Personal: Final Report

Value Proposition: Our company, “Personal”, helps eyesight-impaired consumers that want to design their own eyewear, breaking out of the small selections offered by retailers while ensuring a perfect fit.

Idea: Eyewear web platform that allows users to fabricate their own custom glasses, and allows designers to sell fitted glasses to their customers,

Purpose: To make buying eyewear customizable through 3D printing. The trial boxes as well as complete custom frames will make it easier for eyewear purchasers to not only know what glasses will look like on their face before spending money, but be able to get a pair of glasses fitted specifically for them. 

“Personal” Glasses For Everyone:

Our company, “Personal”, helps budget-priced eyesight-impaired consumers who want to design their own custom lenses for a reasonable price. We are an eyewear web platform that allows users to fabricate their own custom glasses and allows designers to sell fitted glasses to their customers in order to make buying eyewear cheaper and customizable through 3D printing. 

Key Partners

Our key partners and suppliers would include 3D printing companies such as: FormLabs, SLM Solutions, Revolution 3D Printers, Ultimaker North America, etc.

Strong partnerships with these companies are necessary for initial outsourcing of 3D production, before we have acquired manufacturing capabilities ourselves.

In order to keep initial capital costs low and to make testing possible, we will need to develop a MVP by outsourcing the initial prints to other firms in order to see whether or not this product is viable.

Key Activities

Our initial activities would include helping the customer design their glasses in a 3D workplane, and to facilitate the printing of their glasses frames.

 A concern for some of our customers during the research process was that these custom lenses would take a long time to arrive after initial order. In order to promote efficiency, we would primarily use a “mass customization” approach, which means that we would have a few base 3D modeled frames that are able to be slightly customized, allowing our customers to receive their product quickly.

Key Resources

Necessary Key resources include:

  1. The design team (in-house or partners) to help design glasses for customers that don’t want to design theirs from scratch. From my expert interview, this design team could not only help with classic eyewear designs but can also help with the design of innovative eyewear such as “no-hinge” glasses.
  2.  3D printers and print materials are either outsourced to a 3D printing company or leased to us for initial MVP testing.

Although price leadership will be difficult to obtain in the initial testing phases, we will still be able to differentiate ourselves by showing customers the capabilities of 3D printing.

Value Propositions

Personal allows our customers to break free from the streamlined designs of modern eyewear, giving them the ability to design their own glasses, turning eyewear purchases into a fashion choice rather than a long-term necessity purchase. Like customers said in the interview there are so expensive that purchasing them is often thought of as “let us pick something that will match with everything”, which prevents them from making more outlandish choices in color/style. With Personal, not only are we trying to allow them to choose their own style but also to take hints from our in-house designers to push them along in the process.

Products and Services:

  1. 3D Printed Customizable Glasses
  2. Website UI interface that allows customers to see all products and a UI that allows users to customize their glasses on the webpage.
  3. CX team, Support services for any confusion on how to customize products, and to expedite any issues that customers may have with the product (potentially outsourced)
    1. Robo AI customer support that can answer basic questions, or make the decision to connect the customer with a support agent
    2. Clearly outlined instruction manual available side by side with the design UI
    3. Chat function that allows customer support to walk a customer through the design process
  4. Financing through a 3rd party, as well as connections to payment methods such as Paypal and Shopify
  5. Relationship with small eyeglass designers, allowing them to market their “personal brand” on our website.

Pain Relievers:

  1. Low Price allows customers to more frequently buy glasses, making it part of their daily wardrobe choice rather than a long term investment
    1. Also allows lower-income families to afford and replace glasses rather than using stopgap solutions such as duct-taping their glasses together
  2. Trial Boxes and E-commerce site 
    1. Relieves pain of buying customized glasses and being scared they won’t fit
    2. Avoids the social pain of speaking to salespeople
  3. Seeing clearly on a day-to-day basis.
  4. Avoiding physical pain such as:
  1. Nose bridge pain due to badly fitted glasses
  2. Choice of materials allows the customer to avoid thin wireframes that may hurt their ear

Gain Creators:

  1. Social gain from well fit glasses: the customizability of the glasses allows people to stylize their glasses as well as fitting glasses to nose shape, bridge, face width, eye size, weight, etc.
  2. Customers create social gain by speaking about  fully-custom glasses, often associated with luxury and high-end products.
  3. Emotional gain from avoiding larger corporations that charge insane markups for normal eyewear products.

Customer Relationships

Our customer segments need us to deliver on high quality and fashionable goods. Most of our customers will also be a little lost in the amount of customization possible, so we need to simplify and provide assistance/ideas during their design process. For our MVP, we can assume that customers will not be familiar with 3D modeling software, so it will be a manual process done over a phone call initially in order to test out the product. 

Since we are initially trying to appeal to the high-end market, we will need to deliver on quality at the expense of possible delays in the customer getting their product. We also need to ensure that the customer’s design is actually viable and isn’t so customized that it sacrifices durability and quality.

Channels

Our customers most likely want to be reached through online advertising instead of brick-and-mortar shops. They are currently forced to enter shops to try on glasses.

Since these shops are our direct competitors, we want to reach them in a way that disrupts their current channels, through online advertising.

The key channels that we will initially target are fashion influencers and fashion shows, just to get our product out there. Our target demographic would be frequently looking at both of those channels, so it becomes easier to reach our target market.

Customer Segments

Our most important consumers are younger, budget-priced people who need glasses but are unwilling to pay high prices. Before they become acclimated and fall into the branding of larger retailers, we have to market that there is a “new way” to purchase eyewear, without breaking the bank.

Initially, we are targeting the “fashion forwards crowd 20-40 years old in NYC that wants to design their own glasses”. According to my expert, unless we have all manufacturing capabilities, our initial product offering will have to be on the higher end, luxury side of the market, making it important to differentiate and appeal to these “fashion forwards individuals”. 

Although our eventual goal is mass market, this will not be possible without first targeting a smaller willing/able to pay the higher price premium. Eventually, when we get to a mass market scale, we can do mass customization through injection molding.

Customer: Eyesight impaired consumers aged 18-30 in Urban Cities in America

Jobs:

  1. To see clearly in order to complete their daily tasks such as driving, working, going out,

basically every aspect of their lives

  1. To look clean and neat with a pair of glasses, and need it to match with their face shape as well as the rest of their wardrobe.
  2.  Save money, and avoid going over budget for the month.
  3.  Avoid speaking to pushy salespeople.
  4.  To seem as intelligent as possible (Studies show that glasses make interviewees more

desirable and seemingly “intelligent”)

Pains:

  1.  Nose pain from a badly sized bridge fit.
  2.  Ear pain from thin glasses such as wireframes.
  3.  Limited options to choose from EX: Lasik surgery, contacts, eyeglasses
  4.  If they want to try on glasses, they have to go to the physical brick and mortar shops, and have to deal with pushy salespeople.
  5.  Large companies charge high markups for their glasses frames, so purchasing glasses is often a large purchase and have to be saved up for:
    1.  For lower-income families, glasses are obviously still a necessity but the high prices make it impossible to replace the frames (We’ve all seen the duct tape glasses)
    2.  Glasses should be replaced every year due to constant use and scratching, but customers do not want to due to the high prices
  6.  Hate spending money at large corporations (Sticking it to the man)

Gains:

  1.  Excess of customizability through our website, allowing the customer to fit their glasses

exactly to their face

  1.  Spending less money for a better and more personal product
  2.  Customized glasses look neater and fit better.
  3.  Feel better about avoiding large corporations that charge insane markups for glasses frames.
    1.  Marketing around supplying low-income families with necessities, makes people feel better about supporting our company vision.
  4. Able to tell social circles that customer had glasses “custom-made”, which is associated with luxury and status
  5. Relief at not having to deal with social situations with salespeople.

Cost Structure

Our primary manufacturing costs will be our negotiated prices with 3D print companies such as Shapeways. 

Fixed costs would include – Rent, Partnerships with 3D print companies, Design Team salaries, advertising/marketing

Variable costs would include – 3D Print materials, warehouse salaries, Shipping costs, Customer support salaries.

These costs will be imperative in the determination of our initial product price, although initial focus would be on Quality management rather than turning a profit.

Revenue Streams

Our main revenue model would be a basic buy and pay model. Our customers, the fashion forwards cohort, would prefer to pay around 100-300 dollars per pair of glasses. 

People would obviously prefer to pay as low of a price as possible but during my market research,  people said they had not only become acclimated to the high current prices but would be willing to pay more for a high-quality product. With the addition of customization into the mix, we would be able to charge a higher premium for the customer value provided.

Market Size:

TAM: 

  1. 32.2 Million Visually Impaired Adults in the U.S.
  2. Eyewear industry is valued at 5.2 Billion

SAM:

  1. 17.3 Million Visually Impaired Adults in Urban Cities within the U.S.
  2. 2.7 Billion is available, based on population density in Urban Cities

This market is estimated to double by 2027, growing to a value of 10.3 Billion. The U.S. has the largest share of the global eyewear market of $13.8 Billion. This target market is still an extremely large customer base, and the go-to-market strategy would begin with attacking the segments in NYC and LA.

Competitors:

Types Of Competitors:

In this space, there are 4 types of competitors:

Expensive Distributors/Retailers:

  1. Usually have a brick-and-mortar store.
  2. Houses Eye doctors for eyesight examinations. 
  3. Full of salespeople that will try to sell you prescription lenses with huge markups in addition to the manufacturer markup.

Affordable Distributors/Retailers:

  1. Cheaper than brick-and-mortar retailers.
  2. Often based only on e-commerce sites.
  3. Still have to pay some markups from manufacturers/designers such as RayBan
  4. Requires previous eye exam to order prescription lenses.

Expensive Designers:

  1. Designers such as Ray-Ban, Prada, Etc.
  2. These brands have an immovable customer segment that is based on brand recognition and customer loyalty. 
  3. These brands also have brick-and-mortar stores, but these stores tend to be showrooms rather than shops.

Affordable Designers:

  1. These designers are fairly new and are aimed at the same target market that “Personal” is aimed at. 
  2. These do not have brick and mortar stores but operate fully through their eCommerce sites and sales

.

“Personal” is most directly in competition with affordable designers, followed by affordable retailers. We plan to attack the same customer segment: young, price-sensitive consumers located in cities.

Our competitive advantage over these competitors would be based on the acquisition of 3D printing resources to acquire a large early share of the market. Relationships with 3D printing material suppliers are imperative to this goal, and early negotiations with 3D printer manufacturers will decide a large portion of first-year spending.

Our initial team of software engineers will design a user-friendly design UI that will also serve as the basis of our initial competitive advantage. This UI will be necessary in lowering the switching costs and to increase the trialability of our product. If this UI fails to deliver, customers would have difficulty justifying the switching costs to our service. Currently, there is a space for a slow-paced, well-managed company that can deliver on quality and price. 

Testing:

Stage 1:

  • Method:

We went around NYC surveying and asking people for feedback concerning current eyewear manufacturers, asking about current pains.

  • Feedback:

Customers experienced pain from poorly fitted glasses, detested the high markups from designers, and hated the boring, overused styles currently for sale.

Stage 2:

  • Method:

We went to online forums on reddit and instagram in order to find individuals to give feedback on my product idea. During this stage, I was still pursuing the possibility of price leadership, which ended up being impossible

  • Feedback:

Customers were concerned about the possibility of extremely long lead times due to the individual manufacture of each glasses, which made me decide to pivot to a mass customization approach, allowing for a few base designs that would be then used to form other customizations.

Customers were also worried that the quality would dip off in 3D printing as we tried to reach more consumers for lower prices.

  • Change:

We pivoted from an idea based around cost leadership, to targeting fashion forwards individuals in NYC that would be able to pay a price premium for our product.

Stage 3:

  • Method:

I reached out to two experts, one tech startup CFO and one mechanical engineer in my own company in order to test the validity of my idea.

  • Feedback:

Asking early stage investors to invest large sums of money into a startup without a MVP is impossible, so I need to pursue outsourcing manufacturing, at least to prove that there is a product here. The engineer stated that nozzle based printers would be fast enough for my price leadership idea, but would result in a pretty low quality pair of glasses.

  • Change:

Need to garner partnerships with 3D print manufacturers in order to develop my MVP instead of acquiring manufacturing rights. 3D printers with nozzles will be able to sustain my price leadership strategy but will result in lowered quality. Therefore, we need to charge a price premium and use resin based printing, which will allow for quality glasses.

Stage 4:

  • Method:

I followed up with some of the interested people from stage 2 testing and asked if they would be willing to pay 10 bucks for a pair of non-prescription custom frames. I had two takers that were willing, and they emailed me their facial size which I then used to print the glasses.

  • Feedback:

Quality was good, and they were happy with how closely I was able to mirror the style they wanted.

Conclusion:

The final value proposition focuses on high quality, custom lenses for low prices. It offers trial boxes of glasses only for frame type, and uses 3D printers to fit those frame types for the individual consumer. 

This model is dependent on getting large seed capital, and acquiring the manufacturing capabilities to sell at low prices to entice customers. High investment in the development of an easy to use design UI is also necessary, and having a support team to supplement ease of use would be preferable.

Appendices: Proof of Testing:

Business Model Canvas

Our company, “Personal”, helps budget-priced eyesight-impaired consumers who want to design their own custom lenses for a reasonable price. We are an eyewear web platform that allows users to fabricate their own custom glasses and allows designers to sell fitted glasses to their customers in order to make buying eyewear cheaper and customizable through 3D printing. 

Key Partners

Our key partners and suppliers would include 3D printing companies such as: FormLabs, SLM Solutions, Revolution 3D Printers, Ultimaker North America, etc.

Strong partnerships with these companies are necessary for initial outsourcing of 3D production, before we have acquired manufacturing capabilities ourselves.

In order to keep initial capital costs low and to make testing possible, we will need to develop a MVP by outsourcing the initial prints to other firms in order to see whether or not this product is viable.

Key Activities

Our initial activities would include helping the customer design their glasses in a 3D workplane, and to facilitate the printing of their glasses frames.

 A concern for some of our customers during the research process was that these custom lenses would take a long time to arrive after initial order. In order to promote efficiency, we would primarily use a “mass customization” approach, which means that we would have a few base 3D modeled frames that are able to be slightly customized, allowing our customers to receive their product quickly.

Key Resources

Necessary Key resources include:

  1. The design team (in-house or partners) to help design glasses for customers that don’t want to design theirs from scratch. From my expert interview, this design team could not only help with classic eyewear designs but can also help with the design of innovative eyewear such as “no-hinge” glasses.
  2.  3D printers and print materials are either outsourced to a 3D printing company or leased to us for initial MVP testing.

Although price leadership will be difficult to obtain in the initial testing phases, we will still be able to differentiate ourselves by showing customers the capabilities of 3D printing.

Value Propositions

Personal allows our customers to break free from the streamlined designs of modern eyewear, giving them the ability to design their own glasses, turning eyewear purchases into a fashion choice rather than a long-term necessity purchase. Like customers said in the interview there are so expensive that purchasing them is often thought of as “let us pick something that will match with everything”, which prevents them from making more outlandish choices in color/style. With Personal, not only are we trying to allow them to choose their own style but also to take hints from our in-house designers to push them along in the process.

Customer Relationships

Our customer segments need us to deliver on high quality and fashionable goods. Most of our customers will also be a little lost in the amount of customization possible, so we need to simplify and provide assistance/ideas during their design process. For our MVP, we can assume that customers will not be familiar with 3D modeling software, so it will be a manual process done over a phone call initially in order to test out the product. 

Since we are initially trying to appeal to the high-end market, we will need to deliver on quality at the expense of possible delays in the customer getting their product. We also need to ensure that the customer’s design is actually viable and isn’t so customized that it sacrifices durability and quality.

Channels

Our customers most likely want to be reached through online advertising instead of brick-and-mortar shops. They are currently forced to enter shops to try on glasses.

Since these shops are our direct competitors, we want to reach them in a way that disrupts their current channels, through online advertising.

The key channels that we will initially target are fashion influencers and fashion shows, just to get our product out there. Our target demographic would be frequently looking at both of those channels, so it becomes easier to reach our target market.

Customer Segments

Our most important consumers are younger, budget-priced people who need glasses but are unwilling to pay high prices. Before they become acclimated and fall into the branding of larger retailers, we have to market that there is a “new way” to purchase eyewear, without breaking the bank.

Initially, we are targeting the “fashion forwards crowd 20-40 years old in NYC that wants to design their own glasses”. According to my expert, unless we have all manufacturing capabilities, our initial product offering will have to be on the higher end, luxury side of the market, making it important to differentiate and appeal to these “fashion forwards individuals”. 

Although our eventual goal is mass market, this will not be possible without first targeting a smaller willing/able to pay the higher price premium. Eventually, when we get to a mass market scale, we can do mass customization through injection molding.

Cost Structure

Our primary manufacturing costs will be our negotiated prices with 3D print companies such as Shapeways. 

Fixed costs would include – Rent, Partnerships with 3D print companies, Design Team salaries, advertising/marketing

Variable costs would include – 3D Print materials, warehouse salaries, Shipping costs, Customer support salaries.

These costs will be imperative in the determination of our initial product price, although initial focus would be on Quality management rather than turning a profit.

Revenue Streams

Our main revenue model would be a basic buy and pay model. Our customers, the fashion forwards cohort, would prefer to pay around 100-300 dollars per pair of glasses. 

People would obviously prefer to pay as low of a price as possible but during my market research,  people said they had not only become acclimated to the high current prices but would be willing to pay more for a high-quality product. With the addition of customization into the mix, we would be able to charge a higher premium for the customer value provided.

Personal

Secondary Research:

Through Secondary sources, we determined that there is a substantial market for this product, with:

Total Available Market: 32.3 Million Visually Impaired Adults in the U.S / $5.2 Billion Valuation

Other competitors currently fall into either the Retailer/Designer Category and all function on a buy/pay business revenue model.

About The Company

Our company, “Personal”, helps budget-priced eyesight-impaired consumers who want to purchase custom lenses for a reasonable price, by reducing the prices from big brand retailers, and enabling consumers to fit certain styles to their face as well as designing their own glasses unlike other retailers with limited styles.

We want to make buying eyewear cheaper and customizable through 3D printing. The trial boxes as well as complete custom frames will make it easier for eyewear purchasers to not only know what glasses will look like on their face before spending money, but be able to get a pair of glasses fitted specifically for them.

Customer Discovery/Prototypes – Do People Need This?

Jeffrey Wang

Personal – A New Way to See

Customer Discovery/Prototype

Budget priced eyesight impaired consumers need an easier and cheaper way to see clearly and go through their everyday lives. People want to customize eyewear without spending high prices, but cannot due to high cost and nonexistent return policies. Eyeglass consumers are tired of the extremely high markups on what are essentially small frames made of plastic. Current consumers are unable to replace their glasses at the rate they should be and resort to haphazard solutions in order to keep going. 

The interview process consisted of stopping people on the street that wore glasses and presenting them with a question. I asked them if they’ve had issues with the current sellers of glasses, and if there was a better solution available. I presented each interviewee with one of these solutions and recorded their responses. I recorded their responses and wrote down the general consensus on each idea.

Solution Ideas/Feedback include:

  1. VR goggles with a camera – this solution works, but it would be difficult keeping in line with the budget priced portion of the problem. On the other hand, integrating a panoramic camera into it would allow for a more complete view of the world compared to glasses.
    1. Would possibly be bulky and would definitely be more expensive than current solutions. 
  2. Seeing eye dog rental service – This is for the blind, but assuming that people want a seeing eye dog on vacation or while leaving home, they would be able to pick up one for rent so they would be able to more easily enjoy their vacation.
    1. Seeing eye dogs need to accompany their owner everywhere, it is unlikely that a blind person would travel without their seeing eye dog anyways. 
  3. 3D printing new glasses – By acquiring manufacturing rights and a design UI, this would allow us to severely undercut the competitors as well as being able to customize each pair of glasses to individual face shapes and personal preference.
    1. Would require pretty large startup costs, but otherwise a great idea.
  4. Lenses with Swappable frames – Instead of purchasing new pairs of glasses with lenses every time people need new glasses, they can simply buy a new frame.
    1.  Downside to this solution is the inability to change to new frame styles and shapes.
    2. Do glasses lenses stay in usable shape longer than frames?
  5. App that manages eyesight habits – Sort of like a nagging mother, this app manages your eyesight habits and sends tips to avoiding eye strain. This is more of a preventative solution, and won’t help those already severely eyesight impaired. 
    1. Where would revenue for this be? Since this is an app that runs in the background, it’s impossible to make revenue through advertising
    2. People are bombarded with possible app purchases everyday, they might be unwilling to download another.

Overall, I learned that many of my ideas were impractical in nature, and in hindsight, some are outright ridiculous. Although glasses are overpriced and there is a space for 3D printing glasses, the barriers to entry are fairly large. In order to improve, it might be better to focus on one simple part of the process, instead of trying to be both the supplier and retailer, focus on just being the retailer. 

A new solution is an iteration of my 3D printing idea. Instead of 3D printing the glasses myself, we can outsource that to a company like “Shapeways” that will be able to produce the glasses frame for us as long as we send them a 3D model of it. This allows us to enter the field much easier, and allows us to focus on customization of glasses. Looking at their prices, although this would raise our individual production cost slightly, bargaining with them and looking at their current prices, it would still be possible to severely undercut competitors and satisfy the target market.