By J.L. KOMINICKI // Can you build a $500 million brand on flash alone?
If you’re Justin Bieber, apparently so. Otherwise you need a product, and a pretty good one at that.
Still, flash can give you a powerful head start, as we’re learning from the incredible success of Dollar Shave Club, the California-based men’s grooming platform that completed a $75 million raise this week, a short nine months after closing on a $50 million round. Current valuation: Right around that $500 million.
The flash? A viral, 1:33-minute promotional video starring Dollar Shave founder Michael Dubin that attracted 14.5 million YouTube views and helped build sales to an expected $140 million this year, more than double 2014 levels.
Dubin’s pitch: Men don’t need the increasingly complicated – and expensive – shaving systems on the market today. Forget the vibrating models with built in flashlights, back scratchers and 10 blades, he tells viewers. “Your grandfather had one blade. And he had polio.”
Join his club and he’ll send you a new razor every month for $1. With a pivoting head and an aloe comfort strip. Two bucks extra for S&H. And you’ll be happy.
“Are our blades any good?” he asks in the video. “No, our blades are f**king great.”
They’re at least good enough to have grabbed 7 percent of the national shaving cartridge market, while catching market leader Gillette flat-footed. Hence the Gillette Shave Club, hurriedly introduced last year with Eli Manning as pitchman.
“We’re certainly flattered by the name,” Dubin said in an interview with re/code.
Another competitor, Harry’s, has raised $200 million and acquired a German factory to keep a steady supply of blades shipping.
Dubin, of course, is too smart to rest on early success, and is expanding the company into the broader grooming market, including new shaving creams, hair-styling products, even a scented butt wipe.
And, in a move we’ll be watching with fascination, Dollar Shave is launching its own media property to deepen the connection with its core, male audience. Code name is The Shvitz, after the Yiddish word for sweat.
Though in Dubin’s case, building a $500 million company doesn’t appear to have taken much shvitz at all.
Full disclosure: Kominicki is an 18-year tester for a major shaving products company that might have been mentioned in the above. But he’s not allowed to say.