Fintech & e-commerce Retail and Direct To Consumer

PAIR Eyewear Lands $12M Series A With Vision Of More Customizable Frame Offerings

Illustration of man handing a key with a shopping cart to a woman. [Dom Guzman]

PAIR Eyewear, a customizable eyewear brand, raised $12 million in Series A funding toward expanding its product offerings to the whole family.

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The round was led by Alex Gurevich for Javelin Venture Partners, who was joined by Norwest Venture Partners, Precursor Ventures, Bolt and Gingerbread Capital, as well as strategic investors, including Christian McCaffrey and David Rogier. Prior to this round, the company brought in a few rounds to give it total investments of $13.5 million, according to Crunchbase data.

The New York-based company was co-founded in 2017 by Sophia Edelstein and Nathan Kondamuri while they were still undergraduates at Stanford University.

“Nathan and I were discussing the experience of wearing glasses, him since 7 years old, and his younger brother was just then having to wear them,” co-CEO Edelstein told Crunchbase News. “We thought glasses were a static medical device, and when you are a kid, you go to the eye doctor and are forced to only choose from six pairs that are boring and not reflective of your personal style.”

Reimagining glasses

In doing research, the pair interviewed 500 families and kept hearing the same thing: Customers wanted their glasses to be an accessory that could be changed up, just like we change our shoes every day.

And glasses are often pricey: A typical pair of prescription glasses ranges between $300 and $400, so PAIR Eyewear set out to make a more affordable and durable option for children. Their base frames cost $60 and “top frames,” which attach to the front of the base to change the look, range from $25 to $30 apiece.

Example of PAIR Eyewear glasses.

The top frames are so popular that the company is releasing three limited edition styles each month, Edelstein said. It has also signed licensing agreements to offer styles including Sesame Street, Harry Potter, Marvel and National Basketball Association teams.

Just before the global pandemic started in 2020, Edelstein and Kondamuri appeared on “Shark Tank,” landing a $400,000 deal with Lori Greiner and Katrina Lake. Since then, PAIR Eyewear experienced 30 percent growth month over month, driven in part by the option of not requiring a trip to the eye doctor, Edelstein said.

The new funding will enable the company to expand its product lines, brand partnerships and grow its team across all departments.

“ ‘Shark Tank’ put us on the national stage and allowed us to spur growth,” she added. “We aim to capitalize on that growth, and in the growth to the children’s market, but also to appeal to an older audience. PAIR is doing what no other company can do, which is provide a deeper emotional connection and deeper meaning, and we don’t want to limit it to just kids. We are becoming a family brand.”

What investors have to say

Although Edelstein believes PAIR Eyewear is creating a new product category of customized eyeglasses, startups offering eyewear, in general, have seen investor love.

Since 2016, investors poured $940 million into global eyewear brands, according to Crunchbase data. Warby Parker leads investment in the space: The company raised $535 million in known funding since 2010, most recently securing a $120 million Series G round last August led by D1 Capital Partners, according to Crunchbase data.

Javelin’s Gurevich, who is joining PAIR Eyewear’s board, learned about the company from one of his former Stanford classmates, an existing company investor, and its mission resonated with him, he said in an interview.

Just weeks prior to the meet, Gurevich had taken his child to get glasses and felt he needed to talk his child into wearing them like Clark Kent in “Superman.”

“Then I met Sophia and Nathan, and they are showing me the Superman top frames,” he said. “Their vision is just incredible, and their desire is to build a lasting and iconic brand that is all about self-expression. When I dug deeper, I saw the rabid following from customers on Instagram and TikTok, as well as their high report order rates. They are also essentially creating an eyewear category that is similar to razors and razor blades, enabling the monthly habit of buying new top frames.”

Inset photo courtesy of PAIR Eyewear.
Illustration: Dom Guzman

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