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VOL. 44 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 20, 2020

You might find a big idea in ‘Billion Dollar Brand Club’

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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So far, your business idea is going nowhere. The concept’s sound, so that’s not the problem. The execution’s been flawless. Issues have been quickly dealt with, so you’re a bit perplexed. Sales should be sky-high, so what gives?

This thing is going nowhere so, as you’ll see in “Billion Dollar Brand Club” by Lawrence Ingrassia, maybe you should be going online.

When Michael Dubin noticed that his friends grumbled about the cost of staying smooth-faced, he began to think of ways to solve that problem. Dubin’s no inventor, but he knows that few things are impossible and so he conceived of the Dollar Shave Club.

He cut a video that he could take to meetings, which led him to someone who believed in him, which led to audiences with venture capitalists, which ultimately upended the Big Guys and changed the way men shave.

That almost sounds too simplistic, doesn’t it?

Make no mistake: Dubin did his homework, finding a supplier that could import to American shores. He had advisers who also understood that “good enough” was sometimes better. And he used the internet and viral hits to attract customers.

Billion Dollar Brand Club: How Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Other Disruptors Are Remaking What We Buy

by Lawrence Ingrassia
c.2020

Henry Holt

$30

272 pages

Warby Parker likewise went online to disrupt businesses that relied on physical stores to serve customer’s vision needs. Their success wasn’t instant; they had to solve the problems of price, weight and of sampling, but once customers discovered the convenience, Warby Parker’s name became the very indication of business disruption.

Through the internet, as Ingrassia discovered, any potential entrepreneur can find suppliers to furnish products needed to upend behemoth competitions. In the age of Facebook, advertising can target consumers better than the usual methods of attracting customers. Data collection is a clear advantage over almost every old-school method of customer acquisition and building a relationship with clients is easier than ever, online.

Says Ingrassia, “The revolution... has just begun.”

As excited as you may be to start reading “Billion Dollar Brand Club,” know this first: there are no clearly delineated plans for your business inside this book. Instead, you’ll have to read these various stories and infer a lot for yourself. That shouldn’t be difficult, but it’s something of which you should be aware.

If you decide to move forward, you’ll need to know all the right people, as evidenced by the tales author Lawrence Ingrassia offers. Indeed, a lot of six-degrees-of-separation setups helped the entrepreneurs profiled, which might make the stories a bit less relevant to business folk who struggle with little-to-no access to beneficial introductions or venture capitalist funds. That may leave some readers frustrated.

Still, there’s no denying that the stories illustrate not just a new way of doing business, but a much-ignored stream of revenue. They also illustrate how complacency is very, very bad.

The enjoyment of this book, overall, is likely predicated on your frame of mind. If you like business tales and can squeeze ideas from them, “Billion Dollar Brand Club” will be gold on your shelf. If not, this book will go nowhere.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.

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