Indonesian D2C (direct-to-consumer) eyewear brand SATURDAYS has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding in a financing round co-led by local VC firms Alpha JWC and Kinesys Group, and joined by regional investor Alto Partners, DealStreetAsia has learned.
The hushed round was closed early last year and is currently being used to strengthen the company’s omnichannel strategy.
“We use the funds to strengthen our omnichannel strategy — to scale up our online presence, invest in technology to provide a more seamless omnichannel experience, and expand offline locations,” said SATURDAYS co-founder Rama Suparta.
Founded in 2016 by Suparta and Andrew Kandolha, SATURDAYS sells eyewear at affordable price points through both online channels and brick-and-mortar stores.
SATURDAYS physical stores resemble cafés, serving specialty coffee and pastries. It currently operates eight stores in Greater Jakarta, having added three locations to its list of stores last year despite COVID-19.
The pandemic has pushed the company to double down on its online strategy. SATURDAYS recently launched a mobile app that allows customers to shop and pick up the products at the stores, with multiple payment options, including ‘buy now pay later’.
“Through our app, customers can book home try-on appointments, including an eye exam, pick 10 frames to try and select coffee, all for free. We bring the whole SATURDAYS experience to the comfort of homes. We plan to add more features in the coming months,” he said.
Jefrey Joe, co-founder and managing partner of Alpha JWC, says SATURDAYS’ business model is one that has already been proven in the US where prescription glasses retailer Warby Parker has achieved unicorn status. Joe is hopeful Saturdays can follow the same path and flourish in Indonesia, given the country’s rising middle-class population. “SATURDAYS has exciting products and service offerings that we have yet to see in Indonesia. Moreover, eyewear itself is a unique product: it’s a mix of need and fashion, the market potential is very big,” he said.
In Asia, among the companies that are building the discount retailing model similar to SATURDAYS include the Tokyo-based Owndays, which is a portfolio of PE firm L Catterton and operates 156 optical eyewear retail stores in Japan and 206 additional stores overseas.
For Alpha JWC, SATURDAYS is one among the many direct-to-consumer brands the firm has backed over the past couple of years. It is an investor in food brands Lemonilo and Mangkokku, beverage brand Goola and dental aligner maker Rata. Arguably the firm’s best bet in the category is Kopi Kenangan, which has raised around $237 million in a span of three years.
In Indonesia, customers usually turn to well-established brick-and-mortar optical stores or mom-and-pop-stores in malls and markets to shop for eyewear. SATURDAYS says it is able to offer a more attractive experience relative to incumbents by cutting out expensive middlemen.
“The eyewear industry is dominated globally by a single player that generates huge profit from consumers by keeping prices needlessly high. SATURDAYS provides a much-needed alternative for customers who seek high-quality eyewear at a fraction of the price by designing the glasses in-house and directly selling to customers,” Suparta said.