In a climate where 42% of startups fail in their early years, and few make money well into their journey, Watch Gang stands out. Started less than two years ago, Watch Gang is a thriving watch membership business. The model is simple: pay a monthly fee and each month you receive a watch that you get to keep. In its first year of business, Watch Gang made $15 Million; and it's on track to hit $30 Million this year. Their closest competitor, Eleven James, recently went bust. So what is Watch Gang's recipe for success? Founder Matt Gallagher cites these five reasons.


1. Create A Strong Story

Until Watch Gang, watch collecting had been a cost prohibitive, elite and exclusive hobby. You needed money and access to be able to participate. Gallagher saw an opportunity to take this hobby to the masses. Watch Gang monthly fees start at $29 and go up to $299 - and unlike former competitor Eleven James, you get to keep the watch.  Rather than focus on status brands that are instantly recognized for their price tag, Gallagher wanted to make watch collecting more about individual style by bringing watches that are fun to wear and easy to talk about. By changing the driver from status to personality, Gallagher attracted a new set of consumers.

2. Be Human

In order to deliver on their story of opening watch collecting up to a broader audience, Watch Gang have overcommitted to customer service, transparency and playfulness. This made watch collecting more accessible and further removed them from the stereotypes of their exclusive and aloof competitors. Through live videos, the joviality of the company comes through. Members regularly see shots of behind the scenes at work, curation in action, inventory packing, live giveaways and even office pranks, the youthful spirit of the brand comes through. Call center employees are encouraged to spend as much time as needed on the phone and are empowered to do whatever it takes to make customers happy. There are no call center scripts, and staff are hired for attitude, not aptitude.  The brand also keeps things interesting through surprise giveaways and are soon to launch charity auctions with celebrities; where stars will auction off their watch and donate proceeds to charity. These entertaining stunts are uncharacteristic of the stiffness and stuffiness associated with the watch industry and allow Watch Gang to stand out further.

3. Communicate Value

Though the style and individuality of their watches mattered, Gallagher insists that communicating the value proposition to consumers was paramount.  Consumers want to know that they are getting a watch for a price they couldn't find by shopping for themselves. This means making sure the watches they curate could never be found elsewhere for a cheaper price. To do this, Watch Gang had to work with watch brands; not against them. 

4. Partner With Watch Makers

Watch Gang knew what they could offer watchmakers and communicated it clearly: access, exposure and data. They invest in curating interesting collections by finding unique and independent watchmakers and giving them access to their community of 30,000 watch lovers. And surprisingly, there are lots of independent watchmakers (in Switzerland alone, there are 8,000). Often, they are unable to scale to meet demand, so in these instances, Watch Gang will help them achieve economies of scale by assuming manufacturing responsibilities. Bigger brands like Fossil even partner with Watch Gang as a way to acquire user data to inform the design of future collections. Gallagher explains the win-win for consumers and watchmakers. He says, " The interests are mutually served by watch makers and collectors."

5. Focus On Community

By showing their human side and democratizing watch collection, Watch Gang were able to create the largest watch exchange community in the world as it grew. The Watch Gang Exchange is an active Facebook group, available to members only. Here, they discuss and trade watches and also band together when things go wrong. Members have helped out when other members lost their watches in floods or fires, and raised money for Hurricane Harvey victims. Gallagher attributes this generosity to the inherent trust that comes from knowing everyone in the community is vetted by being a paying Watch Gang member and the nature of the real, playful and down-to-earth content they prime the group with.

Published on: Sep 12, 2018