There are few things in my life that seem less exciting than razors, but a new startup called The Dollar Shave Club thinks it’s time for a little disruption. And some of the big names in the venture world, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz, are backing its vision.
Dollar Shave Club was first founded in April 2011 by Michael Dubin and Mark Levine, and it’s relaunching today and announcing that it’s the latest company to emerge from Science, Inc., the incubator whose partners include former MySpace CEO Mike Jones and Color co-founder Peter Pham. The basic model is simple — at pricing that starts at $1 per month (plus $2 for shipping and handling), customers get a monthly shipment of razors delivered to their home.
Michael Dubin, who’s also the company’s CEO, argues that the high-end of the market has gotten ridiculously overpriced, with “a vibrating handle, a back-scratcher, and all of that stuff.” On the low-end, he says that people with “well-developed self images” don’t want to walk into a K-Mart or Wal-Mart to buy a pack of cheap razors. (I buy disposable razors at my local Walgreens, but I’m a tech journalist, so my self-image is screwed up in all kinds of ways.) When it comes to price, it’s hard to beat $1 a month, and when it comes to convenience, it’s hard to beat a delivery to your doorstep.
Strangely, Dollar Shave Club isn’t the first startup to offer razor deliveries — the memorably named Manpacks is offering a monthly package that includes razors as well as other necessities like underwear. Dubin argues that Manpacks is looking at things “a little too broadly,” because it’s hard to predict exactly what you’ll need from month to month. Shaving, on the other hand, is “one of the most regular things we do. It’s a no brainer.”
Dollar Shave Club has raised more than $1 million in a Series A led by Kleiner and Forerunner Ventures, with participation from Andreesen Horowitz, Shasta Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Shervin Pishevar, Dennis Phelps, and David Honig.
So what makes this a venture-backed business with big potential, rather than a novelty? Well, there’s the size of the personal grooming market, which Jones estimates at $2.6 billion (in the press release). Dubin says he can take a significant portion of that market by building a memorable brand. The company’s first promotional video is a good example of the “very irreverent, smart, fun, very Internet” identity that Dubin wants to create. You can watch the video below. I kind of love it — it is, after all, titled, “Our Blades Are F***ing Great.”
Dubin also hopes to create a stronger relationship with consumers as Dollar Shave Club expands the product line. It’s already adding new types of blades with the relaunch — the 4X blade for $6 a month and The Executive for $9 — and when it gets into shaving cream, the company will actually ask people to vote on the formulas on its website.
“I want people to see us as one of the first online-only power brands in the category,” he says.
Science creates, scales and acquires successful digital businesses by bringing together ideas, talent, resources and financing through a centralized platform. The company focuses on developing new businesses, providing emerging startups with operational strategy and capital, and transforming later-stage Internet ventures with new talent and innovations. Science is backed by a group of top institutional and independent investors, which include: Rustic Canyon, White Star Capital, The Social+Capital Partnership, Tomorrow Ventures, Siemer Ventures, Philippe Camus, Jean-Marie Messier, Jonathan Miller and Dennis Phelps.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) is a well known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, due in large part to their past success. They were early investors in many significant companies, including Amazon, AOL, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Google, Intuit, Macromedia, Netscape, Segway, and Sun Microsystems. The name of the firm comes from the four founding partners: Eugene Kleiner, Tom Perkins, Frank J. Caufield, and Brook Byers. In March 2008, KPCB announced the iFund, a $100M investment initiative focused on ideas...
Forerunner Ventures is an early-stage VC firm dedicated to partnering with ambitious entrepreneurs who are meeting the challenges and opportunities of today’s rapidly evolving digital commerce landscape. The Forerunner team uniquely pairs deep domain expertise and an understanding of consumer behaviors, brand building and product, to successfully identify leaders and participate in their efforts to build meaningful companies. Representative investments include: Birchbox, Bonobos, Dollar Shave Club, Joor, Threadflip, Wantful and Warby Parker. For more information, please visit http://www.forerunnerventures.com.
Andreessen Horowitz is a $2.5 billion venture capital firm that was launched on July 6, 2009. Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, John O’Farrell, Scott Weiss, Jeff Jordan, and Peter Levine are the general partners of the firm.
Shasta Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on companies in the consumer Internet, mobile and software sectors. Shasta was formed in 2004 to back brilliant entrepreneurs with an unwavering commitment to the customer experience. Located in Menlo Park, California, Shasta Ventures has $725 million dollars under management across three funds. Shasta Ventures has backed startups including Apptio, Lithium, Mint, Nest, Smule, Spiceworks, TaskRabbit, Turn, Zenprise and Zuora.
Felicis Ventures is a boutique venture fund focusing on the areas of mobile, e-commerce, consumer enterprise, education and health. It was founded late 2005 by Aydin Senkut, who was Google’s first Product Manager and later ran Strategic Partner Development for Google in Asia. The partners have a passion for product, thinking out of the box to solve hard problems and dominate critical markets. Our goal is to back the iconic technology companies of today and tomorrow. To do so,...
Shervin Pishevar joined Menlo Ventures as a Managing Partner in 2011 after a successful career as an entrepreneur and angel investor. His focus is on consumer technology investments, specifically in the gaming, mobile and social web industry sectors. Shervin works closely with portfolio companies Uber, Shaker, Warby Parker and Mr. Number, and was the driving force behind Menlo’s investment in Tumblr. During his first few months at Menlo Ventures, Shervin helped launch the Menlo Talent Fund, a $20M seed...