Dollar Shave Club: An Entrepreneurial Success Story
We all know that viral videos are great fun to watch. But we tend to think of viral video in terms of millions of views, not in terms of millions of dollars. That’s why our interest was piqued when we saw a recent viral video “Dollar Shave Club.” The company behind the video is using a quirky, funny video to is bring in both views and dollars. And it may provide some inspiration for you as you think about how to take your startup to market.
Dollar Shave Club (D.S.C.), a company founded by Mike Dubin, doesn’t sell a high tech product. In fact, their product, men’s razor blades, is decidedly old-school. But a recent article by fastcompany.com suggests that if D.S.C. maintains its current growth rate, Mike will ”have nearly a million subscribers at the end of his first year.” If each user averages at a $5/month subscription, this startup will be bringing in a tidy $60 million in its first year.
And while not all their success can be attributed to a video, it does showcase an attitude and culture that is certainly part of their success. This simple web commercial not only sells product, but it also teaches startups to be honest, confident, and fun. Sometimes, a simple reminder to love your work will result in your work loving you back.
Bill Shakespeare once said “honesty is the best policy.” Our intrepid founder, Mike, is following Shakespeare’s advice from the start: “Dollar Shave Club’s razors aren’t good, they’re freaking great.” Mike never breaks eye contact as he tells us how great these blades are. He knows his product well. He tells us about the stainless steel blades, the lubrication strip, and the pivoting head. He tells us how inexpensive each blade is. Should skepticism creep in, a trip to D.S.C.’s website confirms his story.
A review from sharpologist.com further confirms that indeed the shave “was pretty [expletive deleted] good!” Sharpologist’s reviewer also noted that the price difference should be enough to sway savvy shoppers to D.S.C., and the quality is enough to keep them there. No B.S., great razors, great prices. From the mouth of Mike, to your door step, D.S.C. offers a quality product and delivers honesty.
Be The Razor
Mike may be honest, but that’s not the only reason to trust him. Confidence radiates from him. He stands tall, demands attention, and understands the competition. He isn’t selling some fancy 20-blade razor that can clean your kitchen while it massages your back, but rather a down-to-earth, simple razor that will give you the shave you need. He wants you to know that the latest (and most costly) shaving solution is fine and good, but you don’t need it. He’s an everyman, so he knows what an everyman needs. He wants us men to stop paying too much for unnecessary “shave tech.”
Gillette, a D.S.C. competitor, has recently released a commercial featuring Andre 3000, Adrien Brody and Gael Garcia Bernal using their popular, top-dollar products. Instead of coaxing the consumer with the message “Hey! That famous dude uses my razor!” Dollar Shave Club confidently sends the message “HEY BUDDY! I’m saving you boat-loads of cash, and you’re looking good doing it!”
Fun Is Contagious
That brings us to what sets this video, and D.S.C., aside from its competitors – the fun factor. Like a recent campaign by Old Spice, D.S.C. features quirky, funny, tongue-in-cheek humor. However, unlike their multi-million dollar cousin, D.S.C. sticks to conveying its every-man value proposition and its personality and confidence in both the product, and its price. The popular mascot of the Old Spice brand is the ‘Old Spice Man’, a buff, typically shirtless ‘normal guy’ who spends a majority of the ad in a world of fantasy, surrounded by a multitude of extravagant things that seem to just appear as he mentions them.
The Dollar Shave Club also offers up an interesting cast of characters, along with a light-hearted, humorous adventure. When our fearless leader, Mike, packages a set of razors, he cuts it with a machete, leaving 2 feet of tape free as he throws it to a person in a bear suit who humorously misses the catch. He sends up the competition, making a joke about Roger Federer’s shaving endorsements and suggests that most of the money spent on these ‘fancy schmancy’ razors goes straight to the celebrity vs. designing a better product. As Mike offers up “I’m good at tennis,” a ball and racket appear out of nowhere, and he completely misses the shot (which he put little effort into aiming at, by the way). These small pokes at the big boys (and at D.S.C. itself) conveys that message of product quality and company honesty over name brands.
This is the mind-set that entrepreneurs need. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. Be bold, be brave, and love your product.