How MVMT Watches Boostrapped Their Way From Zero To A $300M Exit in 5 Years While Disrupting The Watch Industry In The Process [Case Study]
Imagine being 22 years old with 20,000$ in debt.
You’re dreaming about buying a watch to show off in front of your friends, but there’s no way you can simply drop 1000$ or even 500$ to get yourself the beautiful watch you really want. This industry has been around for decades and it’s simply impossible to find a watch that’s both beautiful and affordable with high quality.
So instead of falling under the pressure and abandoning your dream, you get the idea of disrupting one of the oldest, most legacy-filled and competitive industries in the world with brands making over $8 billion per year, by building your own brand.
Sounds crazy, right?
Well, in 2013, that’s exactly what happened to the founders of the world’s fastest-growing watch brand: MVMT co-founders Jake Kassan and Kramer LaPlante.
At the time, the former was working as a valet to pay off debt from his previous ventures…
Fast-forward five years later and the watch brand has made over $100m without any external venture capital or business angel funding. Today, the company has sold over 1.5 million watches, sunglasses, and other accessories in over 160+ countries worldwide.
In August 2018, Movado Group decided to acquire the brand for $300 million with a net benefit of $170 million for the 27 and 26-year-olds. As the company was 100% privately owned, this will go straight into their pockets.
So how did they do it?
One answer: by leveraging social media and using strong digital marketing strategies.
Every successful start-up started with a disruptive idea. But anyone can have disruptive ideas; it’s the execution that matters.
Kassan and LaPlante have managed to build themselves an empire off of the hidden needs of the Millenials generation by understanding how the 20-somethings interact with the digital world.
This led to the first-ever watch brand selling solely online. Although they initially had the intentions to move into retail, their digital success coupled with some advice from Shark Tank’s Daymond John made them stick to what they’re good at: online retail.
The usual start-up story goes like this: have an idea, do the market research and write a business plan, rap up a huge amount of capital to fund your first round of product and pray for the next few years that your products will be able to haul in enough cash through marketing strategies to pay your investors back.
But what’s really impressive about MVMT’s story isn’t the fact that these two men have managed to build a successful start-up dropping out of college (that story is starting to get somewhat common nowadays), but that they’ve managed to create successful strategies, step-by-step, understanding the mechanics of different platforms at different points in time, and have put it all together to create a very strong brand while using 0 external funding.
In this article, my partner Max Andersson and I have analyzed MVMT’s digital marketing strategies to understand and unveil what has made the brand so successful. We’ve also taken a look at what they’re doing today and how they can improve in the future – and believe me, there’s still lots of room for improvement.
Let’s get started with how MVMT got to where they are now: through social
Crowdfunding isn’t a social media per se, but it’s an important channel in MVMT’s story and the way it happened is important both in the early success of the company, but also in the way they handled other social media platforms later on.
Without any cash or external investment to launch their new product, Kassan and LaPlante turned to crowdfund with their new concept: beautiful, high-quality watches at an affordable price.
However, the most common crowdfunding website, Kickstarter, refused their pitch. And they didn’t just refuse it once, they refused it TWO TIMES…
But instead of giving up on crowdfunding as a source of cash and selling their souls to investors, they decided to turn to another platform: Indiegogo.
They fixed their initial goal at $15,000. Within 50 days of launching the campaign, they had raised over $300,000 from 3000 backers, becoming the second most-funded fashion brand on Indiegogo in 2013.
What’s very important to understand here is that MVMT’s founders were not a bad crowdfunding product as Kickstarter had suggested with their refusals, but they simply needed to find the right platform with the right audience for their product.
And that’s exactly what they found at Indiegogo.
To make sure their campaign would stand out with the users of this particular platform, they included specific information such as:
- Information regarding the brand, the vision and the mission of the founders