NEU is a full-stack commerce company working to build the future of retail at the intersection of content and commerce. The business, originally Glass-U (fully-folding sunglasses), builds millennial oriented brands with a primary focus on collegiate and esports markets. NEU’s brands include Glass-U, Chicka-D, and Woolly Threads.
When Daniel Fine entered the University of Pennsylvania, he realized that he and his peers wanted cool, higher-end products to show their school spirit. Daniel thought about an obsession of his own, sunglasses, and the concept of collegiate licensed shades was born. Pretty simple— putting a college logo on a pair of fully folding sunglasses. After making roughly $100k in high school, Daniel lost all of that money in his opening sunglasses order when the shipment from China got stuck in customs for 5 months then with the FDA for 4 months (yep- sunglasses are a medical device because of UV protection!). Then they all broke…
The seeds of NEU’s innovation are contained in Glass-U: a clear gap in the market and the ability to see it; the patience to find and source quality, affordable products; the creativity to make them brand-specific, and the agility to package all of it for its clients’ use.
Left with two options, he could quit or figure it out. He climbed out of that hole, hustled his way into a deal with FIFA for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and that was the beginning of what would eventually become this college kid’s career.
After making a name for the company and himself, they were able to scale up, accruing licensing rights for hundreds of universities and nearly every fraternity and sorority in the US. The company added employees and clients, while also finding new industries. They grew from the college sector to other sporting and entertainment events… from SXSW to Lollapalooza to the Kentucky Derby, GlassU started making its rounds.
And all of this took place while Daniel was still in college…
After graduating, Daniel raised money to continue that growth— they rebranded as NEU and maintained a comparable goal— to make products that enabled people to Wear and Share Their Passions. The seeds of NEU’s innovation are contained in Glass-U: a clear gap in the market and the ability to see it; the patience to find and source quality, affordable products; the creativity to make them brand-specific, and the agility to package all of it for its clients’ use. NEU serves as a 360-degree merchandising partner. They design, develop and source products. They sell via omnichannel distribution. They power online and offline events. And they help clients build their brands and monetize their customers’ demand.
With that growth, The Philadelphia Inquirer named NEU the #1 fastest growing company in the region for both 2017 and 2018.
Following the company’s expansion in entertainment came an interest on gaming and eSports. NEU was early to this global phenomenon, securing an exclusive partnership with WME I IMG and Turner Broadcasting on eLeague which was followed by a deal to run Fortnite’s merchandise at E3, one of the world’s largest gaming conferences. That toe-dipping turned into a focus on eSports and a multi-national business with NEU’s partnership with the Seoul Dynasty of Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League in Korea.
Now, the company is working to build the go-to brand and marketplace in the space. And all of this is being done out of a headquarters in Philadelphia. Take it full circle— UPenn is the company’s landlord and the NEU HQ is just a block away from Daniel’s college apartment.
At just 25, Daniel has been recognized for his efforts as a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 and TIME Magazine’s TOMORROW 25. He’s received service awards from Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama and has been featured in The New York Times, Bloomberg, Elite Daily, Huffington Post and more. Daniel has traveled the world representing the U.S. and U.N. in places ranging from Moscow, Russia to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he was recruited to swim at Penn and was a U.S. Junior Olympic, Grand Prix, and Junior National swimmer and tri-athlete and multi-time All-American.
Daniel Fine, CEO of NEU Brands, deals in the cool. Try to imagine a music festival like SXSW, college bookstores, or even the Kentucky Derby without branded merchandise. That’s what it was like before their partnerships with NEU.
Glass-U is NEU’s flagship venture. If you’ve seen a pair of Penn sunglasses that conveniently fold up, then you’ve encountered this sweetheart of the collegiate scene. From his dorm room at Penn, Daniel sourced, tested, and sold these sunglasses bearing his college’s logo. Today, Glass-U’s Guru Network empowers college students to do the same, all the while helping them to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills as they carry out Glass-U initiatives.
The seeds of NEU’s innovation are contained in Glass-U: a clear gap in the market and the ability to see it; the patience to find and source quality, affordable products; the creativity to make them brand-specific, and the agility to package all of it for its clients’ use. NEU can manage wholesaling, pop-up, or online stores, plus the warehousing and distribution for it all. If that sounds like a lot of moving parts, it’s because it is. If it doesn’t sound so innovative, consider that NEU has pioneered branded merchandising by handling every aspect of the requisite outsourcing itself.
NEU houses other companies with origins similar to U-Glass’. chicka-d, for example, began as a one-woman operation for women’s gameday fashions, and Love Your Melon, whose proceeds help fund children’s cancer research, began when two friends decided to knit hats for post-chemo kids. These companies owe their ability to scale quickly and effectively to the infrastructure and support that NEU could provide.
NEU’s agility and creativity when it comes to branded merchandise goes much further than collegiate apparel. A recent partnership with Forbes, for example, made NEU the sole merchandiser for the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit. Though merchandising had proven a failure at past summits, NEU’s comprehensive plan included a fully staffed pop-up store in the form of a NEU van driven from Philadelphia to Boston where the conference took place. NEU also launched an online store, fully integrating it with Forbes’ website. The result was a suite of swag that attendees actually wanted and paid for—to the tune of an Average Order Value of $52.33.
NEU Custom, the company’s branch for corporate branding, offers the same end-to-end service that NEU provides the brands beneath its umbrella. In this way, companies eager to impress clients or employees—again, with well designed, high-quality merchandise—can do so by outsourcing to NEU. No matter their brand, NEU’s eye for design and its robust pipeline give its clients the gift of being understood and of standing out.