Phocus, which is in stores like Lucky’s Supermarket and can be bought on Amazon, officially hit the shelves on October 1, 2017. At that time, Mittel was less than a year away from graduating medical school and realized he had to choose between doing his residency in ophthalmology and building his company. If he tried to balance both careers, “I would have done one or both poorly,” he tells CNBC Make It.
The decision was “definitely scary,” he says. “My family’s reaction ranged from my oldest brother and sister — both physicians — giving me the most push back, to my mom who told me, ‘Of course you’ve got to do Phocus.’” Ultimately, “I decided to pull out of ophthalmology and sell water.”
That was in December 2017. He finished up med school, graduated in the spring of 2018 and since, has been working on Phocus full-time.
“I’d be lying if I said the worry of paying off school debt doesn’t hang out in the back of my mind sometimes,” adds Mittel, now 28, who didn’t pay himself a salary in order to keep things lean until just after graduation. “But right now all my energy is directed toward growing and improving Phocus.”