Stoggles thinks protective eyewear can be fashionable, too

We wear sunglasses to keep the sun out of our eyes, but they have always been a piece of fashion. Stoggles co-founders Max Greenberg and Rahul Khatri think the fashion label should also apply to protective eyewear.

Both were working together at another fashion eyewear company when the global pandemic hit. Seeing how saturated the market was, they saw an opportunity to make protective eyewear a similar and sexy space, initially targeting the healthcare industry. Stoggles’ glasses combine ANSI-Z87-certified protection with style and comfort, have a prescription lens option and offer blue-light-blocking technology and a proprietary anti-fog coating.

“This has been a way more rewarding business because our biggest customer is healthcare professionals,” Greenberg told TechCrunch. “And they were going from wearing these really bulky, uncomfortable, ugly, protective glasses to having something that they wanted to show off, wanted to post about on Instagram, share with their friends and talk about how it makes a bigger impact on their daily lives, both functionally and in general happiness and well-being.”

They kicked off Los Angeles-based Stoggles in August 2020 with a crowdfunding campaign and then launched an e-commerce website in February 2021. From there, Greenberg said the company “saw incredible growth last year,” averaging about 30% in revenue growth month over month.

The global protective eyewear market is poised to reach $3.1 billion industry by 2026, and even other companies are working to make glasses more hip, though more on the consumer side, including Pair Eyewear, Cheeterz Club and the one that started it all — Warby Parker, which made its public debut via direct listing in September.

Despite already being profitable and their line of eyewear hitting it off with the healthcare community, the Stoggles founders decided to go after their first round of venture capital after bootstrapping the company. Greenberg said that due to the company already establishing product-market fit, rather than go with a traditional Series A, they went with a growth round, raising $40 million from The Chernin Group.

One of the company’s goals is to get into more content and media to raise awareness about Stoggles, and the founders thought The Chernin Group would be a good partner for that, having experience in content and media companies, he added.

Luke Beatty, partner at TCG, said in a written statement that not only did Stoggles find and prove out a huge gap in the protective eyewear market, but they filled it — “a feat we found rather impressive for a company of their age,” he added. “Max and Rahul have expertly built an exceptional business model and we’re thrilled to be a partner in this next stage of growth.”

The company will use the new funding to invest in product development to expand its line of goggles and continue offering more products in the healthcare market. It is also poised to go beyond that market into others, like construction, laboratory sciences, home improvement and do-it-yourself, Greenberg said. In addition, Stoggles will be building out its leadership team, looking to add a marketing director.

The company has 15 employees and wants to double that by the end of the year.

“We really want to build a strong foundation of great, really passionate people that see the mission that we’re after, and want to help us achieve and be a part of it,” Greenberg added. “We couldn’t have gotten here without our healthcare customers, so we want to make sure we build an even better product for them, continue to improve, continue to grow the product line and get the word out and make the experience better.”