|Industry||Consumer packaged goods (CPG), grocery|
|Founder||Ido Leffler, Tina Sharkey|
Number of employees
Brandless is an American e-commerce company that manufactures and sells an assortment of products under its own Brandless label. Founded by Ido Leffler and Tina Sharkey, it launched in July 2017 with a selection of 115 items, many of them health and environmentally-conscious. Brandless currently offers hundreds of products across six categories: non-GMO and organic food; clean and cruelty-free beauty and personal care; non-toxic cleaners; household, kitchen and stationery; baby and pet.
Sharkey and Leffler met while both were living in Mill Valley, California. Sharkey, the founder of iVillage and the former CEO of BabyCenter, had an extensive background in online communities, and Leffler, the founder of several companies, including Yes To, Inc. and Yoobi, had expertise in consumer products. They founded Brandless in 2014 to "set a landing point for consumers" who sought "quality and transparency, and eschewed brand loyalty and the resulting choice overload familiar to anyone who’s ever stepped into a grocery store aisle."
In mid-2016, Sharkey resigned from her position as CEO of Sherpa Foundry to become CEO of Brandless, with Leffler serving as its chairman. The company raised $16 million in funding led by Redpoint Ventures in November 2016, and at launch had received a total of $50 million in venture capital from New Enterprise Associates, Google Ventures and others.
In 2018, the company launched a pop-up store in Los Angeles in May. In addition to selling products, there were various panels centered around wellness and nutrition, and the company donated 5,000 meals on behalf of each speaker, 10 meals for every person who visited the pop-up and three meals every time an individual tagged the company or used the hashtag #Brandless on social media. Brandless launched a second, larger pop-up store in New York in October with product sampling and a fair-trade coffee bar and also donated one meal for every social media post using their hashtag during the duration of the event.
In May 2019, Brandless received $240 million as a part of its series C funding round.
Brandless is based in San Francisco, California, and operates an additional facility in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Foods are GMO-free, health and beauty items are cruelty-free, and paper products adhere to sustainable forestry practices. Products' labels consist of only a white box with the product's name and two to five descriptors, such as organic, kosher, or gluten-free. Brandless is a brand of its own.
The business model for Brandless begins with all its products being conceived with manufacturing partners. As a result, the company owns, creates and sells all of these goods directly to the consumer, a methodology that eliminates “brand tax”, the markup on most conventional brand-name items that can range from as low as 40% to as high as 370%. At the onset using their own production and distribution, Brandless priced single items at $3, or multiple items for $3 total. That policy changed in January 2019 with the launch of additional categories including Pet, Baby and other products.
In 2019, Brandless rolled out an optional subscription service to its customers.
Sharkey and Leffler built a one-for-one social mission into the core business model; through a partnership with Feeding America, for every order placed, Brandless provides a meal for people in need. Brandless will donate two extra meals to someone facing hunger in partnership with Feeding America® with each subscription box shipped. In an interview with Whole Foods magazine, Sharkey explained that their donations are "one way to help positively impact the 42 million people in this country facing food insecurity, but it's just the start. We want to inspire and empower our community to make a difference."
Awards and Recognition
In February 2018, Brandless received the Best NewCo of the Year award from NewCo Honors for disrupting retail markets and donating 250,000 meals to Feeding America. The award is given to companies who possess innovative offerings and who stand by a distinct mission in their business. Additionally, they were awarded "StartUp of the Year" by AdAge, one of "The World' Most Innovative Companies in Retail" by Fast Company, and named a "Top Company Revolutionizing Retail" by Business Insider.
Brandless products have also received accolades such as “Best Healthy Packaged Snacks” from Women’s Health, to “Best Grooming Products” by GQ and “Best Places to Buy High-Quality Cleaning Supplies” by Real Simple.
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