In the month of January this year Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook mention about a start-up called Glassic, a Bangaluru based eyewear retailer while launching WhatsApp Business. Glassic being a small business started its operations by taking orders on WhatsApp. The USP of Glassic is its low price-points which go highest upto Rs 3000. Started in 2015 by brothers Kailash and Devesh Nichani soon got the attention from the investors. This year only, this start-up retailer raised an undisclosed amount from angel investors including The Chennai Angels, Lead Angels, and LetsVenture.
Well, Glassic is not the sole story there have been many eyewear start-ups who have been successful in fetching the attention from investors, the latest being the ClearDekho. As per the information available on their website, this Uttar Pradesh eyewear retailer has raised about $3000,000 (Rs 2Cr) in a pre-series A investment from funding and incubation platform Venture Catalysts.
This round of investment also saw participation from several other investment firms such as Mumbai-based Samyakth Capital, individual investors Gagan Gupta, Anand Naidu, and Dhianu Das, who are also angel investors and Krishnan Akhileswaran, group chief financial officer at Apollo Hospitals.
The company plans to expand its product portfolio and launch its private label brands in the budget category. The company also plans to grow its retail network. “We have a unique, asset-light franchise business model. With the latest infusion of funds, we plan to replicate our success in other geographies. We plan to launch 100 stores before December 2018 and have 500 ClearDekho stores operational across India within the next 2 years,” said Shivi Singh, Co-founder, ClearDekho in a public statement.
The company has opened 25 stores across Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan within six months of operations. It claims to be serving more than 50,000 customers.
The story does not end here, last month omnichannel retailer Lenskart had pumped in about USD 2-3 million in the companies which are working towards creating/inventing products or technologies which can further excelerate in affordable eyecare segment. The company has also made $0.5 million in a California-based start-up ThinOptics Inc.
What is attracting the investors?
As per the leading research agency Euromonitor International is expected to touch Rs 34,131 crore mark by 2021 from Rs22,674 crore in 2016. Also, as per the latest census data, India has the population of 1.2 billion population which is above 60 years of age, so there is a huge potential for consumption. Moreover, factors such as changing demographics, fashion culture and changing healthcare practices in India have been spurting unprecedented growth in this segment. Also, India is witnessing the rising popularity of online retailers which are providing the affordable eyewear solutions.
So far, the biggest deterrent for eyewear industry is high prices and underwhelming experience. There is a discerning share of customers who cannot afford luxury but looking for ultra cool designs without a heavy price tag. And, the companies such as cleardekho, glassic, coolwinks amongst others seems to have filled the gap which conventional eyewear retailers were unable to do. Speaking on same Amir Faizi, a retail consultant said, "Eyewear industry in India which is growing at 28 percent almost since last 5 years. India will be one of the top ten fastest growing nation in eyewear till 2021 followed by UAE, Thailand, Malaysia, China and others. It's no more eyewear, rather a fashion industry where people are changing their glasses every year and these startups like, lenskart.com and cleardekho.com is offering the latest frames at a very affordable price. Even ordering eyewear has become so easy on ONLINE platform that even a junior can fill basic details and get the glasses at his / her doorstep. So, we can find offline and online stores in eyewear is increasing at a very rapid pace and even through franchisee route and these startups need funds which they are getting from the smart investors as they know, it's the next best industry, after fashion, and can generate good profits in coming days."