What It Takes to Build a Company That You Can Sell for $1 Billion, According to a Guy Who Just Did It
By Sonya Mann
Dollar Shave Club’s ambitions are as big as its valuation.
The company, says co-founder and CEO Michael Dubin, doesn’t just want to sell razors: “If it goes down the drain in the bathroom, it’s something that we want to be a part of.”
On Thursday, Dubin sat down with Inc. executive editor Kris Frieswick at the 2017 Inc. 5000 conference in Palm Springs, California, to discuss how he built a company worth $1 billion–the amount that Unilever paid for the startup in 2016.
So how did he do it? “I’ve always been passionate about the art and science of building brands,” Dubin explained. “At every point that the customer interacts with your brand, you have to continually define and refine who you are to that customer.”
Dubin combines corporate savvy with a sense of what his everyman customers are looking for. Normal guys “don’t want to be Brad Pitt, they don’t want to be Burt Reynolds,” he said. “They just want to be themselves.” Accordingly, Dollar Shave Club gears its marketing toward helping customers be slightly more polished versions of who they already are.
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As for being acquired for such a large sum, “It’s a bit of a surreal process,” Dubin remarked, but one he’s happy to go through. “Our potential has expanded. Our resources have expanded. Our degrees of freedom are as big as they were when we were a private company.” The company now holds four annual board meetings instead of six, he said, and he no longer has to spend three months out of every 12 fundraising.
Dubin added that he doesn’t regard the acquisition as a chance to cash out and jump ship: “It was about building a partnership with another entity that would help us on our mission.” Previously, Dollar Shave Club’s strongest ties were to the world of tech startups and venture capital. “It was time to shake things up and find a new partnership,” Dubin said.