Over the course of the last two years, it’s not just the fintech, ed-tech, or health-tech startups that got a boost in funding but the pandemic revealed some other although minor but significant market gaps like the eyewear industry.
Today, we’ll be covering one such eyewear startup called Eyewa. Since its launch, the startup has developed itself into the largest online eyewear retailer in the Middle East.
What is Eyewa?
Founded back in 2017, with a purposeful intent to offer an advanced and easy-to-use platform to its customers, allowing them to purchase high-quality eyewear at affordable prices.
The startup’s objective is to create a unique, efficient, and memorable shopping experience for all. Ever since, it has become the largest and most trusted online eyewear store in the Middle East that provides the finest brands of prescription glasses, sunglasses, blue light glasses, color contact lenses, and corrective contact lenses.
Since its launch in 2017, the homegrown Middle East brand has built a trusted and reliable reputation in the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain
Background of Founders
Mehdi graduated from Tonji University, China, with a Bachelor’s in Science. After graduation, he completed his MBA from Stanford University.
He started his career as a Product Manager at a Shanghai-based company. In 2015, he joined foodpanda, Middle East, as a Managing Director. Over the course of the next few years, he served in leading positions at a number of international firms.
Then in 2017, he became the Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Eyewa.
Anass is an alumnus of Concordia University and completed his Bachelor’s in Commerce and Finance.
He started his career as an Investment Analyst at Deutsche Bank. Then he joined Bain and Company, as a Consultant. In 2015, he became the Managing Director at foodpanda, Middle East. Then finally, in 2017 he joined Eyewa as a Co-CEO and Co-Founder.
Not only does it stock and sell contact lenses and eyewear from all the major brands, but Eyewa has also invested heavily into building its house brands that cater to the untapped wants and needs of the local market. Eyewa has designed and developed three unique ranges spanning different price points; including the lifestyle eyewear brand 30Sundays, the fast fashion collection called Blackout, as well as a natural color contact lenses range, Layala. The homegrown brand has specifically created these for the modern Middle Eastern consumer.
Eyewa is now embarking on a journey to enter the retail sector. With many brands in the past year going from offline to online, Eyewa is heading in a different direction and exploring opportunities with bricks and mortar stores in key locations, taking customer experiences to the next level.
Mehdi Oudghiri, the startup’s co-founder said in a statement:
“We have built eyewa with customers in mind in every part of our journey. After building a truly disruptive online offering with best-in-class customer experience, we are very excited to embark on an omnichannel journey that will allow our customers to explore eyewa’s differentiated experience in both the physical and digital world. Our stores are built on the basis of what made our success online, with a vibrant look and feel in line with our times, leveraging technology in every aspect of customers’ interaction and exclusive products at accessible prices.”
In 2019, Eyewa was selected as one of the top 100 Arab startups by the World Economic Forum for its contribution to the region’s digital transformation.
Series A Round: Raised $7.5 million
In 2019, the startup bagged $7.5 million in funding in a series A round led by Wamda Capital, with participation from GS shop, Equitrust (the investment arm of Choueiri Group), 500 Startups, and Faith Capital among others.
Series B Round: Raised: Raised $22.1 million
In 2018, Eyewa raised a $1.1 million seed round led by EQ2 Ventures. Then in June 2021, it raised an additional $21 million series B funding round. The round, which was co-led by Kingsway and Nuwa Capital, with participation from:
- French Partners
- Endeavor Catalyst
- Palm Drive
- Hardy Capital
This brings the total funding to date of Eyewa to $30 million.
This round of investment will be used to support Eyewa’s expansion plans, investing in its technology and product teams as well as in its retail and omnichannel strategy.
Anass Boumediene, the co-founder of Eyewa, shared his plans for the company’s future:
“This fundraise will boost our expansion plans and will enable us to offer a better customer experience in the eyewear vertical, both online and offline. The customer response since our launch four years ago has been formidable and we count on keeping our promise of offering the best products at the best price across the region. While we have focused our first few years in our home markets of UAE and KSA, we are now expanding beyond to the rest of MENA and will bring our successful formula of affordable eyewear and amazing customer experience to a wider audience.”