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How to create a viral video that helps you sell your razor company for $1 billion

Easy! Just follow these steps from Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Michael Dubin spent five years building a razor company before he sold it for $1 billion.

But at the beginning of Dollar Shave Club’s history, Dubin was best known as the guy who made a great video.

The clip he made that introduced his company to the world in 2012 was a sensation. In an era where video views were relatively hard to come by, it racked up a couple million of them in a week.

It was its own story.

Lots of people wanted to know how Dubin did it, and Dubin was happy to share what he knew.

It helped that Dubin was naturally entertaining and charismatic. And it also helped that prior to starting Dollar Shave Club, he’d done training with the Upright Citizens Brigade, the improv comedy factory that has produced many of the funniest people in the world.

But he also had practical tips that other people could use. Here’s a summary from an interview I did with him when his video was just a few weeks old:

  • Have fun! So your audience will, too. “If you’re having fun, the viewer is going to have fun. I think you don’t want to take yourself too seriously, because people will see right through that.”
  • Get to the point, quickly: “A lot of videos you see go on and on and talk about things that aren’t really related to the core business.”
  • Have a reason for being: Dollar Shave Club’s video worked “because we were actually telling a business story.”
  • Use a bear, if possible. “You want to be unexpected. People are expecting one thing when you are talking about your business... and comedy is all about being unexpected. The unexpected is what makes comedy great.”

And here’s the video of our interview, which I taped in a stairwell for some reason:

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