Startup Of The Week: dear deer
This time we represent dear deer – eyewear, designed and manufactured in Lithuania made by using 3D printing technology. Their CEO Justas Šidlauskas told us more what is behind this idea.
- So what is dear deer? How does ir works?
dear deer is the first eyewear collection solely designed and manufactured in Lithuania. We use cutting-edge 3D printing technology for highest quality production, tailor-made whole manufacturing process to create a product that is impossible to make in standard eyewear frame facilities.
We use “home try-on” service when customers get products delivered to their homes for final decision making. They are free to choose from all our products and pick eyewear models for trying to their liking.
Only after making this selection and testing dear deer eyewear is being finished in different optic lenses laboratories according to customer’s prescription and then delivered as a final product.
- What are your competitors and competitive advantages?
To be honest we really do not know our real competitors yet. We could say that all Lithuanian optic shops are our competitors, but are they? Since our business model is so far away from standard our largest competitors are the ones offering a substitute product (contact lenses) online. Our largest competitive advantage is that we control all the manufacturing stages and take care of them ourselves, meaning that we can offer highest quality product in the mid-price or in low-price (if we take into account all brand eyewear products) ranges.
- What were the reasons behind coming up with this idea and launching this product?
The original idea started a long time ago (almost 5 years now) we had to wait a long time for 3D printing technology to evolve into offering both: higher printing quality and economy of scale. It is now hard to tell the exact reasons, but self-realization, moving into creative industry and creating a force of destruction for standard optic business model could be it. Also, we saw a great 3D printing application in everyday use products that we had some expertise in.
- When exactly did you launch, what were the main challenges before launching?
We launched on December 31st with a sky lit from fireworks – somehow lots of people celebrated that day together with us. Our biggest challenge was to sum everything that we have to offer into a package and present it to our customers. It just felt that so much is left behind unmentioned. We really hope that we will be able to speak our whole message to the public.
Currently, our customers are early adopters. Meaning, that they have to go an extra mile to find us or get some recommendations just to see what we are and how to get in touch with our dear deer eyewear. We could say that all our current customers are fashion savvy young people in all Lithuania. Our potential reach could be up to 1 M customers just in Lithuania.
- What are main challenges while working on this product and how are you overcoming them?
The biggest challenge is e-retail knowledge or thereof lack of it. It involves lots of different parts, like optimizing Google Adwords, SEO, Facebook and Instagram pages so we would be reached by a much larger customer number. To solve this problem we are currently in talks with a potential third partner with much more expertise in this area.
- How are you funded? Do you seek extra funding?
We are a self-funded project and we do not seek extra funding right now. We will look for it most probably in 2019 once we will be ready for our much anticipated geographical expanse.
- Please introduce your founders, your core team and your broader team?
Currently, our founders are our core team.
Justas Šidlauskas – CEO of dear deer eyewear. In charge of reading as much of books as possible and then adapting this knowledge into our business model.
Eglė Šidlauskienė – COO of dear deer eyewear. In charge of presentation, representation and navigating through fashion and style realm.
Partner currently in development – CTO of dear deer eyewear. Will be taking care of all our e-retail business development.
- How has business been so far? Could you share some numbers to illustrate this (users, sales, etc)?
Business is challenging but with lots of potentials. At this point, we choose not to disclose our sales figures.
Our e-shop host Shopify provides us with this information: We have ~80 customers from ~7300 people who visited our website, 11% returning customers rate.
Our retail partner Optometrijos centras has dear deer eyewear collection in 6 of their optic shops (4 in Vilnius, 2 in Kaunas).
- Future plans, ambitions? Simply speaking – what’s next?
Our largest ambition is to scale geographically – there are so many people in need for our dear deer glasses and not just in Lithuania. In our current plans, we hope to launch in Latvia and Estonia in 2019 and to move even broader later on.
Our second ambition is to start offering custom-made 3D printed eyewear for everyone. We have some successful attempts, but we want to mainstream this idea – your glasses made by your face shape, size, and custom fit. This is another major business perspective as no other eyewear manufacturing company offers such service in our price range.
Thank you for the answers!