Video Transcript

00:09 Neil Blumenthal: So, we started Warby Parker because we each had that experience walking into an optical shop and walking out feeling like we overpaid. We thought that if we were able to manufacture and design the glasses that we love and sell them direct to customers over the internet, that we'd be able to do so for a fraction of the price. So, we're literally able to provide the same quality as a $500 pair, for $95, and that's because we're passing all of that retail mark-up on to our customers. Likewise, because we have our own brand, we don't have to pay licensing fees.

00:44 Blumenthal: Basically, the idea is we design sort of beautiful fashion eyewear and sell it for a fraction of the price. So, literally a $500 product at $95, and for every pair of glasses we sell, we distribute one to someone in need. This is really born out of a real need that three friends of mine had, sort of walking into an optical shop and walking out feeling like we got punched in the stomach. Has anybody else had that same feeling? Yeah, quite a few of you.

01:12 Blumenthal: So, my journey into the eyewear space actually starts sort of back in college. I went to Tufts University in Boston, was an International Relations and History major, one of those guys that wanted to change the world. I wasn't sure exactly how. I was passionate about health and education, and issues of war and peace, and ended up going over to The Netherlands, studying a little bit about conflict resolution. Coming back to New York, studying... Well, actually working out a think-tank, coming up with policies to resolve deadly conflict, that typical entrepreneurial path, and realizing, "You know what? Maybe the policy world isn't right for me", because at the end of the day, the way you have impact is by sort of advocating a policy to politicians and power brokers who have, really, the power to have an impact. So, I decided this wasn't for me.

02:05 Blumenthal: And I met this interesting eye doctor who had this powerful idea to train low-income women to start their own businesses selling glasses to people in their communities throughout the world and I thought, "Wow, this is really interesting. It combines entrepreneurship and international development." One thing that I didn't fully grasp was just how massive the problem was. About close to a billion people on earth don't have access to glasses. It seems crazy, right? The technology has been around about 700, 800 years, what are we doing that we're not able to provide glasses to about 15% of the world's population?

02:41 Blumenthal: And the way that sort of he was tackling this problem seemed to make a lot of sense. You're training low-income women and every study has shown that when women have access to capital, they tend to use it on the health and education of their children. So, you have this great multiplier effect and you're providing people with the tools to see. That pair of glasses can radically transform somebody's life, whether you're a student, sort of looking at a blackboard or you're somebody that is a farmer that needs to separate seeds to plant or a tailor that needs to thread a needle.

03:18 Blumenthal: I spent five years working at this non-profit called Vision Spring, sort of moving down to El Salvador on a whim to work on this beta program, expanding it to about 10 different countries, training thousands of these female entrepreneurs who were in turn, distributing hundred of thousands of glasses throughout the world in countries like India and Bangladesh, and Ghana and Guatemala. And what struck me is that the...