BAKblade: $7M Per Year Shaving Men's Hairy Backs

The Story of BAKblade

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello, my name is Matt Dryfhout and my wife is Angelina Dryfhout. We are the co-founders of BAKblade, LLC, a brand offering easy and pain-free solutions to solve back and body management.

While we offer several items including DIY back shavers, blade replacement packs, liquid shower soap, & travel cases, our most popular product is certainly our BAKblade 2.0 back shaver. The BAKblade 2.0 offers the most economical, easy-to-use and pain-free solution to manage back hair.

Our biggest market is certainly millennials who we have found are the most self-conscious generation to date. Since most millennials very self-conscious they often would rather avoid embarrassing, expensive solutions and instead choose a behind-the-door, less expensive, and quick solution in managing this problem.

After an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaign in 2016, we had a campaign video featuring a husband and wife in marriage counseling because the husband was in denial of his back hair. When the camera panned from the wife to the husband he turned out to be an 800lb gorilla that was ranting and raving.

The video was picked up initially by the Business Insider and 72 hours after the video was released we had over 30 million views. The video went on to do over 240 million views between several Facebook pages including Business Insider, Yahoo, Mashable, Unilad, Fortify, Broternity, LADbible, etc. The success of the video really led to other large media opportunities including the Today Show and other news outlets.

Our mission statement is to design and create unique products with unique content to solve unique problems. Our goal to restore confidence back in our customers which ultimately breeds success in their lives.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

After personally experiencing the embarrassing reality of having back hair my wife Angelina would often grudgingly take on the role of shaving my back for me in order to keep myself from looking like a gorilla at the beach. It wasn’t until 2008 when a downturn in the economy forced us to think about developing our own product and brand that we could maintain more control over.

After many discussions that circled around our own problems or inconveniences that we’ve encountered in life it wasn’t until the subject of “back hair” came up that we both realized it was a problem for both of us and we knew we weren’t the only couple dealing with it.

Soon after the video was posted it collected about 30 million hits in the first 72 hours and afterwards went onto do a collective 240 million hits on Facebook pages owned by Mashable, Yahoo, MSN, CNBC, Fortify, and several others.

We purchased most of the options that were available on the market to solve this problem only to realize that most of them didn’t work or perform that way we would have wished. Not to mention that laser hair removal and waxing were both very expensive, painful and booking appointments is something that most men hate doing.

I was fully employed with food & pharmaceutical machinery company when I racked up $5,000 of credit card debt to make our first cheap aluminum mold we knew we were literally jumping in feet first with no idea what we were doing or where we were going. We had zero experience in the field of health and personal care nor did we have experience with razors. The only thing we did know for certain was that we have drive and persistence and we were going to figure this out one way or another.

Since at this point whatever sales were coming in were online only this “side venture” didn’t interfere with my full-time position I was able to stay employed while I slowly began to grow the business.

We are constantly scrutinizing our products and in order to validate the constant evolution that we put our products through we have several methods that we use to make certain our technology is always evolving for the better.

One method we use is with a great partner of ours called Yotpo. Yotpo allows us to take raw customer feedback and reviews and look at the overall consensus and make the decision to make the important tweaks or changes that are necessary.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the product.

From the beginning, we knew that Angelina was going to have a large influence over the brand.

She has always understood brands and why certain brands stand out over others. She explained to me earlier on that you can have a superior brand that sells an average product. Since we both knew we had a superior product we knew that a superior brand would only help our company that much more.

One thing in particular was our website design. Early on the website was much too busy and cluttered. As you can see now our website is much cleaner and crisp.

I took the reins on the design functionality, as well as the “look and feel” of the product. Communicating with CADD engineers I found myself learning more each day about a subject that was ultimately foreign to me.

I found myself filling notebooks full of sketches with a number of different approaches to both the aesthetic appearance of the shaver and communicating those sketches to my engineers.

Blending our ideas together just worked from the beginning and we found ourselves coming up with new ideas every day. The creative part of the process is certainly where we both have the most fun.

Describe the process of launching the business.

At the absolute beginning, it was literally myself setting up a very economical Wix website just to get things started out. Obviously, over time we had merged to WooCommerce and then to Shopify PLUS which currently suits us very well for the time being.

Our first mold

We had taken about $5,000.00 to have our very first aluminum mold manufactured. This mold was to create our original BAKblade 1.0 version.

The 1.0 was very “bare-bones” since we didn’t have much money to produce all the “bells & whistles” that we wanted. The process was scary because we had no idea what we were doing but we did take it a step at a time with some deep breaths along the way.

The Kickstarter

Our Kickstarter campaign was not meant to launch our company but merely our new BAKblade 2.0 DIY Back Shaver as well as to gain more public exposure to the brand. What ended up happening with our campaign was truly a matter of the stars aligning.

We had raised about $150,000 with about 3 days left in the campaign when an editor from the Business Insider emailed me asking if we would allow them to post our Kickstarter Video on their Facebook page. To be honest, I was so busy at the time that I didn’t even see the email for a full 24 hours before I emailed him back saying that I really appreciated his offer and “yes of course I would love that!”.

The viral video

Soon after the video was posted it collected about 30 million hits in the first 72 hours and afterwards went onto do a collective 240 million hits on Facebook pages owned by Mashable, Yahoo, MSN, CNBC, Fortify, and several others.

We ended up raising over $1million dollar between our Kickstarter and our Indiegogo campaigns. Putting our video out there like that really allowed the brand to gaining a stronger following overnight and since then the PR opportunities that come to us haven’t stopped.

I would tell anyone who is launching a new product that I would highly suggest surrounding yourself with people that have experience in the field of manufacturing. Whether you need to make a mold, or a textile, it’s important you understand that you cannot possibly see all of the potential pitfalls ahead. This is not to discourage but to empower and protect yourself so you can have a fantastic launch.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We have hired on a PR team which helps us keep our brand in front of the hundred of major news outlets on a monthly basis.

Whether the topic may be “Biggest Shopping Event Ever” or “How this dad’s hairy back made him a millionaire” we certainly want BAKblade to be in front and center.

Here are a couple press pieces that have done well:

Putting out the right content for our brand is so incredibly important. We have a fantastic team that creates and uploads BAKblade content to all of the social media platforms.

We currently use a group that helps push relevant content out on a daily basis. The content that we push out is a healthy balance between “a real product that solves a real problem” and also an undertone of “tongue and cheek”.

We know the problem is something that we and our customers can have fun with and so we make sure we don’t lose that.

Social media

Furthermore, we spend quite a bit of advertising dollars on those same social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram.

Staying in-tune with our audience is also another key factor that we make certain we prioritize with retargeting and creating lookalike audiences within on online digital efforts.

Email marketing

Weekly newsletters which include relevant content is very crucial in keeping the attention of our audience and gaining new members.

The key with our newsletter was making sure that we included a rewards program that would include loyalty discounts for our customers. Between our loyalty points keeping content relevant to our audience were two key factors in keeping the mood inviting and attractive.

A membership

Since we are selling a consumable it’s very important that we are constantly targeting and retargeting new and existing customers.

We recently launched our membership program which allows our customers to opt in to a membership model that ships blades to their door every 2 months without any hassle. Our members can cancel anytime and shipping is free.

Currently, the membership program is solely based on receiving our blade cartridges once every 60 days. However, we do plan on incorporating other products into the program in 2019.

Amazon

Amazon is by far a platform you should absolutely be selling on. They are a company that is always moving and reinventing themselves and it’s the type of platform that can really excel and grow your business quickly.

We currently sell on Amazon and we have been doubling our business from year-to-year consistently over the last 5 years.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today we are concentrating heavily both adding new products to our line as well as growing our membership model which brings blade cartridges to your door on a monthly basis.

You need to ask yourself if you want to create a product, brand and business for the sole purpose of “making money” or do you actually want to create and own a product, brand and business.

While currently our average monthly sales with Amazon.com alone is $500,000 we have recently started selling products in brick and mortar retail with Bed, Bath & Beyond and we have seen our weekly sales literally double in just a couple of months. This gives us confirmation that our audience is clear and present.

We are also continuing to grow our brand internationally and have seen some recent successes with retail brick and mortar in Australia and other parts of Europe.

Furthermore, we are being selective about which brick and mortar retailers we sell in. Today we are in Bed, Bath & Beyond and our sales have been above our expectations. We are also in discussions with at least 2 more that we would consider for 2019. yeah

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

If I were to have a conversation with my early entrepreneur self it would be something like:

Listen Matt, I want to tell you how proud I am of the work that you’ve put into this venture thus far.

You have come very far but the journey has just begun and I want you to know that although the road is definitely going to be bumpy you do have the talent and persistence to go the distance.

The future may not always be roses and sunshine but I can promise you that your future situation will certainly reflect all your hard work so keep going!

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We currently utilize ShopifyPLUS for our online presence. We put more concentration on growing and developing our products and brand which is why we utilize a 3PL to manage most of our shipping and logistics nationwide.

When building a brand today it is so crucial that your brand is properly represented. We take to social media for this aspect and have had quite a bit of growth in the last few years because what we’ve been doing on social media. Getting influencers and other “out of the box” campaigns has really set up apart from any competitors.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I would say that Rich Dad Poor Dad was certainly a book that put things into perspective for both of us some years ago.

That book taught me to rethink some things and helped me gauge a new perspective and outlook on success.

For Angelina, it was more of an ongoing attention to brand detail and awareness that led her to put forward some of the cleanest and transparent content that we publicize and continue to release.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

My biggest piece of advice is to make certain that you examine yourself before deciding to take on a venture.

You need to ask yourself if you want to create a product, brand and business for the sole purpose of “making money” or do you actually want to create and own a product, brand and business. Too many people want to enjoy the spoils that a successful business have provide but without the passion their light will eventually burn out.

Second, you need to ask yourself if you have a driven personality. Creating and sustaining a business takes so much more work once it starts to grow and if you are not a person that feeds off of drive and ambition then I would rethink things before you start investing large sums of money.

Finally, I would like to say my biggest lesson through the years has been to make certain I surround myself around people who have talents are knowledge of things that I lack. Trying to tackle everything on your own can certainly burn you out quickly so make sure you seek those people when you don’t have the answers.

Where can we go to learn more?

Learn more at bakblade.com

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