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Summary:

Warby Parker has apparently raised $36.8 million in a Series B round, according to a new SEC filing. The online eyewear seller has succeeded by building a strong brand based on hip styles, low prices, customer support and a mission to donate glasses to needy people.

warby parker, online eyewear
photo: GigaOM

Warby Parker, the hip online eyewear brand, has been one of the hottest stories in the New York startup scene and now it has a big funding round to go with the acclaim. The company has raised $36.8 million in a Series B round according to a new SEC filing first noticed by Fortune.

The filing notes that $3.2 million is still left to be sold so the entire round could end up being $40 million. General Catalyst Partner’s Joel Cutter is apparently taking a lead role in the round and is joining Warby Parker’s board as a director. The company previously raised a $12 million Series A from Tiger Global and Menlo Ventures’ Talent Fund along with existing investors First Round Capital, Lerer Ventures and Thrive Capital, who also put in $1.5 million in Warby Parker’s seed round.

The company declined to comment on the money but a source close to the startup said the money will go toward building out Warby Parker’s footprint as it sells more products, opens more retail locations and expands its marketing efforts. The company has about 100 employees since launching in 2010.

The new funding is a testament to the success Warby Parker has had in in building up a fashion brand. That’s pretty unprecedented for a company that began online and sells primarily through the mail. Warby Parker excelled with its mix of hip styles, low $95 price point with shipping and its mission to help distribute glasses to needy people for every pair of glasses purchased. The company has also flourished with its focus on customer service, which includes the ability to try on glasses virtually online or the ability to get five frames to try out at home with free shipping. That has helped Warby Parker overcome one of the biggest hurdles for online fashion brands, getting people to feel comfortable about their online purchase.

The company hasn’t put out hard sales figures but it said that in 2011, it gave away more than 100,000 pairs of glasses through its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. 

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  1. these are the kind of people behind Warby Parker. Not so sure I’d be rushing to finance them or to even buy a pair of $95 glasses.

    http://classicspecs.tumblr.com/post/18945992371/an-open-letter-to-warby-parker

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  2. There are a few things missing in this equation. First and foremost, the expertise in fitting and measuring a proper pair of prescription eyeglasses glasses. Warby Parker is based in New York. The state requires dispensers and fabricators of prescription eyewear to be licensed. To my knowledge, the founders of Warby Parker are Wharton graduates and unlicensed in the state of New York. Secondly, there have been several reports over the last year describing the inaccuracy of prescription eyewear online. While WP was not singled out specifically, less than half of eyeglasses tested actually passed an inspection. Such poor quality would put any standard store out of business. I think they need to be thoroughly investigated before they are allowed to expand.

    http://newsfromaoa.org/2011/11/09/half-of-online-eyeglasses-fail-rx-or-safety-specifications/

    http://speceye.com/new-study-says-internet-eyeglasses-get-an-f-for-accuracy-and-safety/

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