Episode 191
January 2, 2024

Behind the Frames

with Nathan Kondamuri, Co-Founder and CEO of Pair Eyewear

About this episode

Nathan Kondamuri didn’t know that he wanted to start a business until the pieces fell together, and he co-founded the highly customizable Pair Eyewear, where he now acts as CEO. He joins us today to share the story of how his little brother inspired him to start Pair, how he scaled his customer experience team to over 100 members, and the challenges he faced in building on-demand production. Tune in to hear all this and more!

This episode is sponsored by

Exclusive Deals from Our Sponsors:

AWESOME CX by Transcom provides high-touch, personalized customer experience services to consumer brands of any size! Email Lee at lee@stairwaytoceo.com to learn more about their award-winning services and Awesome Coffee Chats. 

 

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

[02:22] Signs of an inherent love for iteration and business development from Nathan’s childhood in small-town Indiana.

[10:58] His growing interest in mechanical engineering and his introduction to the start-up world beyond college.

[17:00] How Nathan and his best friend had the idea for Pair in a Stanford dorm room.

[20:58] Researching customers of all ages, early angel capital fundraising, and annual growth since launching to market in 2019.

[26:59] Pivotal moments in Pair Eyewear’s distribution and growth, including building a design platform for customers to bring their favorite brands to life and blowing up on TikTok.

[30:27] Scaling challenges like developing the on-demand production process.

[35:57] The secret to structuring a team with the support of Awesome CX.

[40:08] Pair Eyewear’s five-year focus to deliver a joyful customizable eyewear experience.

[46:59] Why, given a do-over, Nathan would hire people in key areas earlier, how his role as co-CEO has changed, and advice for new entrepreneurs. 

To Find Out More:

Nathan Kondamuri on LinkedIn

Pair Eyewear

Pair Eyewear on TikTok

Lee Greene on LinkedIn

Awesome CX

Stairway to CEO

Stairway to CEO on Instagram

 

Quotes: 

“I didn’t know I wanted to start a company – until Pair came about and one thing led to another.” [0:12:53]

“[My experience at Bain] gave me a very different way of looking at a business – I got to learn a lot about how a business runs, and how experienced people view and understand a business model.” [0:16:02] 

“I had worn glasses since I was seven or eight years old, and it had always been an unexciting experience compared to any other consumer product in my life.” [0:17:31]

“We got to thinking, why had nobody ever tried to [recreate, redefine, and redesign] the glasses experience for consumers to be more personalized, to be more joyful, and dynamic, just as people are?” [0:18:14] 

“We just knew we liked each other, we were really good friends and had been friends for four years, we had this idea, and we were excited to put our everything into that idea.” [0:20:04]

“Surround yourself with people that are absolute experts at their craft, at their area of expertise.” [0:24:26] 

“We quickly, not pivoted, but expanded our mission and vision for the business to be able to personalize the eyewear experience not just for children, but for all people.” [0:26:23]

“We were trying to build a solution for kids like my brother to not be afraid of their glasses and not be daunted by the experience, but have it be something they were excited about.”  [0:26:40] 

“We were a real pioneer on the platform of TikTok where we grew heavily on the platform through an influencer-led strategy.” [0:27:34]

“Our mission and vision over the next five-plus years is to become one of the largest global eyecare companies in the world that’s focused on bringing personalization into the eyecare and broader eyewear end-to-end experience.” [0:40:08] 

“We thought a lot about, when is the right time to vertically integrate? You really want to do it at a time when volume and demand is growing.” [0:45:33]

“The job of co-CEO now is not the same as it was when we first started the business.” [0:48:59] 

“Just get out and start! That is one of the biggest roadblocks that people have.”  [0:50:50]

“The only way to learn what it’s like to be a founder is to just dive right in and do it.” [0:51:20] 

“Starting a company is a marathon, not a sprint.” [0:52:31]

Read the transcript

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