Ratan Tata-backed Indian eyewear startup Lenskart has plans to invest $2-3 Mn in startups working on either products or technologies that can help provide affordable eyecare solutions.
Talking to PTI, Peyush Bansal, founder and CEO of Lenskart, said, “These companies (could be a tech or product company working on eyecare solutions, be it an innovative eye examination machine or some kind of a lens technology. The intent for investing in these early-stage startups is to collaborate in the development of innovative products.”
Lenskart confirmed the development to Inc42.
Following this strategy, Lenskart has invested $500K (INR 3.3 Cr) in a US-based startup ThinOptics, which makes innovative reading glasses that can be attached to a user’s phone or keychain, so that the user can’t misplace it.
“These are light reading glasses and can be easily carried around at the back of a smartphone or on a keychain. We are already shipping ThinOptics’ glasses and have seen great traction in sales,” he said. The reading glasses account for about 5% of the sales volumes of Lenskart.
“With zero advertising, we have seen sales of about 10,000 pieces a month for ThinOptics glasses,” he added.
Confirming the investment, Bansal said in a media statement, “With this investment, we intend to work closely with ThinOptics’ California team for growing the India market as well as bringing more innovations in this area.”
On the investment, David Westendorf, CEO of ThinOptics said, “With this Lenskart investment, we will continue to evolve our product portfolio to serve the sophisticated needs of India eyewear customers. We will be making several new product announcements in the coming months that deliver on our brand promise to always have our glasses within reach, on the items you never leave home without: your phone, your wallet and keys.”
Lenskart: Identifying The Right Partners For Growth
Prior to this, Lenskart partnered with a California-based startup Ditto to launch 3D Try-On, a feature that lets people try frames virtually. Also, in December 2017, it acquired a minority stake in Israel-based tech startup 6over6 for $1 Mn, with an aim to change the vision care globally.
Lenskart Solutions, formerly known as Valyoo Technologies, was launched in 2010. It started as an online platform but soon adopted an omnichannel strategy. It now deals in manufacturing, assembly, distribution and supply of products such as eyeglasses, power sunglasses and contact lenses.
Lenskart also planned to expand its offline presence from 300 stores to 600 stores by March 2018. It became EBITDA profitable in December 2017.
Recently, it also announced to invest $4 Mn more to set up more offline stores for one of its major brand John Jacobs, expecting the revenue from John Jacobs to reach $78.1 Mn (INR 500 Cr) by FY 2020-21, from the current $15.6 Mn (INR 100 Cr) in FY17-18.
Time and again, Peyush has also indicated his plans to float an IPO by 2020, in order to provide an exit to the existing shareholders, therefore further losing hold on its equity does not make sense.
With the focus on innovation and comfort of eyewear for Indians, Lenskart has been growing manifold and is a dominant player in the market. With associations like Ditto, 6over6 and now, ThinOptics, the startup continues to bring customer-focused products.