How Allbirds from small startup to become billion-dollars company in 4 years?


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If, about ten years ago, someone mentioned making sneakers from the same wool used in your grandma’s Christmas sweaters, you might have dismissed it as a bad idea. However, that’s precisely what Allbirds did with its Wool Runner sneaker back in 2016. Surprisingly, creating shoes from wool turned out to be a fantastic concept. Allbirds managed to sell a million pairs within its initial two years in the market.

If you’re intrigued by how this online-born brand attracted the interest of big competitors like Nike and even Amazon, explore these five crucial elements contributing to its success.

Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.

Source: Inc Magazine

An eco-friendly sneaker might seem like a current trend, but Tim Brown, co-founder and co-CEO of Allbirds, conceived the idea for a wool sneaker about ten years ago, a time when environmental consciousness wasn’t as prevalent. His inspiration stemmed from New Zealand’s vast sheep population and the sustainable nature of wool, a natural material known for its anti-bacterial properties that keep feet fresh. This led Brown to wonder why wool hadn’t been used in shoe uppers before.

Initial thoughts evolved into a $200,000 grant from New Zealand’s Wool industry, enabling the creation of a patented wool material for the sneakers. Allbirds’ Kickstarter campaign highlighted their innovation: a unique, patent-pending fabric engineered with strength, structure, comfort, and abrasion resistance suitable for sockless wear.

Even during a time when sustainability wasn’t in vogue, Allbirds remained committed to crafting a shoe with natural, renewable, and biodegradable advantages by using wool. Rather than following the mainstream, they aimed to stand out in a competitive market dominated by bigger players like Nike. According to Brown, their focus was to create something distinctive, diverging from the path of major athletic brands like Nike. 

Create a great product. 

Allbirds’ success isn’t by chance. Back in 2016, Time magazine hailed their woolen sneakers as “the world’s most comfortable shoe,” laying a strong foundation. At first glance, Allbirds’ shoes might seem basic, yet they excel in comfort whether you’re jogging or strolling to brunch.

Source: Denzee

What appears simple often conceals complexity. Allbirds invested in research and developed a patented material for their Wool Runners, a groundbreaking use of woolen fabric uniquely designed to construct the entire shoe upper—a pioneering innovation termed “a world first.”

These shoes possess hidden depths. This contributed to Allbirds earning a feature in Time magazine on the day of their launch—a rare feat for a new brand. Much like Warby Parker, which debuted to crashing servers due to its stellar press coverage in Vogue and GQ in 2010, Allbirds’ success isn’t solely luck or expert public relations. It’s rooted in their creation of an exceptional product, leading to imitations, even from giants like Amazon.

Launching a business is easier now, but standing out is tougher than ever. Crafting top-tier products remains a potent method for organic promotion. Allbirds gained traction initially in Silicon Valley, endorsed by tech heavyweights like Google’s Larry Page. Gradually, celebrities adopted these shoes due to their unparalleled comfort and understated style—perfect for the workplace.

Customers only recommend products they’ve genuinely enjoyed using. This differs from pouring funds into digital marketing and hoping for attention. Instead, it’s about crafting something so remarkable that customers eagerly share it. This principle propelled Peloton’s rapid growth—their product speaks for itself, prompting friends to urge you to get one based on their undeniable results.

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