Dollar Shave Club is a popular subscription service offering quality razor blades and handles at a low price. This guide will teach you everything you want to know about this brand, from the company's origin story to that jaw-dropping billion-dollar acquisition.
Running out of razors is a drag. So is paying premium prices for a grooming tool you must use daily or multiple times a week. Dollar Shave Club (DSC) created a razor subscription service that disrupted the market. They met their target audience's needs by skipping the line and going straight to their customer’s door with affordable razors.
Leveraging a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model, DSC eliminated the middle man, i.e., distributors and wholesalers. Instead, they sold directly to the customer, shaking up the razor industry. One of the first companies to blaze a path in the D2C revolution, DSC has had many businesses follow in its footsteps.
Within three years of DSC’s launch in 2011, it claimed 48% of the online razor market, shattering the competition from market leaders like Schick and Gillette. The company rapidly grew to a whopping 4 million subscribers. Its success caught the attention of European consumer goods giant Unilever, which acquired DSC in 2016 with an all-cash $1 billion-dollar deal.
Are you curious about how Dollar Shave Club grew from a hopeful start-up to a billion-dollar business? Read on to uncover the details about DSC’s founding, growth, and surprising disruption to the world of razors.
Plus, learn how we can coach you to grow your net worth and launch a million dollar brand for FREE!
|Company Name:||Dollar Shave Club|
|Founders:||Mark Levine and Michael Dubin|
|Industry:||Online Razor Subscription|
What is Dollar Shave Club?
Dollar Shave Club (DSC) is a subscription-based service with a direct-to-consumer business model that delivers discount razors and other personal grooming products to its members through an online platform. DSC products include razors, shaving cream, aftershave, and other personal care items. Consumers can set up a DSC subscription or purchase products directly from the e-commerce site.
DSC set itself apart from other razor companies by focusing on its customers' pain points: frustration in buying expensive razors and the inconvenience of going to the local store to purchase. To serve its target audience, DSC delivers razor blades monthly to the customer's doorstep for about $1 per razor blade, reinventing the razor purchase experience.
Who founded Dollar Shave Club?
Michael Dubin and Mark Levine are the founders of Dollar Shave Club. They launched the online razor subscription service in 2011.
What is Dollar Shave Club's origin story?
Founders Michael Dublin and Mark Levin first met at a 2010 Christmas party where Mark shared with Michael that he had acquired 250,000 razors from Asia and needed help selling them. While it was an unconventional conversation starter, it piqued Michael’s interest and gave him the idea for Dollar Shave Club. Together, they decided they should start a subscription service, eliminating the expense and hassle of purchasing razor blades.
Michael just so happened to be an improv comedian, and he used his skills to create a hilarious and highly entertaining video to connect with his target audience and attract investors. The 90-second video included absurd moments like a toddler shaving a man's head, a clumsy bear, a machete, and polio jokes. And it worked!
How was Dollar Shave Club funded as a start-up?
The rough-cut of Michael Dublin’s first DSC video caught the attention of Michael Jones, CEO of start-up incubator Science Inc., who became DSC’s first major investor. When DSC released the official video on March 6, 2012, it went viral, crashing the company’s server in the first hour. As a result, the razor subscription start-up received more than 12,000 orders within 48 hours.
That same month, DSC raised $1 million in seed funding from Forerunner Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The company grew from $7 million in revenue in year one to $20 million in year two. By 2015, the year before the Unilever acquisition, DSC took in $152 million.
Who bought Dollar Shave Club, and how much did they pay?
In July 2016, European consumer goods company Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club for a reported $1 billion in cash. Founder Michael Dubin stayed on as the company's CEO for five years, exiting in 2021.
What lessons can entrepreneurs learn from Dollar Shave Club?
Achieving a $1 billion valuation for a company that sells razors for $1 is an impressive feat. Here are some lessons entrepreneurs can take from the DSC success story:
#1: Start Where You Are
Michael Dubin launched DSC from his apartment. Having a big office or staff is unnecessary to create a lucrative ecommerce brand. Just get started wherever you are!
#2: Meet a Consumer Need
The DSC founders identified a problem and provided a solution. They knew their target consumer was tired of paying $20 for razors and making repeat trips to the store to buy them was a hassle. So they solved both issues with $1 razors delivered directly to the customer's door.
#3: Leverage Your Existing Skills
With a background in improv comedy, Mike used his skills to create a successful YouTube video campaign, starting with “Our Razors are F***ing Great!” The viral video was original, relatable, and filled with humor. As a result, the video campaign attracted investors and helped DSC accumulate 12,000 orders in just 48 hours.
Dollar Shave Club FAQs
What is Dollar Shave Club?
Dollar Shave Club is a California-based company that delivers razors and related personal grooming products to customers by mail. DSC’s products are available through an online subscription service, or customers can go to the e-commerce site to order individual products as needed. DSC's current tagline is: "Epic razors. Epically affordable."
What products does Dollar Shave Club offer?
While Dollar Shave Club launched its business selling razor blades and handles, it has expanded the product line to include a range of personal grooming products. DSC products include shaving cream, face wash and serums, wet wipes, hair care, body wash and soap, beard oil, deodorant, and razor accessories like covers and stands.
How does Dollar Shave Club work?
Customers visit the DSC website to purchase razors, handles, and grooming items individually or sign up for a monthly subscription service. The company offers three membership plans, which members can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel anytime.
Once customers choose a starter set or a razor, they can select the number they receive in each order. Each razor subscription comes with a compatible razor handle. Customers can add grooming items to any subscription or order. DSC offers a 100% money-back guarantee if customers are unhappy with the products.
What are the benefits of using Dollar Shave Club?
Dollar Shave Club offers several benefits to customers. Subscriptions come with free shipping, discounts up to 15%, birthday rewards, and early access to new product launches. But ultimately, the convenience and affordability of DSC are the biggest benefits that have created long-term, loyal customers for the brand.
Is Dollar Shave Club available in other countries?
Dollar Shave Club is available in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia.
Does Dollar Shave Club offer subscription boxes?
Dollar Shave Club offers different subscription box options for its razors and other personal grooming products. Customers can choose from three razor options: two-blade, four-blade, and six-blade in a starter pack that includes a handle, two replacement cartridge refills, and shave butter.
After two weeks, DSC will ship a replacement order with two razor cartridges or more if the customer chooses. Members can cancel or change the subscription frequency and razor amount or type anytime. In addition, DSC offers the opportunity for customers to include other grooming products, like shaving cream, body wash, and shampoo, in their subscription boxes.
How much does Dollar Shave Club cost?
The cost to purchase products from Dollar Shave Club depends on the subscription or individual products you choose. DSC offers three standard subscription plans: “The Humble Twin” with five two-blade razor cartridges at $4 per month, “The Club 4 Series” with four four-blade razor cartridges for $7 monthly, and “The Club Series 6” with four six-blade razor cartridges for $10 per month.
DSC sends replacement cartridges for $3, $6, or $9 monthly. The company’s Handsome Discount allows DSC customers to get 5% off orders that include two to three different items, 10% off orders with four to five different items, and 15% off for six or more items.
What awards has Dollar Shave Club received?
Dollar Shave Club received the Best Out-of-Nowhere Video Campaign award for its viral video “Our Blades are F***ing Great” at the 2012 Ad Age Viral Video Awards. In 2013, the company received the Webby Award in the Fashion & Beauty category and the People’s Choice Webby Award in the Consumer Packaged Goods category. DSC’s second YouTube video, “Let’s Talk about #2,” won the 2014 Shorty Award for best use of social media. In 2017, DSC won Best in Show at the Digiday Video Awards for its “Dull Life” video series.
The founders of DSC launched their razor subscription business to meet a specific customer need. They understood success takes more than a fantastic product. It's crucial to know the target audience and ensure the product solves a problem for the ideal customer.
Although they spent their first eight months building their new business in an apartment, Michael Dubin and Mark Levine knew they had something special. So they used their skills to create a viral video campaign that took the razor industry by storm, engaged customers and investors, and paved the way for other direct-to-consumer brands. As a result, they saw their little razor start-up grow to become a billion-dollar company.
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