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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Student creates EyeBook directory

Josh Schoenbart '16 is the founder and CEO of the EyeBook, a new online optometric directory that provides a tailored search enabling patients to find eye care specialists based on categories like insurance, treatments, location and brands of eyeglasses and contacts in stock.

Schoenbart took an interest in the optometric industry from an early age under the influence of his father, an optometrist. According to his mother Sandy Schoenbart, Josh Schoenbart took an interest in designing his own frames, an interest that grew into a venture in which Josh designed glasses frames with factories in China, Hungary and Italy. This venture eventually expanded to Schoenbart's creation of the EyeBook.

The service, which was launched Aug. 1, differs from existing optometric directories in that it helps patients search for eye care specialists according to their specific needs, Schoenbart said. After entering a ZIP code and selecting a certain radius, the site lists the profiles of doctors and opticians within that range. The EyeBook currently provides the information of over 3,800 doctors in 50 states.

Since the service is relatively new, the EyeBook has been focusing mainly on contacting doctors and providing their information online rather than sourcing customers.

"Every doctor's profile is different," Schoenbart said. "There is a map of where they are located, their office hours and [a space for leaving] feedback if you are a registered user. You can visit their website, send in your testimonies and rank doctors. In the future, you can book an appointment and ask them questions."

Once the EyeBook starts reaching out through the Internet in news releases and blogs, Schoenbart said he plans to publish two blog entries per week for the next six months on eye health-related research.

For an annual fee, eye care specialists can display their information on the directory, according to Schoenbart. So far, the profiles have been created by the EyeBook group, which has sent out notification emails to the doctors informing them of the service and giving the doctors a free 90-day trial before they must decide whether to pay for the service, he said. Instead of paying an astronomical amount for advertising in a newspaper or radio station, the EyeBook serves as the affordable middleman between patients and doctors, Schoenbart said.

Alex Matthey '14, the co-president of the International Business Council, said he was very impressed by Schoenbart's product.

"It's hard to have the organizational skills to start your own startup," Matthey said. "I also like the fact that he has a personal relationship with it, so he knows what he is talking about and knows what he is dealing with. He knows what he needs and puts passion into it, something he is personally invested in."

Schoenbart said he put a lot of time, effort and personal capital into developing the EyeBook. The product aims to help every doctor on its directory receive at least one patient through its services by the end of the year, he said.

"Getting the word out to real people and true professionals in the world of optometry, not just people in the Dartmouth bubble, is a daunting and challenging task," he said.

Marilyn Peterson, an optician at Hill Opticians in Hanover, said she is enthusiastic about the product. Although she was unaware of the business, Peterson said she is especially interested in the upcoming weekly blog that could educate people on eye care and make it easier for the public to explore the services they need online.

"In the future, if people can use and benefit from this site, that would be a dream come true, because our goal is to help the optometric industry, help people go to doctors, save doctors time and also benefit doctors in the long run by receiving new patients," Schoenbart said.

Schoenbart said that the site is still in its beginning stages but said he wants to further develop the website and even expand to Europe after ensuring a stable client base in the United States. Schoenbart said that he and his team of developers have been anxious to promote the site on Facebook, Twitter and through word of mouth. At Dartmouth, Schoenbart said he works on the EyeBook every day, making efforts to reach out to science journals, new doctors and Dartmouth community members.

James Aronstein '16 said he admires the site's level of personalization, noting and that it allows people to "find exactly what they need without wasting time looking door to door."

However, he said he sees the challenges of the EyeBook in the marketing of the company.