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A fix for a broken industry

Created by Kauffman Foundation.

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Video transcript

- My name's Dave Gilboa, I'm Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Warby Parker. - I'm Neil Blumenthal, the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Warby Parker. - [Dave] We started Warby Parker because we saw a huge opportunity to solve a real problem. We love glasses and we've been wearing glasses for a long time, but couldn't understand why they were so expensive. And when we looked into it, saw this massive industry that really hadn't had any innovation. We also wanted to create an organization that did some good in the world. And so I think everything that we do really stems from those two goals. To disrupt this industry that we thought was broken and then also prove that for profit businesses can have a positive impact in the world. - And there was that fateful moment where you forgot a pair of glasses in an airplane. - [Dave] I happened to be traveling. I left a pair of glasses on a plane and they'd cost me 700 dollars. And I was about to be a full-time student in business school and went my whole first semester without owning a pair of glasses 'cause I thought it was ridiculous how expensive they were. I'd just bought a new iPhone that cost me $200 and did all these things that people couldn't imagine five years earlier. Meanwhile, the technology behind a pair of glasses was invented 800 years ago and it just didn't make sense why they were so expensive. - We really came at the this as consumers and people that would go and buy glasses. You realize that there are crazy markups in this industry and it just doesn't make sense. And at that point you start to figure out okay, what do I need to do here? Well we need to design the frames. We can do that ourselves. We need to figure out where to produce them. Well we had some manufacturing relationships we could leverage, and then we also need a place to sell it. So we thought that the internet was this great medium where we could interact directly with customers. So we wanted to figure out a way to compact that value chain and transfer a bunch of money to customers. - We kept hearing from people that you know if you could sell glasses online someone would already be doing it. - We entered the Wharton Business Plan Competition and I think we made it to the semi-finals which was exciting, but alas we didn't win. (laughing) - [Dave] Yeah at first we took it very personally and emotionally. But then realized that our time was better spent actually creating the operations of the business than perfecting our PowerPoint pitch. And it also I think put a little chip on our shoulder and it was just some extra motivation. - A little motivation, yeah. (laughing) - [Dave] We had seen firsthand as consumers that this industry was broken and came up with a better way to do it. And just fundamentally believed that we could create our own brand. People were more and more willing to buy products online whether it's Blue Nile getting people comfortable buying things as expensive as engagement rings, Zappos convincing people that they can buy shoes online even if they need to try them on. We really thought it was a unique opportunity and time where consumers were ready to actually buy glasses online and if we could create a great brand and a great experience they'd actually be willing to do though.