Warby Parker, Wharton MBAs ’10
BRINGING A SOCIAL VISION TO THE EYEWEAR INDUSTRY
Neil Blumenthal, Dave Gilboa, Jeff Raider & Andy Hunt met and created Warby Parker as 1st year MBA students.
The team came together debating “Why does a pair of glasses cost as much as $700?” and discovered an industry they could disrupt. That year they were semi-finalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition (now the Startup Challenge).
A Summer Venture Award allowed the founders to develop their business model over the summer.
Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship granted the award to Jeff Raider, who also visited factories in China in conjunction with the Wharton Global Immersion Program and integrated the venture into his Wharton experience.
Warby Parker became a member of the Venture Initiation Program.
The business launched in February 2010 with coverage in GQ and Vogue, and leveraged classes and Wharton faculty as resources to build the business and their brand.
They exceeded their first year sales goals in a few weeks and quickly shifted their focus to operations and customer service needs.
“Buy a Pair – Give a Pair” was their vision from the beginning.
Giving glasses to those without access to eyewear was in their original business plan. Co-founder Neil Blumenthal worked for VisionSpring before Wharton. Five years after launch, Warby Parker has distributed over 1,000,000 pairs of glasses to people in need in 35 countries, creating more than $200M of economic impact due to increased individual productivity.