British shaving products supplier Cornerstone has nabbed a £3.5m investment, in a new funding round led by private equity firm Calculus Capital.
E-commerce veteran William Reeve, who has previously held positions on the boards of Graze, Lovefilm, Zoopla and Paddy Power, will join the Cornerstone team as an adviser.
The new investment takes the total raised by the shaving subscription business since its launch in 2014 to £8m. A slew of angel investors have already put money in, including Quidco chief executive Andy Oldham, ex-Jack Wills chairman Will Hobhouse, Charles Tyrwhitt chairman Nick Wheeler and the former president of Levi Jeans Joe Middleton.
“We have been extremely impressed with the company’s almost obsessive focus on ‘the customer’ and industry leading capabilities in customer acquisition and management,” said Calculus Capital's Rohan Puri. Cornerstone boasts that its skincare products are “quality British”-manufactured, and its razors are “German-engineered”.
The business now has 140,000 subscribers and employs 27 staff members in its London headquarters. It is aiming to grab the male grooming industry – estimated by Persistence Market Research to be worth $6.7bn (£5.1bn) in Europe – by its horns, launching products such as shampoo and dental care later this year.
Founder Oliver Bridge described the company's move as “an all-out assault on the men’s aisle at Boots”. He added: “We don’t think men should have to shop for, or even think about shopping for toiletries – we’re here to fix that.”
Bridge began the business with just £10,000 of his own savings and a £5,000 startup loan, before it raised £1m in a crowdfunding campaign a year later. Its subscriber base has grown 11 per cent month-on-month since the beginning of 2016.
“I'd always hated shaving – it was painful, cost a fortune, and I hated shopping for toiletries. Finally, one day I just thought: “There has to be a better way to do this,” and I set about finding a way to make it combine great products with the convenience of a subscription service,” said Bridge.
It isn't the only business in the space – US rival the Dollar Shave Club was acquired by Unilever last year, after raising $163.5m in funding rounds, while UK peer the Bearded Colonel offers a slightly cheaper alternative. King of Shaves, whose products are stocked in high street supermarkets, also offers a subscription service, while Shave Club, The Personal Barber and Harry's are just a few more of the names in the game.