Blue Apron. Dollar Shave Club. Stitch Fix. Ten years ago, these businesses didn’t exist. Now, they’re household names. Why? Because in 2010, Birchbox, the disruptive innovator, launched what we now know as the subscription service industry.

Before Birchbox, the monthly subscription box market was virtually nonexistent. Seven months after their launch, the company reached their five-year revenue goal. Ten years later, some of Birchbox’s initial employees (collectively called the Birchbox Mafia) have left the company to launch their own businesses, taking with them the following lessons learned from those first few years working in the startup that changed the beauty and ecommerce industries.

1. Transparency: Share the Highs and Lows

One of the attributes that helped to shape the brand’s early success was their team-centric corporate atmosphere. The co-founders sat in the same space as the rest of the team and clearly shared subscription numbers and goals. They celebrated milestones together, which gave everyone a sense of ownership in the growth, successes and failures of the business.

2. Do-It-Yourself is Not Always Best

Early in Birchbox’s existence, marketing was managed by team members with no marketing background or experience. As such, they invested a lot of money on gimmicky events and flashy commercials. Unfortunately, tracking the return on those investments was very difficult. Spending without a return is a great way to head into financial collapse and an experienced professional knows that. Looking (and hiring) outside of yourself and your team for expert advice can be a worthwhile investment.

3. Think Beyond the Task

It’s one thing to meet expectations, but it’s another to exceed them. Being delivered a box full of cosmetic samples is what you expect when you subscribe to a service like Birchbox. However, feeling surprise and joy when opening the box is not. This push to think beyond the task and create an emotional experience for the consumer is something Birchbox has striven for from the beginning – and is something its Mafia will carry with them as a tool to connect with and retain customers in their own businesses moving forward.

Read more on the Birchbox Mafia and their lessons learned here:

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