barriers to entry when it came to men’s
In the beginning, you’re figuring things
out on the fly and everyone is wearing
many hats. For a good part of the first
year, we were all doing the same things—
responding to emails, printing labels,
making trips to the warehouse in the
middle of the night.
By late 2014, something started to shift
in the company. You get to a point—usually
it’s between 50 and 80 employees—when
you need to start bringing in some process
and organizational discipline. As the CEO,
you have to realize you can’t do everything
yourself anymore. And teams need strategists, but they also need the right layers
above and below to execute in specific
areas. And I don’t mean stacking people
on top of one another hierarchically. I’m
talking about ever-deeper layers of specialization and focus.
Around this time, I started up an internal creative agency. We needed to build
a really robust campaign for our first
made-for-TV spots, which poked fun at
how hard it can be to get into the “razor
fortress” in most retail locations. I found
some entrepreneurial creatives who could
do more with less—we still had to be
pretty scrappy—and an incredible project
manager who could keep us on track.
A lot of companies outsource much of
their creative work. We don’t. We wanted
this expertise in-house precisely so we
could be more nimble. This small group
has grown to about 20 people. I still lead
the team, help brainstorm, and give final
approval, but instead of doing 75 percent of
the work, like I did in 2013 and 2014, now
I’m involved in probably about 20 percent
of the work.
Our viral videos are basically our
bible, and they help the team maintain
our unique voice. The marketing has
probably been the hardest thing for me to
delegate as we’ve gotten bigger. It’s tough
to realize that you need to hire people
who can do things better than you, especially when you have some expertise in a
Then again, it’s also challenging to hire
people for positions that you have no
expertise in. I made that mistake with my
first senior engineering hire, back in 2012.
I just didn’t understand the necessary
qualifications because of my own inexpe-
DOLLAR SHAVE CLUB’S TOP ; VIRAL HITS
;. “OUR BLADES ARE F***ING GREAT”
DATE: March 2012
YOUTUBE VIE WS: More than 24 million
The video that introduced the
company to the world, crashed the
servers, and even spawned copycat
spots (see: Dollar Beard Club).
Beyond the compelling sales pitch,
the situational humor is spot-on.
THE MONEY QUOTE: “Are the blades any good?
No, our blades are f***ing great.”
rience. It became clear pretty quickly that
it wasn’t a good fit. Ultimately, if you want
to build a big company, you need talent
for every department that matches the
much higher level you see at more mature
companies. The more experts you have,
the faster you can move. Instead of doing
the work yourself, you have to shift into a
role of inspiring and motivating people to
drive the right results. It’s one of the most
important shifts a startup needs to make
on the road to becoming a big company.
Last year, we developed our Wanderer
line of shower products. Our team had
teased out a couple of di;erent angles for
the campaign, and then we settled on one
we really liked. It was around the concept
of the shower’s being the best place for
your mind to, you know, wander. Four days
before the shoot, someone on our creative
team noticed that a competitor had just
released a campaign for a similar product—and it featured a guy daydreaming in
a shower. There was definitely a moment
when we said, “Oh, shit—what do we
do?” Obviously, one option was to just run
with our original creative anyway.
But you can never be precious about
your darlings. (I forget who gets credit for
that quote.) The team got back in a room
and immediately started working some
new scripts that could make use of the
talent and directors we’d already booked.
The fact that they were able to scrap three
months of work and redo the campaign in
a matter of days had everything to do with
the expertise on that team. I also think
creativity thrives when you have to work
I know from my days of doing improv
and sketch writing that improvising makes
you a great synthesizer of ideas. I look for
people with that natural ability. You want
to know how they deal with challenges.
If you’re the right type of synthesizer and
solution builder, you’ll find a way.
I feel like we’re still in the process of
shifting from startup to larger company.
We’re always trying to build the ideal
structure. We can do more, faster, now that
we’re owned by Unilever—and now that
I don’t have to spend my time fundraising
every year. But we operate completely
independently. I don’t discuss creative
decisions with Unilever. DSC is DSC
because of the decisions we have made
in-house, and Unilever respects that.
;. “LET’S TALK ABOUT NO. ;”
DATE: June 2013
YOUTUBE VIE WS: More than 3. 5 million
In its second You Tube spot,
Dollar Shave debuted One Wipe
Charlies. Full of requisite bathroom
jokes and classic DSC straight-talk,
the video introduces men to a
product previously associated
mostly with babies.
THE MONEY QUOTE: Kid: “Butt wipes, Mike?”
Mike: “Yeah, bitch. Butt wipes.”
DATE: November 2014
YOUTUBE VIE WS: More than 2 million
For one of its ;rst made-for-TV
spots, Dollar Shave uses a
Taser-wielding security guard
to take direct aim at the way major
razor brands are kept under lock
and key in many retail stores.
THE MONEY QUOTE: “It’s almost like
they don’t want you to buy their razors.
Well, I want you to buy mine.”