by Vance Thompson, MD
William J. Link, Ph.D., specializes in early-stage investing in medical devices. He is a founder and Principal of Flying L Partners and he is a Founder and Managing Director of Versant Ventures. Prior to co-founding Versant Ventures, Dr. Link was a general partner at Brentwood Venture Capital, and has over two decades of operations experience in the healthcare industry. Dr. Link was previously founder, chairman, and CEO of Chiron Vision, which was sold to Bausch and Lomb in 1997.
Prior to Chiron Vision, Dr. Link founded and served as President of American Medical Optics (AMO), a division of American Hospital Supply Corporation, which was sold to Allergan in 1986. Later, he served on the Board of AMO’s successor company, Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) which was acquired by Abbott in 2009. AMO was acquired by Johnson and Johnson in 2016. Before entering the healthcare industry, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Link currently serves on the board of several private companies and three public companies, Edwards Lifesciences, Glaukos, and Second Sight Medical Products. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Purdue University, all in Mechanical Engineering.
Steve Kirby is a founding partner of Bluestem Capital Company. He is a graduate of Arizona State University with a BS Degree in Political Science and a graduate of the University Of South Dakota School Of Law with a Juris Doctorate Degree. Mr. Kirby was secretary and senior claims counsel for Western Surety Company, a national surety bond company, from 1977-1992. He was the 35th Lieutenant Governor of the State of South Dakota from 1993 through 1995. He was also a candidate for Governor of South Dakota in 2001-2002. Mr. Kirby is a member of local, state and national Boards of Directors. He is a speaker at various entrepreneurial and college forums.
Steve was recognized with the Spirit of Enterprise Award from South Dakota’s Enterprise Institute for his commitment, dedication and achievements in entrepreneurship. He has received the Spirit of Sioux Falls award in recognition of his leadership and economic development. He also received the USD Financial Management Association’s Outstanding Financial Executive award. Steve is married to Suzette (Hustead) and their children are: a son Jon (employed at Bluestem) and his wife Tracy and family; a daughter Kelly and her husband Travis Behrens and family; and daughter Katherine, all living in Sioux Falls.
Andy Corley has had a 40-year career in the eye care industry. He joined Allergan in 1978 and spent 5 years in the pharmaceutical and contact lens solution business. In 1984 Andy moved to the medical device world joining AMO, at AMO he assisted in the launch of the YAG laser and the advancement of posterior chamber IOL’s.
In 1987 he co-founded Chiron Vision where he led the effort to enter the fledgling refractive surgery market. As president of the Refractive Surgery Division his teams launched the Casebeer courses for RK, training over 6000 US surgeons and introduced Lasik to the global market establishing a permanent place in the ophthalmology for refractive surgery. The introduction of these private pay procedures has played a prominent role in the growth of ophthalmology over the last 30 years.
In 1998 Andy co-founded eyeonics, a company that provided him the opportunity to be the Orange County Entreprenuer of the Year. As the CEO of eyeonics he and his teams invented and pioneered the premium channel for cataract surgery. Over the past 15 years the Premium Channel has created over $10 B in value for doctors and industry, while giving patients choice and control on upgraded healthcare decisions.
Eyeonics was sold to Bausch and Lomb where he served as the President of the surgical division until 2011 when he formed Yelroc Consulting ( Yelroc is Corley backwards) Yelroc Consulting Inc. focuses on all aspects of company building with an emphasis on high performance management process. Andy is currently Chairman of the Board of RX Sight, Equinox, and eyeBrain Medical. In 2017 he Co-Founded Flying-L Partners with Bill Link, Dr. Dick Lindstrom, and Matt Larson.
FOUNDER AND CEO OF SEVERAL OF THE WORLD’S LEADING OPTICAL RETAIL BUSINESSES (LENSCRAFTERS, VISION EXPRESS AND MORE) TOTALING 2200 OPTICAL RETAIL STORES IN 29 NATIONS.
COMPANY DIRECTOR/CONSULTANT/SPEAKER 1990 – Present. Consultant to businesses and investment groups. Motivational speaker to the business community. Current consulting projects include Tokai Optical Company (Japan); VIU Ventures AG, Swiss Optical Retailer, “Lenses Here,” Moscow based retailer of replacement contact lenses via vending machines; Hakim Group (UK optical retailer), Vision Express Philippines, EyeSociety Philippines, Aster Optical, optical retailer, United Arab Emirates, several venture capital and private equity groups
Recent past consulting assignments include Luxottica, LensCrafters, VSP (Vision Service Plan), Bausch & Lomb, LensMaster (largest Russian optical retailer), Lenstore.co.uk, Pearle Vision Express Hawaii, Vision Express Philippines, Enterprise Ventures Ltd., BioEden Ltd and the Royal Air Force.
Current Directorships Include:
EYEBRAIN MEDICAL 2015 present. Board of Directors, Costa Mesa, California, based developer of ophthalmic lenses and associated diagnostic instrumentation for prescribing lenses that uniquely reduce migraine headaches and computer vision syndrome symptoms.
EYOTO LTD 2014 — present. Board of Directors, Birmingham, UK. Commercial spinout of Aston University (leading UK optometry school) developing and commercializing cutting edge
ophthalmic instrumentation with emphasis on portability, also online diagnostic tools for optometrists and ophthalmologists.
BRILLEN.DE 2018 — present. Berlin, Germany, based portal retailing eyeglasses via 1200 optical shops in Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy. Unique omni-channel concept which directs customers to optical shops for measurement and fitting, with emphasis on higher end progressive lenses.
COOPER VISION, INC. 2018 — present. Advisory Board of this Pleasanton, CA based major Global manufacturer of contact lenses and related medical products.
Past Positions and Directorships include:
LENSKART.COM 2014 — 2017. Board of Directors of India’s leading multi-channel optical retailer. Founded in 2010, Lenskart is fully vertically integrated including lens blank processing,
eyeglasses assembly, online retailing, offline retailing and home visit optometrists. Currently 440 stores in India, in addition to on-line.
LENSPRO PTY. LTD. 1997 — 2017. Founder and Chairman. Operator of optical retail store group in Australia. Sold to employees.
PFO GLOBAL, Inc 2015 — 2016. Board of Directors, Audit Committee Chairman. Dallas based, publicly traded manufacturer of completed eyeglasses for large scale distribution.
DIGITAL VISION SYSTEMS LLP 2012 – 2015. Board of Directors. Atlanta, Georgia, developer of high tech disruptive technology for performing refractions (determination of lens powers
required for an eyeglasses or contact lenses prescription).
MY OPTIQUE GROUP 2011 — 2016. Board of Directors, London, UK. Largest European internet seller of prescription eyeglasses via glassesdirect.com and myoptique.com, sunglasses via sunglassesshop.com, and contact lenses via lenson.com. Business sold to Essilor 2016.
ADLENS Ltd. 2007 – 2015. Board of Directors. Oxford, UK, based developer and manufacturer of self-adjustable fluid filled, disruptive technology eyeglass lenses and Alvarez self-adjustable
lenses. Innovative, disruptive technology for emergency use, in developing nations which lack professional eye care coverage plus premium products currently sold in the USA. Current major
projects in Japan, USA, Europe, Russia, Mexico and Rwanda.
VISION EXPRESS PHILIPPINES 1996 — 2012. Founder and Chairman. Seventeen location optical retail business in the Philippines. Sold to a supplier in 2012.
POWER VISION Ltd. 2011 – 2014. Board of Directors. Crewe, UK, based developer and manufacturer of magnetron sputtering thin layer metal oxide deposition equipment for creating
high quality antireflective coatings on ophthalmic lenses. Business sold to Vision Ease Inc.
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, Ltd. 2005 — 2010. Non-executive chairman. Web based optical practice management system SEE2020. Business sold to Occuco, the leading
international practice management software supplier.
LENS MASTER, RUSSIA 1997 — 2012. Founder and CEO, sold interests in 2002. Advisor until 2012 when business was acquired by HAL Investments BV. Largest optical retail chain in
1800CONTACTS, Inc. 1997 — 2007. Member of the Board of Directors, Chairman of the Compensation Committee, member of the Audit and Governance Committees of this publically
traded company. Salt Lake City, Utah based. World’s largest retailer of contact lenses with internet and telephone sales of $300 million, also supplier of contact lens ordering and fulfillment services to Wal*Mart throughout North America. Went private in 2007.
VISION EXPRESS GROUP 1988 — 1997. Founder and Chairman. Optical superstore group with 162 one hour optical superstores in twenty four nations on four continents. World’s largest
optical superstore operator outside of the USA. Highly profitable business sold 1997 to Grand Vision of France, now owned by Monaco based HAL Investments BV. Over $250 million turnover.
LENS CRAFTERS 1983 — 1987. Founder and Chairman. USA/Canada based, world’s largest optical retailer. Sold to US Shoe Corporation. $440 million turnover at the time. Currently owned
by Luxottica Group, Italy.
PROCTER & GAMBLE, INC. 1969 — 1983. Various Marketing Management positions of increasing responsibility in the packaged soap and beverage divisions. World’s largest consumer goods retailer. Last position was Associate Marketing Manager of the Beverage Division. Resigned to found Lens Crafters.
EDUCATION: MBA (1969) in International Marketing, Michigan State University; Master of Science in Theoretical Chemistry (1968), Michigan State University. Harvard University special
course in marketing for Company Chairmen (1986).
Collect, restore and race historic racing cars Maintain one of the world’s largest private automotive libraries Research and collect early logarithmic scale mathematical instruments Theatre – enjoy theatre, classic and musical. Significant acting experience Teaching – Significant experience as a teaching assistant while in graduate school, significant experience as guest lecturer especially to business students and business groups
SPECIAL NOTE: Outstanding marketing has been key to successes of my optical retailing ventures. I have always played the role of marketing director, including the writing, production and editing of advertising and, in many cases, acting in the commercials.
PERSONAL: Married to Russian trained ophthalmic microsurgeon Dr. Elena Gozman. Two daughters attending school in the UK. DOB 31 January, 1945.
Thomas Frinzi is Worldwide President, Surgical, Johnson & Johnson Vision business, which includes a broad ophthalmology portfolio across the areas of cataracts, refractive surgery (LASIK) and dry eye. Tom was appointed to his position in February 2017 at the conclusion of Johnson & Johnson’s acquisition of Abbott Medical Optics (AMO), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abbott. Mr. Frinzi joined AMO in January 2016 as Senior Vice President of Abbott Laboratories and President, Abbott Medical Optics.
Prior to joining Abbott, Mr. Frinzi held a number of leadership positions in ophthalmology and medical device companies. Most recently, he served as President and CEO of WaveTec Vision, a developer of surgical systems for eye surgery. He also held senior positions in commercial operations, business development, and sales and marketing at Bausch & Lomb Surgical, Refractec and Johnson & Johnson. In recognition of his leadership, expertise and vision in the field, Mr. Frinzi was awarded the 2015 Ophthalmology Innovation Award by the Ophthalmology Innovation Summit.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Tampa.
Tyler J. Stowater is Partner and Vice President of Bluestem. He graduated from South Dakota State University with a BS Degree in Agriculture Economics (1984) and a MS Degree in Economics (1986). Tyler spent eleven years with the State of South Dakota’s Bureau of Finance and Management. During his tenure, Tyler held the position of budget analyst, state economist, and deputy commissioner.
In 1997, Tyler left the State to become an Assistant Vice President at Citibank South Dakota with business analysis responsibilities in the North American Cards Customer Service Unit. Tyler joined Bluestem in 2000 and is currently in charge of portfolio management with responsibilities including the evaluation of prospective companies, structuring, negotiating, and performing due diligence for various investments made by Bluestem. He monitors and provides assistance to existing portfolio companies and holds multiple Board of Director positions.
In the spring of 2016, Tyler was given the Distinguished Alumnus award at the 62nd Annual Celebration of Excellence in Economics at South Dakota State University. Tyler is married to Joni (Klosterman) and they have two children, McKenzie (Otterberg) and McCord.
You’re invited to attend an informational webinar on the new neurolens® System for Digital Vision Syndrome. Thursday, September 28, 2017, 6:30PM
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This event is for Eye Care Professionals to learn about becoming a neurolens® provider.
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