A+A+A = KITE-STARTERS
Meet the KITE-starters. Line them up in a row, and the initials go AAA. It wasn’t a ploy to get to the top of the directory. Their (real) names are Asad, Adarsh and Amar.
Asad Hamir, a KITE-starter
It’s likely that eyewear is both nature and nurture for Asad Hamir. He was born into a family of 43 optometrists, and counting. The traditionalists thought he was brave, or crazy, to create a new eyewear brand. They said: “Everyone launches a shop with multiple brands in it.” (Now they all want to locum at KITE.)
Asad is a Londoner, but his mother emigrated to the UK from Uganda with an optometry business. (The family is descended from Indian Khoja entrepreneur-adventurers who sailed to East Africa in the 1800s.) Teenage Asad helped young customers choose frames after they’d had their eye tests. He started wearing prescription glasses when he was 18, and also started collecting eyewear — free samples from the reps — amassing a personal collection of 70 pairs by the time he got to university.
At 20, he left City University London with an honours degree in optometry. At 22, with Radia brothers Adarsh and Amar, he launched Telenomics. His optometrist mother was doubtful at first. “Who buys phones?” she said. “And you only buy one phone. Go into optics. It’s always going to be there.” She was wrong, and she was right.
In 2014, he started KITE “with a blank sheet of paper” and invited his Telenomics partners to join him.
Adarsh Radia, a KITE-starter
He’s a networker and, in a parallel universe, Adarsh Radia is an architect. He loves art, maths, technology, design. He studied economics, but not with passion, and graduated from LSE with first-class honours anyway. “If I do something, I want to do the best, I don’t do things by halves.” After university, he worked as fund manager with Merrill Lynch. But he wanted more from life.
Early business experience gave Adarsh real customer insight for his next ventures. He co-founded Telenomics, O2’s retail partner, and Dishoom, London’s Bombay Café. Both brands have leapt from a standing start in 2007 to multiple coveted awards in 2015. Adarsh also launched techtonic, a global innovation platform to empower emergent technology companies, and established corporates, to get on and grow.
He was working with his brother Amar and optometrist-entrepreneur Asad Hamir in Telenomics when he saw KITE starting. “Around this time I went to Singularity University. It was the most transformational educational experience. It changed the way I think about everything.”
His idea for KITE is to be truly collaborative, exploring with everyone and everything, not just frames: the making process, the store, communications, the brand, the architects. “It’s something of a mission to change an industry.”
Amar Radia, a KITE-starter
Strategic thinking and entrepreneurialism come naturally to Amar Radia, along with a talent for numbers. Big picture or fine detail? Both.
His Persian-Indian great-grandmother went from riches to rags when she was disinherited, so she put her son on a boat to Kenya to seek his fortune. Six of his seven sons were businessmen and Amar’s mother worked as computer programmer for East African Railways.
Amar was the first person from his school in Kenya to go to Cambridge. He was only 17. After graduating with a Masters in mathematics, he spent 10 years as Chartered Accountant in the entrepreneurial division of EY. He loved working with SMEs, helping them succeed. But he had a passion to grow and run a business of his own. So he quit The City on his 30th birthday.
With his brother Adarsh and business partner Asad Hamir, he launched Telenomics. It was 2007 when he co-launched a Bombay Café in London. It was his idea to call it Dishoom.
Amar likes to push himself constantly. He took on Harvard when he was 38, completing the Owner President Management Program in 2014. In the same year, he completed an eyewear-design course, and started KITE.