Lema21, an e-commerce startup that sells quality designer eyewear online, has raised $1.6 million in funding from The Social+Capital Partnership, Micky Malka, Graph Ventures, and Luis Mario Bilenky, ex-president of Fototica, Brazil’s second largest optical chain and the CEO of an established international eyewear company.
Similar to the way Warby Parker has disrupted the eyewear market in the U.S. Lema21 is hoping to provide an alternative retail site for eyewear in Brazil. Founded by Jon Assayag and Naomi Arruda, the startup offers designer prescription frames with anti-reflective organic lenses for one standard price.
Warby Parker has achieved success in part by cutting out the middlemen in the manufacturing process; subtracting the high licensing fees and bypassing the high-prices of optical shops. Lema21 will also offer consumers the ability to give back to the Brazilian community with a “buy one, donate one” model, where for every pair of glasses sold, Lema21 donates the cost of a simple pair to a local non-profit helping the visually impaired.
Assayag explains that the current Brazilian eyewear is a $9 billion industry, so the opportunity is massive. While Lema21 will officially launch in January 2013 for business, the startup will offer a virtual mirror where users can try on frames using a webcam. Purchasers can also receive sample frames to test out what works with their face. And users will be able to get their frames with prescription lenses. And the startup has ambitions of selling to the entire Latin American market.
Jimmy Fairly offers a similar ecommerce site in France.