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.
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.
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Chris Dixon is a Partner at and co-founder of Founder Collective. He is also a contributing writer for TechCrunch. He previously was the CEO and Co-founder of SiteAdvisor, which was acquired by McAfee, and Hunch, which was acquired by eBay. In addition to his work with Founder’s Collective, Chris is a personal investor in early-stage technology companies, including Skype, TrialPay, DocVerse, Invite Media, Gerson Lehrman Group, ScanScout, OMGPOP, BillShrink, Oddcast, Panjiva, Knewton, and a handful of other startups that...
David Gilboa is one of the founders of Warby Parker. Like a Viking from his Swedish homeland, Dave spends his free time seeking adventure. His two most recent conquests include trekking across Antarctica and becoming the fastest person to ever run a marathon in a flamingo costume. He aspires to one day summit Everest while wearing his trusty monocle.
Neil Blumenthal loves helping people see. Determined to radically transform the eyewear industry, Neil and three friends launched Warby Parker in February of 2010. Warby Parker is a transformative fashion brand offering designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses. Neil had been the Director of VisionSpring, a non-profit social enterprise that trains low-income women to start their own business selling affordable eyeglasses to individuals living on less than $4 per day in South...