Stories from the Climb

Solo Brands: Creating Great Moments and Greater Memories

How Solo Brands Leverages the Power of Community to Fuel Innovation, Drive Growth and Leave the World a Better Place

For some of the most successful consumer brands, building and engaging with passionate customers can be key to fueling product innovation, delivering outsized growth and making a positive impact on the larger community. Here, we take a look at how Solo Brands developed a true community around a shared passion for products that help everyday people reconnect with what matters most.

Community-Led Innovation

The Solo Brands story begins in 2011 when the platform’s first – and still largest – brand, Solo Stove, was founded by two brothers seeking to bring family together. The Solo Stove team combined a love of the outdoors with a passion for e-commerce to create a digitally native platform designed to market the Solo Stove Lite, an ultralight portable backpacking camp stove that can boil water in under 10 minutes using only twigs, sticks and leaves.

From the company’s earliest days, the Solo Stove team worked hard to establish a model that could create direct customer connection and facilitate real-time customer feedback – leveraging data to inform and improve the company’s product innovation roadmap, direct digital marketing decisions and enhance the overall brand experience. Customer requests inspired the successful design and launch of the company’s iconic fire pit line in 2016, and regular feedback from customers similarly informed the launch of several Solo Stove accessories that followed.

Today, the Solo Brands portfolio includes innovative products and technologies across a growing list of categories. From Solo Stove’s virtually smokeless fire pit, to ISLE’s portable inflatable paddle boards, to Oru’s folding kayak and Chubbies’ high-performance apparel, the company has worked to build a product portfolio defined by a strong emotional connection to customers. This community connection – and the proprietary customer insights that result – helps enhance Solo Brands’ ability to launch and scale innovative new products with high confidence, and importantly, to drive attractive repeat purchasing behavior.

The goal is to design, build or acquire products to serve the expanding Solo Brands community throughout their daily lives, whether at home, on the go, or in the outdoors, spanning multiple usage occasions and across all seasons.

Community-Fueled Growth

By focusing on products that delight and are designed to help customers create memorable, communal experiences, Solo Brands has built a passionate and emotional connection with its community of customers. This community has helped the company deliver strong organic growth across both new and loyal customers.

Customers trust Solo Brands’ commitment to improve the way they live, and they act as one of the company’s most impactful brand advocates. The community engages enthusiastically on social media, creating posts that prominently feature Solo Brands products as the centerpiece of their experiences. They purchase products and share them with friends, family and neighbors, driving strong word-of-mouth referrals.  This authentic relationship creates a tremendously loyal community; repeat purchases have accounted for more than a third* of total website orders, and nearly half** of new customers were introduced to Solo Stove by a friend or family member.

A community-centric approach drives Solo Brands’ acquisition strategy as well. The company seeks out brands with innovative, beloved products that have developed a similar, genuine connection with their customers. From there, Solo Brands’ model provides its brands with distinct competitive advantages, including fulfillment and operational expertise and a data-driven sales and marketing engine that leverages the power of consumer information – including intent trends, purchasing history, and direct email or text contact – with the goal of delivering incredible customer experiences. The Solo Brands platform is purpose-built to empower its portfolio of passionate brand builders to surprise and delight their customers with ingenious products and unforgettable moments.

Community-Driven Impact

Solo Brands’ commitment to community extends beyond the deep relationship with consumers and informs the company’s engagement with its local communities and the natural world that Solo Brands products encourage us all to explore. The company has launched projects and foundations designed to serve individuals in their communities directly – and has partnered with several non-profit organizations to help drive meaningful change globally by supporting specific conservation efforts. In 2020, the company launched Project Good, which provides free Solo Brands products to people in need and provides a variety of local service projects. In 2021, the company established Foundation 43, which expands access to mental health and suicide prevention services through local community organizations. Solo Brands supports key environmental organizations including 1% for the Planet and One Tree Planted to help address some of the most urgent environmental issues of our time. Further, the Solo Brands leadership team is committed to supporting a more diverse organization with a 5-year objective to have the Solo Brands workforce be fully representative of the broader U.S. population.

Solo Brands is driven by a belief that businesses of the future must be accountable for leaving the world better than we found it, and the company has pledged to donate a portion of all revenues to causes important to their employees and their community.

Solo Brands operates with a fundamental belief that the future of commerce should be built by unique, distinctive, amazing brands that form genuine connection with their audience in a responsible and accountable manner. And that a brand’s emotional connection with their customers is the most critical factor to support that belief through delivering incredible customer experiences; building best-in-class products for, and with the community; and doing so in a manner that is accountable to their followers, friends, families, team-members, and to the environment.

Solo Brands is one of more than 40 businesses that Summit Partners has backed in the e-commerce ecosystem.

Growth Timeline

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*Reflects repeat purchase rate of 36% of total website orders for currently owned brands during fiscal year 2020. Source: Solo Brands S-1, page 6.

**Reflects year-to-date period ended June 30, 2021, 45% of new customers were introduced to Solo Stove by a friend or family member. Source: Solo Brands S-1, page 5.

The content herein reflects the views of Summit Partners and is intended for executives and operators considering partnering with Summit Partners. For a complete list of Summit Partners portfolio companies, please click here.

Stories from the Climb

At Summit, it’s the stories that inspire us – the problems being solved and the different paths each team takes to grow a business. Stories from the Climb is a series dedicated to celebrating and sharing the challenges of building a growth company. For more Stories and other Summit perspectives, please visit our Growth Company Resource Center.

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