11 July 2021

Season 2, Episode 25. Ecom Disruption with Roger Hardy

In this episode, Roger Hardy and I discuss how Roger has helped build Canada's most successful vertical integration e-commerce company and achieved one of Canada's largest e-commerce exits. 


Roger Hardy is the CEO of KITS online eyewear retailer.  Roger’s entrepreneurial journey began with a single phone line, a 14k modem, and a credit card, building an online company, and selling it to a San Francisco-based More.com at the height of the Dot Com Boom all before the age of 30.  An original disruptor, he and his sister next launched Coastal.com owners of Clearly. Under Roger’s leadership, the company became the world's leading digital eyewear retailer, going public on NASDAQ before being acquired by Essilor for $450 million cash. 


Among Roger’s proudest achievements are creating Canada’s most successful vertically integrated e-commerce company, achieving Canada's largest eCommerce exit at the time.  When Roger Hardy isn’t busy helping bright young companies and minds succeed, he loves spending time with his wife, son, and three daughters. Together, they run the Hardy Family Foundation, a charity aimed at empowering communities in Canada and around the globe. Roger also established the Hardy Endowment Fund at Bishop’s University which provides tuition support for students in need.



[00:16] Building a Digital Marketplace vs. A Brick and Mortar  


  • Achieving one of Canada’s largest e-commerce exits
    • Starting a company called Coastal Contacts back in the early 2000’s with his sister and gowing it to more than 700 teammates across four continents.
  • Why Roger decided to lean into the digital marketplace
    • Building a business for customers for today
  • The 3 Pillars of Roger’s business, KITS
    • Contact Lenses
    • Vertical integration
    • Convenience and automation




[07:38] KITS’ Catalyst for Innovation in the Eyecare and Eyewear Industry        


  • Focusing on their Net Promoter Score to let their customers communicate what's important to them
    • Speed
    • Selection
    • Savings
  • Starting with a hypothesis, Roger and his business partners found the opportunity to innovate the eyewear industry by relying on AI to process eye exam and cornea information
  • Using AI, remote services, AI and automation to bring something unique to the table

Roger’s background and previous experience prior to KITS


[13:22]  Are Other Organizations Leaning Into Similar Technology?


  • Roger believes there's still so much more to do around technology, mobile commerce and the digital experience for customers
    • Seeing many people revert to the old ways of doing things
    • Today’s customer prefers the ease and convenience of E-commerce


[15:40] Learning to Stay Innovative


  • Content Roger is listening to or reading for inspiration and innovation 
    • The Prof G Pod with Scott Galloway
    • Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don't by Verne Harnish


[18:15]  Final Words


  • Roger’s final thoughts
    • Head over to Kits.com and use coupon code: FREEKITS
  • Connect with Roger! Links and resources below


Key Quotes:


“Imagine if we could do our eye exam online. Imagine if there was an AI that would read that eye exam. Imagine if the AI would actually be better at reading my eye exam, eye information, and cornea data, than a human being. And we quickly found that that was actually the case.” - Roger Hardy


“I think there's still so much more to do around technology, mobile commerce, and the digital experience for customers. That's where we want to have a chance to lead and be innovative and be in front of the market.” - Roger Hardy


“There's such a difference between working in the business and working on the business. Working on the business is the only thing that's really gonna help you scale it. Sometimes when you're working in the business, you're not looking at those processes and those things because you're so deeply entrenched in it that you don't lift your head above to see the bigger, broader picture of what you could be building.” - Natalie Born



Resources Mentioned:


Connect with Roger

Follow Roger Hardy on LinkedIn

Visit https://www.Kits.com and use coupon code: FREEKITS to get your first pair of KITS glasses for free

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