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Bootstrapping a Global E-Commerce Company: SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Apr 22nd 2018

Sramana Mitra: How big is your team now?

David Menning: 150.

Sramana Mitra: What percentage of that is in Australia?

David Menning: We actually don’t have any staff in Australia at the present time.

Sramana Mitra: That’s interesting. How did that happen?

David Menning: We try to keep all our staff centrally located. All our staff are centrally located in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Italy. We have a PR Manager who works with us in Australia to help us in various areas. We also have a variety of other service providers such as logistics providers, drop ship providers, and optical providers that help us with servicing our customers over the phone. There’s a number of suppliers. Those are outsourced and are not company staff. This has been a testament to our global nature.

Sramana Mitra: 150 people generating $50 million in revenue is a very efficient organization.

David Menning: Absolutely. In Hong Kong, there’re a number of companies that are similar to us that run these global models. There’s a way to do it in an efficient way. If you localize the business in a market like US or Australia, you need to acquire customers at a faster rate. The cost of doing that become higher and you need to raise money.

Sramana Mitra: I see a lot of US e-commerce companies that came out of all different parts of the US and not just Silicon Valley. There are companies out of Minnesota. You see all kinds of variations. Your point is well-taken that you do it better from Asia, but there are other companies that are doing it in the US.

David Menning: Right.

Sramana Mitra: Great. I love your story. These are the kinds of stories that delight me. It’s not so dependent on external stuff like funding. It’s more about pure execution. It’s pure customers, revenues, profits. Those are really fabulous case studies.

David Menning: We’re really excited about our business and the industry as a whole. E-commerce is a really exciting area to be involved in. This is beginning to become even more exciting with the advent of the connections to offline and online through an omni-channel strategy. It’s an exciting industry.

In terms of sunglasses and eyeglasses, the percentage penetration rate is still relatively low – around 3% – as opposed to other product categories that have 10% of the volume online. We have the latest technologies such as online try-on where we’re able to offer customers the opportunity to try on up to $40,000 models with their video cameras at home. It is an amazing technology and a game changer.

We’re launching eye exams technology in the near future, which allows people to do eye tests from their computers and get their prescriptions at home. They don’t even have to go to optometrists anymore. Using data of e-commerce, customers can quickly identify frame shapes that they like. It’s a complete customer experience that we’re offering. It’s really a world-first and is something we’re excited about.

The future is very bright in this category. Customers get a huge value through saving a great deal of money as well as getting the product that really is perfect for their face and needs.

Sramana Mitra: Great. It was a pleasure to hear your story.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Bootstrapping a Global E-Commerce Company: SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning
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