20% of GenX required glasses during their childhood; today that is closer to 40% according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. This rise has been attributed to increases in screen time and devices and is expected to only continue. PAIR Eyewear is a direct-to-consumer customizable eyewear brand that’s built for the increasing number of youth requiring glasses. The company’s glasses start at an accessible $60 for the base prescription frame and each pair can be customized with interchangeable snap-on tops ($25) to allow for expression of style and preference. PAIR serves the entire family as it also offers styles for adults. Customers can design their perfect pair of glasses from over 500 combinations; a stark change from the monochromatic traditional eyewear offerings available. Strong brand partnerships with Marvel, Harry Potter, Sesame Street, and others have fueled the company’s impressive growth with strong retention aided by the company’s interchangeable offering.
AlleyWatch caught up with Pair Eyewear Cofounder and Co-CEOs Sophia Edelstein and Nathan Kondamuri to learn more about the eyewear market, the company’s traction since raising its Series A earlier this year, strategic plans, and latest round of funding, which brings the total funding raised to $73.5M.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
This week we announced a $60 million Series B fundraising round. The investment comes on the heels of the company’s $12M Series A round a mere eight months earlier in April. The latest round was led by Rick Yang who heads the firm’s consumer investing practice at NEA, and Connect Ventures, an investment partnership between leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and global capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Javelin Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, in addition to strategic investors including NFL player Christian McCaffrey, NBA player D’Angelo Russell, Olivia Culpo, Sterling K. Brown, internet personality Lachlan Ross Power, professional gamer and entertainment personality Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, and the YouTube gaming and comedy brand KREW also joined the round.
Tell us about the product or service that Pair Eyewear offers.
Pair is the first direct-to-consumer, customizable eyewear brand for kids and adults alike. Pair delivers $60 prescription glasses and customizable top frames for $25 that allow a consumer endless possibilities to express and share their dynamic style. Through limited edition drops and licensed partnerships, Pair has created an endlessly versatile, affordable eyewear company that lets you be you.
What inspired the start of Pair Eyewear?
I (Nathan) began wearing glasses when I was 7 years old and found the experience dreadful. While everything else about your style like your clothes and your shoes was something dynamic that you could change on a daily basis, glasses just felt like a static medical device. While undergraduate students at Stanford, I teamed up with Co-CEO and Cofounder Sophia to re-design the business model and product design of a pair of glasses.
How is Pair Eyewear different?
It begins with our unique product that has led to a change in behavior in our customers. Before Pair, the eyewear category offered prescriptive, limited styles with a price target that limited optionality. With the average pair of prescription glasses costing $300-$400 glasses were always a one-off expensive medical device that lacked a deeper meaning of personal style. With Pair, we have created the first razor razorblade model for the eyewear category that brings our customers back multiple times a month to expand their Pair top frame collections.
Pair also allows a customer to express their ever-evolving personality through licensed collaborations with some of the biggest international brands such as Marvel, Harry Potter, NBA Teams, and Sesame Street.
What market does Pair Eyewear target and how big is it?
Pair’s market is the $140B global eyewear market.
What’s your business model?
We sell prescription and non-prescription glasses for $60 and customizable Top Frames for $25. We keep our customers coming back month after month through limited edition and licensed Top Frame drops.
What are your post-COVID office plans??
We have a flexible office policy that allows our employees to work from our office in NYC or remotely from home. Most employees choose to come in around three days a week.
What was the funding process like?
We are fortunate to have found a great partner in Rick Yang and NEA to help us further build our innovative consumer brand.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
This was our second fundraise which happened completely over zoom. While zoom allows the process to be efficient, it is harder to get to know investors. We had to go the extra mile to really get to know investors throughout the diligence process to find the right long-term partners for Pair.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Investors were especially excited about our retention-focused business model and the way in which we had created an entirely new fashion category within eyewear where customers are absolutely obsessed with coming back to Pair to add more styles and designs to their Pair collection. These factors were further supported by our growth.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We’re excited to use this capital to continue to grow Pair and our personalized eyewear model to more consumers across the United States.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Focus on unit economics, your business fundamentals, and product-market fit. Focus on creating a product that solves a need and that consumers truly love!
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re rapidly hiring senior leadership and junior talent across our NYC, Irvine, and Nashville offices!
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC?
Fish Cheeks in Soho for Sophia. Shuka in Soho for Nathan.