When Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal learned a billion people across the world didn't have access to glasses, he knew there was an opportunity to build a company that also addressed a global problem.
Since its founding four years ago, Warby Parker has distributed more than a million pairs of glasses to people in 35 countries through nonprofit partners. It's an impressive feat--but it's also impressive how quickly the founders turned Warby Parker into a popular lifestyle brand. During a conversation with Young Entrepreneur Council founder Scott Gerber, Blumenthal explained three business lessons he's learned along the way:
Don't rush your business plan.
Blumenthal attributed much of the success of Warby Parker to the fact that he and his partners worked for a year and a half before even launching the company. "People are taking the lean startup methodology and a minimum viable product and they're corrupting it a little bit and thinking "I just need to get to market quickly with a subpar product and the market will inform me whether I should invest more or not,'" he said. "I completely believe in the lean startup and minimum viable product, I just I think that people are setting the threshold for minimum viable too low."
Offer something your competitors can't.
One of the major decisions Blumenthal and his partners made early on was that they would sell glasses typically sold for around $500, for $95. "It's effectively the wholesale price of what the big guys are doing," he said. "It puts them in a really tough position. If they drop their prices to compete with us, they're screwed."
Treat customers the way you want to be treated.
The concept of putting customers first is one that Blumenthal said came naturally to him and his partners. "The idea that you don't spam people with five emails a day or that you offer free shipping just seemed obvious to us, because that's how we want to be treated as consumers."
For more business tips, watch the video below.
Warby Parker's Neil Blumenthal: A New Vision for E-Commerce
Before Warby Parker, customers were suspicious of buying glasses online and big businesses dominated the industry. Co-founder Neil Blumenthal talks to Scott Gerber about overcoming these challenges and going viral.