To raise over $3 million, expand to other cities, embrace advanced technology.
Hyderabad: There is a potential market of 450 million people who need vision correction in the country but only over 150 million have eyes corrected. Realising this huge gap, Hyderabad-based startup Lensfit, a technology-focused online retailer of prescription and fashion eyewear is expanding its wings through its franchise outlets for high-street presence.
The company operates an optical lab where it creates and assembles the prescription lenses and specialises in single vision, multi-focal and Rx sunglasses. It aspires to provide its customers products with a range of brands, styles and designs. By cutting out the middleman, it claims to provide products at a fair price.
Lensfit was incorporated on January 2 this year and the backend work began in April while customer services took off from July. The company founded by Vamsi Seemakurthi, a B Tech graduate from Gitam University of 2015 batch with startup and MNC experience and Abhilash Borra, an MS in E-commerce from Australia with over nine years of optical industry experience is working on a scalable model. The company has centralised its operations in Hyderabad.
Lensfit founder and CEO Vamsi Seemakurthi told Telangana Today, “We find our pricing and eyewear range to become a key differentiator over our competitors. Our customers can get eyewear at a price 50-60 per cent less than our competitors, offering over 2,500 models.”
He said that orders are pouring in from Pune, Chennai, Jaipur and certain parts of Karnataka. While competitors are focusing on narrow markets, the company is looking at wide opportunities in the eyewear space serving from budget customers to premier. There are plans to create more franchisees in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in the coming months.
Lensfit follows a 14-point quality test criteria that includes aspects such as lens thickness, curvature, shaping etc.
When asked what are the challenges in the field where touch and feel are important for a customer to make a purchase decision, he says, “In the US and Europe, online platforms take a major pie in eyewear business, India is still in the transition stage where 50 per cent or more sales still happens through offline route. We are planning our future geographic expansion, accordingly.”
He explains, “We will first create a franchisee in a city and then we will promote business through our portal and app so that customers can have the choice of visiting the store for making their buying decision. On an average, the company takes five days to deliver the eyewear after an order is placed.”
The company is working towards launching world’s first of its kind, Frame-Detector Try-on Kit, which will be priced at around Rs 50 that allows customers to understand their frame-fits and face-sizes before making the actual purchase online with accurate detailing. So far, there are over 500 registered users, of which 220 have become customers.
Funding for growth
To meet its growth needs, the boot-strapped company wants to go for a Series A funding by raising over $3 million by February/March 2018 for building back-end supply chain and strengthening technology to further enable automation within all processes.
“We would like to invest Rs 5-6 crore in the back-end to build our automated warehouse facility in Hyderabad. For building technology and operations, we are looking to invest an additional Rs 5-6 crore. And another Rs 5-6 crore would be used to build the brand and reach deeper markets,” he added.
In the near future, the company plans to foray into Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and Gurugram. It will have 10-15 franchise stores across the country by end of 2017 from four now.