Interchangeable Eyeglasses – Frameri

interchanging eyeglassesFrameri founder Konrad Billetz became acquainted with eyeglasses after he lived the cliche about BB guns: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” When he was 11, his friend shot him in the eye with a BB gun, causing him to need to wear corrective lenses. Being an 11 year old boy, he ripped through eyeglasses with alarming regularity, causing frustration for him and his parents. Billetz, along with Kevin Habich, pitches Frameri in Shark Tank episode 626.

The Genesis of Frameri came from Konrad’s boyhood days. He didn’t think it made much sense to have to buy eyeglasses as an “all in one” unit. He thought, “why not make eyeglasses with interchangeable frames and lenses?” The idea is you can get one set of prescription lenses and switch them out to different frames for different looks. If your prescription changes, just get new lenses and keep your frames. Sounds simple, but in the eyewear world, it’s a revolutionary idea.

Frameri makes their frames in an Italian factory. The lenses come from a top-notch optical factory and they package and assemble everything  in Cincinnati. Frames cost $100 as do the lenses. You can actually see how you’ll look in your glasses with their virtual try-on tool.

Billetz is seeking to disrupt the eyeglasses world with the Frameri concept and he has people who believe he can do it. He got the business started at The Brandery, a business incubator in Cincinnati. That’s where he learned the art of raising money. So far, he’s raised $60,000 on IndieGogo, $100K from former AOL CEO Steve Case, and $750K from Cincinnati based CincyTech. Next up is Shark Tank!

My Take on Frameri Eyeglasses

I use reading glasses, but I don’t wear eyeglasses. My wife wears them though and she likes the styles and the interchangeability. The Frameri concept makes sense – Oakley has been doing the same thing with sunglasses for years – why not do the same thing with eyeglasses?

The business is tricky though. Frameri has to manage making prescription lenses for everyone who orders as well as maintain inventory on the frames. It’s a logistics and inventory centric business, which is challenging. That said, I think they’ve received solid guidance and are up to the task.

Will Sharks Frame a Deal?

Lots of companies that appear on Shark Tank come in with a product and no plan; they want a Shark to guide them. Frameri has both a product and a plan, which puts them ahead of the curve. The problem they’ll have in the Tank won’t be their business – I think the Sharks will like their model and strategy – the issue will be valuation. With other investors on board, there is already a valuation attached to the business. The Sharks historically try to devalue businesses to get more skin in the game and companies with other investors are usually less willing to wriggle on valuation.

That doesn’t mean they won’t field offers. If their sales and margins are in line (as I believe they will be), the Sharks will bid. I’m just not sure if Frameri wants to give up too much equity to catch a Shark.

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

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