'No Guts No Glory' Is Sexy, Terrible Advice For Entrepreneurs

The Warby Parker co-founder explains how he and his partners developed a methodical strategy for disrupting the eyeglasses industry ... and then did just that.

Neil Blumenthal: There's this narrative around entrepreneurship that "no guts, no glory" and you have to take these giant leaps of faith. But we've seen that some of the most successful entrepreneurs take a really methodical approach and don't necessarily go all-in in day one.  We think that the best businesses solve real problems and Warby Parker is really a solution to a problem that the four of us co-founders had in walking into an optical shop, getting excited about a pair of glasses, and then seeing the bill and walking out feeling like we got punched in the stomach. So it didn't quite make sense to us that a pair of glasses should be so expensive, $400/$500. The technology has been around 800 years. There's no rare earth minerals in a pair of glasses. So when we started looking a little bit more into the industry, you start to realize oh well it's pretty consolidated. There are few very large companies, one of which owns Oakley, Ray-Ban, Oliver Peoples, Persol, and Arnette and licenses all the big fashion brands, whether it's Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana. The same company also happens to own a lot of the large retail chains like LensCrafters and Pearle Vision and Sunglass Hut and Target Optical and Sears Optical. And the same company owns the second largest vision insurance plan in the country.

So, when we saw that level of consolidation, that made sense — oh maybe this is why glasses are so expensive. So we thought if we're able to design the frames that we love, work directly with manufacturers to produce them, and then sell them direct to customers, we could effectively shorten the value chain. What we would be doing is selling glasses at less than wholesale and it would be fine for our business because we are the retailer. We were the brand, the designers, the manufacturers, and the retailer. So we removed steps from the process and customers were able to save. During those moments where you're standing on the edge of a cliff and you feel like you have to take a leap of faith, take a step back and figure out how to break down that problem or challenge into a bunch of the smaller pieces and then just take baby steps forward. And that's how we've approached Warby Parker from day one.

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal explains how he and his partners developed a methodical strategy for disrupting the eyeglasses industry ... and then did just that. It's not always the flashy ideas and over-the-top execution that launch great companies. Sometimes it's just the composure and know-how of the founders to stick to the game plan.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
popular

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less