I see you (Neil Blumenthal & Warby Parker)

Using Goodnet’s List of Inspiring CEOs for inspiration, I decided to write my blog about Neil Blumenthal, one of the four founders of Warby Parker, a prescription eyewear brand. Neil Blumenthal graduated with both a History and International Relations degree in 2002 from Tufts and shortly after became director of a nonprofit called VisionSpring. VisionSpring was a non-profit that helped women in poverty learn how to perform eye exams and sell prescription glasses at an affordable cost to other individuals who would not be able to otherwise afford them. VisionSpring reached a large international scope to countries in South Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

After leaving his position in VisionSpring, Blumenthal returned to school and received his MBA at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he met the cofounders of his company, Warby Parker. The 4 individuals took an entrepreneur class through the Wharton School and received funds to finance their business idea through its Venture Initiation Program. Today, “Warby Parker is 100% carbon neutral, a certified B Corporation and donates to VisionSpring for every pair of glasses purchased”, which is a similar structure to the shoe brand Toms.

After reading about Blumenthal, I decided to profile him because even though he left the worthy nonprofit he was involved in, VisionSpring, he found a way to still contribute to the cause he believed in through his new business, Warby Parker. Blumenthal realized that people would be willing to give back to worthy causes, but only if he had a fashionable product and Warby Parker is an amazing success today.  As someone who wears glasses and knows how expensive they can get, I personally think this is a worthy cause and a great way of giving back. To be able to see things clearly, or even at all, isn’t a luxury that every has and Blumenthal’s business is helping individuals around the world to gain 20/20 vision back one pair of glasses at a time.




3 thoughts on “I see you (Neil Blumenthal & Warby Parker)

  1. I think Blumenthal and the other founders of Warby Parker are great examples of social entrepreneurship. They successfully found a way to mix social responsibility with a profitable business. In addition, they deviated from the widely accepted practice of donating their glasses. Instead, (and something they’re very proud of) they sell their glasses at reduced costs to communities in need. By charging a fee, Warby Parker encourages their beneficiaries to practice smart financial habits that they can implement in other parts of their lives.

    I remember the first day I put on a pair of glasses, it was truly life changing. It made me realize how big of a difference corrective vision can make. I can only imagine how large an impact Warby Parker is able to make on the communities they serve. Corrective vision enables someone to accomplish so much more and live a much better life.


  2. Nice read, I wonder if this will be a long-lasting trend for businesses in the future to focus their model on this “buy one-give one” model – I know a few skeptics that don’t see it lasting long, but I am persuaded otherwise when I see initiates like this one. Also, was it only 1 entrepreneurship class they took? If so, impressive!


  3. I also wonder if the buy one give one business model will catch on. TOMS has famously had success with this and I’m sure some others have as well. How economically feasible are business models that feature this sort of practice? It seems like companies can still thrive while giving.


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