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From becoming a unicorn startup to investing in startups: The Journey of Lenskart

By Asif Alam
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From becoming a unicorn startup to investing in startups: The Journey of Lenskart
TPG Growth, IDG, and Unilazer Ventures dilute stake worth $75 Mn in Lenskart

“A revolutionary startup which changed the face of a much neglected but important industry, the eyewear industry. Thanks to it today we don’t have to even step out of our house to get eyewear.”

Lenskart is a name that everyone in India knows, a company that changed the face of the unorganized eyewear industry, and will soon command over 50% of market shares in the industry today. Earlier there was a struggle of physically shopping for eyewear in cramped shops. A lot of patience is tested and time is wasted while going through the whole arduous process of taking out time to visit the optician, selecting suitable frames, checking out varying styles, choosing the glasses and then finally being made to wait a couple of days to receive our glasses as per our needs.

Lenskart came as a solution to these problems. It started as an online portal to free people from this hectic schedule, selling contact lenses movies to selling prescribed glasses and sunglasses then finally into the foray of franchise market.

With the aim of becoming The Maruti Suzuki of the eyewear industry, it has the vision of expanding to every corner of India in the next ten years. It has introduced a lot of innovative products in varied ranges for the customers of India.

With a maximum of 550 offline stores and collaborations with various corporates, and cutting edge technology of online eye checkups and online 3D try on, Lenskart has been growing day by day. 

How did the journey start?

“You can’t be good with average because the world is all about surprising customers, (with) excellence, delight, and raising the bar; this is what the world has become. It’s not at all about what others are doing, it’s about breaking your own standards every time and just bringing that element of joy and ‘wow’ in the lives of your customers and employees,”

- Peyush Bansal, Lenskart CEO to Your Story

Lenskart was founded by Peyush Bansal (the CEO), and co-founders Amit Chaudhry and Sumit Kapahi in 2010. The parent company of Lenksart is Valyoo technologies which are run under the leadership of Peyush Agarwal. 

While pursuing a postgraduate degree in Management from IIMB Peyush founded Valyoo Technologies with Search My Campus being its first online portal meant for students who face problems in a college like books, internships, part-time jobs, hangout places etc.

While running his business he became fascinated by the e-commerce industry and found out how neglected the eyewear industry is.

As an experiment, he launched Flyrr.com in the use meant for eyewear and when it got a positive response there he decided to launch it in India as well under the name of Lensekart.com. Previously he had portals for all types of accessories but after the success of eyewear, he decided to wrap up it all and concentrate full-time on Lenskart.

It offers an impressive range of 5000 frames and 45 ranges of lenses all thanks to the in-house team of designers, a stylist who keep an eye on the latest fashion and trends. 

“I think our biggest bet was making consumers see this as fashion and not just medical, and that was a fundamental shift for consumers,”

- Peyush Bansal to Your Story:

The main motive of Lenskart opening an offline store was the scepticism of the customers to shop online.

Now it guarantees security that they can buy after testing the product but for the crowd who wasn't able to spare time on such things the online store came as a boon.

Lenskart's Funding and Valuation as of a Unicorn Startup:

Lenskart has raised funds from 12 investors which includes Premji Invests, Kedaara Capital, Chiratae Ventures, TPG Growth, Ratan Tata of TATA & Sons, Rajeev Chitrabhanu Adveq, Eqip Capital, IFC Venture group etc. By 2019 it was able to raise a hefty amount of 459.6 million dollars from over nine fundraisers. and 275 million dollars from SoftBank Vision Fund after which it reached a valuation of 1.5 billion dollars and became a Unicorn startup. 

It was able to earn a revenue of 486.26 crore rs in 2019

Lenskart's Vision Fund:

And have since grown year after year and if current news is to be believed It has launched its very own 'Lenskart Vision Fund' with a hefty amount of 20 million dollars to invest in selected startups dealing in areas of eyewear, eye care and omnichannel retail sectors based on their level of expertise.

It will invest up to 2 million dollars on each startup for anywhere between 10% and a majority stake if reports are to be believed.

And also some stores selling rip-offs at lower ranges which is available to the masses.

Competitions in front:

Lenskart faces a lot of competition from both online and offline shops be it Coolwinks, Lensbazaar, GKB Opticals, Specsmakers, Deals4Opticals, Vision Express, and Titan Eyeplus or Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm mall who have also started selling eyewear online.

Lenskart has a big vision of "Vision to India" it has been trying to appeal to the masses by coming with a low budget range of opticals.