs to funds who are using the Whitecoat platform, so they can pursue cooperative marketing with those funds. Finally, for consumers who have opted in to marketing updates from Whitecoat, we will promote Speqs to them to raise awareness of the proposition and provide great offers as well.”


"Australian consumers increasingly manage many aspects of their everyday lives through their mobile. We believe that healthcare matters should be managed in the same way,"
Whitecoat spokesperson

The spokesperson said the move toward online platforms was a “natural progression” given that 80% of people access whitecoat.com.au via a mobile device.

“Australian consumers increasingly manage many aspects of their everyday lives through their mobile. We believe that healthcare matters should be managed in the same way. The Speqs proposition is fully aligned to this view,” the spokesperson said.

HBF has also indicated it will market Speqs to members should it become an HBF Member Plus provider, however, there is no formal agreement between the two businesses as yet.

A HBF spokesperson explained: “We have Member Plus agreements with many providers and marketing on behalf of our different providers, optical and other, is something we routinely do where we see a tangible benefit for members.

“Currently there is no agreement between HBF and Speqs, but we are in discussions with them and remain interested in anything that has the potential to deliver value to our members,” he added.

Aside from spectacles, Speqs also has plans to branch into the online contact lens market and has developed an app to launch alongside its spectacles platform. It’s understood the current version of the app will allow consumers with an up-to-date prescription to purchase contact lenses online, but will stop short of virtual eye exams like those offered by Warby Parker and Opternative in the US.

More reading: Australian online optical retailer aims to disrupt market
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