Doron’s Eyewear Revolution: The SmartBuyGlasses Story

In today’s conversation, we’re excited to chat with Doron, the Co-Founder of SmartBuyGlasses Group, a company that has transformed the eyewear market.

Starting from his own frustration with the limited and expensive options in local optical stores, Doron turned this challenge into an opportunity. He created a platform that offers a vast range of stylish and affordable glasses. His journey from bootstrapping a startup to leading a global brand is packed with insights and valuable lessons.

In this interview, Doron shares the initial spark that led to the creation of SmartBuyGlasses, the significant challenges faced along the way, and how the team overcame them. He also talks about the core principles that have driven the company’s success, his strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and the memorable milestones that have shaped their journey.

Doron, SmartBuyGlasses has grown tremendously since its inception. What was the initial spark or problem you saw in the eyewear market that led you to create SmartBuyGlasses, and how did you go about turning that vision into reality? 

As a glasses wearer from a young age, I was always frustrated with the experience in local optical stores that had a very limited range of frames to choose from and expensive prices. I would always end up choosing glasses that were “ok” for my face, something I never liked or enjoyed wearing, but something I had to wear for the vision correction.

It was almost like being forced to wear braces. In addition, prices were high which also presented a barrier in what I could afford. Our main goal when we started the Group was to provide all the glasses you could ever want in one place. We wanted our customers to love what they wore, through providing them with awesome choices.

We did this through creating the largest range on the planet with over 200 of the world’s best designer brands and over 90,000 different glasses to choose from. At the same time, we also wanted to make fashionable eyewear accessible to all by providing amazing prices and glasses lower than what was possible in stores.  

Growing SmartBuyGlasses from a startup to a global leader must have come with its challenges. What were some of the biggest obstacles you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them? 

When we started the company our founding team didn’t have any specific industry knowledge within the optical industry and limited knowledge in e-commerce. We really had to learn by doing, constantly putting out fires and working extremely hard.

Layering on top of this, we had to bootstrap the company as we had no access to outside capital, in addition to our founders having to work other part time jobs to pay our rent and put food on the table. You could imagine we didn’t get much sleep in the first 5+ of starting our platform J.

I remember one occasion early on in our business when our dedicated server provider that hosted our website had some critical issue in their data centre, triggering our entire platform to go down for around 2 weeks. Many of our customers thought we had disappeared overnight. You can imagine we learnt some good lessons in web infrastructure and ensuring proper redundancy the hard way J 

As a leader, what key principles or values do you believe have been instrumental in driving the success of SmartBuyGlasses? Can you give us some examples of how you’ve applied these principles in your leadership? 

One of our key principles is “do more with less” . We have a culture that drives being entrepreneurial and finding ways of achieving more with less resources. We constantly challenge each other to find ways of delivering value for our customers and the company.

Our first “offices” including our “warehouse” were in the living rooms/bedrooms of apartments the founders rented/lived in until we were busting at the seams and needed formal spaces. Internally we view the word “budget” as a swear word, and talk only about driving return on investment.

Our team will never deploy any spending unless we are confident and about its ability to provide a multiple return on that cost. We encourage a “poor man’s wallet test” mindset – “if this was the last $x in your wallet, is this how you would spend it?”  

Managing a global team and sustaining growth in such a competitive market can be demanding. How do you balance the pressures of work with your personal life, and what strategies do you use to prevent burnout? 

I am constantly developing and refining a physical and mental wellbeing system that works for me to balance the pressures of work and personal life. Every morning I wake up very early and perform the following routine: 

Documenting my dreams from the night before immediately after getting up (and before they are forgotten), then a meditation & great fullness routine, then a full strength/cardio workout, followed by a cold water immersion and then a healthy breakfast with the family before starting my day. 

I find that a strong consistent well-being routine and “early morning achievements/wins” keeps me with consistent energy and operating at my best throughout the day. Also during this morning process I am thinking through how best to approach challenges or opportunities we have. Another hack that really worked for me was removing my office chair and replacing it with a standing desk helped to give me more energy , efficiency and focus throughout the day.  

What does a typical day in your life look like? How do you prioritise your tasks and ensure you stay productive while also making time for yourself and your family? 

I am trying to prioritise / optimise my time consistently as an ongoing challenge. I try to automate or delegate anything that could be best handled in another way or by another person. In my morning routine I am also trying to plan out my day and thinking about what the most important things are that I need to get done.

My day itself is pretty normal, however I always ensure that I am home for dinner with my wife and kids and I spend time with them until they go to sleep. Once they are sleeping I am typically then back online on video meetings with the team or other partners around the world.  

Reflecting on your entrepreneurial journey, what are some of the most memorable milestones or achievements that stand out to you? How did these moments shape the direction and growth of SmartBuyGlasses? 

The main milestones / achievements for me in the journey have been around the development of our own people and some of our social initiatives. Our culture is to recognise potential early, promote from within and mentor our people to fast track their careers.

I get a real kick reflecting on people in our team when they reach their 5 or 10 year milestone with the company (we give out special rewards, prizes and holidays in a ceremony) and see how they have grown and developed as people and as leaders in their journey with us.

On the social side collaborating with some top NGOs to provide vision or needed treatments to underprivileged communities in Africa has been really rewarding. With Unite For Sight we reached over 80,000 pairs of free glasses donated and with World Vision donating treatments to over 120,000 people which we are proud of.  These things motivate us to keep going to provide opportunities to others. 

Looking ahead, what are your future aspirations for SmartBuyGlasses? Are there any new projects or innovations on the horizon that you’re particularly excited about? 

Our main aspiration we are looking forward to is driving innovation to improve the services to our customers. We recently launched free video consultations in Australia with our optical dispensers and also looking forward to launching the online eye test, allowing customers to have their refraction exams from the comfort of their home/office, we think this will be a game changer in our industry when this comes to fruition.  

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.