Why Lenskart is eyeing investments in technology and startups with its new fund

In a conversation with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch, Peyush Bansal, CEO and Co-Founder, Lenskart, shares the idea behind the Lenskart Vision Fund and why the D2C eyewear brand is eyeing investments in symphonious startups.
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Popular D2C eyewear brand Lenskart recently announced the launch of Lenskart Vision Fund, which it will use to invest in startups harmonious with the eyewear, eye-care, and omnichannel retail sector. The fund will essentially invest in selected early-stage startups and help them scale business using Lenskart’s resources and technology.

The total corpus of the fund is $20 million; Lenskart has invested $4-5 million so far.

Peyush Bansal, CEO and Co-Founder, Lenskart, says the eyewear startup plans to deploy to fund over the next two years, and invest in 10-15 startups.

“The cheque size on the max side would be $2 million but on the lower side can be as low as 200k or 500k,” says Peyush, adding that the entire funding would be raised by internal accruals and out of the company’s own balance sheet.

Lenskart aims to invest in new technology that can change the game in the industry. Peyush feels that a large proportion of these investments require time and patience, adding that the company has a “long-term view towards the entire scenario”.

“Our early-stage fund focuses on three kinds of companies: technology, product, and innovative commerce.”

According to Peyush, eyewear as a category has a lot of space for evolution and growth. With that perspective, Lenskart has invested in four to five startups in the last two years. These investments have helped the company make a huge impact on the kind of eyewear people are buying and omnichannel retail.

“This made us realise that if we could pursue this in an organised fashion and scale it, it would be beneficial for us,” Peyush says.  

Peyush Bansal, Founder of Lenskart

Investing in the future

Lenskart recently invested in Pando, an AI-based computer vision startup that is helping improve omnichannel retail. It also invested in a California-based product, Thin Optics, which are innovative reading glasses that conveniently sit on a person’s nose.

“Eyewear is the only place where warehousing and manufacturing comes together,” Peyush says.

He adds that a lot of automation has happened in packaging, FMCG, and warehousing, but very little has happened in manufacturing. This is why the eyewear startup wants to acquire startups in the automation space.

Most of their investments have been successful as they give startups access to a wide customer base and big business leaders. For instance, if there’s a venture that is trying to build commerce in another country or launch a product, they can use Lenksart’s supply chain, technology, and even customers to grow much faster.

“With normal capital, getting that kind of consumer access is almost impossible,” Peyush says.

The founder believes the fund can be expanded depending on their experience. “If the next 10-20 experiences go well, we would obviously want to continue doing it.”

Peyush says the acquisition depends on the use and the purpose of the startup. “If the use of the product or startup in larger retail is prominent then Lenskart will definitely move towards acquiring it,” Peyush ends.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai