Laughter heals the soul and helps with the sell

The rise of subscription services from razors, socks and beauty aimed at millennials. Companies using content marketing as a comparative advantage. The only online yoga class you need to be doing in your living room.

Shove some razors in a box, make millennials laugh and make a $1bn

This week the Dollar Shave Club (DSC) subscription service, for men sick of overpaying for razor blades, was bought by Unilever for $1bn (or 5 times it’s predicted revenue). Fair play to the 200 employees celebrating in LA right now- they managed to bag 3.2 million members (many millennials), scoop up 5% of US market share and nail their content marketing. All of that in under 4 years, convincing VCs to part with $150m and without turning a profit.

DSC were able to blend a cheap, convenient and ‘zero-sum’ product with entertaining content. Buying their product means you don’t buy another in the same category unlike fashion, books, content, etc. Unilever see them as more than an e-commerce company, developing a ‘meaningful’ relationship with men and are late in the game to start their own subscription direct-to-consumer service.

Blade options range from $1 to $9 per month and were touted as ‘so gentle a toddler could use them’, no wonder 20% of subscribers are women. Their 22 million-viewed viral video is well worth a watch (despite the Federer dig). It ridicules ‘shave-tech’, celebrity brand endorsement and (immigrant) job creation. As well as blades, each box comes with a magasine- Bathroom Minutes with features on weird bodily shower thoughts such as ‘why finger nails grow faster than toe nails’.

Comedy content matters

The lesson here is to go ALL-IN on content marketing. Warby Parker, the spectacle frames company, is another mail-order service who pride themselves on catchy content. Ace & Everett- a sock subscription service- brand themselves as ‘socks that give your ankle a voice’. Birchbox, a beauty box subscription, play it differently by going out of their way to butter up beauty bloggers.

It turns out comedy is quite prevalent amongst the startup community. Funny stuff sells better and in both cases, one’s just making it up as they go along. The first improv comedy first rule is to replace ‘NO’ with ‘YES AND’- so you can quickly see why it appeals to entrepreneurs. In fact Dick Costolo (ex CEO Twitter) was a professional comedian in his early days and dabbled in the writers room for HBO’s latest Silicon Valley series during his bout of funemployment.

I looked into setting up a subscription service for eco-feminine care- a regular (revenue) stream, every damn month bar 9 occasionally. I just couldn’t get that excited about sourcing the stuff even though I could cause MAYHEM on branding. Anyone up for a side-hustle(?!) as I’m starting to reconsider…

Startup stalk corner (Companies I like.)

Another rising e-commerce company making waves on UK shores is Papier- focusing on premium cards, invites and stationary. Aimed at millenial women, trendy patterns are designed by upcoming artists and are printed on Smythson-quality card. It’s slotted into the gap between Moonpig online tack and Paperchase quality with personalised wedding invites sorted from your laptop and thank you notes to win over in-laws. In under a year, Papier have bagged design deals with fashion houses, launched a stationary product line and their Instagram is just so perrrrrtyyyy.

I interviewed the founder Taymoor Atighetchi early on in its journey. LISTEN HERE! He’s bucked the trend in many ways already: one of those annoying young guns who founded and flipped an online university newspaper The Tab; has a non-technical background as an ex mngmt consultant, and; proved it doesn’t take two to tango as a sole founder. He’s also got a quintessentially British sense of humour. #teamtaymoor

Goal seek… balance

Feeling priced out of yoga? Try it in your living room

A regular yoga practice is something I swear by but it’s not always easy to schlep around town so I want to introduce you all to Yoga with Adrienne. You can conjure up the kit you need in your home (unlike Art Attack) and it makes home practice fun, easy and enjoyable!

Aimed at beginners (we’re all always learning with yoga) — she has something for everyone with sessions ranging from a quick 15m to an hour. There’s yoga for back pain, detox, happiness, runners (tight hammys), moods of all the seven dwarfs and even yoga for when you can’t be arsed to do yoga (everyone).

Digi-stationary for the pencil case

Write better sentences

This week I’ve been using the Hemingway writing tool after one reader informed me my writing was poorly structured. (I’ll take any engagement right now). Whether you’re a blogger, content marketer or not- we all need to write for work, play, cover letters or social likes. It’s free, easy to copy, paste and edit directly in the web browser and spurts out an overall readability score, highlighting where you need to up your game. A score of 8 and below is good enough.

Shower thoughts (contributed via Reddit)

  • Kids born in 2000 are driving
  • The word “bed” is actually in the shape of a bed
  • Mars is a planet where only robots live (for now)

Coming up — the chick who lights up Pixar films

I’m interviewing Danielle Feinburg this week who has worked on the lighting for 9 Pixar films including Monstors inc, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Brave! A Comp Sci from Harvard, she joined them fresh after graduating and hasn’t looked back after nearly 20 years there! More on her here and we’ll be talking about life at Pixar, the art of film and photography as well as women in STEM. Let me know if you have any burning questions for her!

Shameless plug

As always, take one and pass this along to your network- spread the sign up link to the newsletter. Any feedback welcome too- topic range, length, useful, useless, better sentence structure?

Have a fun-filled week and LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEWS as podcasts here!

Toodles — Samira Sohail