- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - In between his first and second year at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Konrad Billetz began to keep a journal of all of his entrepreneurial ideas.

Billetz always knew he wanted to create something of his own, and he figured it out in the second year of his MBA program at Notre Dame.

President of the Entrepreneurship Club and runner-up in the McCloskey Business Plan Competition, Billetz has put all of that experience and the ND alumni network to work. About six months ago, Billetz officially started Frameri, a company that creates prescription glasses with interchangeable lenses, so customers can buy just one set of lenses and put them in multiple frames.

He was recently recognized for his efforts when he was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 30 manufacturing entrepreneurs nationwide who are younger than 30.

“Every month is better than the month before,” he told the South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/1CPbb08 ). “You can’t complain about that.”

It’s clear, though, he believes the future could be even brighter. The Idaho native, who did his undergraduate work at Boise State University while majoring in biochemistry, says his whole team won the award.

“It gives us validation,” he said. “It does say we are doing something and moving in the right direction.”

Billetz believes his company, which is based in Cincinnati, will work for several reasons. Eight of 10 people see glasses as a fashion accessory, he said. And before his company there wasn’t any way to treat prescription glasses like that.

Though a person will wear different clothes for work each day, it’s hard to wear different glasses. But by selling lenses at $100 a pair and frames at $100, he believes people can buy several frames for different occasions, and when prescriptions change, they have only the cost of changing lenses, he explained.

The glasses are sold online at www.frameri.com. The online purchase of glasses is expected to increase five times in the next five to 10 years, said Billetz, adding that the trend already was underway before his company was formed.

People were once skeptical about the online purchase of shoes, but Zappos.com proved them wrong and in fact was purchased by Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009, he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s a piece of plastic that you bend to fit your face,” he said of eyewear. “The beauty of the whole system (of Frameri) is by holding something constant you can actually get quite a bit of change.”

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

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