Warby Parker Eyes More Growth With $36.8 Million in New VC Funding
|September 12, 2012 12:24 AM
NEW YORK—The further development of its brand and an expansion into retail appears to be in the sights of online retailer
Warby Parker as a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory filing late last week indicates the two-and-a-half- year-old company has raised $36.8 million in new venture capital funding, with a total new round, as indicated in the filing, potentially topping out at $40 million.
General Catalyst Partners has led the round, according to the document, with General Catalyst Partners’ Joel Cutler joining the Warby Parker board of directors. The company’s other outside directors include Warby Parker co-founder Andrew Hunt (now with Highland Capital Management) and Lee Fixel of Tiger Global Management. The company had previously raised over $13 million from Tiger Global Management, First Round Capital, Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, Menlo Ventures and Thrive Capital.
The online retailer is known for selling its own selection of original women’s and men’s optical frames and prescription sunglasses via its own website aided by its virtual try-on images and the company’s option of shipping up to five frames to customers to try on for free at home. The company offers free shipping and returns and donates a portion of its sales to those in need via its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. Since its debut, the fast-growing company has also generated publicity and marketed its brand via unusual and niche promotions, special events and “pop-up” stores around the country.
In addition to the one at its headquarters location on Lafayette Street in Soho here, Warby Parker operates 10 showrooms around the country, where its eyewear and sunwear collections are featured for those customers who want to handle and try on the merchandise in person and a Warby Parker associate is on hand to help make the sale.
In July, the company recently confirmed it would be opening its first retail store, on Greene Street in NYC’s Soho area. The company has provided no details as of yet but said on its blog that the store would be open “before the end of this year.” Co-founder Neil Blumenthal also told a Washington D.C. news station last month that the company was scouting retail locations in that market. Just this month, the company kicked off a Facebook contest called the “Warby Parker Class Trip,” where the company, via an outfitted bus, will spend at least two weekends in nine cities across the country, offering fans a chance to submit a video in a contest to become the “ultimate host” for a bus tour in each city. The cities include Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego and Los Angeles.
Company execs and a spokesperson declined further comment to VMail on the new funding, the extent of the retail expansion or about speculation from other tech blogs that the company was also looking to extend its brand into other tech or fashion product categories.
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