Childhood friends turn business partners for sunglasses start-up

From left to right: Justin Capoccia, John-Micheal Fragnoli and Colin Young. Photo: Kate BunsterFrom left to right: Justin Capoccia, John-Micheal Fragnoli and Colin Young. Photo: Kate Bunster

As we grow older, we tend to lose touch with the people we grew up with, especially the ones we met during our grade school years.

This is not the case for Colin Young, Justin Capoccia and John-Michael Fragnoli. The three Niskayuna residents have known each other since their early days at Glencliff Elementary, then Niskayuna High School and all the way up until their most recent education at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.

The trio’s background is diverse, Capoccia studying business, Young studying construction management and Fragnoli, just finishing his studies in mechanical engineering this past August. Now, they have combined all of their skills to form an eco-friendly sunglasses company called Kickfly’s.

According to Capoccia, the idea came up randomly between him and Young, who have worked together in the past on smaller business ventures such as masonry. At first, they figured the sunglasses would be just something they would sell to their friends. They would soon find out that it would turn into much more. “The sunglass industry was something we actually really wanted to get into because we both have a passion for it. We just took the ball and ran with it,” said Capoccia.

The three were awarded $5550 in April from Wentworth’s Accelerate program to fund the project. The Accelerate program funds project ideas, in addition to bringing innovation and entrepreneurship skills to students. Students form teams to create and develop their idea, which they then present to a board that will award funding if they see potential. Kickfly’s came in as the highest funded for the year. Since the start of the Accelerate program in May 2012, 23 teams have been funded for a total of $113K. Kickflys is one of the newest editions to that list. Currently just finishing the research and development phase, the three have gotten to work on designing.

Kickfly’s mission is simple: to create high quality fashionable sunglasses constructed out of 100% recycled plastic.

The three entrepreneurs are interested in cleaning up the community. According to Young, they see their commitment to helping out the environment a win-win because the community gets cleaned up and they get to make a unique product.

That isn’t the only thing that makes Kickfly’s stand out on the sunglass market. Because the sunglasses are made with 3-D printers, the design possibilities are virtually endless, without costing them extra for customization, like the hundreds you can tack on by customizing with companies like RayBan.

“Design-wise we don’t have a limit on it and not many other companies have 3-D printed sunglasses. Whatever comes to our mind we can make,” said Young.

“When we say there’s no limit it’s not that we can just print something that looks ridiculous. But we can can mess with the design of the hinges, you can change the fronts of them, have stuff coming off the front that you can’t make otherwise,” added Fragnoli.

The sunglasses will run from $30 to 75, depending on the lenses. Kickflys uses the same high-quality lenses that popular eyewear companies such as Coach use.

The glasses take about 40 minutes to print on average, but the partners plan to add additional printers to speed up production.