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HomeBusiness4 Entrepreneurial Lessons We Learned from Oakley Sunglasses Founder

4 Entrepreneurial Lessons We Learned from Oakley Sunglasses Founder


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This story originally appeared on Under30CEO.com

Some entrepreneurs do not take a traditional path to success. Almost five decades ago, Jim Jannard reshaped the sports eyewear market with Oakley, a globally renowned sports eyewear brand. Learning from his experiences can empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to chart their own paths to success. Let’s take a closer look below.

The success of Jim Jannard

Jim Jannard is a name synonymous with innovation and entrepreneurial acumen. In 1975, he began his entrepreneurial journey by creating Oakley, a company that would revolutionize sports-specific eyewear. Oakley’s success was marked by its dedication to pushing the boundaries of innovation, capturing a niche market of sports enthusiasts and athletes.

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Yet, Jannard’s entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop at Oakley. He ventured into the technology industry with ventures like RED Digital Cinema and RED Hydrogen One, emphasizing the importance of continuous innovation. Jannard’s story serves as a wellspring of inspiration and invaluable lessons for those looking to leave behind a legacy.

Entrepreneurial lessons from the founder of Oakley

Find your niche

Oakley’s journey to success was not a straight line. It involved exploring various product lines, including a motorcycle grip designed to wick away sweat during long rides. Despite these initial diversions, Oakley’s defining moment came when it found its niche in sports glasses.

Today, Oakley has become an industry leader in sports eyewear, with a diverse range of models catering to specific sports like cycling, golf, and skiing. The brand’s dedication to developing glasses tailored to the unique demands of each sport showcases the importance of not giving up on finding your niche. Jim Jannard’s unwavering commitment has allowed Oakley sports sunglasses to dominate the market with models like the Oakley Radar EV Path for cycling and the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL for golf. The lesson is clear: persistence in finding and serving your niche can lead to unparalleled success.

Embrace strategic change

In 2007, Jannard made a game-changing decision. He sold Oakley to Luxottica for a whopping $2.1 billion in cash. This strategic merger was not a sign of retreat but rather a calculated move to enhance Oakley’s potential. Jannard believed that joining forces with the global eyewear giant would provide Oakley with the resources and reach needed to grow further.

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Jannard’s decision would prove correct, with EssilorLuxottica sales growing consistently over the years. In the second quarter of 2023, EssilorLuxottica’s revenue increased 8% at constant exchange rates to $7.1 million, with Oakley remaining one of the leading global proprietary brands alongside Ray-Ban. Such a strategic move teaches entrepreneurs a valuable lesson about recognizing the right moment to relinquish control and the benefits that can come from such decisions.

Push the industry further

Jim Jannard’s impact extends beyond sports eyewear and technology. His founding of RED Digital Cinema disrupted the filmmaking industry, propelling it into the digital age. The company’s innovative high-resolution cameras, with the latest V-RAPTOR XL 8K VV released in August 2022, have been used in blockbuster films like Avatar and The Hobbit.

To stand out and make a lasting impact, one must be willing to challenge the status quo. Just as Jannard revolutionized the way films are made, entrepreneurs should aim to push their respective industries forward by introducing groundbreaking ideas and technologies.

Always strive for better

While many entrepreneurs might have rested on their laurels, Jannard’s ambition drove him to explore new frontiers. Even after Jannard’s success with Oakley and RED Digital Cinema, he launched RED Hydrogen One, a holographic smartphone, in November 2018. It was plagued with issues, but Jannard is no stranger to innovation. Instead of becoming discouraged, he promised the second version would be better.

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, the drive to innovate and improve is a cornerstone of long-term success. Just as Jannard continued to push the boundaries of the industry with Oakley and RED Digital Cinema, aspiring business leaders should always seek ways to make their products and services better, even after achieving significant milestones.

Jim Jannard’s relentless pursuit of excellence reminds us that the spirit of innovation, determination, and responsibility can truly change the world.



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