What do AI and Dry Eye have in common?

Find out when you Join Bethany and Dr. Jovi Boparai, ophthalmologist, entrepreneur, and co-founder of CorneaCare as they discuss Dr. Boparai’s journey towards building an innovative AI-based solution for treating ocular surface disease.

Learn about what the future holds for these rapidly emerging technologies, what it takes to “move fast, fail fast, iterate faster,” and what it means to build a “generational brand” in today’s world of social media.  Dr. Boparai’s perspectives on technology and TikTok alike provide a fascinating window into just how fast patient care is evolving.


August 23, 2023



Read the Transcription
Becca Starks: We have the ear with the students to hear what they’re looking for. They’re very, very few students that we’re working with, with the class of 2023 that will even consider an opportunity that is not private practice.

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Hey, I am Bethany Fishbein. I am the CEO of The Power Practice and Host of The Power Hour Optometry Podcast. And I just want to first congratulate all of the new optometrists graduating this week from the optometry schools across the country. It’s such an exciting time. It doesn’t feel like that long ago since I and my classmates at New England College of Optometry in 1997 graduated. It goes fast. It’s really an exciting time. So congratulations, first of all, and this show is inspired by and dedicated to you and all of the people that you are hoping will hire you. Once you get your licenses and get out there into the world. So I’ve invited a guest, I have Becca Starks, Becca handles Enterprise Accounts and Operations for KMK Careers. And she’s here to help me sort out some of the things that today’s optometry students are looking for, and help educate some of the optometrists who are looking to hire young optometrists about misconceptions they may have or differing perceptions of this graduating class. So, Becca, thanks for doing this your second podcast ever. That’s awesome.

Becca Starks: Yes, thank you for having me. This is exciting. 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, thank you. It’s an interesting time because we work with mostly established optometric practice owners. So most of the people that I’m speaking to day to day are employers of young optometrists, and they have this vision of what today’s graduates are like, and then I get the opportunity to speak with optometry students and recent grads and they’re not necessarily like that perception at all. So hopefully, you can help us bridge the gap a little bit.

Becca Starks: Yeah, absolutely.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So, talk about yourself for a minute here. I want you to just talk about KMK and KMK Careers because when I want to data on students, I knew you were the one to go to. And so I want all of my listeners to understand your involvement with young optometrists today. 

Becca Starks: Yeah, absolutely. So KMK for those that don’t know KMK’s foundation is the KMK board review, which was started 18 years ago by Dr. Kyle Cheatham. And now fast forward 18 years we are inside of all of the 23 optometry schools nationwide. We have a team of optometrist instructors that traveled to all of the schools and we have a relationship with both third and fourth-year optometry students and 98, This is a big number to remember 98% of optometry students utilize KMK to pass their boards. So essentially we have a relationship with almost every single optometry student nationwide from the board’s perspective. And so we now have a new division of KMK specifically on careers which is just a natural extension of supporting those same students and finding their first career.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So you’re initially talking to these students when they’re students studying for boards. And then they hopefully pass boards and you know, move on and take more boards and pass those and move on. So what are the services that you’re providing for these students once they’ve graduated as doctors?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so it’s really fun. Personally, I am mostly an employee you’re facing so those that are looking for these candidates. However, we have a team of career advisors and all day long, they’re the luckiest ones in the world. They get to speak to these upcoming grads. So right now they are around the clock talking to those that are about to graduate here and a couple of weeks or maybe have graduated just recently. And uncovering what they’re looking for in a practice is really it’s a one-on-one relationship, so it’s totally free to students. They sign up to get a career advisor. They have calls with that career advisor to uncover what are they looking for what type of practice is it specific specialties, just anything that may be the true motivating factor as to why they want to go to a certain practice. And then essentially we play matchmaker so the career advisors speak to students all day long. I speak to employers all day long, and then we come together and get to build a bridge between the two and hopefully connect great candidates with a great opportunity.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Maybe it’ll be the next Netflix show after Indian matchmaking, Jewish matchmaking. It’ll be optometric career matchmaking. And be a celebrity.

Becca Starks: I think some of us would watch that, at least your listeners would probably enjoy that.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: My husband and I would watch it so 

Becca Starks: same. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So I mean, you’ve got a line of sight into exactly who today’s optometrists or today’s graduating class, today’s brand new optometrists are, can you give some facts and figures of what that class looks like?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so essentially, from a demographic perspective, it’s highly female. The data is showing 70% female and 30% Male.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: 70?

Becca Starks: 70 Percent.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Wow. 

Becca Starks: Yes. And there’s information I believe you are going to be able to put in the show notes. But there is a really robust report. I believe it’s lots and lots of pages. I don’t remember how many but there are highlights within that on pages nine and 10 that give a really good but really quick summary of demographics of this class, within gender within race. There’s even financial information about how many needed to have financial aid, that sort of thing, and some really detailed information even about by school breakdown.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Are you able to roll through some of the things in there that kind of stood out to you?

Becca Starks: So the biggest thing that stands out to me is female and how as you it shows kind of year over year how that transition has changed from much more female than male as it was in the past. Same thing with race, I believe I don’t remember how many years ago it was but just not too long ago. It was predominantly white for professionals graduating and now that’s shifted to highly other races, whether it’s Asian or black or other races that are included in that.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And what about the financial piece? Because I feel like that’s such a big topic for new doctors. Is this need to pay back student loans? Do you have any stats on the amount of debt that students are graduating with? 

Becca Starks: Yeah, so the report itself shows 85% of students are utilizing some type of support financial aid, loans, and the average for a graduate right now graduating is about $200,000 in debt. So definitely it is.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: That’s just from optometry school or that’s including undergrad debt?

Becca Starks: That’s actually a good question. We just get the stat of 200,000 and I assumed it was just optometry school. But that’s a good question.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So young, female, and any change in like age demographic? Or is it typically right out of college a year or two out of college starting into Optometry?

Becca Starks: Yeah, So typically, it is kind of a typical route straight out of undergrad and to optometry school. There is about of the 16-1700 graduates there are about 150 of those that are considered you know, like other avenues whether that would be part-time or returning back in at a later point in time.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay, so out of 1500 you’re talking about? Very typically, right? 1000 young, female, probably non-white doctors. 

Becca Starks: Yeah. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: If you had to say this is what’s typical. This is the majority. 

Becca Starks: Yeah. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: With debt?

Becca Starks: Yes. A lot of it. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay. So, when you talk to this typical doctor and are getting into the field of matching into a career of their dreams, what are they telling you that they want? 

Becca Starks: Yeah. So it’s been interesting to learn that so the things that I came into this thinking people would want my background was actually at LinkedIn for five years before coming on to help launch this division of KMK and I thought it would be very different. I would think pay would exceed everything else. But, interestingly, location is the top deciding factor for these new graduates in determining which practice they want. Obviously, that is the hardest answer because no one can do anything about the location of their practice. But we can touch on this later. Kind of some ideas and tips for those to try to recruit folks into harder locations but definitely the location. Again, before and above pay even this work-life balance coming into play that is much more of a topic. Then I think it has been in years past. Not necessarily meaning, Hey, I want to come in and I want to never work. But this generation is much more just passionate about having that work-life balance of the work to live not live to work mentality. And so location, work-life balance, obviously pay, and structuring pay in a way that is understood to the candidate as well too. So being very upfront about what that pay is so that they know before even applying and putting that in a way that they understand what they actually can make because sometimes it can be hard with percent of production, knowing what that means.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So let’s go into those a little bit more and I want to just go back one to work-life balance because I think that’s probably the biggest misunderstanding between a doc maybe in their 50s and a doc in their 20s. This idea of working to live instead of living to work and it’s respectable and it’s necessary and mental health is important and it’s and life has to work for you. But these older docs, that was not their world. And so when I hear it, it’s complaints. They won’t work weekends, they don’t want to put in 40 hours. They’re asking for a four-day workweek. They’re like it’s coming across as we’re lazy. We’re not dedicated to the practice. We don’t want to be here we’re not going to work as hard as you and it. It creates a disconnect from the start like somebody interviewing, who says I don’t want to work every weekend. All of a sudden has all these judgments thrown on them that they probably don’t deserve. Do you see that with the docs that you’re talking to and you’re matching?

Becca Starks: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it’s the same thing I hear to have. You know, that’s typically the demographic of employers that I’m talking to all day long to have, you know, they came out and maybe cold started or they came out and bought a practice and they’ve been doing it for 20-30 years and like. What?

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Right and they remember, or maybe they’re still working 70 hours a week and they’re there, you know, every day in the practice and their day off there when the cleaning themselves because that’s what the owners do. How do you coach of 50-something and 60-something-year-old practice owners into understanding that it’s not laziness and it’s not to they don’t want to work?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so that is it is a big misconception of the students that it is laziness, and specifically, most students are expecting to work at least one to two Saturdays a month. So it’s not that they’re coming in and saying I only want four-day workweeks, and I’ll never work a weekend. They are expecting a true full work week and one or two Saturdays per month. To your question about how to coach an owner in that situation. I think it’s just taking a step back and looking really high level at your practice as a business and I’ve had this conversation with many owners of I don’t know why we are open Saturdays, honestly, we’ve just always done it and so determined are we doing this because it’s just always been done or when determining this because it is a true business need. And so same thing with later hours or that sort of thing. If it is a true business need 100% voicing that to a candidate that’s a friend and that’s that’s great, but there may be situations where again, it’s just we’re doing this because it’s been done forever. And actually, our patients wouldn’t mind if we didn’t have a late night or we had a late night instead of a Saturday or vice versa.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Do you think docs have like a little bit of that? It’s like that hazy mentality? Like I went through it I put in my time therefore you you need to.

Becca Starks: I think it could be a little of that. Me not being an optometrist. I have to tread lightly because I have not earned my dues. But in the conversations that I’ve had, I think it is a little bit of that at least.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I worked weekends for 23 years. I’ve never missed it Saturday. I’ve never called out sick. And now I’m going to change my whole practice because this 24-year-old kid doesn’t want to work, like there’s that so what are the students are the new grads thinking about these practice owners, doctors who are in a different demographic from them because there’s got to be misconceptions going that way also.

Becca Starks: Yeah, I don’t get to hear a ton of the misconceptions from the student side. But I think there’s just both sides can teach each other something right like maybe that student can come in and show this business owner who’s been doing this forever, like, wow, I could totally do this differently. And, wow, I’m kind of relieved that you came in and brought up the idea of work-life balance because I as the business owner, really needed that, and wow, my life is different because of it and vice versa. There’s obviously so much that the practice owner can teach and pour into these new grad optometrists. But as far as misconceptions from them, I haven’t heard any to be honest. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I hear that they look at a private practice. They think they’re not going to be paid as much. So they’re thinking that not necessarily that the owner is cheap, but that it’s not. It’s not as profitable, therefore there’s not as much money in it for them. You didn’t mention the mode of practice. You talked about location, work-life balance, and pay. Are students coming out looking for commercial opportunities? Are they looking for private practice or looking for MD offices? I mean, obviously, students are looking for each of those, but what are you seeing most frequently?

Becca Starks: Yeah, great question. So motor practice is very important and private practice remains. Top of the list for I’d say close to 90% of the new grads.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Serious?

Becca Starks: Yeah, because I hear the same thing. I hear a lot from private practice owners that say that almost come to the call with me very nervous, like “Becca, what’s going on? Why might all the new grads want private equity and why do they want retail? And can I really afford to hire them? Because it sounds like they’re throwing all the money in the world with them.” And then it’s interesting because we have that ear with the students to hear what they’re looking for. They’re very, very few students that we’re working with, with the class of 2023 that will even consider an opportunity that is not private practice. So there’s just a handful of folks that have said all maybe look at private equity or retail, but the vast majority say I truly, truly, truly want to private practice and there’s even a really good group that says, “Not only do I only one a private practice, but I already know that someday I want to partner slash buy this practice as well.” 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Do you think though that it’s, it’s like self-selecting a little bit because retail opportunities are so easy to come by? That they might not even consider needing to work with a company like yours? They just need to go on Ziprecruiter, Indeed, and type in optometrists job and the geography they want and they have their choice. Are you talking to them before they’re job-seeking?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so we actually start a process with them a year before they graduate. And so we have them fill out a profile with us it looks just like a LinkedIn profile, but it’s specifically for KMK, and go in and select all of the different types of practices that they’re open to. And so, we have both from the data from what they input on their profile and then they all have a one-on-one call with a career advisor as well. And so that’s where those points come from, both in the data they enter and then the conversations they have with a career advisor.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And is that when a student should be starting their job search is early in fourth year?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so we were really surprised in the timeline as well that a lot of students start having conversations about the fall before they graduate. So this class of 2023 they were starting interviews, October timeframe, and then a lot of them were during their Christmas break, timeframe holiday break, going on visits to practice owners. And then as soon as the New Year transitioned over there were many that were in contract. So definitely, Fall time is like you can feel good. About yourself being ahead of the game, wintertime is still very safe, you still have a lot of opportunity to be reaching out to candidates, and then as we enter into more of the springtime, a lot of I’d say probably half if not more of those that we’re working with are 100% in contract ready to go.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: When you start working with them. Is there any issue with students who are starting the search and still haven’t passed their boards or won’t have the credentials to work when they graduate?

Becca Starks: Yeah, Yep. There is information from ASCO also about passage rates. And it goes into detail even of school by school, but it essentially shows year over year the decrease in passage rates, and I think we’re at about 70% passage rate, right now. 73%. And so there’s a huge population of students that don’t pass typically it’s part one where the struggle is and so there are some students that will even graduate and still have not passed boards. And another misconception there is, “Oh, these students are lazy or they’re not understanding the information, and I don’t want those students because they won’t be good doctors”. And completely not true. Those are students that could either be not very good test takers. These are also the population that came into optometry school right in the heart of COVID. There are some that have just had really rough life events around the time that it is to take boards and so but they are all great people that will be great doctors, they simply just need to pass this test. Many of them have had really great GPAs some of them have other degrees that help them with the practice management side and so it’s just a matter of getting past that one test or many of them.


Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And how does, how did they navigate that with the job contract like, will an employer sign something with a student who hasn’t yet passed boards?

Becca Starks: Yes, we are running into that actually part one. Board scores were just released this past week. And it was a lot of that there was a lot of celebration and there was a lot of sadness around those that didn’t pass. And the good news is, I don’t know that I’ve come across a single employer partner that we work with that isn’t at least open to the idea of bringing on someone that’s graduated in kind of a super tech role. It’s kind of how we position it to practice under that optometrist owner until they graduate and we even have some that say, “Hey KMK I know that you, as an organization, do great at coaching them and helping them after they fail boards.” I will even invest in that side of the house to ensure that they can pass boards not only to show that, hey, I believe in you and the hardest time in your life student but also that gains them a really loyal employee that again, is going to be a great doctor has just had trouble taking this one test.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Coming in as a super tech though, obviously, they’re coming in at a lower pay scale and they would come in as an optometrist, and they have those student loans. So let’s talk about compensation of obviously it’s going to vary around the country and regionally and how many hours and all of that but what is it that a new OD is looking for as far as the ability to earn money?

Becca Starks: Yeah, good question. So, specifically with this new grad population, the way that I kind of coach, the employer partners that we work with private practice owners is, a lot of times they’ll come into the call and say why pay 16% of production, but with this new grad population, they aren’t able to really wrap their brains around what that is, you could have a $1.5 million, your practice and they still just don’t, they can’t really understand that. And so the recommendation that we give is to at least have some sort of salary and we have information and concrete data on specific areas of the nation. So by all means, if, if we can support you in any way with that, I’m happy to to make sure that you’re competitive, but having some type of salary listed up front is what’s going to entice these new grad population because they can wrap their brains around 140,000. They can’t necessarily wrap their brains around 16% of production. And so totally understand, then obviously the argument private practice owner, I hear you what’s going on in your head is. “Well, I need to motivate them to work hard. Like if I just give them a salary, then what’s the motivation to work hard”, and so there’s been kind of this really nice avenue that we’ve taken with a lot of partners that’s worked well in that advertising a salary a little higher than you probably would have normally, but then decreasing to a really low percent of production, so that there’s some salaries that’s there that’s enticing to a new grad, but a lower percent of production. So for the first year only, so year one higher salary and lower percent of production, and then having that shift for year two and year beyond your two to a lower salary, higher percent of production. And so what that does is again, entices this new grad to apply, and even want to learn more about your practice because there’s a salary, but that little bit of percent of production will get them to realize in their first year of working well. I’m doing the math, and if I would have went on the percent of production, I probably would have made more than my salary. This is making sense this is motivating me to work harder. And then again, you can even have it in the contract that upon year two that shifts to a lower salary that’s guaranteed and a higher percent of production. So as they’ve gotten their feet wet, they’ve learned they’ve been mentored that first year shifting then into percent of production.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So you’re coaching your doctors to do a salary plus a percent of production?

Becca Starks: Yeah, that’s pretty typical. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And what about benefits and stuff like that is that important? Yes, it is important. Is that something that a brand new grad is going to give enough importance to that it’s going to help them decide one place versus another? 

Becca Starks: Yeah, such a good question. So I’ll give both sides just agree very important. I would say the majority of private practice owners that we’re working with are offering some sort of benefits, whatever that might look like. Some are very comprehensive, some are very “Hey, we will pay 50% of your medical and leave it at that.” But now that we are in this lane of there is competition from private equity and from retail. Those are just a no-brainer. In those avenues. And so to remain competitive from that regard. They will get a full package of 401K’s with matching with benefits with PTO, all of those things, if they’re considering a retailer or a private equity opportunity in comparison to your private practice opportunity. And so, again, I think most I talked to very few that say “Hey, I’m just percent of production and I don’t give any days off you just you if you’re here you make money if you’re not, you don’t but you can take whatever days you want type of thing”. I have a handful of those but for the most part, most private practices are offering the salary with percent of production, at least something towards medical, and then most do have a 401K whether there’s a match or not with that.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Are there other intangible benefits, other things that would make a practice more attractive?

Becca Starks: Yeah. So I think the thing that’s so such a great opportunity with all of the listeners that would have that are trying to hire than our private practice owners that have been doing this for years to a new grad specifically is mentorship. And so those that are willing to do that are excited about that. Well, maybe “Hey, I haven’t really even thought about that. But I’m gonna share over the last 20 years, I really have learned a lot that I could pour into this next upcoming generation”. And so being very vocal with that, even in a job description, or whatever it is that you’re creating, to entice candidates to come your way and some people put a really extensive plan behind, “Hey, we have a weekly meeting, and you get lunch hour with me every week and we will cover XYZ and some it’s kind of informal of just “Hey, I’m going to be with you I’m alongside you. You can call me when you want”, whatever that looks like, or even if you haven’t, some team members that are fairly recent grads, being able to vocalize that to have hey, we’ve got folks that I brought on board as new grads and couple years later looking them go and so the mentorship side is again that intangible free opportunity that I think a lot of people don’t even necessarily recognize they have the ability to give.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Is it mostly clinical mentorship they’re looking for? is it practice ownership? like when you say mentorship, what are they hoping to learn from you?

Becca Starks: Yeah, definitely medical at the top of that, but there are again, those those candidates that just know that they know that they want to be very involved in the practice management, the business side of the house. And so for those candidates that are interested in it, being willing to say “Hey, here’s I’ll show you all of our programs and all of our software and how I design the day and this is how I designed the business side of the house”, and so in those situations for folks that are interested in that side, I think it’s important to have just kind of an open door policy of “I’ll show you all that. I’ll show you that number. So I’ll let you in on this.”

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So for practice in a particular geographic area, if you can get your salary and benefits close, but they don’t necessarily have to be higher. They just have to be within range and you can kind of check off all the other boxes. Is there a type of practice like heavy medical versus refractive versus specialty that people are looking for?

Becca Starks: Yeah, so definitely looking at highly medical. And then what I would also say is kind of another somewhat intangible, but if practice owners are open to new specialties that maybe you don’t have in your practice right now. But hey, if there’s somebody who comes in and is passionate about whatever it may be, and they want to bring that into my practice, that’s a really enticing thing for a candidate to really see themselves. They’re in the long haul of “Wow, I’m passionate about myopia management and this practice says, by all means bringing that on.” That’s such a great thing to be able to offer to a candidate and so definitely, medical and specialties are really where the candidates are wrapping their brains around of how do I see myself there.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And what if you’re in rural Wisconsin, where there’s just not a huge population of optometrists looking to settle? What’s the best way for a practice like that to set themselves up to find somebody to join because so many of those are great opportunities to become part of a community to ultimately partner buy a practice have a really low cost of living like it’s how do they make themselves attractive or show how attractive they are I guess I should say.

Becca Starks: Yeah, and I think that so often because I get the luxury of talking to these practice owners in some of these more rural areas. And every time I’m just like, Wow, if I could just record this and let all of these candidates see this owner care about the type of patients they get to see a lot of times it’s the smaller communities that because there’s not a nearby ophthalmology or another office like those are the most medically focused practices. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Absolutely. 

Becca Starks: Yeah. And so, so often I feel better. Oh my gosh, if I could just package this up and get a candidate to truly wrap their head around it. So one of the things that we do on the candidate side is our current advisors do as soon as a student comes in and says, “I only want Miami in New York and LA”, we try to mentor as well and show your kind of cost of living and let’s truly take a look at this and let’s look at your lifestyle and look at

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Miami, LA, how about rural Wisconsin?

Becca Starks: Right? Yep. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And consider Minnesota.

Becca Starks: Exactly. We play that game all day long. Yep. And then to the practice owners, a lot of what I tell them is, they’ll tell me I say they get to brag. So give me your brag book, when they come on as a partner to me, tell me what’s so great about your practice. And then they’re typically ready to end the call and I say, “Okay, based on your area, we also want you to brag on the geographic location just as much as the opportunity and so getting a candidate to truly understand what their life is going to be like, not just when they’re at work with you all day, but once they leave work, and what does this community look like and what can I do there? Is it great for hiking, is it great for the music scene, and the art scene? Is it great to raise a family and maybe I’m not thinking about that right now. But in the next couple of years, I will be.” And so I always say “Somewhere in your job description, however, you want to do it. It’s a post that you’re putting on to kind of an Indeed or an AOA. Having information, just typed information about your geographic area and what makes it so great. And then also, the other added thing you can do is you can always create videos.” Videos are I feel like that’s kind of how we’re all digesting content at this point. And especially this generation of these new grads, and so if you can even do a quick it doesn’t have to be professionally shot but videos of you just speaking informally, almost as if you’re speaking to a candidate who wouldn’t be right in front of you talking about again, envisioning their life there, the more that a practice owner can make a job description or job post about the candidate instead of themselves. The better that that’s going to relay to the candidates have just really getting to understand “Okay, this isn’t what I thought I was thinking Miami, but now I can kind of envision how my life could be in Wisconsin.”

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: That’s a really strong and valid point. Because when I think about a job ad, it’s all about what we need and what we want. We’re looking for an optometrist to work these hours to do this and when I’m interviewing candidates for Associate optometrist, but really for any position I’m always sensitive to an applicant, who all they’re telling me is what this job is going to do for them. Right. So I’m very critical of it as an employer when they’re like, I’m looking to build my clinical confidence in myopia. I’m looking into, you know, whatever. And I think what are you going to do for me? But in the ad, maybe it should be the other way off, Here’s what I’m going to do for you so that they’re interested and intrigued by the post enough to then come in and want to tell me what they are going to do for me so

Becca Starks: Absolutely 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Cool. 

Becca Starks: We even have one it’s a Power Practice member that wrote a personalized it looks just like a letter you would receive from your grandma in the mail and it was so different and so eye-catching and so engaging. It was truly just a personalized letter, Dear Candidate, and then it just spoke really informally like, Hey, I get it. Words are hard, school is hard, but here’s what it would be like living here. Imagine if you could leave work and go out and do this, this, and this and your two hours within this big city so you can go catch a basketball game and be back home at night. And so it was just very, again trying to get that candidate to envision their life not only with that practice but in that geographical location. And so that was an incredible example. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Did it work?

Becca Starks: We’ve gotten some interest. We don’t have anybody signed on yet, but it has enticed interest.

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And talked about KMK a little bit again, just before we close. So if a practice owner is looking for an associate, they can reach out to you or how do they go about tapping into this database network matching service that you guys have?

Becca Starks: Yeah, absolutely. Yep. I would be the point of contact Becca Starks. And I’m sure you can put my email in the show notes, but it’s just Becca@kmkodcareers.com. And yeah, we typically just do a really informal introductory call and learn about the practice, learn about what they’re looking for. And then go over kind of our offerings. We’ve got two different offerings to choose from, just depending on what the practice owner is looking for. And then yeah, we just go from there. It’s really simple. It’s free to be in agreement with us and having us promote a practice. And so basically, we get that agreement going and then our current adviser starts promoting any of our partners that we’re working with. And then essentially once we have a student that is a great fit, we play the matchmaking game. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I love it. Thank you. I think this is valuable information for new grads to help them understand what they’re going out into and some of the misconceptions they might be facing. But hopefully, we did our part today to try and reduce some of those and really give today’s employers a more real picture of new grads who are looking for jobs. So thank you so much for taking the time to do this and give this service to all of the optometrists out there.

Becca Starks: Absolutely. My pleasure, Bethany. Thank you. So much. 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Thank you


Read the Transcription
Jovi Boparai: We have this sort of brand affinity to certain things that we either associate, with sort of a certain level of trust and so on. And so for us to build that brand awareness, we have to get ourselves out there.

Bethany Fishbein: Hi, I am Bethany Fishbein, CEO of the Power Practice and host of the Power Hour Optometry Podcast. And I’m excited to introduce you to my guest today. My guest today is Dr. Jovi Boparai. He is an ophthalmologist, ophthalmic surgeon. He’s an entrepreneur, co-founder of a company called CorneaCare, which is kind of amazing in itself. And he is a social media personality, influencer. He’s all over the place. And I’m just eager to hear your story on how all of this came to be. So Jovi, Dr. Boparai, thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation.

Jovi Boparai: My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Bethany Fishbein: So when I started to look you up and see what you were all about, you have an incredible ophthalmologic resume. Talk about your background as a clinical ophthalmologist first, because you’ve done a lot of things just clinically.

Jovi Boparai: Sure. So it really, I think, begins from when I was in medical school. So I went to medical school in New York City, and initially I was actually going to go into neurosurgery, believe it or not. And before I made the commitment towards that, I had a chance to watch a few eye surgeries in the Cornell ophthalmology department and instantly gravitated towards that and decided that I wanted to pursue ophthalmology. Was fortunate enough to match into residency at Will’s Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, where I completed the residency, which had a sort of a wide range of clinical pathology exposure along with a very in-depth surgical training as well. I thereafter finished my residency, and from there went over to the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, which is under the jurisdiction of University of Pennsylvania’s Shay Eye Institute. And at the VA, I was responsible for teaching the residents clinical diagnoses and how to do a clinical exam, but more importantly, how to do cataract surgery. And so it was a very interesting transition from being a student myself, being a resident, to then teaching residents. And I didn’t have much time in between. It was only a matter of about a month or two months when I switched roles. But I think having completed a residency that was so wide ranging made me fairly competent in going on and teaching cataract surgery. And then from there on, I developed a really deep interest in refractive cataract surgery and took on a position in a private practice to do just that.

Bethany Fishbein: And just for timeline purposes, not asking your age, but how long of a time period is all of this fitting in? When did you finish med school?

Jovi Boparai: So that’s a great question, because obviously doing medicine takes a very long time. I finished medical school in 2017, and I was in medical school for five years. It was four years of the didactics and the clinical rotations, and then I did a year of basic science research. So I finished medical school in 2017, and then with ophthalmology, you spend one year doing internal medicine so that you get exposure to medicine as a whole. And then I started my residency in 2018, which I finished in 2021. So I guess medical school was five years, intern year, one year, and then residency, three additional years.

Bethany Fishbein: So, I mean, you’re just finishing. You’ve finished fairly recently, and now you’re full-on practicing. When did the entrepreneurship kind of kick in? Like, when did you have the idea for this company and start pursuing that?

Jovi Boparai: Sure. So that’s a great question. I was interested in entrepreneurship from a very early age, actually. And it was first in college where I had a really good friend. We were in a similar program, and we decided to start a company. And this was, what was it, like 2008, I think it was. And this is well before AI, machine learning, any of these things were even viable options. And what we wanted to do was build a clinical decision support system to diagnose communicable diseases in the developing world, things like tuberculosis, cholera, and all these things. And so I worked on that company for about two years while I was in college. We got fairly good buzz going around it. We raised a little bit of funding, and it was a great experience. But through that experience, I learned just invaluable lessons, primarily focused around the fact that when you’re doing something in entrepreneurship, building a business, there is no ceiling to it. There’s sort of an infinite learning curve in that you can continue to learn new things, continue to acquire new skills. And I did feel that, I felt that, at least in purely academics, I felt that there was a bit of a ceiling that I was feeling. And so having this other entrepreneurship aspect where possibilities were endless was very exciting for me. And so that seed was sort of planted early on.

Bethany Fishbein: Before you go on in your story, I’m just I’m curious because I have a son who’s just finished his second year of college. So you’re in college. Were you pre-med? Did you know that you were going on to medical school at that point?

Jovi Boparai: Sort of. And I wanted to, I was actually a philosophy major in college, and it was at the University of Pittsburgh Honors College. They have a great philosophy department. And I was in the philosophy, history and philosophy of sciences. So that was my primary major. And I was interested in medical school at that time. So I wanted to take the pre-medical courses in case I decided to go to medical school. And while I was doing the history of philosophy of sciences, I took a course in the neuroscience department, and it was taught by this gentleman, Edward Stryker. He would later become my mentor, my primary letter writer for medical schools. And that class was just amazing. It was probably one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. And so I decided to do a neuroscience major as well. And yeah, so I was doing philosophy, decided to do neuroscience, and took the pre-medical requirements to be able to go to medical school.

Bethany Fishbein: And so in between classes, you’re sitting in your dorm room with your friend, and you’re like, hey, let’s come up with this app? Was it an app?

Jovi Boparai: Yeah. It was actually, at that time, apps weren’t really a thing.

Bethany Fishbein: Right.

Jovi Boparai: And so this was a desktop application, basically, rather than a mobile application, what we call apps today. And so we basically, we were in a, it was a summer fellowship program where the Honors College paid you to do a summer’s worth of research. And so we were in this program. It was wonderful. You got paid to do research. And it was basically what you would do is you would do the research, and then you would present to the other fellows, and you field questions. And through that experience, you would improve your research in terms of methodology, and then how you present the results. And during that process, this friend of mine, we sort of came over and was like, hey, look, I really want you to think about this idea that I have. Let’s sit down, have coffee, and talk about it. So from there, it was during that summer, we decided to start this company. And from there, we were able to get a lot of buy-in from the rest of the, I would say, the Honors College community at Pitt. A lot of students became interested in it. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh has a great bioinformatics department, partly because of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which is a very large medical center system, I would say hospital system. And so we got linked up with the bioinformatics department. And yeah, started building it out from there. We got, I would say, we got pretty far. And then once we graduated college, I think it was difficult to have that same level of enthusiasm and push, because everybody sort of went their separate ways. However, the idea was picked up by one of the professors there who would later on to go get a pretty large grant from the NIH. And he got sort of like a $5 or $10 million grant to kind of take what we had started to continue building on it. And so it was exciting.

Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I like what you said about entrepreneurship really not having a ceiling. I mean, that’s something that I’ve always felt was really exciting about it as well, is that you can decide what you want, and you can just keep going.

Jovi Boparai: Yes.

Bethany Fishbein: In my world, a lot of people apply that entrepreneurial spirit to private practice, right? They’re opening a practice and then seeing how much can we build that? Can we turn that into two offices, three offices, one multi-million-dollar office? Like that’s where it manifests. So when did you start to come up with the idea for CorneaCare?

Jovi Boparai: Yeah, so again, that’s a great question. So I went to medical school. And in medical school, I had some entrepreneurial ideas here and there, but it was really difficult to materialize them. Part of the reason was because when you’re in medical school, you’re primarily focused on getting into a residency program. And so I was laser focused on that. And once I was in residency, I, again, kind of got the sense that while I loved doing what I was doing and loved the clinical and the operative aspects of ophthalmology, I did feel that there was a bit of a ceiling in the sense of the amount of learning that I could glean in a certain period of time. And I was sort of pushing up against this wall in terms of what I can learn, how I could push myself. And decided to start, again, thinking about entrepreneurship and started brewing on this idea of thinking about how to approach eye care through a new medium. At that same time, while I was in residency, digital health was really picking up. And however, it was mostly being applied to primary care and these other fields where there was really a need, but nobody was really looking at the applications of building a digital native company within a subspecialty, specifically within eye care. And so I started having these ideas and got linked up with my co-founder, who is sort of the technical brains behind the company. And together, we started to think a little bit more about the idea. We had some inklings of what we wanted to do, but it wasn’t until I finished up residency that we doubled down. We started CorneaCare, which is the company that we co-founded. And the whole idea behind it has been to build a full stack digital eye care company.

Bethany Fishbein: So can you just define for some of us, not me, of course, but those who might not know what a full stack digital eye care company is, what does that even mean?

Jovi Boparai: Sure. So it’s basically, when you look at companies, you can either service a vertical, which is sort of picking a section or let’s just say, for your audience, it would be like servicing eye care or servicing gastrointestinal care or servicing cardiac care. So you have these verticals that you can service. They’re companies that do that exclusively. And then there are companies that provide sort of horizontal solutions. So think of, for example, in all these different verticals within health care, everybody needs some sort of EMR system, right? So that EMR system would be like a horizontal company that can expand from vertical to vertical. We were primarily focused in building a vertical in eye care. And being a full stack company is really accompanying the patient throughout their entire patient journey, starting initially, you know, with a consultation leading to a management plan, that management plan leading to actual treatments, helping the patient then administer the treatments and the remaining parts of the management plan in a way that’s consistent with their daily routine, and then following up doing ongoing care management, and all of this occurring through a digital medium. And so that’s what we wanted to build. And that’s really what we’re building. So think of it as full stack, being synonymous with being with the patient throughout their entire patient care journey, starting initially with the consultation, leading to a management plan, having the real treatments, management plan and the treatments being integrated into the patient’s daily routine, and then providing that ongoing support, ongoing management so that the patient is successful in their treatment.

Bethany Fishbein: So what’s the difference between what you’re describing and like what we know as telehealth?

Jovi Boparai: Sure. So telehealth is primarily administered through synchronous eye care, or sorry, I should say, let me take a step back, telehealth is primarily synchronous, meaning when a patient wants to see a provider, they open up their app or they go on the web, and they’re linked up to a provider directly sort of face to face. While that I think has certain unique aspects, my feeling is that a lot of care can actually be delivered asynchronously. And what I mean by that is a lot of data can be collected upfront from the patient, a lot of data can be captured from ongoing management, that then gets relayed over to the provider in an asynchronous fashion. The provider can take a look at this at any time of day. If you can imagine, you know, Bethany, if you had to do synchronous consultations throughout the day in a busy clinical practice, it just would be really difficult to do. You have patients waiting in the clinic, you have patients waiting on your sort of telehealth or telemedicine platform, and it just becomes very difficult to manage both. Whereas with asynchronous care, a provider can see their in-person patients and then have a sort of a set time in which they can do these asynchronous consultations or asynchronous ongoing management. So the way that telemedicine is currently practiced is really through the synchronous kind of let’s get face to face with a provider through a digital medium. With asynchronous care, it’s where all the data is collected upfront, processed, then presented to the provider in a way that they can act on in a much faster fashion.

Bethany Fishbein: So many questions.

Jovi Boparai: Sure, sure.

Bethany Fishbein: So that data collection being done by the patient, talk about that in the dry eye space a little bit specifically, because I think for me, it’s easier to understand when there’s metrics like height and weight and blood work, like that give actual numbers, where a lot of dry eye is symptomatology or clinical exam. So talk just clinically for a minute about some of the data that is being collected.

Jovi Boparai: Sure, sure. So I guess I have to, we’re still sort of building this out. And so I’ll provide as many details as I can. So basically, and you’re right, I think to explain this in a way that would make sense is to really just use dry eyes and how that would work. And just to clarify something you said, so the data collection is actually done by the platform, right? So the patient is providing the data input, but the data is being collected by the platform that, let’s just use CorneaCare as an example. We have a platform where we collect all the data from the patient and that gets presented over to a provider. That provider can be a CorneaCare provider, or it could be you as a provider taking care of your own patients, Bethany. And so the way it works, let’s say, let’s just pick dry eyes.

As you mentioned, dry eyes is truly a symptomatic condition. It’s something where in fact, something like 20% of dry eye patients will have a completely normal eye exam, but still have dry eyes because their symptoms are so apparent. And so in my opinion, dry eyes is really something that is gleaned really from the symptoms of the patient. And so let’s take that and apply something that we all kind of use either formally or informally, ocular surface disease index, which has sort of become the gold standard for monitoring dry eye patients. And so you can create a platform where that information is collected from the patient, where they actually fill out either the OSDI exactly how it is, or a modified version of it, answer a few other questions about risk factors for dry eyes, ask a few questions about a review of systems.

So you’re not missing anything that might be happening systemically leading to dry eyes, collect the information about the medications they’re currently using and have used in the past, collect the information about their ocular history and a few other key metrics. Obviously you want to have questions in there that help you immediately triage any serious eye conditions. There’s no reason why a patient with dry eyes should be presenting with loss of vision, right? You could have your visual clarity isn’t as great, but loss of vision or double vision, want to have these questions in there so that you could immediately triage those patients to appropriate escalation of care.

But just to step back and collect all this information up front so that it’s presented to a provider saying, hey, look, patient falls into this category of dry eyes based off their symptoms, they have moderate dry eyes. These are the certain key risk factors that may be linking to this dry eye in terms of like maybe the oral medications they’re taking, their past medical history, the medical conditions they have, the environment in which they live.

All that information is processed and presented to the provider in a way that the provider can say, let’s just say we have a patient named Diane. You know, Diane, I looked at all the information you provided, got moderate dry eyes. There are these risk factors that may be contributing to it. Here’s a great plan. Let’s get you started on that. So basically all that data is collected up front, processed by the platform, presented to the provider so that it’s very easily actionable. Now contrast that with a synchronous consultation where the provider has to get all this information while they’re talking to the patient, has to process this at the same time while they’re trying to maintain connection with the patient. It just becomes very difficult, very muddied to have like an actionable item list.

So that’s the way that the CorneaCare platform is being built where we can collect all this information from the patient, thereby improving the patient’s experience and the time that is spent with the provider. So the provider, the patient can have a truly interactive experience where it actually leads to actionable items so that provider can spend time with the patient rather than having to process all the information while they’re having that interaction.

Bethany Fishbein: You’re being a really good sport here. I know I told you this interview is about TikTok, but I speak, one of the things that I speak about on occasion is the acceptance and the role of AI in healthcare and optometry specifically. So when you’re talking about the information is then processed by the platform, that sounds AI powered. Can you just talk a little bit about what that processing looks like and what spits out?

Jovi Boparai: Sure. So absolutely right. That’s the AI, ML, computer vision component, artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision component where you essentially build a model and that model, again, going back to dry eyes, right? So you build a model that says, okay, you know, within this model where we’re trying to get an idea of dry eye disease, you have a few key components. You have the ocular surface disease index, captures the symptoms, has a severity scale to it. You have the additional symptoms that are beyond what the OSDI has.

You then have the patient’s past medical history. You have their ocular history. You have the current oral medications they’re taking. You have the current topical medications they’re taking. You have their environment. You have an assessment of their diet. And you kind of can ask other questions about their, you know, sleeping environment and few other things. So you have this model that is basically being fed into what is dry eye disease.

Then you could either a priori decide the different weights you want to assign to all these different components, right? So let’s say we want to give ocular surface disease index the most amount of weight from all these entities that are being fed into what we call dry eye disease. So you can assign this weight. And so when you collect this information through an iterative fashion, depending on what information the patient has provided, it will have an output of this is what the patient’s dry eye disease severity is. And this is what the plan recommendation is, right? So that you could do that a priori. Or you can build a model where you let the model figure out what the different weights of each of these entities could be.

So the difference is between sort of supervised learning where we can assign the weights versus unsupervised learning, where you kind of let the model do its thing and try to figure out what the different weights of the system is. So then that would lead to an output. Say again, going back to Diane, Diane has moderate dry eye disease. From there, you then have a series of management plans that can be assigned to that patient.

That management plan would, comes basically as sort of like an algorithm. It’s very much how the different algorithms that everybody has in treating dry eye disease, right? Like a patient has mild dry eye disease, I always do X, Y, Z. Moderate, I always do X, Y, Z. What this sort of model allows you to do once you have the output of the patient’s diagnosis along with their severity assessment is to then, in a very algorithmic fashion, have a certain management plan that not only provides the physical treatments, but then also addresses the lifestyle modifications that would be helpful for the patient. And so that’s a little bit about how these models are built and how the output from these models can then help determine what is the optimal management plan.

Bethany Fishbein: Thank you. It’s really kind of fascinating for me to hear it from your perspective. The perspective of a doctor who has fully embraced this technology and is very much surrounded by all the ways it’s going to help you take better care of your patients rather than a position of fear. Is this thing going to do my job? Will they still need me once this exists? Which is what we unfortunately hear a lot. I’m sure you do too from other providers. But it’s my job to figure this out. It’s my job to listen to the patient. I love hearing you talk about it in a way that really just shows clearly that this is going to allow the provider to spend time empathetically speaking to a patient, really listening, hearing, and treating if there’s a provider involved.

Jovi Boparai: Absolutely right. I think a good way to think about AI is as a co-pilot. You’re still primarily doing most of the decision-making and really, I guess, flying the plane, but you have a co-pilot with you that is extremely intelligent, that knows what your practice patterns are like, that understands your patients, can collect all the data so that you as a provider can both take care of new patients, but then also take care of existing patients. Let’s say we continue on this example where I was explaining what I provided earlier with that patient encounter would be for a new patient where you’re collecting all this data up front, allowing the model to figure out the diagnosis, the disease severity, and the management plan, and the provider just jumps in and says, okay, I agree with this or I disagree, let me change it this way.

Now, you apply that, but let’s say if it’s an established patient, you can only imagine how much faster those encounters would be for an established patient. You already know the risk factors of the patient, you know the environment that they’re living in, you know what treatments they’re already using, you know what their compliance has been, you know what symptoms they have primarily, you can monitor those symptoms, and all this information is collected for you up front, processed in a way that is very easy for you to understand and act on it. So that way, not only can you take care of new patients, see more patients, but provide a higher quality of continuous care to your existing patients.

Bethany Fishbein: So while all of this…

Jovi Boparai: And sorry, not to interrupt, and that’s billable, you know, if you’re providing that ongoing care to your patients. So let’s say, I would say, I think it’s important to see patients in person when needed. But I think if you can spread out those follow-up visits and have these intermittent check-ins with a patient that’s happening through a virtual medium in an asynchronous fashion, I think that would just add that additional layer of support and continuity of care.

Bethany Fishbein: So while all of this programming and machine learning and algorithms and, you know, back-end process stuff is going on, you’re also actively out there promoting this company. And that’s led to the more public face of you that people see on the outside. Look, we’re on Instagram, we’re on TikTok. Talk about how the social media piece came into this and why that’s become a priority.

Jovi Boparai: Sure. So that’s a great question. And it really comes down to building a generational company, which is what myself and my co-founder want to do. And building a generational company is about building a brand and letting that brand basically be your mode of marketing, right? I think we all sort of have brands that we trust. You know, maybe you have a brand that you like for toothpaste or a brand that you like for your daily moisturizer. And, you know, we have this sort of brand affinity to certain things that we either associate, you know, with sort of a certain level of trust and so on.

And so for us to build that brand awareness, we have to get ourselves out there. And we knew we have to get ourselves out there. And we wanted to build a sort of a trusting brand within eyecare. If you take a look at the other eyecare companies that are out there, you don’t really see a face to the company. Like, what’s the face of Alcon, right? Alcon is a wonderful company and they do a lot of great work, but there’s nobody there that, you know, one could relate to. So we thought that, you know, putting ourselves first, getting ourselves out there so that individuals can interact with us directly on social media, can have a face to the brand was going to be really powerful.

In that, you know, this company isn’t being built by, you know, machines, you know, we’re not just an AI model ourselves, right? Like we’re real people trying to build this generational company that we want patients and consumers out there to be their go-to eyecare company, right? And so I think if I was to capture the brand in a nutshell is simply this, we are trying to make eyecare a part of self-care, just like how you brush your teeth, you moisturize your skin, people should be taking care of their eyes. However, there is no brand out there that has taken that approach, right? Like you turn, so think about the initiatives that, you know, Colgate underwent in sort of their, the mid to late 1900s, where they really had to sort of build that brand image to be the go-to sort of oral hygiene company, right? And so we are trying to build that brand within eyecare where not just patients, but your average person, consumer turns to CorneaCare as their go-to eyecare company as a part of their self-care. And in order for us to do that, you have to build the brand. And in order to get the brand out there, it works best when you have a face to the brand. And in order to get a face to the brand and get it out there, using these new mediums has been pivotal going through social media. We’ve done some PR, but the social media angle has been very successful for us.

Bethany Fishbein: Talk for a minute about the timing of all this. I know you said like CorneaCare, as we started to ask questions into it, he said, let me just clarify, this is still in the works, we’re still building, but at the same time you’re building, you’ve been brand establishing. And I think that’s something that new practice owners, especially run into in our world, that they don’t want to put anything out there until it’s ready. But in business, it’s never ready, right? Just how do you know when to start and kind of when to push on the gas for your branding when you’re doing it at the same time you’re building a company?

Jovi Boparai: Right. I think that’s a wonderful question because I think brand is something that you try to figure out in its entirety before you put yourself out there, right? It’s like, this is what we’re going to be as a company and you try to get yourself out there with that image that you’re trying to portray. However, I think while I think that’s fine, as you pointed out, the story is never complete until you actually get input from the customer, the consumer, the patient or the person that’s out there, right? You don’t know what is going to resonate with the consumer that’s out there or the patient that’s out there. So while it’s good to have sort of a general idea of what you want your brand to be and how you want to market it, you have to get yourself out there.

And for me, my personality is to move fast and iterate, sort of the idea of move fast, fail fast, iterate faster. And so for me, it’s get yourself out there, put whatever brand image you want in front of people, see how they respond to it and then iterate based off of that, right? And so that’s how we did it. We actually, so we’ve been in market, you know, while we’re building this sort of entire full stack solution, we were actually able to manufacture our own products, which you might have seen on our website. And we were able to bring those products to market very fast. And those products have been very successful.

We have a lot of very happy customers who just love the products that we built. They were built by me and we have an expert panel of around 12-ish eye doctors that worked on these products with me. And so we were able to get our products out. But even before we had the products out, we were already doing things on social media. This is what CorneaCare is. This is what we stand for.

And then depending on what kind of feedback we received, we iterated and we continue to improve. And that’s still happening today. I think the beauty of being in a startup or in a small business is that you can iterate extremely fast. You don’t have this slow movement syndrome of these large incumbents where it’s like turning sort of a steam liner where they have to spend a lot of time to change their brand image or change their mission. For a small business or startup, you can make those decisions on sort of a day-to-day basis. And so that’s what we’ve done. I think the place where it’s been the most impactful is TikTok. Never in a million years would I have thought of doing a TikTok.

I don’t even have, actually, aside from the CorneaCare accounts, I don’t have any social media accounts. Actually, I guess I have Twitter, but I only made that Twitter because of CorneaCare. But I don’t have any other social media accounts. So not in a million years would I have thought of being on TikTok. However, TikTok is the perfect medium to get that quick feedback and iterate.

If you scroll back and see some of my original videos, they’re very different than from the videos that I do now because I know what resonates, right? And you know it right away because you get that feedback from the customer right away. And so that’s my general philosophy, which is you have to get yourself out there. It’s good to have a general strategy of what you want your brand to be like, but there’s a difference between what you portray and what is perceived, right? And I think that’s true both for individuals, right? There’s a certain image that we try to portray versus what’s perceived, and it’s equally as true for brands. And the only way you can figure out what is going to resonate is through iteration. So as I said, you want to move fast, fail fast, iterate faster.

Bethany Fishbein: I think it’s really interesting to think about social media as being kind of the ultimate way to do that in business and in life. I mean, I see my kids do it where they post a picture they think they like, and then within a few hours, they don’t get the feedback they were looking for, realize they didn’t like it enough. It’s taken down, something else is up. So there really isn’t anything else that I can think of in business that moves that fast. You’re constantly getting live in the moment feedback on what you’re doing.

Jovi Boparai: Correct. And I would say I think that’s a beneficial thing when it comes to business. But I think in business, I think you have to be careful not to link your… I think you want to have your personality shine through the business. And I think most of the strong companies that are out there are just mirror images of the founders, how the founders wanted to build the business. However, you have to be careful that you don’t link your own self-worth to the image that’s portrayed out there. Because a lot of times, you’ll get feedback saying, I hate this, or what are you saying here? And if you take that personally, I think it could really affect you in a way where you don’t bounce back with the iteration needed. And so I think when you put yourself out there, you have to do it in a way where it’s still very much personal. No one’s personalized because you’re trying to deliver a message. But you need to have a certain level of distance from it so that if you do get negative feedback or no feedback at all, that it doesn’t affect you in a way that makes you question your self-worth and what you’re doing. So that you take it as a learning experience rather than as a bashing you down experience.

Bethany Fishbein: For sure. So as you’re building this, I think sometimes I see younger Docs, students even, kind of going into social media with the idea of becoming a social media personality. And the journey that you’re describing is a little bit different. Is I want people to have a face to my brand. I want to build a comfort level. I want to do some business split testing. Is that what makes it successful rather than going in saying, I want to be the next TikTok star?

Jovi Boparai: I would say yes and no. I think it’s a little tricky. I think what makes it successful is when you’re doing it for a reason that extends beyond yourself. I think for me personally, it’s as I said, to build a generational company in the eyecare space. I think there’s a real need for what we’re doing. And we want to push forward with this mission. And that’s primarily the reason why I do my social media stuff. I do want to deliver, and within that umbrella of building a generational company, I think we’re providing a real service to the community at large, to individuals at large, which as I said, we want to make eyecare part of self-care. That’s our overarching vision, no pun intended. And we want to really get that message out there. And that’s really what is always at the forefront. And so everything that I do or our social media team does on social media is with that vision in mind. And so that’s our sort of North Star. And doing it in that fashion helps you deliver content, helps you build your message that extends beyond yourself. So that if at any point, any of us would sort of, once we build this brand image, were to step back, the company on its own and the brand on its own can stand. Who’s the current CEO of Colgate? I don’t know. Do you know? But the brand itself stands on its own. And the same is true for any of these generational companies that are out there. So I think having an overarching North Star for why you’re doing something, I think helps.

However, I would say it’s the one thing I think everybody underestimates when it comes to social media is just the amount of sheer effort and iteration that’s required to make it successful. Especially on TikTok, in the beginning, it was very difficult to get any traction. I would say, I guess we did get initial win when I think that the third video that I did ended up going viral. But it was again, it was like it was small wins here and there. And you just have to keep posting consistently to really get to where we are now. And so it’s I think it takes a lot of work, too. But it’s really work that should be informed by constant iteration and work that should be motivated by a North Star overarching vision.

Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, we talk a lot about knowing that why and then that driving everything. And this is such a good example of that, you know, you know what you want at the end of this, and then all of the actions are just steps in that direction. So if someone is listening to this, and now they’re curious, and so they want to learn more about your company, they want to see you on TikTok, where do they go?

Jovi Boparai: Yeah, so we’re… so the company is called CorneaCare. And you can find us online at mycorneacare.com. You can also search for us on Instagram with the same name CorneaCare or TikTok CorneaCare. And you’ll be able to find us there. And, you know, we’re actively looking to bring more individuals, you know, along with us on this journey. You know, I think, as I said, there’s this whole notion of telemedicine, tele, you know, health, it’s really becoming at the forefront. And it’s being supercharged by the recent advances in AI ML models.

And so, you know, we want to bring along as many eyecare providers as we can on this journey. So if you’re interested at all, you know, just reach out to us, you can either message us directly on our social media accounts, or you could email us at hello@corneacare.com. And we’ll, we’ll get back to you, you know, and if you’re interested in getting involved, we’re always happy to get more eyecare providers involved in what we’re doing.

Bethany Fishbein: Awesome, Jovi, thank you so much for your time for this conversation for your going with the flow and just letting the conversation go where it went. I appreciate it so much. I learned I’m already thinking a little bit differently about some things. So thank you so much for your time.

Jovi Boparai: My pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the time. It’s my favorite type of conversations that you just organically let them flourish.

Bethany Fishbein: Absolutely. And for everyone out there, thank you for listening.

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