Venture Connectors’ November lunch featured the team behind Louisville-based eyewear maker, Shady Rays. Chris Ratterman, Founder & CEO, and Dan Ratterman, COO, shared the company’s journey from startup to one of the fastest-growing lifestyle sunglasses brands in the nation.

Dan shared how he carried a cardboard box and a credit card reader around his college campus to sell the fledgling company’s glasses in the beginning. Chris talked about how they identified the customer acquisition channels that could scale, and the challenges they faced in transitioning to retail from e-commerce. The brothers also discussed how they have remained flexible throughout the company’s explosive growth, how they operate in a state of continuous improvement, and why it’s been that way since the beginning. They also talked about the advantages of basing their operations in their hometown of Louisville.

Chris holds a BSBA in Marketing and Finance from Xavier University and an MBA from Indiana University Southeast. He has been recognized by numerous publications, most recently as an Entrepreneur of The Year 2023 East Central Award Winner. He is also a member of the Business First 40 Under 40 class of 2022.

Dan is a graduate of the University of Dayton with a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology. He has also earned a Master Certificate in Supply Chain Management and Procurement from Michigan State University and a Certificate of Strategy Execution and Global Business from Harvard Business School.

Also a recent Business First 40 Under 40 award recipient, Dan leads Shady Rays’ supply chain, operations, customer service and human resources functions, and plays a critical role on the product development team. He has also pioneered the company’s environmental responsibility and sustainability initiatives.