How Daniel Wellington Created a $180 Million Watch Empire

Daniel Wellington

In 2011, Filip Tysander took $24,000 of his own money and decided to start a watch brand. He is now 31-years-old and is making $180 million per year selling watches, all of which is completely self-made money. His profit margin hovers around an impressive 50-percent. His fortune and fame all began with a chance encounter that led to multi-millions of dollars.

Like many young Swedes who wish to discover the world and themselves, Tysander traveled to Australia after high school. This is a fairly mainstream situation for the Swedes. In Australia, Tysander became acquainted with Daniel Wellington, a fashionable Englishman who wore a Rolex featuring a classic NATO band. Tysander was deeply inspired and impressed by his swagger which led to his multi-million-dollar idea and brand name: Daniel Wellington.

Tysander actually ran into Wellington on several occasions between Melbourne and Cairns. Fate just happened to be on his side during this backpacking trip. As a result, Tysander became obsessed with the military-inflected NATO watch band accessories. So much where he traveled back to Uppsala, Sweden and constructed the entire company based on that single idea.

In a recent interview with Veckans Affarer, Tysander mentioned that it was at this moment he realized there was plenty of room for preppy watches on the market. He believed that the name sounded right to be considered an international watch brand. And he was spot on with this assumption.

Kenza Zouiten Daniel Wellington

Frans Sjo, the business manager for the United States market, mentioned in an interview that their watches were inspired by the most luxurious watches in the world only at a more accessible price point. He further states that the company wants everyone in the world to own a Daniel Wellington, not only the elite society. In 2016, the company is projecting $220 million in revenue. In comparison, Rolex, which has a price point of $5,000 or more for most of their time pieces, and Tag Heuer which costs around $1,000, consider it to be a good year if they move one million units.

This indicates that the current global economic landscape is good enough to sell both extremely expensive watches and cheap watches. Of course DW is in competition with numerous other brands that fall in the $100 to $500 sector such as Bauhaus-style Mondaine as well as Tsovet, a military-looking piece. Daniel Wellington’s own the current decade in the same way colorful swatches dominated the 80’s and the utilitarian Fossils had a strong-hold on the 90’s.

Of course the success did not occur overnight. In Sweden, Tysander enrolled in business school after being fired from several jobs. He established two companies, one selling neckties and the other selling plastic watches online. In his graduation year, he took the $24,000 earned from previous ventures to start his life-changing third company.

Wellington WAtches

Tysander began with a small Ecommerce shop with a self-designed logo from Photoshop. He then sent his designs to the manufacturing plant in China that produced the NATO watch bands. Soon after, his watch design became a major success due to their value for the money and stylish designs. Also, Tysander had the ability to exploit a major hole in his competitor’s marketing strategy: social media.

Tysander’s campaign created around targeting social media influencers with many followers to generate buzz with his watches. Although this is a common marketing strategy today, only a few years ago it was a cutting-edge activity. As a result of this ingenuity, Daniel Wellington now has over 2 million Instagram followers thus dwarfing his competition.

In 2014, the company sold over one million units for a total sales of $70 million. In 2015, revenue jumped by another $100 million to $170 million. One of the greatest keys to his success are the lucrative profit margins that hover around 50-percent. Tysander is the sole owner of the company and personally made $66 million in 2015. As a result of his earnings, Tysander purchased the most expensive apartment in Stockholm, Sweden.

Located directly above Stockholm Central Station, Tysander’s 418-square-meter penthouse was purchased for $12.8 million. On the global market and in major cities like New York and Hong Kong, this purchase price is not much. However, in Stockholm, where minimizing the flaunting of your success is part of the fabric of society, a $12.8 million apartment is a big deal.

Tysander further told Veckans Affarer that if they look back at 2013, he had no idea that the company even had the potential to skyrocket to its current size. Since that time, this has been a major part of his daily life and is incredibly fortunate to have such success in a short period of time.

DW Watches

Despite his random encounter with the inspiration of his successful brand, Daniel Wellington, five years ago, who helped form the foundation for his hundred-million-dollar idea, Tysander is not excited about meeting with him. He mentioned to the magazine that a part of him wishes to contact the man that changed his life to explain his story while the other part wants to let the sleeping bear lie as it may. Tysander joked that if his inspirational source just happens to appear at the office one day, he will need to hide underneath his desk until he leaves.

Throughout this incredible journey, Tysander has learned that anyone can be a successful entrepreneur, it just takes a small amount of luck, time, patience and constant drive to be the best. He often references Malcolm Gladwell’s claim that the process truly takes 10,000 hours of entrepreneurship to really understand the connection between everything in the world.

Daniel Wellington (DW) produces watches that are instantly recognizable yet so generic that they are almost invisible. All models come with rose gold or polished steel cases in five different sizes from 26mm to 40mm. All of the dials are white with very slim lines that mark the hour while the hands are simply wide enough to be legible. The main source of differentiation on these watches is the strap, which is available in several leather options as well as half-a-dozen colorful nylons. None of the available straps are flashy enough to warrant a luxurious look. With most watches, you pay extra for such a minimalistic look and feel, however, the DW’s are inexpensive costing between $149 and $299.


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