The Original Pioneer of Optical Wavefront Technology: A Look at How Marc Abitbol Built This Tune in once to the free audio podcast How I Built This, and you’ll never want to miss an episode. In the weekly broadcast, National Public Radio host Guy Raz interviews successful entrepreneurs and shares their stories. Discover how the ice cream mammoth Ben and Jerry’s evolved from a renovated gas station scoop shop to the ﬁve-dollar super premium pints in every grocer’s freezer aisle. Learn about Whole Foods start as a natural food market with a staff of 19, and its growth to the “whole paycheck” retailer Amazon recently acquired for $13.7 billion. Other episodes demonstrate how something you consume daily (like a Starbuck’s Venti cold brew) or accept on autopilot (like your smartphone’s Instagram feed) started with an innovator and evolved into a product and a company that works, that serves a mass market, and that improves our lives. One of our fellow optometry pioneers, Marc Abitbol, would ﬁt right into the program. Abitbol’s story will capture you for three reasons: the fuse, the method, and the impact. In the optical industry today, everybody knows wavefront technology, but nobody remembers where it started. Here’s an inspiring reminder. in an optical setting. Though the instruments were much smaller, the impact was huge. Marc was the ﬁrst to use wavefront technology to measure the lens and aberrations of the eye. Many of the ﬁrst wavefront based instruments in the optical industry, from well-known manufacturers in Germany and Asia, utilized technology developed by Marc and the company he founded, Visionix. The Abitbol Fuse Marc’s inspiration took him to new heights, but his idea would later implant with ﬁrm roots on dry land. In the 1980s, the idea to use lasers to crash Russian satellites was on the White House to-do list and thus the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as “Star Wars, ” began. Abitbol’s PhD research, funded by the Reagan administration, helped check off the task. Marc developed a way to control wavefronts and prevent laser energy loss despite variations in atmospheric conditions. He lectured on his technology during his ﬁrst visit to the United States. Always innovating, Abitbol asked, “what’s next?” His out of this world application lit a spark in his creative mind for a much more minute purpose: using wavefront technology The Abitbol Method First, Marc knows how to survive a startup. Long hours. Little sleep. Less than ideal accommodations. 1994 wasn’t glamorous for Abitbol’s team of three, the infancy of the company he founded: Visionix. Marc recalls trafﬁc delaying his caravan and sleeping in a car before a critical presentation. Nevertheless, they developed a successful prototype in only nine months. They became the ﬁrst to demonstrate wavefront technology in an optical application. Second, Abitbol knows how to network. Facing a conservative and mature industry, Marc contacted the biggest optical players in Europe, starting in Germany. The industry was interested, and the product launched into the ophthalmic market, taking live measurements of eye aberration. In the optical industry today, everybody knows wavefront technology, but nobody remembers where it started.