Tuft & Needle and Native knew their first products fell short
Failing fast is considered a business virtue if not an outright imperative today. But that doesn’t eliminate “Huh, what?” moments when you hear the founders of well-known direct-to-consumer brands admit that they knew that the products they first went to market with weren’t all that good.
“We launched with a pretty mediocre product,” said Moiz Ali, founder and CEO of Native, at the Recode Code Commerce event in New York this week. “We quickly realized there was a need for a better-for-you deodorant and customers were willing to pay a higher price for it, but we also realized we didn’t have that product — so the first year of business was just us trying to figure out how to make a better product.”
Native, which promotes its deodorant and soap lines for men and women as being made in the U.S. without aluminum or parabens while eschewing animal testing, recently announced that it was making the transition from an online-only brand to shelves of Target’s stores. Mr. Ali, who told The Wall Street Journal that the company’s plan was always to move into brick and mortar retail, sold Native to Procter & Gamble earlier this year.
Mr. Ali was joined at the Recode conference by JT Marino, co-founder of the mattress-in-a-box company, Tuft & Needle.
“That was never our expectation, that our first version would be the one,” said Mr. Marino. “Our background is in technology, and what you learn in software and technology production is ‘release early and release often’ and iterate based on customer feedback as fast as you can.”
Mr. Marino and Tuft & Needle co-founder Daehee Park recently sold the company to Serta Simmons Bedding. The two co-founders will continue to lead Tuft & Needle while adding their expertise to their parent company’s omnichannel efforts. Serta Simmons, which is the largest manufacturer of mattresses in the world, will add Tuft & Needle’s mattresses to the list of products that can be sold through its retail partner network.
- ‘We launched with a pretty mediocre product’ — how two direct-to-consumer startups iterated to success – Recode
- Another Web Brand Wants to Be Sold in Stores – The Wall Street Journal
- Maverick mattress e-tailer Tuft & Needle sells out to Serta Simmons – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your takeaway from Moiz Ali and JT Marino’s comments at the Recode Code Commerce event? What are the implications for direct-to-consumer startups and established brands and retailers?