Power Pitch

Hey, four eyes! A start-up's new vision for eyewear

Hey, four eyes! A start-up's new vision for eyewear

Eyeglass wearers unite. One recent MBA graduate is rebelling against the high cost—and high maintenance—of prescription eyewear.

"It's time for glasses to change," Konrad Billetz said.

Billetz founded start-up Frameri in July, with one mission: "No more changing frames every time your prescription changes or overpaying for glasses."

Billetz had 60 seconds to pitch his big vision to a panel with Maveron Partner David Wu; Cuurio Chief Marketing Officer Kelly Hoey; and David Bell, an e-commerce professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The segment was hosted by CNBC's Mandy Drury.

Will the panel see his big idea clearly or be out on his new look? Watch the video above to find out.

Framing the business

Billetz started wearing bulky, corrective lenses at age 11—after a childhood friend accidentally shot him in the eye with a BB gun. Eventually, he got tired of wearing the same glasses every day but couldn't find a style he liked.

Now his e-commerce start-up, Frameri, offers interchangeable lenses and frames. Billetz hopes to make changing eyewear as easy as changing your outfit.

"We design glasses for actual glasses wearers," he told CNBC.

Frameri founder Konrad Billetz sporting his glasses
Source: Frameri

Frameri glasses are sold on Frameri.com, and styles come in three "families." All lenses and frames are compatible within a family. Customers can also swap in prescription sunglass lenses to the same family of frames.

All Frameri lenses are made with what the start-up calls, "The Key," a small ring that allows lenses to snap in and out of the frame. The start-up filed a patent for this technology this summer.

Billetz said Frameri offers a total of 540 potential frames, tints and lens combinations. Frames and each pair of lenses are priced at $100. The frames are handmade in Italy, while the lenses are crafted at Frameri's Cincinnati, Ohio, headquarters.

Eyeing the competition

During the "Power Pitch" segment, Bell asked, "How much of a benefit is this snap-on, snap-off lens in the frame?"

"It honestly came out of a necessity for me … I actually was sitting on the beach one day, and I kept having to put my sunglasses over my optical. And I thought there'd be a better way…and there was really a gap in the marketplace…" Billetz responded.

Swapping in new Frameri lenses

"Customers will actually save money with our system when your vision changes," he added, emphasizing that customers only need to replace one set of the lenses when their prescription is updated.

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The online eyeglasses and contact lens industry is expected to grow 3.6 percent over the next 10 years, according to market research firm IBISWORLD. The firm even reports that the industry will be worth an estimated $720 million at the end of 2014. While that looks promising for a start-up such as Frameri, rising brands like Warby Parker could blindside Frameri's full potential.

Warby Parker does not offer interchangeable lenses, but it's mostly direct to consumer e-commerce model has transformed how customers shop for glasses, and most eyeglasses cost just $95. Since 2010, Warby Parker has raised about $115,000,000, and is backed by notable investors like Lerer Ventures, American Express and Menlo Ventures.

Frameri customer wearing interchangeable sunglasses

Meanwhile, Frameri has raised nearly $65,000 on its Indiegogo campaign. In addition, it raised $800,000 from angel investments, including a $100,000 prize from former AOL CEO Steve Case for winning his Rise of the Rest pitch competition.

Billetz would not disclose any details about sales, but did say Frameri already has sold in 23 countries worldwide.

During the Power Pitch, viewers were asked to vote whether they were IN or Out on Frameri, and 84% were IN. Watch the video to see if the Power Pitch panel agrees!

—Comments, questions, suggestions? We'd love to hear from you. Follow us @CNBCPowerPitch, and join the #PowerPitch conversation on Twitter or post your comments below.

—By CNBC's Joanna Weinstein, with Erin Barry and Kelly Lin