Dollar Shave Club products

LAS VEGAS — Dollar Shave Club managed to make the process of buying men’s razors akin to being a part of a cool club that just happened to be centered around hygiene.

The Venice, Calif.-based company continues to scale up, with about $160 million under its belt from venture capital and private equity. Its key to success has been largely about creating an experience around buying razors and now an assortment of other grooming products for men.

“We’re not the first company to ship razors on the Internet; we’re not going to be the last company to ship razors on the Internet. But what we’re doing differently is we’re holding guys’ hands and speaking to them…helping them decode their grooming lives,” said founder and chief executive officer Michael Dubin during his talk Monday at the Shoptalk conference here, where some 3,000 people are expected to attend over its three-day run.

What does that “decoding” look like? For the company, it’s about building an experience. Late last year, Dollar Shave Club launched a twice-weekly newsletter called Mel in a bid to try its hand at editorial content.

“I think what we’re doing for razors is very much like what Starbucks did for coffee, which, before Starbucks, what was there? There was Folgers. There was Maxwell House,” Dubin said.

The company, which has been around for about four years, has gone from about $4 million in sales to $240 million expected this year. Dubin was a bit more cagey on whether the company is profitable, saying, “profitability is fully within our control so we’re choosing growth.”

When prodded on the timeline for becoming profitable, Dubin’s response: “Put it this way, by fourth quarter we can choose both.”

Dollar Shave Club recently brought fulfillment in house to rein in shipping costs — a constant challenge for any e-commerce business. The facility in Torrance, Calif., services orders west of the Rocky Mountains. A second, in Ohio, will be operational a few months from now.

Like many companies that have found backing from outside investors, Dubin said he found the right partners who aren’t forcing him to make decisions based on a strategic exit.

“The freedom we have with Dollar Shave Club to innovate and do new things and invest in a content platform, those are things that aren’t necessarily — you’d get slayed in the public markets for taking risks like that, that don’t show immediate or medium-term returns,” he said.

As for going public, Dubin said, “It’s not on the roadmap right now. I don’t think I was put on this planet to be a public company ceo.”

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