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The Green Room: BBMG’s Mitch Baranowski with Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal

bbmg | Thursday March 24th, 2011 | 2 Comments

In the second episode of BBMG’s Green Room, chief creative officer Mitch Baranowski sits down with Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby Parker, to discuss how the disruptive eyewear company delivers on style and substance. By designing their own frames and selling direct to consumers, Warby Parker saves customers hundreds of dollars per frame. By adopting a “buy a pair, give a pair” model, they embed a sense of purpose into their business design.

The basic premise is that eyeglasses should be fun but not expensive,” says Blumenthal. “When we looked at the industry, we started wondering how we could revolutionize it. We thought we could disintermediate the value chain by designing our own frames, producing them with the same quality but offering them at a radically lower price point. And for every pair that we sell, we give a pair to someone in need.

According to Warby Parker, one billion people do not have access to glasses, which means that 15 percent of the world’s population is unable to effectively learn or work because they can’t see clearly.

In the interview, Blumenthal also discusses the industry’s initial reaction to Warby Parker’s model, how the business originated during discussions at the Wharton MBA program (University of Pennsylvania) and how the company works with its nonprofit partner Vision Spring.

Finally, he offers a few words of advice to budding social entrepreneurs. “The biggest thing is how you create solutions to real needs,” he says. “What’s great is there are so many talented people out there today that want to be part of a mission-driven organization and create positive change. It’s just about finding that need, creating a solution to meet that need and putting the talent against it.”

Filmed at BBMG’s studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn, and hosted in partnership with Triple Pundit, new episodes of The Green Room debut every two weeks. Next up: Ron J. Williams, co-founder of SnapGoods, a new platform for “owning less, doing more.”


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  • Dale

    Love it. Really cool, outspoken guy. I had not heard of the company, but it’s so refreshing to see someone approach things with respect for the customer as number one.

    I’m sure they do just fine without all the profit-maximizing gimmicks that other companies employ and which only create distrust and resentment.

  • Ed Edison

    I’d love to see the glasses for sale out here in California! I think there’s a great viral marketing opportunity here – showing some of the stories of people who have been given vision by the generosity of this company and its customers!

    Hopefully this gets other companies off their butts to do more!