Elements Brands CEO and founder, Bill D’Alessandro created Charlotte’s own mini Procter & Gamble. Like the consumer brands giant, Elements Brands is a holding company for a number of consumer products, mostly household goods and personal care items (think sunscreen, laundry detergent, lip balm, etc.).
“We look for a brand that has loyal fans and has sales and made progress but has kind of hit a glass ceiling because the entrepreneur is not a business person or doesn’t know how to scale,” D’Alessandro said. Elements buys the company and help it scale up quickly, using proprietary automation infrastructure. Elements Brands products are in a number of retailers in the country, including Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us and Kroger.
“I’ve always loved brands,” D’Alessandro said. “I realize that as e-commerce and Amazon take over the world I’d much rather be a brand than a retailer.”
The margins for the types of household goods he sells are good, D’Alessandro said, and people tend to be repeat customers who buy the same product frequently.
D’Alessandro, a native Charlottean, started Elements in 2011 while living in Boulder, Colorado. As the company grew out west he realized he would soon need to open a warehouse and hire a team.
“I realized wherever I did that I would be stuck forever; those are really roots you can’t pick up. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do that in Charlotte.” They are now located in South End.
The startup climates of Boulder and Charlotte are worlds apart, but D’Alessandro believes Charlotte is on the upswing.
“Charlotte is developing quickly. I can see that it’s five years behind Boulder, so I can see the future and I can see that we’re getting there,” he said. “I love it because it’s really allowed us to stand out. It’s really, really cool to not have to be screaming against 10 other ‘me too!’ apps that just came out this week.”
“Charlotte needs more people willing to take risk, and more mentors. People who have been there, done that and are willing to give back to the community.”
Charlotte has a huge number of talents business managers and marketers and fin-tech startups are taking off at full speed, but the consumer products space is still quite young. The Elements team frequents pitch events and networking opportunities, D’Alessandro said, but he misses having a group of other consumer products CEOs and founders to talk shop with and would love to see a similar group grow in Charlotte.
To other entrepreneurs, D’Alessandro has some unusual – but great – advice.
“There’s a lot of bad advice out there about quitting to pursue your passion, that being passionate about your startup idea is the most important thing. The most important thing is that it’s a good business. I mean, the guys at AvidXchange I’m not sure are super passionate about accounts receivable, right? But that’s a great business. I, in some ways, am not super passionate about laundry detergent, but it’s a great business.”