Jamie Murray Wells is the founder and Executive Chairman of Glasses Direct, which he started at university. In 2005 he was crowned Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year. By 2011, the company had grown to become the largest online retailer of prescription glasses in the world.
Glassesdirect.co.uk is the world's largest online prescription eyewear store, offering the same high quality glasses you’ll find on the high street at more affordable prices online. Glasses Direct has transformed the eyewear industry through operating on low overheads and passing the saving back to their customers.
Jamie started Glassesdirect.co.uk in 2004 whilst at university. He required a pair of glasses and was shocked at the prices he was being quoted so he set about trying to find out the real cost of making a pair of prescription glasses. He soon discovered that the mark-up was huge, and saw an opportunity for someone to offer a great value product and service at a fraction of the price.
After finding a laboratory to support his idea for providing better value prescription glasses, he set up shop in his parents' front room with friends and family helping out. Word began to spread and within two months of trading, the phone was ringing constantly, and the orders began pouring in. With thousands of enquiries by the end of his summer holidays, what had begun as a sideline had become a real business meeting a real consumer need. Glasses Direct, the first online prescription glasses retailer was born.
Jamie Murray Wells (centre) with the 2005 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year trophy.
The Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award was his first, but since then, Jamie has gone on to stack up an array of other awards including Wales and West Country Entrepreneur of the Year Award, NatWest Entrepreneur of the Year Award and Daily Mail Enterprising Young Brit. In 2005, he also came 1st place in startups.co.uk’s list of that year’s top entrepreneurs.
Now, Glasses Direct employs upwards of 40 staff at its large Swindon offices, and a handful more at its office in London. They now sell over 60 brands on their website including Vivienne Westwood and Tommy Hilfiger and they offer potential customers the opportunity to take advantage of unlimited free trials, allowing them to try the glasses on prior to purchasing.
Jamie is a model entrepreneur and continues to take an active interest in promoting UK entrepreneurialism as an ambassador for UKEnterprise, using the experience he has had bringing his business from the bedroom to the boardroom. He provides advice, support and, occasionally, investment to his fellow young entrepreneurs.
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To find out more about how you could walk away with the £10,000 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, please go to our Awards page.
You can watch a short interview with Jamie by clicking on the video in the top right-hand corner of the page.
Sam Etherington won a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award in 2014, for his business Aqua Power Technologies, before going on to be shortlisted for the 2014 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, where he won the £5,000 Future Impact Award.
Shell last night awarded a total of £180,000 of equity free funding to Carlton Cummins from Aceleron and Upside Energy as the national winners of Shell Springboard and Shell LiveWIRE. With a total of £440,000 in funding available in 2017, the programmes are designed to recognise and reward the most innovative UK low-carbon businesses and the most inspirational young sustainability entrepreneurs.