German eyewear marketplace Brillen.de scores $49 million from former Facebook and Netflix investors
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Photo credit: Timur Emek / Contributor via Getty Images Israel

Photo credit: Timur Emek / Contributor via Getty Images Israel

Capitalizing on the ballooning online eye care business and popularity of marketplaces, previous LinkedIn and Spotify investors think Brillen.de can be huge

Germany-based Brillen.de announced a massive funding round Thursday with €45 million ($49 million) from just one investor: Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV).

“A typical independent optometrist attracts only a few customers in their store per day,” Brillen.de Co-Founder Daniel Thung told TechCrunch. “We drive more customers to their stores. On average we double their customers per day. It is a win-win for them so we find our optometrists are extremely loyal to us.”

Brillen.de, a subsidiary of SuperVista AG, already has extended its business across the border to Austria, including pushing its brands specsfactory.co.uk and the Spanish gafas.es to the Austrian market.

The marketplace is meant to give business to independent optometrists and eye care specialists. They also offer customer management and billing services to users.

Brillen.de primarily lists providers of progressive lenses that are suitable for both near- and far-sighted prescriptions. Altogether, you could picture Brillen as a strong and modern niche marketplace for an indispensable sector.

Industry-specific marketplaces are becoming far more important in the modern economy. According to an analysis by Bessemer, revenue has proven much stronger for marketplace business models versus standard e-commerce businesses.

Bessemer sees strength in marketplace business models that standard e-commerce does not have (image credit, Bessemer Venture Partners presentation by Talia Goldberg and Jeremy Levine)

Bessemer sees strength in marketplace business models that standard e-commerce does not have. Image credit: Bessemer Venture Partners presentation by Talia Goldberg and Jeremy Levine

Besides the business models of Uber and Lyft or Airbnb, there are car services marketplaces like YourMechanic or teaching-focused platform Udemy out of Dublin. Shyp for shipping, Artsy for art and Getable for construction equipment are just a few more of the widely renown examples. It was perhaps inevitable someone would hit it big trying to cover the eye care industry.

According to Euromonitor International, the online eyewear sales now constitute 5% of the global eyewear industry at a value of $5 billion. Grand View Research reports that the market for corrective lenses was as high as $7 billion in 2013 with the market for soft lenses expected to grow nearly 7% a year through 2020.

TCV has a good track record of investments with stakes in Spotify, LinkedIn and Facebook. They also have interests in GoFundMe, EA Sports, Avvo and Netflix, perhaps indicating they envision Brillen.de as a would-be online titan. TCV’s John Doran and partner Simon Breakwell will join Brillen’s board.

Alongside Daniel Thung, CEO Matthias Kamppeter and his wife Christine Kamppeter co-founded Brillen.de in 2012. This funding round is their sole public, venture capital financing to date.

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