What do you do when a product you use every day isn’t as useful or comfortable or stylish as you think it should be?
Most of us just deal with it. We find a workaround. We alter our approach to fit the parameters of the product.
Entrepreneurs don’t settle for the status quo like the rest of us. They forge ahead and develop products that better fit their needs. Oftentimes they do this by improving on a product that is already there.
That’s the origin story behind the company in Part 2 of our three-part series on eyewear startups featured on ABC’s longtime hit reality T.V. show Shark Tank.
Nathan Kondamuri has worn eyewear since he was a child. He was never truly satisfied with his frames. So, when he got the chance, he partnered with a fellow Stanford student to do something about it.
Let’s find out… whatever happened to Pair Eyewear.
Of course, not every product on Shark Tank is a winner. Sometimes even winning products fail to get the Sharks to bite. And, unfortunately, winning products sometimes eventually fail.
Such is not the story of Pair Eyewear.
Co-founders Sophia Edelstein and Nathan Kondamuri made their pitch before the Sharks in March 2020. Pair Eyewear already was doing steady business selling their direct-to-consumer stylish – and customizable – eyewear for kids. So it wasn’t too surprising when Kondamuri and Edelstein asked for a whopping $400,000 in exchange for 10% equity during their appearance on Season 14, Episode 11. (Funding offers on the show usually come in around half that amount.)
The duo pitched the company’s affordable magnetic base frames and customizable toppers. (The power of magnets on full display!) The Sharks were duly impressed, though a few concerns were raised about competition from other online retailers such as Warby Parker.
However, those concerns weren’t enough to scare off a pair of Sharks who combined their efforts to offer the $400K deal. (The offer included a $1.50 royalty fee with every frame sold until the Sharks got their money back.) Kondamuri and Edelstein took the deal and they haven’t looked back.
Full Speed Ahead
The pandemic years were a boon for the online eyewear retailer. A year after its Shark Tank appearance, Pair Eyewear took in $12 million in Series A funding. Pair Eyewear followed that up with $60 million in Series B funding as it expanded its product line to include adults.
Turns out, customizable specs are as big a hit with adults as they are with kids. Maybe even more so. Adults now account for 60% of the company’s business.
“(Adults) want to match glasses to their outfits and moods, and we found that adults are even better customers because they purchase more rapidly for themselves,” Edelstein said in an article for the online newspaper TechCrunch. “We have customers that now own hundreds of tops, and there are now thousands of posts on TikTok of them switching them out.”
The burgeoning company based in New York City also increased its employees from four in 2020 to 65 in 2021. It reportedly is doing a robust $9 million in sales per year.
Pair Eyewear currently has licensing agreements with a number of major brands, including Marvel, Harry Potter, Sesame Street, and Major League Baseball.
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Check back Wednesday, March 15, for the final installment of our “Whatever happened to…” series.
Part 3: Whatever Happened to That Other Lens Company That was Featured on Shark Tank?
The first installment of our “Whatever happened to…” series featured Idaho company Proof Eyewear.
Part 1: Whatever Happened to That Eyeglass Company on Shark Tank?
More Shark Tank Success Stories
As well as Pair Eyewear has done the past few years, it has yet to crack the rankings of the most successful Shark Tank businesses.
Check out this list of the most successful Shark Tank products. Have you heard of the sock company Bombas or the online flower deliver company The Bouqs? Both made this list. Interestingly, the No. 1 didn’t even make a deal with the Sharks!
People like Shark Tank and people like lists. So here are a couple more, one from Mental Floss and another from a website for startups called Failory.