Glasses Direct backed for £2.9m

Internet entrepreneur Jamie Murray-Wells gains backing to make his business a household name

Online retailer Glasses Direct has been backed for £2.9m in a VC deal which could turn the business into a household name.

Jamie Murray-Wells set up the spectacles retailing business in 2004, while he was studying at university, in reaction to what he felt were exorbitant prices offered by opticians.

The £3.5m business has been much feted in that time and the recipient of many awards including the prestigious Startups Business of the Year Award in 2005.

The 24-year-old says that he believes that Glasses Direct has clearly proved itself to be workable business, but wanted additional funds to increase the company’s rate of growth.

Murray-Wells told GB: “We have been growing at about 90-100% per year and have sold 150,000 pairs of glasses.

“But we wanted to create a billion pound business and that wasn’t going to happen at the current rate of growth.

“It is now our goal to become a household name in the UK and our investors can see that there is potential for international expansion.”

He approached business advisers First Capital at the end of last year in order to prepare for funding and the company has advised Glasses Direct on the deal.

However, Murray-Wells already had a good idea of the type of investors he was interested in bringing on side.

Following a lecture at Imperial College he met Saul Klein of Index Ventures, that has previously backed disruptive technology company Skype, and enlisted its support.

Glasses Direct also brought onside major US VC Highland Capital which has enjoyed huge success in retail backing companies such as eToys and Vistaprint.

“We have one of Europe biggest VCs with a strong history of backing disruptive company’s like ours, as well as one of the US’s most successful retail investors,” Murray-Wells said.

Both Saul Klein and Highland Capital’s Fergal Mullen have been added to the company’s board. A third investor, Accelerator, has also contributed to the fund raising.

The precise of amount of equity sold in the business has not been revealed.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2007


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