(Founder Stories) Warby Parker: “Why Should A Pair Of Glasses Cost More Than An iPhone?”

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If you’ve ever shopped for a pair of prescription glasses, you’ve probably seen first hand how expensive a set can be. Warby Parker’s co-founders are right there with you.

Both fed-up and puzzled over paying hundreds of dollars for a product that’s been around for hundreds of years, the Warby Parker team is shaking up the eyewear industry by selling prescription glasses online, at a price tag of just $95 a pair.

Having crafted their plan during business school, the foursome launched the company two years ago this month. Three weeks after the initial pair went on sale, co-founder, Neil Blumenthal says Warby Parker hit its sales targets for the entire year and adds “we sold out of our top 15 styles in four weeks”. The company has since ramped up to 60-employees.

Two of Warby Parker’s co-founders, David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal recently stopped by TCTV to give Founder Stories host, Chris Dixon the backstory on how the company got started.

As lifelong eyeglass wearers, Gilboa tells Dixon the group couldn’t understand why “glasses cost more than an iPhone.” After doing some research they realized “there’s a handful of companies that control the entire supply chain.” Not content to roll with the status quo, Gilboa says the team set out to change the landscape by creating “our own brand of glasses …. so we could sell the same product that normally costs $500 for $95.”

However, because their product was only available online, the team had to figure out a way for customers to try on the frames. Blumenthal says their solution was to create a “first of its kind” program “in the US where you select 5 frames, we ship it to you free of cost and you have 5 days to try them on at home, with no obligation to buy.”

Gilboa adds that this process enables customers to receive feedback from people “they trust” (versus paid sales staffers) and as an added benefit, Warby Parker receives “millions of free impressions” from users who post tryout pictures to their social networking sites.

As the interview unfolds, Gilboa and Blumenthal share plenty more insights, so sure to watch the entire video to hear more.

Past episodes for Founder Stories featuring Jeff Clavier, Cyrus Massoumi, Stephen Kaufer, Mayor Bloomberg and many other leaders are here.

Episode II of this interview is coming up.