Eyeing the Future
Fanatically focusing on execution and brand. That’s how analysts describe the strategic approach of Warby Parker, a New York City eyewear startup that’s quickly disrupting the old-fashioned eyewear business. Co-founded in 2010 by David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal (who are also now co-CEOs), Warby Parker has shown itself to be a fierce and successful competitor. Why? “One word, deliberate.” They are disciplined about their brand, but embrace and exploit technology in disrupting the staid and conservative way eyewear has traditionally been sold. So what does Warby Parker do?
To appreciate what Warby Parker is doing, we need to look back at how the idea for the company came about. After leaving a $700 pair of Prada frames in a seat-back pocket on a flight while backpacking in Southeast Asia, Gilboa began questioning why he had a $200 iPhone in his pocket that had the technology to do a number of really cool things and yet replacing that pair of glasses—a technology that’s hundreds of years old—would cost way more than that $200 iPhone.57 (Links to an external site.) Like many other entrepreneurs, he believed there had to be a better way. His research exposed an industry that was a virtual monopoly with a very powerful eyewear supplier, thus the reason for the high-priced eyewear. Gilboa and a friend, who were both in Wharton’s MBA program, weren’t even sure they could take on such a powerful competitor until they teamed up with Blumenthal (also at Wharton). Blumenthal was rumored to know “more than pretty much anyone else in the world about how to work outside of the traditional eyeglass-supply chains.” Well, it didn’t take long for the crew to start selling eyewear online from a Philadelphia apartment.
Today, Warby Parker designs and manufactures its own trendy, stylish frames and sells them directly to consumers over the Internet for an affordable $95 a pair. That price also includes prescription lenses, shipping, and a donation to VisionSpring, a not-for-profit where Blumenthal served as a director. The company has begun opening brick-and-mortar stores, with 11 open currently. Other growth plans include expanding their product mix, diversifying their frame selection into areas such as kids’ frames and glasses with progressive lenses, and exploring revolutionary technologies that would do eye exams online. Warby Parker was named Fast Company’s Most Innovative Company of 2015 and was honored as a finalist in the 2014 USA Today Entrepreneur of the Year. Another thing Warby Parker does is its “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program, which benefits visually-impaired individuals in developing countries. Meanwhile, to carry on the company’s success, Gilboa and Blumenthal will continue being disciplined in all they do, fanatically focusing attention on execution and brand. That future vision should help Warby Parker continue on its successful journey.
Prepare a 2-page paper answering the following questions. Remember, use 10-12 pt font and APA format! Feel free to bring in outside data/sources, but please provide citations and a list of references.
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- What role do you think goals might play in planning for Warby Parker’s future? List some goals you think might be important. (Make sure these goals have the characteristics of well-written goals.)
- What types of plans would be needed in an industry such as this one? (For instance, long-term or short-term, or both?)Explain why you think these plans would be important.
- What contingency factors might affect the planning efforts of Warby Parker executives? How might those contingency factors affect the planning?