Warby Parker, Dave Gilboa, Neil Blumenthal discussed on Jill Schlesinger on Money
You are back. It is our number two of Jill on money, and we are delighted that you are joining us. And we've got a real nifty guest an interview that we conducted before the pandemic. You know, we had a whole bunch of stuff that was in the can. And then all the sudden the pandemic came. And we had to shift quick, pretty quickly. So we have a lot of really great interviews. This one was really one of my faves. It is with the founders or two of the founders of Warby Parker. Maybe you're familiar with Warby Parker. I had a pair of Warby parkers myself. Um, stylish, cool glasses but not so expensive that it will set you back hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars so very happy that these guys were able to come in. They are co CEOs of Warby Parker, Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal. And we start the interview as we often do kind of getting a sense of who these guys are themselves. So here is our interview with Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal. So, Neil, what is the best career or financial decision you've made after Warby Parker after Warby Parker, the best decision I ever made was marrying my wife, who ended up being an entrepreneur started her own jewelry line helped put me through business school now has Line of Children's apparel called Rockets of Awesome. That's all directed consumer online. You guys air power. Couple G's. Yeah, there's finding the right partner. Probably one other story would be joining vision, spring the nonprofits or start up on baking a risk of moving down. Tell Salvador toe work on a pilot program. I find what I'm speaking to young people. Sometimes they underestimate the amount of learning that you can get in. An environment where you have a lot of autonomy and independence, where there isn't a lot of structure and you need to sort of figure out right how to have impact and I use some of the skills that I learned that vision spring every day. I will be Parker. Okay, Dave. West, choosing to optimize for learning early on in my career, So after graduating from Berkeley, I was a bioengineering. Major didn't know anything about business and on decided join Bain and company strategy consulting firm. I knew that I could go there for a couple years and developed really meaningful skills and still kind of used a lot of thinking and skill set that I developed. Early on, and we've also hired a bunch of people out of veins since that time, and I think it just set up a great foundation for my career, whichever direction it was going to go next. Let's just start back a little bit of your origin story. So, Dave, why don't you start off and tell us kind of the beginning of what happened for this company? How did it form where you guys were in your lives? Sure. S O Neal. I met the first week of business school, along with two other co founders Andy and Jeff. And I've been working in consulting and finance for a few years and realized I wanted to take that kind of do something a little more entrepreneurial something that was gonna have a bigger positive impact on the world. Take six months off to travel between working and going to school. And along the way I lost my only pair of glasses and some damn it left him on the plane. I was backpacking and I said, Shut up to warden hours getting my MBA. A zoo full time student didn't have ah, pair of glasses and was frustrated that was going to pay several $100 to buy a new pair. The paranoid losses cost me $700. And I just bought a new iPhone for $200. And just the math. That makes sense to me. And started complaining to anyone that would listen around. You can understand my glasses were so expensive Andy. They're co founder can't understand why no one was selling glasses online and connected with Neil, who had just spent several years running this amazing nonprofit called Vision Spring, The light bulbs started going off and in the four of us got together and we ended up bootstrapping the business taking the money that we had saved from working for a few years. Launching out of our apartments all their full time students and started to tow build what became Warby Parker. And that was so we launched in early 2010. Okay, So Neil talk about what drove you to attend business school coming out of the nonprofit world. I felt like the work of the nonprofit sector is equally complex on DCI, challenging as a for profit sector but often doesn't get the same sort of credibility s O. Felt actually that going to business school. I'll get a name premature, especially from school like warden that would open up a lot more opportunities for May on ball, So I realized that I loved leading organizations and managing and you know the skills that you learn business will can help you to scale and lead organizations in the future. So I understand you're going to business school to get a different skill set. So, Dave, we're undergrad. Where'd you go? S I went to Berkeley. I was a bioengineering. Major. Both my parents are doctors. I was 100%. Sure I was going to become a doctor, So I took all the pre med classes took them Cat When I was getting ready to graduate. They're a bunch of changes in the health care industry. HMO's We're taking over and just talking toe, my parents and their friends who are doctors. They didn't seem quite as excited to be practicing physicians and said, Um, thought that there might be a different path where I could learn something about business and then kind of applied Those skills toe hopefully Help make the world better. It's um some point down the road. So it's interesting, though, because you know, neither of you were sort of came out with, like I'm an entrepreneur. Like you know, I'm sure that you get a ton of people who come to like we want to be into entrepreneurs like you. But you you didn't pre planned this like You live your lives, but you didn't micromanage each choice. So I wonder how you deal with this question where people are like, Well, I want to be like you and I wanna go to business school. Do this Your unicorns? What would your advice be? The younger people who listen to this story or their parents who hope that they become a successful is you? What's the lesson here? What should they be telling their kids? And what should people be thinking about? The best business is solve real problems, and the real problem we were trying to solve is that glasses were to accept expensive and the experience of shopping for glasses with sub optimal and often you can't discover what problems you want to solve until you've actually done some work. You know, there's this perception that entrepreneurs all look like Mark Zuckerberg and, you know, dropped out of school and launch businesses while they were teenager in their early twenties. And that just doesn't line up with the actual statistics and the majority of people that start businesses are in their late thirties and early forties. And I think the average CEO right now of all unicorns is actually like 47 something odd like it like shockingly higher than you would think. So, what is it about your business when you look back on it, and you solved a problem, But what were some of the things that there was No way you could have anticipated until you were in it. Like Dave. What we're like. Oh, my God. This is so much harder than we thought. What would the things you didn't consider? Yeah. I mean, none of us said had ever started a business before. None of us knew how to build a website. None of us came from kind of a formal design background. Everything that we were doing. We were doing for the first time and learned a lot of painful lessons early on, particularly around the areas where we didn't have expertise like how to how to build a website. Most of us came from backgrounds where we had spent a lot of time and excel in power point. And so we're really proficient at that. We didn't know how to make wire frames, and so when we wanted Teofilo out how to design Site. We designed it in power point, and we printed out a bunch of PowerPoint slides and had stacks of paper and we would walk into the local Starbucks and offered by people a cup of coffee if they would take a few minutes and we put a page in front of them and say, pretend this is a home page that you're looking on a computer screen and your hand is the mouse. Where would you click? And then they would kind of point somewhere, And then we Shuffle the papers and find the next part of the site and put that in front of them. And so, you know, we tried toe in areas that we were deficient. Try to find scrapping ways that we could generate Learnings. Try to solve for either hire or or find the capabilities that we didn't have on the team ourselves. We'll get back to the guys behind Warby Parker in just a minute..