Shoes of Prey founders switch sights to designer glasses market

The founders of online retailer Shoes of Prey have lured a former Google colleague to become CEO of a new start-up that aims to shake-up the Australian eyewear market by offering fashion-led products via the internet.


The new Sydney-based business, Sneaking Duck, is a collaboration between Mark Capps, until recently the agency operations leader for Google in Asia Pacific, and the three founders of Shoes of Prey – Michael Fox, Jodie Fox and Mike Knapp.


Capps will be the full-time CEO of the business, which launched last week. The Shoes of Prey founders will commit a day a week to Sneaking Duck, which cost $50,000 to establish.


The new business will aim to carve a niche in the designer glasses market by offering savings on fashionable specs, with frames sourced from China and lenses fitted in Australia.


Glasses will be priced at $180 for the first pair, with subsequent pairs costing $90 each. Sneaking Duck’s website allows users to upload pictures of themselves to see how various pairs of glasses suit them.


The founders of Shoes of Prey, who all have an undisclosed equity stake in Sneaking Duck, are aiming to replicate the success of their original business, which sells customisable shoes and now has offices in five countries.


Michael Fox, who blogs for StartupSmart, says that the original idea for Sneaking Duck came before the launch of Shoes of Prey in 2009.


“We sat on the business plan, but it kept eating away at us,” he says. “We thought ‘why not do it?’ so we brought Mark in to run it.”


“We saw how cheap glasses were in China and we thought, rather than spend $600 on one pair of glasses, why not have 10 different glasses, at a cheaper cost, to match different outfits? No one in Australia is doing this kind of thing with a fashion focus.”


“We spent quite a bit of time in China to select the right frames. We are cutting costs by going to China, but also because we are not licensing expensive brands such as Gucci and Prada.”


“We want to grow the business quickly and see what path we’ll take, depending on that growth.”


“Shoes of Prey has a few barriers to entry, which has slowed our growth but stopped others competing with us. With Sneaking Duck, the barriers aren’t there, so we can grow faster. But we need to do it quickly because of potential competitors.”


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