by Stephen Garner
Disco founder Ben Smith

Since high school, Austin-based millennial Ben Smith has been devoted to health and wellness. In 2014, while in college, he opened two boutique fitness gyms on the East Coast and eventually sold them at the end of 2018. After selling the gyms, Smith knew he wanted to stay in the wellness space, and saw an opportunity to create a skincare brand for men that solved a number of my personal frustrations with the men’s skincare market. There was not a brand that offered everything he needed for his skin, delivered in a simple and easy to understand way, packaged in a brand that spoke to him as a young man. Thus, Disco skincare was born.

“Disco is a routine orientated, science-backed skincare brand for men who care,” Smith tells MR. “We are on a mission to de-stigmatize the usage of skincare products for men and create an environment that allows them to feel comfortable when using skincare products. Our brand is designed to cater to a variety of levels of masculinity. We are the anti-hyper masculine brand that only targets the most macho of men. We sell directly through our website and also offer convenient subscriptions at a discount.”

Disco’s range of products includes a face cleanser stick, face scrub, face mask, face moisturizer, eye stick, body wash, and deodorant. The products are available singularly or can be bought as sets. Retail prices for individual products range from $12 to $34, sets retail between $28 to $116.

And now is a great time to be in the skincare business. “Men are definitely waking up to the importance of taking care of their skin as the stigma around using skincare products is disappearing quickly,” Smith says. “This societal shift is fueling a growth rate of 12 to 15 percent annually for the men’s skincare market in the U.S.”

While this growth potential is encouraging, Smith hasn’t had a perfectly smooth ride with his business. He notes that at the start of COVID-19 related lockdowns across the country, the uncertainty of everything affected his brand’s sales. But, recently, Smith notes that Disco is seeing a healthy growth in its e-commerce sales channel, which will be the main driver of growth for his business going forward.

Another challenge Smith faced when starting the brand was financing the business. “In the beginning, persuading investors to trust me was difficult,” Smith says. “Despite some success in gym ownership, I had never started a consumer business before. With that in mind, I had to be scrappy in funding the business and even went so far as to max my credit cards out on a handful of occasions. Now that we have launched and are growing quickly, we are in a much better place now, with some fantastic investors on board who truly believe in our mission and long-term plans.”

Asked about the best piece of advice he’s received along the way, Smith says simply, “Keep going. There will always be problems, dark times, and frustrations, but the space, the brand, and the products are top-notch, so if you keep chipping away, eventually you will grow. This advice is pertinent to any entrepreneur in any space. In the past, there were numerous occasions where I considered shutting down the business, but my advisors and network keep me going. It is critically important to surround yourself with positive people, especially other entrepreneurs with businesses at different stages than yours to keep you honest.”

As for what’s next, Smith says that the brand is hyper-focused on growing and reaching more customers. “As we enter next year, we have a handful of exciting product launches and improvements to our customer experience we think will help fuel this targeted growth as well,” adds Smith. “We are always trying to make improvements in all areas of the business!”