Using digital tools and novel funding arrangements, it’s never been easier for young entrepreneurs to link their creative ideas to the capital necessary to get things off the ground, and sell to consumers directly.
One of the hottest new business models now is direct-to-consumer sales. Today, the internet and modern shipping technology has taken the art of old-school street hawking to a science. Cutting out expensive distributors and engaging with consumers directly offers fat profits to anyone willing to seize the day. Millennials are already taking note.
“We’re trying to build a business to be as big as we can by providing a good product for people at a good price,” said Ben Cogan, the CEO and co-founder of Hubble, a direct-to-consumer contact lens provider. The company created a stir when it launched in November of 2016, generating a storm of publicity and putting the contact lenses universe on notice. “I have worn contact lenses for a long time. I know the price of contacts went up a lot. I realized that this business model could be applied to contacts.”
Cogan got the idea after a three-year stint at Harry’s Shave Club. What Harry’s did for razors, Cogan believed could be applicable for contact lenses and a host of other industries, and investors agreed. The millennial entrepreneur and Forbes 30 under 30 awardee has already banked $7.2 million in seed funding.
While not every industry is ripe for direct-to-consumer — don’t expect direct to consumer toenail clippers — many things are, and successful companies are already being built to distribute direct to buyers. In addition to razors and contacts, there’s neckties, fun sock clubs, and nutritional supplements.
It’s not just lower costs that are attracting buyers. As anyone who has ever struggled to ask a question in Best Buy can attest, the growing automation of mass market retail stores has become at best annoying and at worst a reason to skip shopping altogether. High-end brands like Apple may have attendants buzzing a mile a minute, but they are increasingly the exception that proves the rule. One of the core promises of Hubble and other direct-to-consumer retailers is rebuilding the bonds between between consumer and retailer.
“You’ll always speak to a human,” when you call Hubble, Cogan reassured.
In addition to better service, direct-to-consumer also allows companies to curate their consumer audience with greater precision by building valuable email distributions that better connect individuals to the products they want to buy. Those who purchase direct can be certain that every product in every size and color will be present, and there is no fear of third-party knock-offs.
The time for the next great idea is always now. Advancements that propel the human race forward are limited only by the creativity of those who can dream them. Millennials, with their finger on the pulse of the latest innovations and technology are uniquely positioned to take up the mantle.
Have something to add to this story? Comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.
Header image: Getty