How WhatsApp for business boosted eyewear startup Glassic to fame
Founded by two brothers, Glassic is reaping the benefit of WhatsApp Business and is on its way to building a brand that is high on fashion and low on cost.
At a glance
Founders: Kailash and Devesh Nichani
Year it was founded: 2016
Where is it based: Bengaluru
The problem it solves: High-fashion, low-cost eyewear
Funding raised: Seed round
“Small businesses all over the world already use WhatsApp to step up their game. In India and Brazil, more than 80 percent of them say being on WhatsApp helps them connect with customers and grow. Take Kailash and Devesh, for example – two brothers who own Glassic in India and sell high-quality sunglasses. They reach most of their customers directly through WhatsApp and use it to respond to people quickly and easily.”
For a startup like fashion eyewear Glassic, getting a reco from none other than Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is like getting your digital marketing sorted for a lifetime. But exaggeration apart, when the two brothers signed up for the beta testing of WhatsApp Business last year sometime around August/September, it was perhaps the best thing they could have done.
By far, WhatsApp wins hands down as the favourite app in India with 200 million monthly active users. Before the Whatsapp Business was launched in January this year, many small businesses were already using WhatsApp to advertise their products and communicate with their small but loyal band of customers. According to WhatsApp, close to 80 percent of Indian SMBs think WhatsApp helps them grow their business.
During WhatsApp Business’s beta testing phase, other internet biggies like BookMyShow, redBus, and GoIbibo also accessed the WhatsApp APIs.
The pricy look
“We had realised that WhatsApp was a quick and efficient system than email to communicate with our customers,” says Kailash Nichani, Co-founder and the older of the two siblings. Things really picked up when they were assigned the green tick mark that indicated to customers that it was a verified entity.
They were having rich conversations with their customers and all in real time, from the style to pricing to availability. According to Kailash, their customer number has today crossed 12,000, and most of it has been through word of mouth.
Glassic designs and manufactures fashion eyewear in-house and delivers them directly to customers through their website. “We have very strong unit economics,” claims Kailash, not willing to disclose the revenue numbers though. He states that they are able to sell their products at under Rs 3,000 while maintaining quality and have been able to bootstrap until now.
The brothers launched the startup in June 2016, and late last year they raised a seed round which saw participation by The Chennai Angels (TCA), Lead Angels, and LetsVenture. Manav Goyal from TCA says, “Glassic’s deep understanding of the eyewear industry has helped them work with very healthy unit economics. This was one of our main drivers to lead the investment round.”
Kailash believes that his years in the eyewear industry with his family business in Chennai helped him understand the business better. “We are able to sell our products for under Rs 3000, not because we give any discounts. We have a lean supply chain and a healthy manufacturing margin to manage this,” says Kailash.
During his apprenticeship in his family business, Kailash realised that people were looking for fashionable sunglasses but were not willing to pay upwards of Rs 4000. “The sub Rs 4000 category has low quality and scattered product range, while the Rs 4000 plus category has a red ocean of brands. We wanted to bridge these two markets."
Catering to the fashion conscious clientele, Glassic with its chic and modern designs is ensuring that it first creates a brand that will bring in a dedicated group of repeat customers. “The eyewear industry is stuck in time. People usually buy one sunglass and manage with that for years. We’ve had customers who have even bought seven different types for all the days of the week,” says Kailash.
They are getting ready to launch prescription glasses soon. The fundraise is also helping them expand their team size from 13 to 20, and they hope to put their might into content marketing to increase their brand awareness.
With heavily-funded startups like Lenskart and corporate-backed Titan Eye also targeting the fashion-first but price-conscious generation of consumers, Glassic has its task cut out for itself.