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THE FINAL WORD / Conversations with Business and Technology Leaders

Nearly everyone has heard of Dollar Shave Club. Chances are good that you or someone you know is a member. But how did a company founded just a few years ago vault to become the number two razor company in America, just behind Gillette? We spoke with CEO Michael Dubin about the rise of the marketer CEO, what makes Dollar Shave Club uniquely successful, and why everyone should practice their Rubik’s Cube skills.

More and more CEOs are coming from the marketing ranks. Why do you think this trend has taken so long to develop?

I think there’s been a shift in what consumers want from brands. It’s no longer enough to provide just a high-quality product—consumers want to feel an emotional connection to the brands they support. With this shift, companies are looking to create a memorable and engaging experience. We think of DSC as an experience company, and having a background in marketing is extremely valuable.

Disrupting industries has been the buzz lately, largely by companies taking advantage of technology. But DSC seems to have taken advantage of mindshare. Can you comment?

I would say we’ve taken advantage of both technology and mindshare.

There’s a lot of technology that powers DSC—from the custom-built backend to our new fulfillment center to our digital products. By investing in building these technologies, we’re able to give our members a reliable, fun service that adds convenience to their life.

Grabbing mindshare has been successful because we’re telling very resonant stories about how DSC is the smarter way to handle your shaving and grooming—but we’re not pushy with it. We don’t criticize your current habits or tell you it’s mandatory to buy our hair gel to get the girl or guy.

Do you view DSC as a disruptor? Was that a primary goal when the company was founded?

Yes, I view DSC as a disruptor. We are the #2 seller of men’s razors in the US behind Gillette and we’ve launched over 20 additional grooming products. Our goal from the beginning was to be a complete men’s grooming company. We started by solving the problem of purchasing razors, and we’ve since developed other products for the bathroom to solve other frustrations men experience daily.

DSC has been successful leveraging social media. Can you talk about how social media will play a part in the future of retail business?

Social media is and will continue to be a key component in creating a relationship with your consumer. When consumers tweet to a company or post on their Facebook page, they want to feel connected to the brand. They aren’t looking for a canned or overly salesy response.

Our social media team looks to provide a fun, authentic response to members and fans when they engage with us. I remember one guy commented on a Facebook post saying he wouldn’t join if we couldn’t solve a Rubik’s Cube in under two minutes. We accepted the challenge and responded with a video of one of the guys on the engineering team doing just that.

Who is your business role model?

Howard Schultz. Starbucks created a lifestyle out of a commodity item, and we’re looking to do the same with razors and grooming supplies.

Who do you think is doing innovation really well?

Dyson. Dyson has innovated vacuums, fans, and now hair dryers in both a functional and beautiful way.

Video has been very successful for your marketing. Do you see a future for DSC in virtual reality?

Virtual reality is part of the future. We’re definitely taking a look at some interesting opportunities.

What’s been the best advice you’ve received?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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