The winter of 2000: Bill Clinton was president, Y2K didn’t amount to a hill of beans, and the economy was roaring along thanks to the Internet boom. It was a good time to try something new.
So it was in this climate that the concept for Vision Care Product News (VCPN) was born. We agreed on a few imperatives for the new publication-it had to be exclusively dedicated to explaining, demonstrating, and romancing optical products and putting each new product in context for the independent ECP’s practice; it had to be peer-to-peer in format and headed by an optical professional of note; it had to bring the buyer and the seller together.
With business plan in hand, our first move was to recruit our chief content provider from within the optical community. Ed De Gennaro, a master optician, noted educator, and lecturer was our first choice. Candidly, Ed was somewhat tepid on the concept but, out of friendship, agreed to help us out.
By summer of that year we were underway. Our objective was to solicit advertising in support of a pilot issue that we would distribute at Vision Expo West in September. With just some mock-ups in hand, we visited many of the market’s leading suppliers and to our great delight, not only did they think VCPN was a good idea but many were quite willing to support the pilot.
They liked the straightforward way we planned to organize the pub, that every major product category would have its own department, and that the products mentioned in articles could be easily found with our “Where to Find It” box at the end of each story.
While the sales effort continued, the editorial content was coming together with fits and starts. But we finally completed the issue. The plan was to have it shipped directly from the printer to the show just prior to opening. Thankfully, VCPN made it to Vegas, and we excitedly dispersed our first issue. After three days and more than 30 meetings with prospective advertisers, authors, and association execs, we came to recognize that we had the makings of a business.
Today, on its 15th anniversary, the VCPN you now hold is far different than that first pilot issue. As well it should be. Thanks to the efforts of Beth Schlau (our first full-time employee), Jane Kaplan, and the creative teams they direct, we have a publication that remains current and continuously changing as our industry evolves. But we remain true to our original mission: Deliver Product Information for Optical People.
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