NewCo Shift Forum — Speaker Spotlight
There aren’t many ads that people actively seek out and share with their friends, but Dollar Shave Club’s launch video is certainly one of them.
Starring founder and CEO Michael Dubin, the 2012 viral video has over 23 million views, and it set the tone for the Dollar Shave Club brand in the years to come: simple, funny, and unorthodox. Along with its irreverent marketing, the brands direct-to-consumer subscription model, and simple, inexpensive razors made it an instant hit in the men’s grooming space. Everyone rooted for Dubin and DSC, the scrappy startup going head-to-head against Big Razor.
In the process, Dubin quickly became one of the most interesting CEOs in the startup world. His background in digital marketing and entertainment includes doing improv for over 8 years with a comedy group in New York, a skill that has helped define DSC’s unique voice and messaging. Dubin continues to star in ads, and his marketing savvy has led to significant growth: Dollar Shave Club is now a part of the morning routine for 3% of Americans.
Dubin’s marketing savvy has led to significant growth: Dollar Shave Club is now a part of the morning routine for 3% of Americans.
Then, last July, Unilever came knocking. The conglomerate bought DSC for $1 billion in cash, keeping Dubin at the helm and allowing DSC to operate as a standalone business. Under Dubin’s leadership, the company boasts over 3.2 million active members, an estimated $200 million revenue in 2016, and a distinct, engaging brand for simple household necessities.
Now, the challenge for Dubin is to maintain the purpose, humor, and creativity of Dollar Shave Club while being a part of an established multinational, even one as progressive and purpose-driven as Unilever. So far, the results have been good: as DSC’s latest ad campaign has shown, the company clearly hasn’t lost touch with its sense of humor.
Also, this acquisition shows that scrappy startups like DSC and behemoths like Unilever — NewCo’s and BigCo’s, as we like to call them — actually have a lot to learn from each other. DSC has an honest mission to make shaving cheaper and simpler, and they built a disruptive business model to do so. Unilever has the deep category expertise, distribution, and reach necessary to help bring DSC to the next level. It’s a fascinating union between a disruptor and an incumbent, and Dubin sits right at the middle of it.
This acquisition shows that scrappy startups like DSC and behemoths like Unilever — NewCo’s and BigCo’s, as we like to call them — actually have a lot to learn from each other.
That’s why we’re excited to welcome Dubin to the NewCo Shift Forum this coming February. As established, incumbent firms manage rapid technological change and the shift to mission-driven business, they’re looking outside their industries, bridging divides, and working together to chart a new course forward. Dubin — with his experience of scaling a brand while working to preserve its core mission and values — is a timely, important contributor to these discussions.
At the NewCo Shift Forum, he’ll be joining 400 of the best minds in business, technology, and government, to help us explore a new compact between business and society. We’re now accepting applications for delegates, and we’d love for you to learn more and apply.
Join us for the NewCo Shift Forum, where 400 of the best minds in business, technology, and government will come together for two days of focused, action-oriented dialog.