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Playboy: The Success Story Of Hefner’s Empire

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Do you know about the most read men’s magazine which has been popular for more than four decades? The sales for a single issue of this magazine hit seven million by the early 1970s. Sounds familiar, right? Every other man was holding a copy this magazine back then. Any guesses? We are speaking about the most sold magazine of all times Playboy. Hugh Hefner and his remarkable magazine Playboy solely changed the story of the adult entertainment industry and became a multimillion dollar business endeavour that expanded to incorporate television, web ventures, clubs and more. The magazine was a game changer in the era of ‘70s where people were more conscious of what is being displayed and what’s not.

Playboy’s founding story

Hugh Hefner, the founder of the epic magazine had first shown his interest in publication at an early age. In high school he founded his school’s newspaper taking it as an opportunity, young Hefner illustrated his own comic book, School Daze. Although he had a high IQ of 152, Hefner was never really spirited about school, in general. However, after completing his schooling, Hefner joined the United States Army. Later, he went on to attend classes at the Chicago Art Institute. After two years at the Art Institute, Hefner attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in the year 1950. It was in the year 1952, Hefner started working as a cartoonist for the famous Esquire magazine. While working there, he was turned down for a $ 5 raise, he took it to heart and decided to quit his job at the publication. He went on to venture out on his own and the rest we know is history! In 1953, Hefner founded Playboy magazine using his $ 600 bucks and several thousand more he borrowed including $ 1,000 from his mom.

The rise and fall and rise of Playboy

The first issue of Playboy published in December 1953. The magazine featured nude photos of Marilyn Monroe and sold over 50,000 copies. As we all know, controversial stuff sells fast! Playboy had its strategies right and by the year 1958, the magazine’s annual profit was $ 4 million and Hugh Incredible Hefner had skyrocketed to fame. Over the years, apart from controversial stuff, Playboy’s publication of writers including Ray Bradbury, Ian Fleming, Joseph Heller, Jack Kerouac and Margaret Atwood became famous overnight. Also, Miles Davis was the magazine’s first interview. Other interviews included Fidel Castro, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and the then presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, who confided that he had committed adultery in his heart. John Lennon before dying had spoken to Playboy in 1980 as well. Playboy became known for its sexually explicit content. By 1970, Hugh Hefner had gone from beginning an entrepreneurial endeavour in his own home to being the founder of a major corporation. The distribution of the magazine was extensively done and copies were selling at rates of seven million copies per month. The year 1972 earned Hefner a twelve million dollar profit.

The magazine’s monthly distribution was reaching new heights. Yes! An enormous 7 million issues were sold in 1971. By that time, nearly one quarter of  American young lads were buying or subscribing every month, according to a source. However, post that, Playboy saw a downfall in the late ‘80s and the franchise was struggling hard to reach out to the people. In the year 1994, Hefner established the Playboy Jazz Film Festival, funded by Playboy. The festival was the first showcase on the West Coast for rare jazz films and was free to the public. The franchise was slowly and steadily gaining its pace. Nevertheless, Hefner’s brainchild was back with a bang in the early 2000s with the release of his reality television show on E!. The program The Girls Next Door portrayed the lives of his three blonde girlfriends at the Playboy Mansion. The series was a super hit and doubled the popularity of Hefner between the years 2005 to 2010.

In the year 2017, Hefner died in Los Angeles at the age of 91. At the time of his death, Hefner’s global brand had an estimated net worth of at least $ 110 million. As of now, Playboy earns most of its money by licensing the bunny brand for a variety of products including liquor, clothing, fragrances, jewellery and bath products.

Cooper Hefner, Hefner’s son and the Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises, said in a statement …my father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history.

Watch the success story of Playboy here,

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Entrepreneur Stories

Big Basket Founding Story And Its Recipe For Success

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Much before Flipkart tapped into the retail industry, a group of people (V.S. Sudhakar, Hari Menon, V.S. Ramesh, Vipul Parekh and Abhinay Choudhary,)  fuelled with passion and experience on failure post the dot com bubble founded Big Basket, the country’s first online shopping platform which revolutionised the way people bought groceries. Just like how this platform is unique in every way, the story of how Big Basket came to be is also quite a tale.

The beginning 

When you hear of startups being created by people below the age of 30 and with no experience, your heart usually goes out to them. However, when you look at people on the other side of 50, with more experience in failing than succeeding, trying to start something new, you wonder what the future looks like for them. When the dot com bubble bust, a lot of people struggled hard to find their footing in an increasingly competitive world.

The founders of Big Basket, on the other hand, decided to use the experience they got post the failure and decided to create a website that hasn’t been done  before. The five founders of this platform had their first experience in the e commerce side when they created Fabmart.com (an online platform to sell books, toys and groceries) in the year 1999. Very quickly, however, they realised not just India, but the rest of the world wasn’t ready for the online world yet.

Very soon, Fabmart merged with a brick and mortar grocery chain and by 2006, the founders sold Fabmart for a lump sum. By 2011, the team thought of revaluating and trying their hand at something new again and despite all the criticism they received for this idea, the founders decided if they had to do anything, the time was now. It was a good thing they made this call because it was exactly at this time that the smartphone boom was happening and literally everything was available with the click of a button (except for groceries, of course!)

The journey to success

Post securing the first round of investment ($ 10 million from Ascent Capital,) the Big Basket team decided the time had come to expand its reach. In a country as diverse as India, perhaps the biggest challenges an online delivery platform like this faces is to ensure they sustain the model despite all adversities. After putting in dedicated research for five years, the Big Basket team realised the best way to make their presence felt was by providing personalised service to people across all cities.

With shopping habits varying from city to city, one of the major reasons for the success rates of Big Basket is the amount of attention to detail the founders paid. From increasing the leafy greens numbers in Mumbai to supplying a special kind of rice (called Sona Masoori) in Bangalore to going so far as to provide eight different kinds of eggplants to picky customers, Big Basket ensured their quality was nothing short of perfection. To improve the customers experience, the team ensures near time perfect deliveries in most of its orders and if by chance the delivery has been delayed, customers get a discount depending on the delay.

The future 

Despite growing as well as they had, Big Basket still had a lot of tough competition in the forms of other startups like LocalBanya, Sequoia backed PepperTap and SoftBank funded Grofers. The time had come for the team to up its game by securing more than double the amount of funding that it got during the initial rounds, Big Basket crushed all its competition.

The next few years saw Big Basket grow from just an idea to being present in 25 cities with a combination of 150 million and looking at the size of the growth, the founders decided the time had come to bring in a partner. By zeroing in on Alibaba (China based e commerce platform,) the team worked on mapping a growth chart for the next two years!

Big Basket is not just a dream but a well thought out plan that attracted and made its presence felt in the larger cities and went on to grow in the smaller cities by on boarding Shah Rukh Khan as a brand ambassador. By investing money into getting warehouses and increasing the delivery output, Big Basket plans on not only retaining its post as the largest grocery delivery platform in India but all over the world as well!

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Airbnb Unknown Facts

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Airbnb, which started off as a way to find a means to pay rent by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, is now one of the most valued startups in the world. An ingenious idea for solving the rent paying gaps, Airbnb now has more than three million listings, with a strong presence in over 65,000 cities and 191 countries. While the growth of this particular startup has been quite clearly mapped, there are still more than just a few things one doesn’t know about Airbnb. Check out the facts here!

1. The cities in which Airbnb is popular

According to a recent survey, with more than 78,000 rentals on Airbnb’s platform, Paris ranks number one on the list of people using Airbnb in the world. The next on the list of the largest users is the U.K. (47,000) and following closely after, is New York, with 46,000 users. Interestingly, the top 6 out of the ten cities which use Airbnb the most are located out of Europe!

2. The founding story

The initial funds for Airbnb were raised by selling breakfast foods based on creating special breakfast cereals called Obama O’s’ and ‘Cap’n McCain’s. At the time Airbnb was launched, the breakfast foods were created based on the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections (when Obama and John McCain contested against each other for the first time.) Selling each box for $ 40, the marketing plan was so successful, they raised close to $ 30,000!

3. The smallest house was listed on Airbnb

Did you know, the smallest house in the world was not a privately owned house, but was listed on Airbnb? Located in Berlin, Germany, the one square meter house was waterproof and built for housing just one person. A rental on wheels, the house included a bed, a desk and a chair and cost one euro a night! This house format became so popular, it was recreated for users in Boston and Massachusetts as well!

4. The history behind the logo

While to the casual observer, the signature Airbnb logo may look like an upside down heart, the truth behind the logo is quite different. Officially named the Bélo, the name of the logo origins from the word ‘belong’ and is designed to resemble the pin used on a map. With a theme of connecting people from all over the world and creating a global community, the logo of Airbnb signifies community building.

5. Celebrities listed on Airbnb

If you ever wondered what  it would feel like to live in the house of a celebrity, then find your favourite celebrity’s home on Airbnb! From Elizabeth Taylor to Kevin Jonas and to Frank Sinatra’s hold house, Airbnb has a large number of really cool people’s homes on its website! Interestingly, despite being the largest provider of online listings, Airbnb has no official office to its name!

With over a decade of being present in the hospitality industry, Airbnb really changed the way people travel and live. If you think we missed out on any other points about Airbnb, comment and let us know!

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Pepperfry – How An Idea Became A Fortune Spinner

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Remember the early days when shopping for furniture was an arduous and painful task? Now, however, thanks to the founders of Pepperfry, the days of trudging through narrow roads and haggling for cheap furniture are a thing of the past. Founded by Ambareesh Murty and Ashish Shah, the idea of launching an online store came over a lunch which changed the way people bought furniture online.

The beginning

When Murty and Shah met at a mutual friend’s office over lunch, the duo realised they were all working on addressing a major gap in the industry: the absence of one platform catering to all your lifestyle needs. A tissue paper turned out to be the piece of paper where plans for the future of Pepperfry were carefully sketched out. Back then, the platform didn’t focus on just furniture, but had a wide array of categories, ranging over products like jewelry, fashion and clothes.

While the idea was written and the team was ready to hit the ground running, the initial round of funding of $ 5 million from Norwest didn’t come in till almost 6 months after signing the deal. The months when the funds didn’t come in were extremely nerve wracking for the founders. The team of ten were running low on morale and the website was not launched yet. Things were so bad, the team were down to the last Rs. 10 lakhs and thought the time had come to give up all hope.

On the day the founders were almost ready to pull the plug on their relationship with Norwest, an investment came in, like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. With renewed hope and an influx of $ 5 million in cash, the founders of Pepperfry were all set to make a splash in the industry. Through the years, the team started growing in size and decided the time had come to narrow down to just one specific line: furniture.

The future

By the time the team started growing and making an impact, the furniture industry had not started blooming. One of the major hurdles Pepperfry had to work over was to ensure the products people were ordering online had the exact specifications. If the specifications weren’t met to perfection, the team could lose existing, as well as perspective customers, resulting in a decline of income for the company. Perhaps one of the things which sets Pepperfry apart is, Pepperfry isn’t a search driven website, but is more focused on improving the user’s browsing experience. Further, by focusing primarily on in house logistics, the Pepperfry team reduced the delivery time drastically (from 25 days to 11 days.) In Mumbai, the team worked to bring down the time of delivery to same day delivery! By developing a logistics algorithm for the delivery vehicles, the Pepperfry team can locate whether the truck has delivered the furniture on time or not.

While initially catering only to the online market, Pepperfry branched out to include the offline customers as well and by 2014, the Company opened its stores across India. Today, this startup accounts for more than 50 % of the furniture industry’s market share and by looking at its growth chart, Pepperfry has no plans of stopping any time soon!

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