2018 SVP Startup Profile: William Palmer Eyewear
William Tanadi ‘18
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your company William Palmer Eyewear?
I just graduated from Babson’s undergrad program. I started William Palmer Eyewear, an eyewear/sunglass startup selling affordable prescription eyewear in Indonesia. We sell high-quality, affordable and trendy eyewear. Running a business is very exciting for me. I’ve been working on William Palmer Eyewear for two years. We currently sell in 30 locations and we’re also selling online.
What is the story behind William Palmer Eyewear?
I’ve always been in the eyewear/optical business. My family owns an optical chain store in Indonesia. Ever since I was young, I’ve always been in a store, running around, playing. When I came to the USA, I noticed a spike in the eyewear market: people were buying glasses online. That’s where I saw an opportunity back home. Generally people in Indonesia do not buy things online and it’s a big opportunity selling these trendy glasses back home in Indonesia. We value for the customers by providing affordable pricing and high quality products.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve gained from the Summer Venture Program thus far?
The biggest thing I’ve gained from being in the Summer Venture Program (SVP) is learning to be open-minded to new lessons, feedback, really listen to what people have to say. Hear what people say about your company and being receptive to the honest, blunt feedback given to you about your product, website, and your company. What’s important is taking that feedback with an open mind and not be in denial. Make sure that the data you have is tangible. I’ve always had been open-minded so I’m always open to take whatever feedback is given to me.
What’s been a milestone/accomplishment you’ve made since the Summer Venture Program started?
I’m proud to say that we have defined what the brand is. Through SVP I’ve defined what William Palmer Eyewear is about. It’s about young, chic, fun lifestyle, that’s colorful, clean, and modern. The brand itself is clearly defined how I want it to be. We use black and white, very clean imagery, but we have campaigns that promote color and fun. In the summer we’re focusing on flowers and bright colors. In the fall, we’ll have different colors. This has been very fun to put together.
What’s been an obstacle/surprise you’ve faced?
One of the biggest challenges for me has been the time difference between Indonesia and USA. It’s a 12 hour difference. If I have to do scheduling, it has to be early morning or very late at night. I’ve been getting used to it.
There are many things that need to get done in order to gain traction: marketing, research, A/B testing. I have to see what works. This has been a great learning experience for me.
What is your favorite memory or moment from the Summer Venture Program?
There’s a lot! I enjoyed the Google party. We were invited to their office and it was great mingling with fellow startups, investors and others. It was a really fun, hip community. I went with a bunch of participants from SVP. We definitely had fun talking to each other, enjoying the sunset, food, everything.
If you could run any company in the world, existing or not, what would it be and why?
I’m very interested in the food industry. I’ve seen the growth in the healthy food, fast-casual establishments, such as Sweetgreen and other cafes. If you can create a concept that really sticks and people really love, that is the greatest feeling.
One of the biggest attractions in Indonesia is Bali. What I want to do is create a beach club, a café/restaurant, people can enjoy the beach and the beautiful sunset. The location of Bali is amazing.
What is your go-to restaurant around Workbar?
My favorite place is Al’s South Street Cafe. My favorite is pesto chicken. Their sandwiches are a foot long! It’s affordable, and it’s very convenient to get there from Workbar.
Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs that you want to share?
One piece of advice is to test the market first. If you have an idea that you’ve been thinking about for at least a week and can’t sleep, that means there is something going on there. You should really go out and test it. Go to the market, ask questions, interview people, survey people, do research on the industry. Take a deep dive and if there is an opportunity, then take the leap to do it!