After wondering why glasses weren’t sold online, Neil Blumenthal, David Gilboa, Andy Hunt, and Jeff Raider created the idea of Warby Parker. It has now been 8 years since the online retail store went live. The digitally native eyewear retailer plans to have nearly 100 stores open across the United States by the end of this year.
Envisioning the Company
In February 2008, Blumenthal wondered: why weren’t glasses sold online? Blumenthal emailed his three friends in the middle of the night proposing that the four of them start an online eyewear company. After receiving feedback from classmates, they were inspired by the idea of letting customers try on five pairs of frames at home for free before buying any and it became a virtual success.
“The Netflix of Eyewear”
On February 25, 2010, WarbyParker.com went live. Within 48 hours of GQ claiming the company as “the Netflix of eyewear,” the site was so flooded with orders for $95 glasses that Blumenthal temporarily suspended the home try-on program. Launching the website so quickly meant the company hadn’t included a sold-out function– so customers were placing orders long after inventory had run out. This issue went so far out that the waitlist was up to 20,000 people. The good news was that the company hit its first-year sales target in three weeks.
Warby Parker has the social responsibility of “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair.” For every pair of glasses Warby Parker sells, they make a donation to its nonprofit partners–including VisionSpring–so people in the developing world can get eye exams and glasses cheaply. In one year, Warby distributed its millionth pair of glasses through its “buy a pair, give a pair” program. Today, Warby has 64 stores as well as pop-up shops and stores on wheels.
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