Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal on giving customers everything they didn’t know they need
In this episode of the Tony Robbins Podcast, we are bringing you back to Business Mastery, where Tony recently led a panel discussion with the business leaders behind some of today’s fastest growing companies. And this time, you’re going to hear from one of the founders of a company that changed the eyewear business forever.
If you have ever worn eyeglasses, then you know that the traditional process is expensive and inconvenient. On average, a pair of glasses costs nearly $300. And the trips you have to make to the retailer to sift through the pairs, try them on, and order your final choice can really stack up. It’s a real pain point for a lot of people. But that is exactly why four friends at Wharton Business School decided to start a business that did something about it.
Neil Blumenthal, Dave Gilboa, Andy Hunt and Jeff Raider launched Warby Parker in 2010. The premise was simple – offer customers high-quality eyewear at affordable prices, and establish a convenient, direct-to-consumer model so that customers could get eyeglasses anytime and anywhere. But what made this company so special was how focused they were on perfecting the customer experience and the massive amounts of research and experimentation they did to find that sweet spot.
In this episode, you are going to hear from Neil Blumenthal on the vision behind Warby Parker, why it was so critical for them to optimize every single dollar they put into the company, and the tools and strategies that helped them build Warby Parker into a billion dollar business.
[1:05] Ana introduces the episode
[2:45] Tony welcomes Neil
[3:00] How Warby Parker was started
[4:00] “At some point someone will start selling glasses online”
[4:30] Glasses have the power to transform someone’s life
[5:00] The disconnect between the production cost and the retail cost of eyewear
[5:25] A gut feeling that this was the right decision
[6:30] The promises the co-founders made to each other
[6:55] 9 years since inception, 7 years since origination
[7:10] Following up the promise with action
[7:40] Resolving conflict before it even starts
[8:30] These early practices set the stage for the core values of Warby Parker
[8:55] Bootstrapping the business
[9:20] Mentally grasping that they have a billion dollar business
[10:00] Being very careful with cash
[10:30] How do you build a minimally viable product?
[11:05] Investing in a website, in pr and in the product
[11:30] One shot to launch the brand
[11:45] Finding what they could do themselves
[12:15] Conducting in-person user testing to help define your scope
[13:00] Finding their irresistible offer
[13:30] Solving a real pain point in people’s lives
[14:00] Disrupting the eyeglasses industry by cutting out the middle-man
[14:20] The David vs. Goliath dynamic of Warby Parker’s story
[15:20] Creating a better customer experience
[16:00] How they decided to send customers test frames to try on
[17:20] How the home try-on system reduced return rates
[18:00] “The Netflix of eyewear”
[18:30] Giving back to those in need
[19:00] Creating a company they were excited to work for everyday
[20:00] The surprising reason people really buy glasses – fashion and design
[21:00] People tend to buy a new pair of glasses every 2 years
[21:30] Building a stable business that is also adaptable
[22:00] Going through the first round of financing
[23:00] Establishing your “non-negotiables”
[23:20] Establishing your terms
[23:45] Finding early-stage investors first before bringing in the big fish
[24:30] Discovering and building upon the current consumer trend
[27:50] A brand architecture is your reason for being
[28:15] Why they named the company “Warby Parker”
[28:50] The brand is not just the product, it’s the moment someone hears the name “Warby Parker”
[29:10] Extending the customer experience to every single aspect of the company
[30:10] The importance of finding out what the customer really wants
[30:25] Consumer demand drove some key business decisions
[31:30] Utilizing their apartment as their first office space / retail
[32:30] Vulnerability is key to building relationships with your customers
[33:00] The first “office” in Union Square, NYC
[33:20] Continually experimenting to find the optimal customer experience
[34:00] A culture of learning and testing at the core of building Warby Parker
[35:00] The unintentional benefit of collecting sales data in each city
Making your customers happy – It’s not about giving customers what they need anymore, it’s about giving them what they want.
How to create your brand identity – Understanding what your company is and what it offers the customer is one of the most important first steps you can take as a business owner.
What disruption really means – Learn everything you wanted to know about disruption, but were too afraid to ask, distilled down to the fundamentals.