High Growth Success for a D2C Brand with Mark Rushmore, SURI (episode 460)

Mark Rushmore is the co-founder at SURI – short for Sustainable Rituals – a future focused wellness brand, most famous for their electric toothbrush, the world’s most sustainable electric toothbrush! Founded in 2021 they started shipping in May 2022, and grew to 7 figures in the first 13 months via their Shopify site and Amazon, and have now launched in High Street Retailer Boots.

Mark Rushmore SURI on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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Dive in:

[02:31] Co-founders tackle waste in FMCG industry with sustainable toothbrushes.
[07:43] Minimum lovable product and customer reviews.
[10:27] Becoming competent at spinning plates.
[13:06] Focusing on other areas of growth.
[16:14] Unaddressed problem in toothbrush market.
[19:41] Growing D2C, but also utilising Amazon and Boots.
[22:50] Power pitching to journalists and word-of-mouth recommendations.
[25:34] Collaborate with Google Sheets, Slack automation, Mac text replacement.

Mark’s eCommerce Journey

Mark explains his journey into e-commerce, starting with his career at Procter & Gamble in sales and strategy roles. He met his co-founder, Gyve, who had experience in marketing at P&G Geneva and finance at Gillette.

They were both inspired to start an eCommerce business for different reasons.

  • One, there is significant waste generated by the FMCG and CPG industries.
  • Two, there is potential for sustainable consumer products integrated with eCommerce.

They created SURI, a sustainable electric toothbrush brand, after realizing the market’s sustainability issue. Billions of toothbrushes are discarded each year, and electric toothbrushes lack innovation.

Minimum Lovable Product

Mark says the success of SURI can be attributed to two key factors.

  • First, exceeding low expectations can delight customers when dealing with traditionally dull or boring products.
  • Second, he credits his co-founder Gyve for introducing the concept of a minimum lovable product, which led to a high level of detail in their product development.

This approach is reflected in their positive consumer reviews. He emphasizes the importance of these reviews and how they contribute to building trust and credibility for their brand.

Customer Service and Outsourcing

Mark admits there are challenges in maintaining operations and excellent customer service amidst rapid growth. He mentions an early challenge where 1,000 pre-orders were delayed due to shipping restrictions on batteries. To overcome this, the team worked tirelessly to manage customer inquiries and learned from the experience.

Mark credits their success in handling such challenges to a combination of the right technology and team flexibility.

User-Generated Content and Marketing

Mark recognizes that user-generated content and customer reviews are valuable but underused in their business. They use the Trustpilot-Slack API to see real-time reviews, but capturing authentic reviews without looking promotional is a challenge.

Their success and growth come from solving a big problem in a market where people are tired of existing products. They offer a sustainable, well-designed, and clinically proven product, creating a unique value. They also focus on improving conversion rates through small changes and continuous testing, which contributes to their success.

Expansion to Multiple Sales Channels

Mark says that they are fully committed to growing their D2C channel. However, they recognize the importance of being present where customers shop. Amazon and Boots have a significant share of the electric toothbrush market, and diversifying their ad spend across these channels helps create awareness and reach a broader audience.

He adds that different channels can complement each other. Customers may encounter the brand through one channel and then visit the website or make a purchase through another channel.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • PR. SURI works with the CIJ Group, which connects brands with influencers and journalists.
  • Word-of-mouth marketing.

Tool Top Tip

Carbon Top Tip

  • SURI collaborates with Do Nation, which allows companies and their employees to engage in planet-positive actions.

Interview Links

*Thank you to past guest Ale Di Trapani of Grub Club and Troy Kniveton from I-Fulfilment for their help in getting Mark to be a guest on the show!

Related episodes

  • A truly inspiring sustainable startup – Marc Bucci from Social Socks (episode 407)
  • Saxon Wright of Huskee & Shopify store Pablo & Rusty’s Coffee Roasters (episode 440)
  • How Shopify Startup Seep reached £1 Million a Year in Sales with Laura Harnett (episode 448)
  • Michael E Gerber, author of Beyond the eMyth and small business guru talks eCommerce with Chloë (episode 89)

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