You remember the start of this story, I'm sure. A former page at NBC (that was the low-level job Kenneth had on the sitcom 30 Rock) was making the comedy rounds in NYC. Then he gave it all up, sold out, and went into digital marketing--and he ultimately filmed a YouTube video to launch his startup.
The video was nuts. "Our Blades are F**** Great" went viral. By the end of 2012 it had 19 million views (almost 23 million now), and the startup, Dollar Shave Club, was a big success.
Today? There's an even happier ending. Dollar Shave Club announced it's been acquired by Unilever for about $1 billion, according to the New York Times.
I wrote about this whole thing last year:
"Offering a subscription service for razors (starting, as the name suggests, at $1 per month), the then-tiny startup that Mike Dubin launched with his life savings of $35,000 wound up with 12,000 orders overnight."
At the time it seemed pretty impressive that his company was valued at $615 million. Now it's about 67% more than that.
Massive returns all around
Everybody involved here won. The founder, Dubin, gets rich(er) and stays on as CEO.
His main investors made 10x their money in just a few years.
And DSC escapes the fate of a lot of similar companies that tried to use a related business model.
Because for every Warby Parker or Harry's--or now DSC--that has massive valuations and growth, there are examples of companies like Birchbox---"a pioneer in the online subscription space, [which] recently went through several rounds of layoffs, and has had troubles in its efforts to find funding," according to the Times.
Takeaways? Three at least.
1. Don't be afraid to sell out.
Maybe that's too blunt. Instead, be the one who decides the true value of your talents. Here, DSC had a lot going for it, but it really did start with the video. I'm sure there were moments when Dubin felt like he was giving up on his comedy dreams--but now he can afford to dream just about anything.
2. Get out and socialize.
We all have big life-changing meetings--unless we're too introspective to get out and go to them. In Dubin's case, I'll bet two of his biggest were the 2010 party where he met his future co-founder, Mark Levine, whose background was in manufacturing--and the dinner last year at which he met Unilever's president of North American operations, Kees Kruythoff.
3. Get started and grow.
Dollar Shave Club was a great idea, but there were many other people also thinking of a direct-to-consumer subscription model in the men's grooming industry. The difference? Dubin actually did it. If he'd waited longer, he probably wouldn't have been successful.
Where's the lesson for you in that story?