How Wharton Launched Warby Parker — And Dozens Of Other Companies Just Like It

by MR Magazine Staff

For most of its history, Wharton’s reputation has been built on turning out the world’s finest spreadsheet jockeys. But, a few years ago, four students met at Wharton and started a company that would help ignite a startup revolution: Warby Parker. The concept: selling eye­glasses directly to consumers (DTC) online. Few thought the idea would work, but today Warby is valued at $1.75 billion, and its founding story has become a fairy tale at Wharton. Co-founders and co-CEOs Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa give guest lectures at the business school–as does Jeff Raider, the third Warby co-founder, who went on to help hatch Harry’s, a DTC razor brand. Wharton, in turn, has become a sort of incubator of DTC companies in product categories as diverse as lingerie, sofas, and, if McKean gets his way, manual toothbrushes. Wharton is by no means the only place such companies originate, but it is the most fertile ground–a fact that’s not lost on venture capitalists. “I’ve basically pitched a tent outside of Wharton,” says Andrew Mitchell, who founded the venture capital firm Brand Foundry to invest in digital-first con­sumer businesses. Read more at Inc.