Four MBA candidates were sitting in a computer lab at UPenn's Wharton School complaining to each other about how expensive glasses were. Dave needed a new pair. He accidentally left his $700 glasses (holy cow) on a plane earlier that week. They were nowhere to be found...
Later, in the middle in the night, Neil e-mailed Dave, Andy, and Jeff and pitched the idea of starting eye-wear company together. Upon further sleuthing, they found out Big Glasses were marking their products up by 15-20 times what they really cost to make. No one wants to be ripped off by Lens Crafters. They struck a deal the next night over Yuenglings at a local bar and decided to make a company that sold glasses online. They called it Warby Parker.
Everyone—including their classmates—told them they’d never be able to sell glasses through a screen. But their classmates had no vision. Not only would they find a way to sell glasses online, but also for every pair sold, they’d donate a pair. Sight philanthropists.
They ramped everything up, got some inventory made, and strung together a program that allowed people to try on 5 frames at home before making a purchase (they’d ship them to you, free of charge). Then, they launched.
GQ wrote an article about them immediately following the launch. The magazine dubbed Warby Parker “The Netflix of Glasses” (this was back when Netflix still sent DVD's in the mail). Within the first 3 weeks of launching, they hit their year 1 goal for sales, and within a month they sold out. After that they had a waitlist of over 20,000 people.
They continued wokring on the company while in school and went full time after graduation. In a short five years, the company grew to have a billion dollar valuation. By 2019, the company had donated more than 5 million pairs of glasses. Now it’s worth more than $3 billy.
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