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Post at least three paragraphs answering the three discussion questions below.
WARBY PARKER DOES GLASSES ITS OWN WAY
A few years ago, four Wharton business students bonded over the high price of stylish prescription glasses (up to $700 or more each). When they discovered it was a single company’s near-monopoly over the optical industry that led to steep prices, the idea for Warby Parker was born. The startup’s premise is simple: By designing and manufacturing glasses in-house, and doing without the traditionally high profit margins of the industry, Warby Parker can sell designer-style prescription eyeglasses for $95 each. It offers online customers a try-before-you-buy option—five pairs for five days at no cost. Additionally, for every pair bought, another is distributed to developing nations. By 2014, Warby Parker announced it had donated over 1 million pairs of eyeglasses, and the company has been valued at over $300 million.
Some analysts attribute Warby Parker’s success to its unique culture and branding approach; it goes beyond simply selling eyeglasses to incorporate quirky and subtle counterculture elements into everything it does. Others find the company to be an example of “good old-fashioned amazing execution.” From customer approach to employee treatment, the company is doing good business.
However, others are voicing concerns. The company is still in the entrepreneurial growth stage, meaning it survives on investment capital and has not yet reached self-sufficient profitability. Is Warby Parker’s idealistic vision truly viable? Another concern is the possibility of acquisition, an option often sought by entrepreneurial investors who want a quick return on their money. Will Warby Parker end up being bought out by the same high-priced company it set out to challenge initially? These questions will define the company’s future as it transitions into a more mature stage of growth.
Why has Warby Parker been successful?
Does Warby Parker exhibit any of the classic strengths, or weaknesses, of an entrepreneurial startup?
What are some challenges that Warby Parker will likely face as it matures as a company?