Meet Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby Parker.
Over just four years, Warby Parker has disrupted the eyewear industry by offering designer eyewear at a revolutionary price. In the process, the socially conscious eyewear retailer has distributed more than 1 million pairs of glasses to people in need, redefined the rules of business and sparked a movement of social entrepreneurs. In a word – wow!
During the filming of his new Skillshare class, Build a Social Mission-Driven Brand, the eyewear evangelist sat down with us for a special Q&A session. Check it out below!
What motivated and inspired you when launching Warby Parker? NB: I think the thing that was really exciting to us was building a team and trying to find really talented people that are passionate about what we’re doing. Giving them sort of an opportunity to grow and creating an office environment in which they would thrive every day. I think the other big aspect was coming into an industry that hasn’t seen that much innovation in eyewear…We were excited to come into a space and design glasses that we love and sell them for a fraction of the price and basically solve our own problem to make people happy and make better customer experiences.
What’s the one book you would recommend social entrepreneurs read? NB: At Warby Parker, we love books and we love reading. We think a lot about what the brand stands for is this literary life. The name Warby Parker actually comes from two early Jack Kerouac characters. And of course, there’s that tie between vision and learning and reading. One of the books that influenced me the most was The E-Myth Revisited. That was something that I read during my first days at VisionSpring, when I was living in El Salvador and basically trying to build out a program to train low income women to start their own businesses selling glasses. It was a great inspirational how-to on building a business.
Is there a skill you wish you had learned before launching your company? NB: I probably would’ve liked to relearn calculus! I have a 3 year old, so he’ll probably need that. Let’s see…If I could go back and learn one skill before launching Warby Parker It probably would have been understanding software languages and learning how to code. I find that it’s an aspect of every part of business today. Now, I rely on hiring really talented people to run those areas at Warby Parker.
If you could take a class from anyone, living or dead, who would it be? NB: If I had the opportunity to take a Skillshare course from anybody – this is probably the obvious answer – but it would be Steve Jobs. This was a guy who was so intensely focused on experience and designing experiences, and that’s what we try to do at Warby Parker. We view all of our roles as designers and experience designers, so we think a lot about the moment someone hears about a brand to their decision to interact with that brand…..Steve Jobs designed entire ecosystems that just worked incredibly well and how much thought was given into every aspect and every Apple product. That type of deliberateness and thoughfulness is incredibly rare and it inspires us every day.
Learn how to turn your own-do good ideas into a startup with social impact in Neil Blumenthal’s class Build a Social Mission-Driven Brand.
Photo via merchandisingmatters.com