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Billion Dollar Brand Club: The Rebel Startups Disrupting Industry Empires

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  536 ratings  ·  56 reviews
A leading business journalist takes us inside a business revolution: the upstart brands taking on the empires that long dominated the trillion-dollar consumer economy.

Dollar Shave Club and its hilarious marketing. Casper mattresses popping out of a box. Third Love’s lingerie designed specifically for each woman’s body. Warby Parker mailing you five pairs of glasses to choo
...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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Bryan Alkire
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good book. It was interesting to learn how the direct to consumer startups work. The book is short and chapters logically arranged by business or steps in the business chain. The writing is readable and clear to the general reader. No business jargon here, which appealed to my non-business self. The content is really interesting as I knew next to nothing about how these businesses actually operate. If I had one complaint, it was the author’s lack of diversity in material, everyone in the book se ...more
Miebara Jato
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book is a compilation of internet businesses started by obscure entrepreneurs. The model of these businesses is direct-to-consumers. And they take up the industry leaders in their game. Because they are industry leaders, the big guys never take theses new entrants seriously until it's too late. I admire America. Indeed, it is a country of possibilities. Many of these startups will fail if they were started in places like Nigeria, etc because the infrastructure and the venture capital support ...more
Serge
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on the rise of DTC subscription e-commerce. There were so many companies with which I was unfamiliar as I am not their typical demographic and am not the target of their social media advertising campaigns. I was surprised by the number of Wharton grads who have found a profitable niche in this personalization market (Warby Parker, Away, etc..) Also surprised by the number of multinationals like Henkel and Unilever scooping up startups as fronts for their legacy business to mitigat ...more
Howell Murray
Apr 17, 2020 rated it liked it
The most attractive idea here is that the world of the internet today makes it possible to start businesses that challenge very big and successful companies that dominate their industries. This is especially interesting at a time when multiple acquisitions have left many industries with only a few companies. I found the book a bit of a slog at times, because the author goes into a lot of detail. But that’s because he covers the hell out of his topic. People interested in the retail industry will ...more
Nicole
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Probably closer to 3.75 stars, only because I went into the book with an existing knowledge of these brands and their "rags to riches" stories (which is a focus for the majority of this book). That said, it was written well & compelling in its own way. ...more
Brian
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Good storytelling about the direct-to-consumer brands that are changing the marketplace and upending companies like P&G.
Michelle
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interested in how disruptive start-ups are capturing consumer hearts, minds, (and wallets) while turning the establishment upside down? Learn how some innovative underdogs became highly valued unicorns while others had missteps that sealed their fates. Ingrassia shares captivating stories of entrepreneurship and brand marketing with prose that maintains reader interest and sparks the dreamer in us all.
Paul
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very well done. You can get much of this info elsewhere (e.g. podcasts focused on founders), but the author is very thorough and this includes more detail than you may get elsewhere about how each business was created, and it puts lots of info in one excellent source. This is not a how-to book, although you can find some pointers and ideas via examples presented; maybe some inspiration too if that's what you're seeking. Otherwise, this a bit like the NPR show How I Built This in writing. Good st ...more
Anandh Sundar
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book deserves a 5* because instead of reproducing success stories of the Dollar Shave Club and other D2C consumer startups, it also gives the failture/underplayed stories of the few others in the segments of luggage, matresses, as also the listed player who sells on Amazon. Some notes from the book which explains how the confluence of lean manufacturing(and small lot size), Alibaba, Ad-tech and 'Just good enough' helped wins, but why future will be hard

(a) It was so successful that it could
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Brat
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books
I stumbled upon this book in an article and immediately acquired it. This was the thing I have been wanting to understand – how can a small upstart launch a consumer brand and take over the big giants that have painstakingly built a brand and a business around it for so many decades?
The book has some wonderful case studies and explains the story behind the rise of many of these companies and how they have disrupted across so many categories. Starting off with Dollar Shave Club, to multiple menti
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James Lovaas
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In what seems like a moment, we move from the totally new to the familiar. For example, the touchscreen phone went from an option for those that wanted the newest gadget to an integral part of our daily lives over a period of just a few years. Similarly, there are millions of people across the globe that have become accustomed to ordering products as diverse as razor blades, mattresses, contacts and even eye glasses from online manufacturers and stores. Billion Dollar Brand Club introduces us to ...more
Karin Künnapas
Apr 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book gave a quite in depth look to some of the new disruptors in straight to consumer products and how they have changed the lives for big brand manufacturers. This covered everything from razor blades, bras, eyeglasses to even mattresses.

There were many stories I had no idea about and I liked how sometimes these have left the feeling that they were an overnight success (i.e Dollar Shave Club and the viral video), then here Lawrence actually goes into the backstory and how long it took to
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Thk
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Glad to have picked this up a the local library (thanks again for investing in such up-to-date books).

I had read previously of Dollar Shave Club and Casper through Businessweek/Fortune, but had no idea how developed such startups have become in recent years, and how they had disrupted the various business sectors and upending common business wisdom.

The author provides an expansive and comprehensive view of the various startups, how they had utilised the rise of the internet, the commodification
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Donna Hines
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
Money is the bottom dollar.
I don't care what business we are speaking- cheap products- with a year or two (tops) warranty are crowding the market.
Everything you buy these days literally falls apart in your hands while the founders scramble for even cheaper avenues to bring them too you.
It's a dog eat dog world in which the faster maker isn't always the best and the one with the most product floods the market to bang out the monopolies.
Even with the proof it's nothing new and nothing has changed
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Chris Gilbert
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Picked this one up by chance but certainly enjoyed the read and recommend it. Lawrence covers several Unicorn companies and their rags to riches tails all tied together by their similarities in the DTC approach.

One of the more powerful ideas of the book is that the internet has made it possible for small disruptors to challenge the largest incumbents of the world by creating a new customer experience that is highly scalable. Despite being spread across several different industries all the compan
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Christian
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I don’t work in this space but D2C brands have fascinated me since Dollar Shave Club came on the scene, and have since watched them take over Target and the mall. I reference these brands frequently in the work my agency does for startups so it was great to get a deeper insight into HOW these brands scale.

The book tells stories of brands like Warby Parker and Away, and the technology and venture capital firms underpinning them like Forerunner VC or Locus Robotics.
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Trapezio
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, e-commerce
With its simple language and interesting premise of the role of D2C brands today and the future, the book would be interesting to anyone who is into business. The role of the internet (exception maybe is Amazon) and its impact on consumers has been frankly far less sweeping than some of the loudest voices of last decade. This book encapsulates some of the real learnings of successful and failed attempts in shifting to 'click in net and consume at home' enterprises. D2C brands, their nascent birt ...more
Huy
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Sung
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is a fun read on the origins and evolution of some beloved DTC brands taking over industry goliaths in sectors that have seen little to no innovation in decades. From Dollar Shave Club to Casper to Glossier, the author takes you through the journey of these new age brands and the VC investors and ecosystem players that have been pivotal in their story.

The author provides a comprehensive view of how leading DTC ventures leveraged social media, growing sophistication in global supply ch
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Madhukara
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In our day to day life, we use products from a dozen different brands which are mostly bought online. We rarely stop to think it's a very recent phenomenon and there was a different world where things were not online.

This book shows how direct to consumer revolution started in 2010 and how different companies started changing the way we buy things. Every chapter talks about different companies and different aspects of the business. Each chapter is short and to the point. In no place, the author
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Zulugoat
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great short instructive book, well written and with tons of interesting insights

One thing I would love to ask the author however...

How are you able to say that most of the fake 5-star reviews on Amazon are from Chinese companies?

It seems to be a crazy assertion that is at best impossible to measure and prove and at worst, indicative of some kind of pretty problematic bias... frankly well beneath the tone/rigor of the rest of the book... please avoid this kind of thing in the future... no America
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Rohit Nallapeta
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's a fun read and a fantastic book on evolution and revolution stories of brands. This book depicts the realities of things playing out in the retail market. If you're in eCommerce, marketing, branding or any kind of online selling(including enterprise software), this book is a good starting to point to understand the movement of retail. The author narrates the revolution of Direct to the consumer market and traces stories of some recently created iconic brands and the effort that took to crea ...more
Ryan Treft
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book for anyone in ecommerce. Loved it... even though it didn't age well in the few months since publishing. Harry's never closed on the deal with Edgewell. Brandless, Casper, Rockets of Awesome, Away, Outdoor Voices, etc have all raised more than they're worth. And they can't blame corona either.

https://marker.medium.com/why-all-the...

I love these brands. I have a ton of respect for the founders and I'm a customer of many of them. But the path of raising insane amounts of $ has a major do
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Georgianna Carlos
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very easy to read (or listen since I went with an audiobook). Fun storytelling which describes the journey of many direct to consumer brands. Interesting and can be inspiring. Do note this isn’t a book about branding per se but more of, how did a number of direct to consider brands differentiated themselves from old, traditional players?

Recommend this to those who are starting their own brand to be sold online. If ever, since the book is all about the same business models more or less, I felt so
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Aarthy
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars ⭐️

What an easy, wonderful and insightful read. I am extremely familiar with a lot of DTC brands that have emerged and taken over the market like behemoths since the start of social media marketing. However, even with my knowledge in these brands, it was really great to get insider information on exactly how these branded started and where they ended up. In summary, if you are interested in DTC, whether you have knowledge on it or just tapping into this space, this is a good book on th
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Greg Kopstein
Apr 07, 2021 rated it liked it
In today’s era of direct to consumer brands and mystical unicorns of millennial business, this book is definitely a business manual for our time. But it’s more of a good concept, then good execution. It has a lot of potential, but it is too scattered to do justice to any specific brand. There should be standalone chapters to just a handful of success stories - billion dollar brands - and maybe one or two studies of failures. Perhaps some brands fail because there’s too much competition for atten ...more
Junaid MJ
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm a student at University in the UK, and I'm currently focusing on building a DTC brand. I'm at the stage where I've done a few months research, have come up with around 50 ideas and we're distilling those down to see which is best to move ahead with.

This book has been an awesome read, especially with it allowing me to consider DTC companies I hadn't even looked at before - and I enjoyed your style of writing, with the comedy and analysis throughout. I'm sure this book will become a cult clas
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Evelyn J. J.
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lawrence Ingrassia's journalistic background underlies his approach to couch business lessons and direct-to-consumer brand insights in story instead of the other way around. The result is a wonderful read and insights that are easier to remember because their story context is well-told and memorable.

In addition to behind-the-scenes looks at Dollar Shave Club, Away, Warby Parker, Glossier and other direct-to-consumer brands, there are valuable lessons on listening to customers, brand building, v
...more
Dan
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Intriguing and well researched, but tough to follow.

Billion Dollar Brands goes into depth on a number of direct to consumer brands, comparing them to their Fortune 500 competitors and going deep into the motivations and backgrounds of their founders. It’s a really interesting read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship, strategy and marketing. My only issue was the flow of storytelling, which bounced back and forth between stories and was difficult to follow at points.
Lincoln Karuhanga
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable. You'll not find yourself mind-blown or anything but it's a good journey through the d2c landscape that touches on why large incumbents fail to respond to market changes.
Something that constantly irked me is most of these brands don't have that large a moat and aren't really that innovative. They just tell the right story, are cheaper and more convenient than incumbents. Quite telling that lots of VC money heads their way.
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