Welcome to the Twilio Startups 7 (TS7, for short) where we feature exciting founders from around the world to share their inspiring entrepreneurial journeys through seven quickfire questions. Today we would like to introduce you to David Roger and Chris Benedict of Felix Gray. Read on to learn more about their path from finance and technology to founding an eyewear brand with a mission to make people happy. Check out their tips for raising venture capital, creating a successful partnership campaign, building a mindful company culture, and managing work-life balance, all while running a high-growth startup.
- Company Name: Felix Gray
- Founder Names: David Roger & Chris Benedict
- Industry: Eyewear
- Stage/Funding: Venture funded
- Location: New York, NY
From the founders of Felix Gray
We reached out to Felix Gray to get insight into how they run their business and what they’ve learned as entrepreneurs.
Describe your company in 160 characters or fewer (the original length of a text message)
Felix Gray pioneered the Blue Light glasses space, with industry-leading eyewear designed to keep eyes happy and productive in today’s screen-filled world.
Why did you start your company?
We came from roles in technology and finance that required long hours in front of screens. We’d leave work with tired, strained eyes, headaches, and often blurry vision. Our friends and coworkers shared similar sentiments—everyone wished for a solution, but nothing existed that they wanted. Nothing married fashion with function. We decided to change that by offering high-quality lenses that filter Blue Light and eliminate glare, set in beautifully handcrafted Italian acetate and German engineered metal frames. We embed our proprietary Blue Light filtering technology within the lenses, so they’re both effective and virtually clear.
What channels do you use (email, SMS, Voice, Chat, Video, etc.) and how do you use them to communicate with your customers?
The core channels we use to interact with our customers include: email (both inbound and outbound), voice calls, chat (on our website and on social), and social media (including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter). On top of that, we communicate with customers via automated SMS shipment delivery updates, video tutorials for DIY glasses adjustments at home, in-office try ons and adjustments, via fax machine for doctor scripts and medical release forms, and our Help Center page website widget for FAQs. We find that customers interact with the brand in different ways through their journey with Felix Gray, and we want to be available to answer any questions they have during the process.
Tell us about your most successful communications strategy or campaign.
While we’ve had a number of successful campaigns, one that stands out was our partnership with Girls Who Code for International Women’s Day. Science and technology are at the core of our business, and that’s why we name all of our frames after successful scientists, inventors, and mathematicians. We partnered with the like-minded nonprofit, Girls Who Code, and donated a portion of proceeds from our frames named after women. This campaign tied in our love and support of STEM, and also offered a way to highlight the incredible women inventors we named our frames after.
What are your top 3 tips on raising capital?
- Good businesses sell themselves.
- Valuation is a double edged sword—think about how it affects your next round.
- Leverage scarcity—not everyone can participate so they better do so and do it quickly.
As a founder, how do you manage work-life balance?
David: For me, being outside in nature is vital for resetting my system. That’s why every year I go off the grid for a week. It’s what I need to avoid feeling burnt out and it helps stimulate my creativity. Giving my mind a break from constant inundation really helps me think of ideas in new ways and approach situations from different angles.
Chris: Similar to David, getting out in nature—and more specifically skiing—helps support my work-life balance. I’ve found myself focusing a lot on the “work” aspect of the dichotomy, so I try and actively take time to focus on ways to maintain that balance.
What have you learned as a founder/entrepreneur that you wish you had known on Day 1?
David: Great businesses do three things well: think strategically, execute tactically, and connect emotionally. It's easy to get wrapped up in the tactical and strategic stuff because it's so clearly correlated with building. But don't forget that humans are actually doing the building, and we're emotional beings. Being mindful and caring about how people are feeling is important.
Chris: I’ve learned that sometimes the obstacles that come with “growing” or “succeeding” faster than anticipated can be more challenging than just getting your venture off the ground. People love to say “that’s a good problem to have” in these cases, but a problem is still a problem and they get harder to solve when the organization has multiple initiatives in motion.
Ready to join Twilio Startups?
We hope you enjoyed this article from the founders of Felix Gray about how they connect with their customers to build a successful and sustainable business.
This post has been created by the Twilio Startups Team.
You can apply to the Twilio Startups program here. Know an inspiring founder or are one yourself? Email Nikki Rubin, nrubin[at]twilio.com, to nominate a founder for TS7.
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