Prescription glasses today are expensive, fragile, hard to repair, and impossible to recycle.
Start-up and disruptor Dresden Optics has re-invented how glasses are designed and made, what they are made from and how they are sold.
To cater to strong demand for this sustainable, low-cost product and drive global growth, Dresden has secured $4 million in equity funding from entrepreneurial-focused investment bank, Investec.
“We’ve created our sustainable glasses system from scratch,” says Dresden co-founder Bruce Jeffreys.
“Customers can see an optometrist, choose frames and colours, then have the glasses made on the spot. A customer can get their single-vision lenses made in-store within 10 minutes and walk out of the store with new glasses.”
“Think about our glasses like Swatch watches,” he says. There’s a universal shape but they are endlessly customisable.”
What exactly does Dresden have to offer?
Dresden provides prescription glasses from $49. The only time when it charges more is when the lenses cost more.
“Every frame part is manufactured by us in Sydney. Every lens is from premium maker Zeiss and is fitted by us in-store without the glasses wearer needing to wait,” notes Bruce.
“We manufacture the frames ourselves, making them locally from virgin and recycled plastic, including fishing nets washed up on Australian beaches.
“Ours is a closed loop system – our manufacturing waste is recycled back into new frames. Our glasses system and its replaceable, interchangeable parts provides a durable alternative to the disposable fashion industry.”
How is Dresden doing so far?
Dresden now has eight stores in Australia and also recently entered the Canadian market. Dresden was formed in 2014 when Jeffreys and equally poor-sighted designer Jason McDermott decided they could make more functional, versatile and dependable glasses without the high price tags. Dresden is Jeffreys’ second start-up – his previous company, GoGet, is now Australia’s leading car sharing service.
Dresden developed its production facility in an established western Sydney manufacturer who processes plastics for the auto industry.
Hein Vogel, Managing Director at Investec Emerging Companies, said: “We strongly believe in the growth opportunities for Dresden, which is disrupting the existing eyewear industry with its innovative business model.”
Investec created its Emerging Companies division over 24-months ago in response to growing demand from clients, in particular those with an enterprise value in the range of $10 million to $200 million, that felt overlooked by other investment banks.
“This has seen Investec return to its roots as the investment bank for entrepreneurs,” added Mr Vogel. “Investec was founded by a group of entrepreneurs and we remain committed to being a true partner to emerging companies. We are entrepreneurs in service of entrepreneurs.”
Dresden is Investec’s 13th investment in an emerging company and follows the recent funding that Investec provided to MadeComfy, a tailored, end-to-end management service for short-term property rentals, founded in Sydney in 2015.