New York-built Bespoke Post toasted with Lot18, on Aug 2018, on the addition of a wine club to its subscription box services. Thanks to the partnership, Bespoke Post subscribers can opt for home-delivery of handpicked bottles from winemakers across the globe.
Co-founder and CEO – Bespoke Post, Rishi Prabhu, notes that while the subscription service’s current male-dominated user-base loves beer and spirits, they were also quite excited about the wine offering.
“It’s an untapped market of wine drinkers who might not necessarily be wine experts, but who like to drink wine and want a high quality, affordable, and easy-to-use service to get wine delivered to their door,” he added.
A quiz to ascertain taste preferences helps the New York-based startup deliver curated goods and guidance to the modern man. From coffee brewing kits to pret a porter fashion, subscribers can choose from a variety of customized and thematic “boxes of awesome”. It also regularly shares advice on how men should look, cook, drink, and generally be en vogue.
What Men Really Want
Yet, the precursor to Bespoke Post was not at all linked to tapping into the male psyche or catering to those needs.
It all began in June 2011 when erstwhile Kellogg School students, Rishi Prabhu and Steven Szaronos, toyed with the idea of setting up a mobile advertising firm called Nabfly. They even went so far as to build an app prototype, with grants from Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator’s (ERA) 2011 summer program. But before the startup could really take wing, the Kellogg alumni pivoted from their original vision.
“We had worked on a completely different business idea,” Szaronos told Uncubed, “which we abandoned about a week before our demo day.”
Noticing a real need-gap in the online men’s consumer market, the B-School friends hatched the idea behind Bespoke Post in the next seven days.
“Most people focus on women, we saw that men’s ecommerce was growing rapidly and there was little innovation in the space,” said Prabhu. Armed with just $10,000 left over from the funding, the efforts on making the newly-conceptualised ‘Bespoke Post’ a successful ERA demo project was a go.
They began functioning as a ’bare-bones’ operation in November 2011. Prabhu and Szaronos started shipping some parcels to 100 male recipients, completely owning the packing and shipping logistics between the two of them. They began to make money right away, with each box priced at $40. Very soon, they realized that they just couldn’t do it all on their own – Bespoke Post was growing exponentially.
One thing led to the next and Bespoke Post received $750,000 in seed funding in 2012 – a sizeable chunk of which they invested into building the right team. Then having carved a special niche for itself, in Oct 2017, Bespoke Post raised $6 million in a Series A funding. The new funding was received from the likes of Walden Venture Capital, Scout Ventures, and Kiwi Venture Partners.
Today, the service helps elevate the lifestyle of discerning young gentlemen ‘who give a damn’ by offering them a taste of various brands that they wouldn’t have ordinarily tried. At last count, the platform had 125,000+ active subscribers.
Strategic Partnerships FTW
The ‘box of awesome’ keeps its costs low by negotiating better deals with brand partners. In exchange, Bespoke Post offers these brands a forum to market their wares specifically to the Gen-Y males.
With Diageo, the Bespoke Post created a subscription box made up of videos from an expert mixologist, and almost everything (except alcohol) one needs to start a bar at home. This way the liquor brand was able to encourage more people to dabble in mixing drinks and Bespoke Post gained access to quality products to customers
With American Airlines they even launched a box featuring a one day pass to the AA Admirals Club and a 10% off coupon for their flight, amongst other travel essentials. Additionally, a media partnership with Details magazine gave Bespoke post editorial spreads of their summer box.
Market-Watch for Subscription Boxes
Such subscription box services have really captured everyone’s attention, to almost become a movement. So much so that the market has grown from $57M (in 2011) to more than $2.9B today.
Yet, it’s a tough space to make it big in, even with the razor-sharp focus on just one demographic – men. The likes of Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s, Stitch Fix, and Trendy Butler have already started to tread down this path of focusing on just the ‘not-so-fair’ sex. And each of them focuses on just one type of product. For instance, Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club are your go-to place for just shaving essentials, while Stitch Fix and Trendy Butler offer only tailored-to-fit outfits. Owing to stiff competition for a share of the same wallet, there are signs of impending subscription fatigue.
To beat this clutter, Bespoke Post is trying to offer something unique – je ne sais quois. Unlike the competition, the startup delivers delightful surprises across many business verticals – ranging from fashion and grooming to consumables and other luxury lifestyle items.
The curation service also seeks to break through the crowded marketplace with a monthly box of upscale items, ranging from travel bags to grooming essentials, targeted at the discerning 25 to 35-year-old urban male. “We’ve somehow figured out [how to resonate with] that key male demographic,” said Prabhu. Also, since most people are not comfortable paying for a box of mystery items, Bespoke Post lets users know exactly what they are receiving every month.
A Forbes article reports that most (90%) of Bespoke Post’s users are men, and 76% are aged between 21 and 40 (with a median age of 32). Also, the service attracts users, 60% of whom earn over $85,000 per year.
Pay Only for What Ships
PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index™ (SCCI) indicates that the top 20 subscription services in the US can be cancelled by users at any time. This sort of a flexible subscription model is essentially what Bespoke Post also uses to build a strong bond with the subscribers and earn their loyalty. This could also explain the service’s low churn rate – under 5%.
Subscribers can easily opt out, for a particular month, if they are short on funds, just do not like the contents of the boxes, or for no reason at all. It has no subscription fees and no strings attached. Users need only pay for what ships every month.
Also, thanks to the economies of scale associated with subscription boxes and the ability to predict demand with user purchase analysis, Bespoke Post is able to pass on profits to the user. The “hamper of awesome”, usually priced at $45, is almost 35% cheaper than the total Maximum Retail Value (MRP) of its products (over $70).
In the near future, Bespoke Post hopes to expand its consumables vertical with the launch of its “Provisions” subscription service comprising of its soon-to-be-revealed batch of private label products (including a curated collection of coffees and soaps).