The world isn’t short of startups. Yet so many of them seem to be doing things no one wants or needs — PUA smartwatch, anyone? — it’s refreshing when one pops up that you’d actually wish for. Waldo is one of those for me, and it might be for you too.
Here’s our Waldo (UK) review.
First off, Waldo is a rubbish name. Sorry guys, but it’s true. Yeah, we get it, the cool startup thing at the moment is to pick a completely random word or name, get around the fact that you can’t get the username anywhere (Waldo’s website is HiWaldo dot com, social channels are ‘WaldoContacts’), choose a colour (it’s always just one colour) and build a ~brand~. The online mattress companies are the kings of this: Casper, Eve, Simba etc. One name + one colour + one product = profit, apparently.
Honestly, we miss the days when company names had something to do with what they sold, but we guess Google, Uber, Apple etc have kinda proved the model works.
Even so, Waldo doesn’t work for us because it’s really hard to Google. Search ‘waldo’ and you get a load of stuff about the US version of Where’s Wally, aka Where’s Waldo (heresy. His name is Wally because he’s always getting lost, no?). It also doesn’t spring to mind when you think of contact lenses: I’ve forgotten it several times while trying to tell people about the company. “It’s a man’s name… Nigel? Colin? Keith? Argh.” Not great for word of mouth marketing.
Nonetheless, Waldo is its name, and it’s a good product in spite of that.
What does it do?
Waldo sticks to the ‘do one thing well’ premise. It sells monthly subscriptions for daily contact lenses. You tell them your prescription for each eye (you’re supposed to upload a scan as well, but we didn’t and no one told us off. Not sure why you’d want the wrong lenses, honestly) and they post 30 of each out to you every month in nice blue branded boxes. It’s like a subscription box for your eyes, kind of.
At this point you’re probably thinking “but contact lenses by post are a thing. That already exists.” Yep, it does. But this is an approach tailored for the Uber generation. You go to their stylishly simple website, sign up for your month’s free trial, and you get two boxes of lenses in the post. That’s kind of it.
Of course, it has all the requisite quirky copy and super-attentive customer service we’ve come to expect from single-serving startups, but there’s just one product and one price point. It seems specifically designed for the ‘don’t make me think’ mindset. Which is exactly where I was when I saw their targeted Facebook ad in my feed at about midnight. A few taps later and my lenses were on the way. That’ll do nicely.
I’ve tried daily lenses before, through my optician, and it was a major faff both times. They’ll only give you a few lenses, then you have to come back a week later to report on how you found them. I know this is for a good reason, but when most of us consider ourselves efficient if we get to the optician once a year, it’s not the most convenient approach.
Waldo is much easier. You tell them your prescription and they send you the lenses. They only offer one type, which they’ve branded themselves (but I’m guessing are just some standard white-label dailies), and you don’t have to deal with actual humans at any point — which suits me fine.
The usual monthly price is a flat £24 for 60 lenses (30 of each eye’s prescription), but your first month is free — you just pay the P&P of £2.95. I thought that was a decent price for a month’s worth as a test, and of course you don’t need solution. So I went for it.
Having placed my order just past midnight, I got an email to confirm, another email the same day saying they were ready for dispatch, and another one later the same day to say they’d been posted. The order was placed in the early hours of a Tuesday morning and the lenses arrived by lunchtime on Wednesday. Maybe they won’t be able to maintain that efficiency when they’re bigger, but I was impressed with the speed.
The packaging is lovely: simple and stylish. It didn’t fit through my letterbox like some contact lens packages, which seems like a shame – but mine had to be signed for so they couldn’t have been posted through anyway. If that’s the case for every shipment, you might want to get yours delivered to work, or somewhere you know there’ll be a person.
Sadly, for me, this is where it falls down. I have pretty dry eyes, and whatever Waldo’s dailies are, they just aren’t moist enough for me. This isn’t really surprising, considering my current fortnightly lenses are Acuvue Oasys, ie the extra-pricey ones for people with dry eyeballs (dryeballs?), but it was still disappointing.
Being the startup they are, there’s currently no other type of lenses I can get from Waldo, so I had to cancel and go back to my usuals. Thankfully, this was just as easy as signing up – you can cancel online in a few clicks (there is a special place in hell for businesses that let you sign up online but make you phone up to cancel).
I’m hoping at some point they’ll offer more types of lenses, because I loved the simplicity and transparency of Waldo. Unfortunately, my eyes are fussy, so it’s back to my optician for me and my ‘balls.
If you want to try them out for yourself, you can sign up for the free trial here. But only if there’s not a dry eye in the house.