Sometimes when entrepreneurs work on one idea, they end up finding the genesis for another concept. Milo Co-founder Kayden Horwitz, for instance, was working with his business partner on an organic bath towel business. Whenever they got together, they talked about his fantastic collection of cookware, but Horwitz knew it was expensive to get a nice collection of French cast-iron cookware. The two thought there had to be a better way for people to get great cookware at a good price.
The result was Milo – which, as Horwitz told PYMNTS in an interview, is a digitally native brand tasked with "empowering home cooks of every level to be better at what they do,” and allowing them to invest in material that will last. That long-term thinking also extends to the strategy of the business. While Horwitz noted that many companies focus on hyper-growth and acquiring shoppers online at a low cost, he has taken a measured approach in listening to his community of customers.
Those customers learn about Milo in a variety of ways, but Horwitz said the most exciting and relevant channel is through other shoppers. "We have an extremely strong word of mouth base," he noted. That discovery came as his data-driven company had been trying to figure out how people came to the site after searching branded terms or typing the company's URL directly into the address bar. As it turned out, old-fashioned word-of-mouth was still a big driver for new customers to reach the company – even in the digital age.
The company also taps into the knowledge and opinions of fellow shoppers through reviews, where people post photos and talk about where they're cooking. All of that content could potentially help drive sales. "I think that's a big part of the purchase journey," Horwitz said. He noted that orders ship for free, and can arrive at the door days after placing an order with payment options including QuadPay installments. (Other companies in the space include Great Jones, which offers products such as a Dutch oven, and Material, which offers products like an eight-inch chef’s knife.)
As a point of differentiation from other products, Horwitz said that cookware from his company is "ready to use right out of the box." He noted that a lot of raw cast iron, by contrast, takes a long time to get seasoned, requiring consumers to go through a series of steps. Milo’s cookware is also sprayed with a glass coating, which makes the products non-stick and dishwasher-safe, two things that standard, raw cast iron can't offer.
The care of the products is a significant focus for the company, as Horwitz knows from firsthand experience that it might be confusing to receive cookware in the mail and then season it. The aim of the company, then, is not only to democratize the price point for high-quality cookware: It is also to democratize how much knowledge it takes to get the most out of cookware.
Horwitz noted that great cookware is universal. For that reason, his company's audience could include first-time cooks all the way up to commercial kitchens in cities like Los Angeles and New York.
When it comes to curating Milo’s products, Horwitz starts with personal experience. He noted that his business partner is a driver of that strategy, but the company also looks to customers for the same thing, going deep into its user-generated reviews. Customers might say that they love the Dutch oven, for instance, but might wish it came in a smaller size, or they might ask when the company is releasing a skillet. With this knowledge, the company can engage customers in conversations such as what they are looking for in a skillet or what would fulfill the company's brand promise to them.
The approach, then, suggests that customer feedback can help companies decide what products to sell and can help drive shoppers to buy certain products, even in the digital age.