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Neil Blumenthal        

Co–Founder & CEO, WARBY PARKER

Neil Blumenthal is the one of the co-founders and co-CEOs of the online eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, which he and his business partners founded in 2010. Warby Parker sells a variety of vintage-inspired frames for $95, with each purchase triggering the donation of a pair of glasses to someone who needs them. In less than a decade, Warby Parker has distributed more than 5 million pairs of eyeglasses in around 50 countries.

Blumenthal traces the evolution of his project to 2003. After he received his BA from Tufts University in 2002, Neil began working with VisionSpring, a nonprofit that trains low-income women around the world to sell eyeglasses to people in their community. The skill could get them jobs from which they could earn a decent income; meanwhile, the community as a whole benefits, because eyeglasses are "tools to see, which enables people to learn and increases their productivity dramatically," as Blumenthal explains.

During his five years at VisionSpring, Blumenthal helped expand the nonprofit's presence to 10 countries, supporting thousands of female entrepreneurs and boosting the organization's staff from two to 30. He was named the Fellow for Emerging Leaders in Public Service at NYU Wagner School of Public Service in 2006. He then went to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to obtain his MBA and met the three classmates who would become his Warby Parker co-founders.

In launching Warby Parker (the name is inspired by two Jack Kerouac characters), Blumenthal and his partners focused on one thing they all had in common: glasses. By designing eyewear in-house, cutting out licensing companies and optical shops and going directly to customers through the Internet, they found that they could sell stylish, vintage-inspired eyeglasses made on the same manufacturing lines and from the same high-quality materials as major-brand eyewear for less than $100. Customers can have glasses mailed to them so that they can try them on at home, or they can try them on virtually, through facial recognition software.

The business was an immediate success, earning accolades from GQ, Vogue and the trendsetting DailyCandy email newsletter and hitting first-year sales targets in three weeks. In fact, it was too successful-within four weeks: Warby Parker sold out of their top 15 styles and had a waiting list 20,000 names long. Soon enough, they worked out the kinks, and they have continued to grow. In 2015, Fast Company named Warby Parker the most innovative company in the world.

Building off of Blumenthal's experience at VisionSpring, the company makes sure to responsibly distribute the glasses they donate. They work with nonprofit partners VisionSpring to give the glasses to female entrepreneurs, who in turn sell them in their communities for affordable prices.

Warby Parker has also marketed sunglasses to benefit causes, including breast cancer research and Invisible Children, an organization that helps rehabilitate former child soldiers in Uganda.

Neil was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company in 2012. He serves on the board of the United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council and on the board of RxArt. He was honored at the annual RxArt party in 2018 with the RxArt innovation award.

Speech Topics


consumption

industrial companies business markets change brands people cars customers

food

energy system change fuel audience grain cheap health care

News


Neil Blumenthal of Warby Parker on a Culture of Communication

This interview with Neil Blumenthal, co-chief executive of Warby Parker, the online seller of eyeglasses, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant....

Warby Parker's Neil Blumenthal On Building An Eyewear Unicorn

For Neil Blumenthal, running a successful business is not something that’s mutually exclusive from social responsibility. On Tuesday while speaking at Emerson College for the FORBES 30 Under 30 summit, the cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker outlined how he has been able to build a business valued at $1.2 billion while still having social impact around the globe.

7 Warby Parker secrets for a talented, happy workforce

Warby Parker just opened its 14th retail store in Washington D.C.’s Georgetown this past weekend, but even as the company’s ranks continue to grow, cofounder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal says the happiness of each employee at the hip eyewear brand — a New York unicorn valued at $1.2 billion— is crucial to its success.

In the Elevator With Warby Parker's Neil Blumenthal

WSJ's Joanna Stern "bumps into" the Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal in the elevator and asks him about the eyewear brand's retail ...

Warby Parker Founders Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa, and ...

Warby Parker Founders Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa, and Iman, on Why Being an Activist “Is a Daily Thing”. a couple of people that are sitting on a table: ...

How Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal Disrupts His Daily Routine

Neil Blumenthal, 37, a founder of the eyeglass brand Warby Parker, keeps a hectic work schedule, but his mornings are ruled by his children: Gemma, 2, and Griffin, 6. While he makes breakfast in the family’s Greenwich Village apartment, his wife and fellow entrepreneur, Rachel Blumenthal, attends a workout class.

Rashid Johnson and Warby Parker Cofounder Neil Blumenthal to Be Honored by RxArt

The party is an annual fundraising event benefiting RxArt, whose mission is to “help children heal through visual art by commissioning contemporary artists to transform children’s hospitals into engaging and inspiring environments.”

Warby Parker distributes 5 million glasses worldwide

When direct-to-consumer eyeglasses company Warby Parker was founded in 2010, its mission was to create a business that can scale, be profitable and do social good. Nine years later, the New York–based company has reached a significant milestone: It has distributed 5 million pairs of eyeglasses at low cost to individuals in more than 50 countries.

A Business Model for Success—and for Good

Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal comes back to Tufts to talk about entrepreneurship and doing the right thing

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