Dollar Shave Club, the startup offering a subscription razor service that costs as little as $1 per month (plus shipping), has raised $9.8 million in Series A funding.
Co-founder and CEO Michael Dubin said the new round, which was led by Venrock, will allow the company to develop “the next iteration of Dollar Shave Club” and “to really grow into the lifestyle service” that he wants it to be. He declined to offer too many details on that front — it sounds like Dollar Shave Club has some big product news coming in the near future, and he didn’t want to give too much away ahead of time. However, he did say the funding has already helped the company build some important backend tech tools, like “really basic metrics.”
When the startup announced its emergence from the Science, Inc. incubator and its initial funding back in March (a $1 million round from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Forerunner Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Shasta Ventures, Felicis Ventures, White Star Capital, and others), Dubin told me his goal was to create “one of the first online-only power brands” in personal grooming. He also said he wanted to develop a strong relationship with members, for example by incorporating their feedback as the company moves into new product areas like shaving cream.
Asked yesterday about his vision for the company moving forward, Dubin said, “The goal of Dollar Shave Club is making guys’ lives better primarily by making shaving better and having a lot of fun while doing it.”
On the fun side, the startup is probably best-known for its goofy video “Our Blades are F***Ing Great” (embedded above, in case you’ve forgotten), which is currently clocking more than 7 million views on YouTube and still makes me laugh whenever I watch it. When I complimented Dubin (who stars in the video) on its popularity, he said it’s been “a really great asset for us.” One downside, however, he’s occasionally recognized as at bars and elsewhere — he recalled being asked if he was “the guy from the Dollar Shave Club video” and responding, “I hate that guy!”
Old Glory 2012, the latest promotional effort from the company doesn’t feature Dubin. Instead, it offers tongue-in-cheek portraits of past presidents, asking visitors to vote on “Who Will Shave Our Great Nation?”
In the months since Dollar Shave Club first made its big splash, even more startups have launched offering a wide range of subscription services (most memorably, perhaps, for sex toys). Dubin said too many other companies are primarily interested in the subscription model because of the recurring revenue, without really thinking through the problem that they’re solving for users.
“I think that for companies to employ a frequently recurring shipment model, they’re going to have to dig a little bit deeper and solve a deeper problem,” he said.
Dubin added that he actually dislikes calling his company a subscription service — obviously, it’s offering a subscription, but he prefers to think of it as “membership commerce”: “Membership, as a word, suggests that you’re on the inside looking out. Subscription [suggests] you’re on the outside looking in.”
In addition to announcing funding, the service is expanding beyond the United States today by launching in Canada.