Well Made

Ep. 135 Aspiring to ubiquity with Wylie Robinson

November 18, 2020 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

Before Rumpl, sleeping-bag-style puffy blankets were predominantly marketed to Alpine athletes. Rumpl didn't invent the category, but founder and CEO, Wylie Robinson is doing everything he can to expand it. 

Wylie likes to ask people a simple question, "How many blankets do you have at home?" Then he asks, "How many of the brands can you name?" Outside of heritage brands like Pendleton or Woolrich, there is very little brand loyalty in the blanket business. Beyond that, there's little being done to bring performance textiles into the space.

On this episode, fresh off of his Shark Tank pitch, Wylie shares what he learned from being on the show, how Rumpl continues to scale and differentiate, and why the pandemic took their branding down a few notches on Maslow's hierarchy.

“The technology is there on the supply chain side on the raw material side, and you really don't have to compromise your product at all to do the right thing.”

 Aspiring to ubiquity

Wylie takes us behind the scenes of his recent pitch on Shark Tank — the 80 minutes you can't see on the episode (2:49). Then Stephan recount's co-founder Jesse Genet's experience pitching Lumi on Shark Tank in 2014. With its dramatic music and abrupt cuts, Shark Tank gets a reputation of being cheesy, but several brands have had great success coming out of the show. Stephan and Wylie have similar stories of why they finally decided to pitch to the sharks.

Rumpl didn't invent the sleeping bag style blanket, and Wylie says that might have been part of the reason the sharks didn't bite. Still, he shares how exposure helped give Rumpl a boost, and what type of business he feels would do well on the show (15:05).

With IP not at the core of the business, Stephan asks, what's at the heart of Rumpl? Wylie says it's about building a modern blanket brand that people know by name (19:18). Wylie shares why sustainable options were common sense swaps for their supply chain and how Rumpl would like to expand in the next decade (22:08).

Wylie contemplates differentiating Rumpl from other DTC brands and what it takes to be an exceptional business that lasts (33:21). Rumpl's next big arena, and the reason that Wylie went on Shark Tank, is sports branding on their blankets. He realizes this has the potential for huge growth and shares why, after a brief partnership with West Marine, he learned that you have to go all-in on a new avenue, or risk losing that opportunity altogether (35:38).

To close, Wylie shares about how COVID-19 has increased their direct business by 33% and why they've changed their branding from epic camping and road trips to cozy patios and comfy couches (40:50).


    Also mentioned on the show: 


    You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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