SoftBank-backed online eyewear retailer Lenskart has raised $200 million from investors including Temasek Holdings and Falcon Edge Capital. The company aims to use the capital along with the $95 million raised earlier in the year from KKR & Co to add more brick-and-mortar stores as well as expand its online business in Southeast Asia and Middle East.
Lenskart is now valued at $2.5 billion, said founder Peyush Bansal.
“Every vertical from apparel to footwear, aside from eyewear, has been disrupted globally. We can easily spend two decades solving the problem of awareness, penetration and affordability in eyewear,” said Bansal as mentioned in a report in Bloomberg.
Bansal started off by trying to solve the housing issues of college students. However, he soon realised that he could make more impact by selling eyewear. “India is the blind capital of the world and about half of its 1.3 billion people need glasses,” he added. Bansal founded the company in 2010. They sold eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses through their online platform and 750 retail outlets in the country. The company received an early backing from SoftBank.
But like all businesses, Lenskart too was impacted due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Bansal said that the company had turned profitable before the pandemic, but turned red during the peak of the first and second wave. It has turned green again now, he said.
Last year Lenskart sold about 8 million pairs of eyewear. By the year ended March 2022, the company aims to increase that by 30 per cent. The startup said that the combined market opportunity of Southeast Asia and Middle East is projected to be more than$15 billion by 2025.
Lenskart aims to invest in order to ramp up its supply chain and add new technologies. Its new manufacturing plant in Rajasthan is said to be the largest factory in the world for ready prescription glasses. They make 1.5 lakh pairs a day. They also plan to invest $2 million in startups working in the eyewear retail segment and set up the Lenskart Vision Fund recently.
The company’s digital offerings include a virtual 3D tool to try out new glasses as well as face-mapping using artificial intelligence to help with frame recommendations.
Bansal graduated from Montreal’s McGill University before working at Microsoft Corp in the US. He returned to India about a decade-and-a-half ago to become an entrepreneur.