This past week I set down with Jeff Raider of Warby Parker to talk to him about his partners (Neil Blumenthal, David Gilboa, and Andy Hunt) and his new brainchild. After we both discovered that the other was an avid Celtics fan (yes a plug for the Celtics), we began to discuss how they decided to get started and any advice he may have. Their company is taking the eyeglass industry by storm with an incredible business model that is only bested by their incredible glasses and selection.
These vintage-inspired frames came to life after the 4 Wharton MBA students set down, tossed around a few ideas and realized they were onto something. They discovered if they take out the middleman that they could provide the same quality at a much lower price than competitors. With quality fashionable eyeglasses under $100 it is no wonder heads are turning. But they also had a social responsible twist, for every pair bought; one pair will be donated to one of the world’s 500 million visually impaired, impoverished people through nonprofits such as restoringvision.org. When I asked him how they decided to dive into the industry, he said you have a choice you can either go big or not. They clearly decided to go big when they packed their bags to go to China the summer after drafting their business plan to speak with vendors. He also left me with some tidbits for young entrepreneurs reminding the importance of figuring out who your customer is, doing the proper research, but at the end of the day doing what you love and see a need for. It is clear Warby Parker is on its way, having been recognized by the likes of GQ, Vogue and other major fashion media. Raider says, “When I saw a classmate pull out a monocle in one of my classes, I was like yes we have arrived.”