Who is LNKO, the young startup that raised 3 MDH from CDG Invest?

Operating in e-commerce, the startup has become in less than a year the first online sales site for trendy glasses, disrupting the segment. From now on, the young company intends to attack the Emirati market, to develop technologically and to design its own models.

On July 13, CDG Invest announced the financing of 3 million dirhams in the startup LNKO as part of the 212Founders program.

Winner of the second promotion of the program, the startup operates in the field of e-commerce and is specialized in the online sale of trendy glasses at affordable prices. Co-founded by two entrepreneurial sisters, the young company was born in the middle of the Covid-19 period in April 2020.

The period was a trigger for the two young women who worked in the family business specializing in the distribution of optical glasses. Struck by the health crisis, the company had to close its doors during the containment. The e-commerce was a way to continue an activity during the confinement with the creation of LNKO. Contacted, Maha Bennani, CEO of LNKO explains: “Like everyone else we had to stop working because everyone else had closed. We said to ourselves that we had to launch and make our own brand in e-commerce. We started with the blue light protection glasses because everyone was in front of their screens with the confinement and the demand was very strong “.

In order to structure itself, better understand its market and raise funds, the young start-up joined the 212Founders program in July 2020. Now, with this seed round, the brand plans to accelerate its growth, conquer new markets, consolidate its position in Morocco and design its own glasses.

Disrupting the optical industry by cutting out the middleman

The startup’s ambition is to democratize trendy glasses by making them accessible, at the unique price of 550 dirhams. “To do this we have opted for a model called DtoC, direct to consumer. The objective is to eliminate all the intermediaries that an optical store traditionally knows, that is to say the optician, the supplier and transport” explains the CEO of LNKO.

A radical way to lower the cost of glasses on sale. The startup was also able to ride the wave of e-commerce that was booming during the pandemic to kick-start its business. “People were increasingly comfortable and confident buying products online. But when the pandemic was over, we had more and more requests to try on glasses before buying them,” says the company’s CEO.

The startup has therefore developed a home fitting service. “We started to offer the possibility to have 4 pairs of glasses chosen by our customer delivered to his home for the fitting. Then he buys the pair that suits him” explains the entrepreneur. With this success, the startup opted for a phygital strategy (physical and digital, ed. note) and opened a stand at the Morocco Mall in March 2021 to ensure the fitting of its customers before purchase by exhibiting all its models.

How does it work?

LNKO sells online several types of glasses for women, men, children, sunglasses, anti blue light, etc… For all types of glasses, purchases can be made online or at the physical booth. For the glasses of correction which remain medical devices, the online order takes a particular aspect. How does it work?

“For prescription glasses, which are still a medical device, we have a partner optician who takes measurements and assembles the glasses. On the customer side, all the information is to be filled in on our website. Once the pair of glasses of correction is chosen, the customer can inform his correction or transmit us the prescription in photo directly in attachment. Then, we take care of the rest” explains Maha Bennani. The price of the corrective lens is charged in addition, depending on the correction prescribed. “It is necessary to count from 200 dirhams for the correction on the glasses” specifies the co-founder.

The startup has partnerships with various international suppliers to supply itself with models. “The purchases of products are made according to the models that we would like to wear. We want to provide pairs that are trendy and can’t be found elsewhere. We source in Europe and Asia from partners specialized in eyewear design” explains the young entrepreneur.

But with its 3 million dirham fundraising, the young company now intends to design its own models and conquer new markets.

Technological ambitions, recruitments and attacking the Emirati market

The seed funding that the startup has received will now allow it to design its own in-house designs to create unique pairs of glasses made in Morocco.

But LNKO also wants to develop three main pillars. First, the continued growth of its sales in Morocco. The young startup has managed to capture more than 10,000 customers since its creation in April 2020. It also has its sights set on opening up the MENA market, particularly the Emirati market with Dubai. “We want to continue our online growth in Morocco and open the Dubai market by the end of the year. In Morocco we want to focus on digital but also physical in a few cities to see how the market reacts,” says the entrepreneur. The country is one of the most attractive in the region and has consumption habits quite similar to those of Morocco in this sector. “On this market, there is no DtoC and that breaks the prices by cutting the intermediaries and who benefit from a strong brand image. This market is 10 times larger than the Moroccan market and we want to attack it to strengthen our brand image” explains Maha Bennani.

To accompany this growth, the startup also wants to invest in its technological upgrade. “We aim to develop tools that will improve our operations and logistics and also sales with an augmented reality software that allows customers to try on their glasses on the site” continues Maha Bennani.

LNKO also plans to recruit during the year to structure its operations. “We are currently 13 people and we would like to triple the number of employees within 6 to 12 months with a marketing, technical and operational team” explains the co-founder. With this fundraising, the startup expects to triple its turnover within 6 to 9 months.