The success of such digital brands as Warby Parker in eyewear, Glossier in cosmetics and Casper in mattresses has inspired many other entrepreneurs to launch their own brands online. But while Warby Parker has risen to No. 167 in the 2019 Internet Retailer Top 1000, Glossier to No. 417 and Casper to No. 130, many startups any are finding it hard to stand out and grow beyond a narrow audience.
Win Brands founder and CEO Kyle Widrick
That’s where Win Brands Group comes in. The holding group aims to acquire brands that have reached at least $5 million in annual sales and help them grow by providing the financial backing and marketing and ecommerce technology expertise that many startups lack.
“We’re looking to acquire five new brands each year and to build out a community of amazing and unique brands across several product categories and power them all across this same shared-services team and approach,” says founder and CEO Kyle Widrick.
Win Brands has acquired four companies so far, including Bow & Drape, which sells customized, often humorous, apparel and accessories, such as sweatshirts bearing slogans like “You Had Me at Merlot” and “Let Me Drink About It.” That deal was announced this month.
Earlier acquisitions include Homesick Candles and Stowaway Cosmetics. Widrick says he has just closed on a fourth deal that will be announced soon. Win Brands also internally developed two brands so that his 15-person team could hone its capabilities, but in the future, the focus will be on acquiring existing brands. Collectively, the six brands in the current portfolio will generate about $40 million in sales in 2019, Widrick says.
Before founding Win Brands in 2017, Widrick was CEO of ecommerce agency Brand Value Accelerator, also known as BVAccel, which focused on building brand sites on the Shopify Inc. platform and providing marketing services. Clients included MVMT Watches, acquired in 2018 by Movado Group Inc. (No. 414 2019 Internet Retailer Top 1000 ranking of North America’s leading online retailers), Kylie Cosmetics (No. 176) and Boll & Branch (No. 432).
Widrick recruited a handful of Shopify employees for Win Brands, and they are based in Ottawa, Canada, while the remainder of the Win Brands team is headquartered in lower Manhattan.
Win Brands has raised nearly $10 million in capital from investors including Chris Burch, who helped build the accessories brand of his ex-wife Tory Burch and has funded other consumer businesses. Among those serving as an advisor to Win Brands is Jake Kassan, CEO of MVMT Watches, Widrick says.
Sales through four channels
While MVMT was able to build itself into an online brand generating $100 million in annual revenue, Widrick says, “for every MVMT there are dozens of others that struggle to get to that size and scale.” He says Win Brands seeks to help its portfolio companies sell across a variety of channels: their own websites, online marketplaces like Amazon.com, in retail stores and wholesale to other retailers through business-to-business web portals like Faire.com.
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