It isn't. But seemingly foolproof playbooks are.
Over the last few years, we've seen many digital-first consumer brands reach Rs 10-15 cr ARR.
For a period of time, the DTC playbook worked perfectly - build a basic shopfront website, wrap a basic product in a bright and breezy lifestyle message, then spend a chunk of change on cheap social ads to buy a customer base.
But sadly, the dream quickly became a nightmare as everyone got the same idea. When you compete for the same customer using the same format, something’s got to give. And it did.
When the price of those social ads rocketed alongside CAC, that already tiny margin of profitability started to plummet.
These days the growth trajectory from Rs 15 to 100 cr and from Rs 100 to 500 cr ARR looks very different. It’s less about cheap reach and more about reliable returns.
In many ways, this marks a return to fundamentals and foundational thinking with the right unit economics, profitability and metrics in place.
Slow and steady now wins the race. Building a brand is a long term game.
Sharing a few great pieces that have caught my eye and that are entirely aligned with my own process. I’ve compiled a few of them below:
An in-depth overview of how the unicorn model, pioneered by a16z, is coming to a swift close.
'Because it was easy to raise capital, the goal was to prioritize growth and worry about the cash burn later.'
A great overview in Fast Company of what the next generation of startups might look like.
‘In the long run, bootstrapping and retail partnerships may lead to higher quality products and more enduring businesses.’
John List, the former chief economist of Lyft and Uber on whether your idea has the voltage to scale.
"Identifying the signature elements that can prevent an idea from taking off can actually help you work out how or whether to scale it".
Follow your instincts, not your competitors.
DTC isn’t dead. But seemingly foolproof DTC playbooks are.
Have a lovely week :-)