Warby Parker, like so many other lifestyle/tech hybrid companies, faced the problem many small companies see while trying to launch a real brand: how do you make the story resonate?
Warby Parker stormed the retail glasses industry in 2010 with a novel way to sell its affordable, stylish specs: online. Hundreds of thousands of sold pairs later, the boutique glasses purveyor is today opening the doors to its brick-and-mortar flagship store, at 121 Greene Street in NYC's SoHo neighborhood.
Pricing is the hidden challenge of entrepreneurship. It’s a topic that no one talks about, even though (or perhaps because) it involves difficult decisions that hugely impact the success of your business. As you take steps to establish your pricing strategy, I’ve found there are three key points to keep in mind.
When the founders of a start-up that sells eyeglasses online, Warby Parker, began investigating why designer glasses cost several hundred dollars, they discovered that everyone in the process was taking a cut: designers, manufacturers, brands, wholesalers and retailers.
Warby Parker, the hip purveyor of retro-style glasses, has solidified ties with two of its most prominent fans.
Now the three-year-old start-up can count Millard S. Drexler, the chief executive of J. Crew, and American Express as participants in its latest round of financing, which closed last month at $41.5 million.
The two join an already expansive group of investors that includes General Catalyst Partners, Spark Capital, Tiger Global Management, Thrive Capital and Menlo Ventures.
The presence of Mr. Drexler and American Express highlights the growing popularity of Warby Parker, whose founders created the online glasses seller in their spare time at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and quickly struggled to meet consumer demand.
Company executives first closed the round last September at $37.5 million, but left some room and time for select investors to come in as well.
Today at Social Media Week headquarters in NYC, Warby Parker co-CEO Neil Blumenthal spoke about his company’s formation and how it set out to transform the optical industry (worth $22 billion in US).
In doing so, Warby Parker took eyewear online — it had been curiously absent from the e-commerce world — and heavily cut inflated prices down to $95 for a pair of glasses.
As you’ll see in the video below, Blumenthal elaborates that the ”tech behind glasses hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years.” Then why, he asks, should a pair of glasses cost the same as the latest iPhone?
Blumenthal also shared that Warby Parker has plans to produce more of its own content as it transforms into a lifestyle brand, but that the company has no intention to compete with media outlets. This is noteworthy, as growing startups like Birchbox appear to be inching towards that direction.
Warby Parker just released its annual report for 2012, and it’s a pretty fun slideshow to click through. The glasses empire now has 113 full-time employes and 42 part-time employees. Of those bespectacled folks, 108 have company-sponsored gym memberships. In other Warby Parker health news, 2,507 pounds of salad were eaten in the office this year. Although there are not too many exact sales figures in the package (besides the fact that 296 monocles were sold this year) a diagram on the last page shows that sales from the first quarter of the year to the last one have nearly tripled. Warby Parker says it gave out 250,000 pairs of glasses this year, some of which went to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Herein you'll find detailed information about our accouting policies, followed by a terrifying array of charts.
The Annual Report is our chance to sneak you inside Warby Parker Headquarters and show you how it all goes down -- bagels and bloopers included.
NEIL BLUMENTHAL: The willingness to pivot is more important for most startups than actually pivoting (since few will pivot.) If you build a culture based on flexibility, data use and sharing, you’ll be able to easily shift strategy as the market demands and avoid being forced to pivot by investors.
NEIL BLUMENTHAL: We in the technology startup community are about to enter a year of thoughtfulness. The startups that are most likely to succeed are those that have been deliberate in understanding their customers and in finding simple, cost-effective and well-designed ways to serve them. While it may sound like this should be the status quo, it isn’t. We’re currently in a period where business plans are railed against and mediocre business ideas have been able to attract funding and talent because of macroeconomic trends. Early stage funding is now becoming harder to obtain, and customers are becoming more and more selective. The “Viability” in minimum viable product is now harder to achieve.
NEIL BLUMENTHAL: You’re selling a job and your position description is your advertisement. Invest some time to make the job posting stand out. Be sure to describe the role in clear, non-generic language and provide some insight into the company, specifically what it’s like to work there and where the company is heading.
Tim Riley, director of online experience for eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, has a simple approach when it comes to creating an atmosphere for his customers: always find a happy medium between dazzling and informing. For the creators of an understated eyewear line, perhaps that is not so surprising.
As part of Bloomberg's 'New Hack City' series focusing on the culture of New York City technology, Cristina Alesci looks at Warby Parker, an online seller of eyeglasses.
There was a short time when using social media for customer service made you an innovator.
Now, while it’s becoming table-stakes, there’s still an opportunity to leverage social media to take your customer service to a new level.
Warby Parker, the industry disrupting seller of stylish, affordable eyewear, noticed fewer customers were using their 1-800 number and more were turning to Twitter to pose questions. But, Warby Parker found it difficult to answer complicated questions, such as those about prescriptions, given Twitter’s 140 character limit.
Co-founders Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa's first step toward world domination: Making glasses — and giving back — cool.
When Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal launched Warby Parker in 2010, their goal was to shake up the eyewear industry. Tired of expensive, generic frames, they came up with a plan: cut out the middlemen and offer high-design, boutique-quality glasses for under $100. Let people shop entirely online. Offer digital and at-home try-on. And for every pair purchased, give one to someone in need. Two years later, their plan isn't just working, it's booming. The company is on track to ship 300,000 pairs by the end of the year and is planning a brick-and-mortar store in New York City.
2012 Buick Agents of Change | Warby Parker
Neil Blumenthal and David Galboa are reinventing how we buy cheap, stylish specs. Their eyeglass maker, Warby Parker -- named after two Jack Kerouac characters -- sells retro-chic designs for just $95 through a sleek website with a home try-on program and pain-free returns. Sales are up 200% so far this year, and the company, which donates one pair of glasses to nonprofit partners in developing countries for every pair sold, has donated a total of 300,000 pairs since the company's launch in 2010. Coming up next: shipping outside North America and a flagship retail store in New York's SoHo district. "It's been a whirlwind," Blumenthal says.
Neil Blumenthaul, "we were excited about this industry because we saw glasses were being marked up by 10 to 20 times what they cost a manufacturer. so that's what attracted us to build this company because we thought we could go directly -- design our own frames, sell them to consumers with $95 with prescription lenses."
Warby Parker Shares The Importance of Transparency at the Feast
October 4, 2012
Mayor Bloomberg rocking the Waldo frame at NYC Connects reception!
While deplaning in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 2008, a young business student named David Gilboa left his eyeglasses—a pair of $700 black titanium frames by Prada—behind. Upon realizing this, the vacationing Gilboa had two thoughts: he couldn’t believe he’d left his glasses on a plane, and he couldn’t believe he’d spent $700 on said glasses.
Warby Parker's Very First TV Ad: "Eyeballs Looking for Glasses"
Warby Parker, the social good startup making waves in the custom eyewear space is looking for far more on-ground exposure than its recently opened SoHo showroom can offer. The company is going on a road trip across the US, traveling in a renovated, retrofitted school bus that's apparently been re-imagined as a professor's library; complete with leather couches, wood paneling, vintage books and more.
Received $36.8M Series B Funding
Participation General Catalyst Partners
Citing glasses technology as so "ridiculously expensive," Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa founded Warby Parker -- an online eyewear company where glasses frames retail for $95. "It's technology that's been around for 800 years, and it didn't make any sense to us that glasses should cost any more than an iPhone," Gilboa said Monday on "CBS This Morning."
Warby Parker Presents: Le Chat Cambrioleur (The Cat Burglar)
There are plenty of places to turn if one is looking to buy prescription glasses, but the problem is that most of those options are expensive. So David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal started Warby Parker last year to breathe some new life into the eyewear industry by selling designer, prescription glasses online-- for $95. The New York-based startup has since gone on to raise $13.5 million from a bunch of notable investors, and has been growing fast.
Happy April 1st, Everybody! It's that very special time of year-- the day when tech companies break out their clown shoes to make their annual attempt at being funny. As a public service, we've rounded up every tech-related April Fools joke that we could find, and we've even separated the wheat from the chaff-- highlighting the stuff that's actually funny.
”It doesn’t make sense to spend several hundred dollars on something your dog’s just going to eat.” So says Warby Parker co-founder Dave Gilboa, but that didn’t stop designer eyeglass startup from launching its own dog-focused spinoff, Warby Barker.
Warby Barker: Glasses for Dogs
Warby Parker, a New York-based eyewear start-up that is getting a lot of attention, is often painted as an eyeglass shop for hipsters. But that quick summation does a disservice to what the company has done and how it hass built one of the hottest start-ups around. I sat down with Neil Blumenthal, one of Warby Parker's co-founders, to talk about what's driving the company's success and he said it comes down to the way it has created and maintained its brand.
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.
Earlier this week during the Crunchies we snagged the founders of Warby Parker for a backstage interview-- which was fitting, as I've been wearing a pair of their specs myself (they seemed pleased by this). Tune in to the video above for some details on the company's "Buy A Pair, Give A Pair" program, through which Warby Parker matches every purchase by donating a pair of glasses to people in need. And for those of you looking for an alternative to the hornrimmed classes, there's good news: wireframe glasses are on the way (early spring can't come soon enough).
Warby Parker donates a pair of eyeglasses for every one it sells, a "one-for-one" model that's helped the ecommerce business blow through sales targets. In this episode of "Smart Entrepreneur," co-founders Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa explain how the concept works -- and how other entrepreneurs can incorporate a social mission into their business models.
When the four co-founders of Warby Parker were readying the launch two years ago of their internet-based eyewear venture, they channeled a who's who list of marketing role models: Apple as a master of design and function; Zappos for customer experience; Nike for building an enduring brand; and Method and Patagonia as trailblazers with clear "do good" missions.
Received $12M Series A Funding
Participation Tiger Global Management, Menlo Ventures, First Round Capital, Lerer Ventures, Thrive Capital
Received $1.5M Seed Funding
Participation First Round Capital, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures
Two years ago, the founders of eyewear company Warby Parker entered their idea in a business-plan contest—and lost.