Back in 2008, four Wharton MBA candidates dreamt up the idea for an online eyewear company that would bring affordable, designer specs to the masses.
Two years later, Dave Gilboa, Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, and Jeff Raider launched Warby Parker to a waitlist of 20,000 eager customers. After three weeks, the company reached its first-year sales target.
Last year, it became one of the only online retailers to exceed a $1 billion valuation before going public or getting acquired.
In an interview with Business Insider at Cosmopolitan and SoFi’s Fun Fearless Money event last month, co-CEO Gilboa said that prior to founding Warby Parker, he was doing “two-year stints” in consulting and finance and felt like he was on “a pretty safe path,” one that many young people feel compelled to follow.
“Like, it’s one step at a time. You get your college degree, then you get your first job out of college, that enables you to have your next job out of college, that enables you to go to grad school, that enables you to have this other job that, finally when you’re in your 30s or 40s, you can ultimately do what you want to do,” he said.
But starting Warby Parker convinced him he had nothing to lose by diverting from that route.
“All of those traditional paths that most people feel pressured to go down, that I felt pressured to go down, are still going to be there,” Gilboa said. “I’ve come to realise now that there’s never going to be that perfect time to take risks.”
“If you take a risk and try to do something on your own or take a nontraditional path, those traditional opportunities are still going to be there,” he said. “And often even if you take a risk and fail, it’s viewed in a positive light by most companies, and they will be interested, at least, that you have some entrepreneurial spirit, that you’re an independent thinker.”
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