Member Brief No. 3: The Attention Stack

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Successful commerce companies and vertical brands want to know how to generate authentic happiness with their customers. A customer kept > a customer gained. The attention stack is a buzz phrase that you’ll hear quite a bit about as brands try to solidify their standing in a quickly evolving market.

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Issue No. 256: Man of the Woods

Justin Timberlake for Pendleton

DNVB / Media / eCommerce: (1) Justin Timberlake is one of the most talented musicians on earth and he wants to perform well into his 40’s. (2) The music industry continues to evolve and only the savviest artists are appropriately navigating streaming’s economic limitations.

Consider these two assessments when framing what Man of The Woods is all about.

Timberlake is a savvy businessman. So when the initial imagery for his Man of The Woods album released, it was easy to joke a bit about how blatant the merchandising promotion appeared to be. The irony of my earlier tweet was that Timberlake’s evolution is unquestioned. He’s also capable of playing a longer game than most other artists because of his previous, outsized successes.

Here’s the Timberlake career arc in a nutshell. Mr. Biel has been that rare and consistent success over three decades of changing music, his outlandish pop-fashion, and mostly-poor haircare decisions. He’s traversed the impossible terrain of American musical evolution:

  • Mickey Mouse Club Member (Ages 12-15)
  • N’SYNC lead (Ages 15-22)
  • Hip hop-infused pop star (Ages 22-33)
  • Jay-Z approved R&B artist (Ages 33-36)
  • The beginning of his latest phase (Ages 37-on)

To better understand Timberlake’s newfound interest in American heritage brands, consider that he is proudly from Tennessee and he was always inspired by the music of the region.  Continue reading “Issue No. 256: Man of the Woods”

Issue No. 217B: Blank


One step closer to becoming a DNVB. Last covered in Issue No. 203, Cotton Bureau is one-step closer to filling a void left behind by American Apparel’s bankruptcy. They’ve begun manufacturing a new type of tee for all shapes and sizes. It’s called “Blank” and it has the potential to solve a gaping sourcing issue in a major fashion segment.

Led by Michelle SharpCotton Bureau is inching closer to launching their Kickstarter and they are welcoming apparel testers and participants in their upcoming video shoot with the team at Sandwich.

Started from the bottom, now we’re…somewhere in the middle.

If you’re interested in helping the Cotton Bureau team’s launch into manufacturing, let me know. I am huge fan of their growing, Pittsburgh-based team and the more that you learn about them, the more you’ll say the same.
See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 182: Still in Early Innings.

Graphic of the Week:


This recent graphic from CB Insights was a great illustration of how fundraising is tied to the startup hype cycle. Represented are three real companies in the DNVB mattress industry: 1) Casper 2) Tuft & Needle 3) Saatva. Casper receives the overwhelming mindshare of press mentions while Tuft & Needle and Saatva appear to be in a much healthier position for longterm growth.

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 113: Warby Parker’s video game, retail’s future, USPS’s resurgence, the death of SEARS.

Graphic of The week: In light of Apple’s pivot to service-based revenue

bii apple revenue by product 3q17

A few notes on the charts above:

  • Before 2000 Apple didn’t report revenue from Other Products or Services, so it is possible that the share of Macs in those years is overstated in the top chart
  • In 2004 Apple changed from reporting sales of 4 different categories of Macs to 2 categories: portables and desktops
  • In 2012 Apple consolidated all Macs into a single category for reporting purposes
  • In 2015 sales of iPods were so low that Apple included iPods in Other Products rather than as a separate segment. It appears likely that this will continue in future years

See more of the issue here.

Issue No. 112: Homage sells shares to Express, virtual reality by Wayfair, Best Buy wins for a change

Last Word: Authenticity, NPS, and Serendipity


Just follow along, Tristan Walker’s timeline is a joyful curation of customers who are organically mentioning his product. The one thing that I continue to notice about the persistence of the brand’s founder / CEO / and chief promoter? The authenticity.

For those who don’t know, Bevel is a shaving system for men of color. It has since crossed over into the mainstream of men who want premium shaving equipment. After a recent Series B, the brand raised its tally to $30M over three rounds. The brand’s closest competitors? Harry’s Grooming and (tangentially) Dollar Shave Club, though Bevel competes at a much higher price point.

Everything about Walker’s brand and its target demo aligns: his Queens background, his liberal politics, his hip hop associations, his Ben Horowitz tutelage, his strategic investors, the inclusivity of his team, and his no frills personality (one that counters his post-Queens, elite prep high school career and Stanford MBA).

Serendipity happens when luck meets preparation. And Walker has prepared. Step one: Nas becomes a strategic investor in 2014. Step two: early in 2016, D.J. Khaled (you know, the Major 🔑 guy) signs a lucrative exclusive deal with Apple Music. Step three: summer of 2016, Khaled releases his first streaming project. Step four: Bevel investor, legend, and Khaled collaborator releases the most memorable record on the Khaled album. Step five: he mentions Bevel. Step six: Khaled amplifies the popular line through his Snapchat channel.”

The ensuing explosion in brand interest happened on June 29, moments after consumers woke up to tune into Apple Music’s latest exclusive product. “My signature fade with the Bevel blade, that’s a major key.” And like a rocket, the brand seem to enjoy a new life in the pop cultural lexicon.

I’ve watched the word ‘Bevel’ become synonymous for premium hair care, an issue that men of color are wiling to pay dearly for: “If I pay $35 for a hair cut, it better be a Bevel cut!” This quote from one of the many videos distributed across Snapchat, Facebook, and, Twitter as black barber shops (meccas of influence and black entrepreneurial success) began using their recently shipped patented electric trimmers, an amazing innovation for such a young company.

If just one element of Bevel’s existence were different, the brand wouldn’t be experiencing the float that it’s currently enjoying. It’s the type of float that becomes a longterm, new-normal. Harry’s Grooming has raised 12.5x more than it’s emboldened challenger. But it seems that they Bevel has the one thing that money cannot buy. And oh, the trimmers are currently backordered.

See more of the issue here.