At the height of the 1990s dot-com boom, when high-concept companies like Urban Fetch, Kozmo, and Boo.com had investors reaching for their checkbooks, starting a soap company wasn't exactly trendy: "People in San Francisco thought we were nuts," says Method co-founder Eric Ryan. "Compared with tech, our business just wasn't that interesting." When the dot-com bubble finally burst, Ryan and co-founder Adam Lowry had a bigger problem than investor boredom: The venture capital well had dried up.

The young founders had muscled their sustainable, nontoxic home products into a few local grocery stores, but that wasn't enough to float the business. Soon, Method was $200,000 in debt to its vendors and four months behind on several payments. Their label maker even refused to fulfill their next order until the bills were paid--forcing Ryan and Lowry to find a new one. "We were as close to folding as you can come," says Lowry. And that was just the start of their bad luck.

Method eventually became the iconic brand we know today. But not without a few more twists and turns.

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