Welcome to this month’s edition of Bootstrapped Heroes Story! Today, we are sharing the incredible journey of Moiz Ali, an inspiring entrepreneur and founder of Native – the fastest growing deodorant company in the United States. Native’s massive success in just 2 years led to its acquisition by Procter & Gamble for $100 Million in 2019!
Read along as we discover how Native achieved such incredible success and uncover the valuable lessons.
How It All Started
The beginning of Moiz Ali’s entrepreneurial journey began in 2015 with the launch of Native.
A Pakistani-born American and former gas station worker , Moiz was no stranger to the rewards hard work could reap. His parents’ dedication to their craft had left a lasting impression on him, teaching him invaluable lessons about customer service, how to market products, and how the supply chain works.
After working at his parent’s gas station for a few years, Moiz went to Harvard Law school. Within a short two and a half years of practicing law in a prestigious firm, Moiz decided to start his own entrepreneurial journey. He and one of his law school classmates founded Caskers – an online store for craft spirits. However, eventually, one of their best customers acquired their business.
One day, as Moiz stood in a checkout line at a grocery store, he glanced at the label of an Axe deodorant and found himself perplexed by a majority of its ingredients. It was then that an idea sparked in his mind – an idea to make deodorants with natural ingredients! Subsequently, he reached out to a small supplier in Southern California specializing in natural ingredients, and this is how Native was born.
In just two short years, Native skyrocketed to become one of the most explosively-growing deodorant companies in the US. Shaking up the market for natural deodorants with their revolutionary products, they have truly made their mark!
Let’s now explore potential lessons founders and entrepreneurs can learn from this unparalleled journey.
6 Lessons Startups Can Learn From Native
1. Speed of execution is key
From the very outset, the team at Native and Moiz Ali sprung into action. They created an ad hoc version of their natural, toxin-free and ethical deodorant to test the waters in the market. As it happened, wooing customers with a natural solution paid off – they not only bought it but were willing to shell out more for it!
However, although tangible progress had been made, one thing was clear – a major overhaul was needed as this hurriedly put together product fell far from fantastic!
But this didn’t disappoint them! They spent the first year of business sharing different variations of their product with the customers till they found the formula for the perfect one. And once they started receiving good reviews and repeat purchases, they ramped up their marketing efforts. Their reorder rate went from 20 to 50 percent, of which 90 percent of that was because of their product quality.
2. Listen to your customers – carefully, genuinely
While most businesses may claim to care about their customers, Native actually put action behind those words. Moiz created a seamless feedback loop that helped build better customer experiences – from what they like and dislike about products to leaving reviews on the site.
For the first two years of business, Moiz dedicatedly sent out emails to each and every customer asking for their opinion, adding “If you don’t like it, reply and tell us what you don’t like and we’ll try our best to make it right.”
By listening carefully and taking feedback seriously, Moiz was able to create a product that people loved and drove growth quickly. The success of the brand is exemplified by the thousands of 5 star reviews displayed on their website – a testimony to their unwavering dedication and commitment to testing and learning.
Not only this, as deodorant is something that consumers keep in their home daily, Native took the extra step to have an attractive packaging. Plus, shoppers got fast delivery and free returns akin to what Amazon provides its customers – making it the perfect eCommerce experience.
3. Focus on customer retention
Native made sure that their connection with their clients didn’t stop after just one experience! They knew that if they kept customers happy, they would be rewarded with repeat business and dedication to the brand.
Moiz, very early on in the business, decoded his customers’ purchase patterns – how often different people were buying his products – and personalized their experience accordingly.
He also put subscriptions for Native’s deodorant – with a range of delivery intervals to choose from based on individual habits and preferences. Plus, he offered the customers an additional 25% (earlier 15%) discount if they went with the subscription. Today, Native’s repeat customer rate is 50% which is quite impressive.
4. Create a strong brand value proposition
Deodorant isn’t known for evoking emotional attachment or excitement, but when you take a look at Native’s mission statement, it can really make you start considering what type of product you’re using.
“Deodorant that isn’t a chemistry experiment”
This value proposition doesn’t make any health claims or the side effects of using other deodorants but has a far greater impact on the readers. It makes you take notice and start to think twice about what you’re putting on your skin, even if you never took notice of such things earlier.
This is the power of a strong statement – it’s unforgettable.
5. Build word of mouth strategy
Moiz Ali’s team got the ball rolling in the form of a successful word of mouth strategy, inspiring discussion and buzz around their product among friends.
Initially believing it to be more popular amongst males, they were surprised to discover its sudden success with women – mothers sharing it with their daughters and those same daughters then introducing it to all their friends! This organic acquisition played an integral part in driving customer revenue!
6. Invest in digital advertising
Native scoped out the perfect acquisition channels – ones with a low customer acquisition cost and scalability. They invested in influencer marketing, sponsored advertising by retargeting customers based on their preferences and gender, and email drip campaigns with feedback emails to make sure customers are engaged at every level and build brand affinity. Also, they kept an eye on each channel’s performance, staying ever mindful of their budget.
Knowing just what consumers saw when buying aluminum-free deodorant online – free shipping, free returns, discounts, and lots of reviews – Native used to craft irresistible offers that left customers feeling confident in making purchases with them.
So, this was Native – a brand with a story like no other. After two short years, the company grew from humble beginnings to an impressive $100 million valuation. What can be learnt from their success? Taking customer feedback seriously and a bit of hard work goes a long way. We hope you loved reading this inspiring tale as much as we did writing it. A perfect success story to be sure; yet every business is unique, and may have different requirements.
Does your business need capital to grow? Make sure you don’t lose control of your company by raising friends from VCs. We, at Velocity, are India’s largest revenue-based financier and offer growth capital of up to Rs 3 crore to D2C and e-commerce brands. Want to know more about revenue-based finance? Check out this ultimate RBF guide.