British men’s shaving supplier Cornerstone has completed a new £3.5m round of investment led by private equity firm Calculus Capital, with e-commerce veteran William Reeve (previously on the boards of Graze, Lovefilm, Zoopla & Paddy Power) joining the Cornerstone top team.
Cornerstone – which provides quality British skin care products and German engineered razors to 140,000 customers around the UK via an online subscription service – confirms today that it has closed a £3.5 million investment round, taking its total raised since launch in 2014 to £8m. The round, led by UK growth investor Calculus Capital, sees Cornerstone add to its impressive list of experienced angel investors that already includes: Quidco CEO Andy Oldham, ex-Jack Wills Chairman Will Hobhouse, Charles Tyrwhitt Chairman Nick Wheeler and ex-President of Levi Jeans Joe Middleton.
Cornerstone was born out of young entrepreneur Oliver Bridge’s personal frustrations with the discomfort and expensive nature of wet shaving – “I’d always hated shaving – it was painful, cost a fortune, and I hated shopping for toiletries. Finally, one day I just thought – there has to be a better way to do this, and I set about finding a way to make it combine great products with the convenience of a subscription service”.
Oliver launched Cornerstone in June 2014 with £10,000 of his own savings and a £5,000 Startup loan. Since then Cornerstone has gone on to raise £1 million from a crowdfunding campaign in July 2015, its customer base has grown from 0 to 140,000 subscribers and the team has expanded to 27 members of staff at Cornerstone’s London HQ. To top it all off, Cornerstone won ‘Best Razor’ in both 2015 and 2016 from Shortlist and AskMen and has twice won the publicly voted ‘People’s Champion’ award at the annual Startups Awards. Oliver was also selected as a Forbes 30 Under 30 in late 2016.
The male grooming industry is worth $6.7 billion in Europe and globally is predicted to expand at a CAGR of 8.4% up until 2024. E-commerce is also growing rapidly with 15.5% of all UK retail sales recorded to be online in March 2017 showing a year-on-year increase of 19.5% – both are trends working strongly in Cornerstone’s favour. With 140,000 subscribers around the UK, Cornerstone has grown 11% month-on-month since the beginning of 2016. The firm will be broadening its range of products across the remainder of 2017, moving into new toiletries categories such as shampoo and dental care, in a move described by Oliver Bridge as ‘an all-out assault on the men’s aisle at Boots – we don’t think men should have to shop for, or even think about shopping for toiletries – we’re here to fix that’.
Private equity firm Calculus Capital, which is leading the latest investment round in Cornerstone, has a strong track record of backing growing British businesses. Calculus has 18 years’ experience in SME investing, supporting dynamic companies across a diverse range of sectors, from sports and leisure to clean-tech, hosted software and healthcare.
Roshan Puri, of Calculus Capital, commented: “As a consumer brand that offers customers quality, value and convenience, Cornerstone is disrupting the men’s shaving and toiletries market in the UK. We have been extremely impressed with the company’s almost obsessive focus on ‘the customer’ and industry leading capabilities in customer acquisition and management. A high quality management team is a key part of our investment criteria. Oliver and the senior team at Cornerstone have shown their ability to deliver significant business growth and build a well-run organisation, capable of using third party investment to deliver strong returns.”
 Global Market Study on Men’s Grooming Products, Persistence Market Research http://www.persistencemarketresearch.com/market-research/mens-grooming-products-market.asp
 Retail Sales in Great Britain: Office for National Statistics https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/bulletins/retailsales/mar2017