Teardowns

Heights 🧠 How we found our first 1000 customers

Early adopters are gold dust for any new brand. In this series we showcase the strategies used by leading DTC startups to win their first customers. First up is UK braincare merchant Heights.

Robi O'Cleirigh
Content Manager @ Blueprint

Before launching publicly in 2020, braincare startup Heights gave 100 of its newsletter readers a three-month test drive of their product for free. After the trial had ended, 86 of them became the brand’s first paying customers.

A year on, co-founders Dan Murray-Serter & Joel Freeman have since added to this pool of early adopters, and reached 1000 subscribers. Here's how they did it:

Earning trust

By Dan’s own admission, trust has always been the biggest barrier to Heights. The supplement industry (now worth $54.4 bn) is notoriously lacking in substantiated evidence and clinically-backed claims. But therein lay opportunity. 

Heights built credibility and an initial customer base by filling this trust vacuum. The brand doesn't see itself as a supplement merchant as such, instead they're selling the idea that it's possible to take care of your brain. Early on they hired Dr Tara Swart as Chief Science Officer tasked with delivering on Heights' promise of showcasing ‘leading experts not misleading celebrities’.

The brand’s messaging is consistently education led, transparent in its claims and repeatedly draws on peer reviewed research.

“We’re about trust, not about being first. Anything that pertains to the brain that can be sold with trust, credibility, and science is within our wheelhouse.” Dan Murray-Serter - Co-Founder, Heights

Such is the importance of trust as a key founding value, Heights have even dedicated entire OKRs to fostering it amongst their audience base.  

Direct-to-community

Backing up this quest for credibility is community - or ‘tribe’ as Dan likes to call it - and it’s something that predates even Heights itself. 

Before any product was developed, the brand built a 10,000 strong audience around a weekly newsletter called Dawn, covering nutrition and neuroscience. 

Populated by high performing leaders & aspirational entrepreneurs, it was a following that would become the bedrock of Height’s early customer base. 

The tribe enabled Dan to identify a market fit for his supplement, gather insight crucial for product development, and subsequently sell Heights through trust-building educational content. 

An introduction from a community member also gave the brand it’s most high profile customer - renowned intellect Stephen Fry. 

Product quality 

As much as anything, however, Height’s acquisition model has been built on peerless product development. 

By incorporating community feedback and over indexing on product hires, the brand refined a high quality brain supplement, delivered in letter-box friendly, sustainable packaging. 

The innovative double capsule is designed to release the 18 plant-based ingredients into the gut, where they have the best chance of being absorbed. Unlike similar products it can be taken without food, so flexibly fits around consumer’s daily lives.

Source: Dexigner 


Close attention was also paid to branding. Capsules come in an aesthetically pleasing bottle - fit for storage on bedroom shelves rather than at the back of medicine cabinets. 

This emphasis on quality in an industry notorious for peddling spuriously ineffective products is a real differentiator for Heights.

Consistency 

Delivering trust, community and product quality on a consistent basis is now the emphasis for the brand. 

The newsletter they leveraged so effectively to win early business is still a key channel, and is shared every Sunday without fail. Through it, and their owned social accounts, consumers have come to learn what to expect from Heights.

Consistent quality is also driving referrals. Word of mouth is now the brand’s biggest acquisition channel - suggesting Heights have hit on a sustainable model for future growth. 

Dan isn’t quick to pat himself on the back, however - ‘this period is literally just a foundational phase for us, we’ve always been more invested in building the brand than we are in selling the product’. 

With such a strong bedrock in place, Heights may well end up doing both.

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