This Charlotte startup is building the Procter & Gamble of 2050

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Charlotte entrepreneur Bill D’Alessandro has his company, Elements Brands, poised for big things.

The company operates consumer product brands, selling primarily online and shipping boxes and pallets from a warehouse on Rampart Street in South End.

Nearly six years after buying his first consumer products brand, Elements Brands is now putting down deeper roots in Charlotte and preparing for a major expansion.

There are currently eight brands under the umbrella, and the company just raised “a serious chunk of money” to buy more. Elements Brands plans four more acquisitions in 2017.

“What we want to be is the Procter & Gamble of 2050, and we want to do it in Charlotte,” he said.

The company started in 2011 as a way to escape investment banking.

A native Charlottean, D’Alessandro went the investment banking route after college. He quickly found that the grueling work culture wasn’t for him. So he quit his job and picked up and moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he worked for a web hosting company.

It was there that he became inspired by The 4-Hour Workweek and launched an eCommerce business. For the first two years, it was just him, running the KP Elements brand of cosmetic and bath products from his laptop and traveling the world. That, too, grew stale.

“I realized that at a certain point, you need to grow up,” he said.

Now D’Alessandro is focused on building a respected company.

He moved back to Charlotte in 2015 and is now perfecting his model. D’Alessandro declined to disclose the amount of money his company raised. But he did share the plan for growth.

The secret sauce: Buy a small line of branded, consumable household products where sales have grown stagnant, then use the company’s eCommerce expertise to ratchet up sales online. Think Facebook ads, email marketing and influencer marketing.

The company acquired one more brand in 2013, another in 2015 and two more in 2016. In most cases, Elements Brands has been able to double sales within 12 months, D’Alessandro said.

In a way, it’s similar to P&G, which runs brands like Pampers, Charmin, Crest and Gillette. But D’Alessandro says the future lies in smaller lines distributed online, rather than in big box stores.

P&G focuses on 70 to 80 brands. One day, Elements Brands could control more than 1,000 to reach similar scale.

Elements Brands just finished renovating a new South End office.

The 8,500-square-foot space is just steps from Sycamore Brewing. The company was in this space before, but crammed in a tiny office space swallowed up by a warehouse. Now they’ve built out the office environment while maintaining an efficient warehouse operation.

Between 50 and 100 boxes or pallets leave the warehouse every day, increasing up to 200 in the summer (sunscreen is one of their primary products).

Look for more growth — and hiring — in 2017.

Elements Brands currently has 10 employees, six of them in Charlotte and four of them working remotely. The new South End office has the capacity for about 20.

They’re currently hiring for an eCommerce director and expect to hire more people in sales and marketing over the coming year. The culture is collegial. They even have a wheel by the former loading dock that they spin to figure out where to walk to for lunch.

“I want to build a company that people want to come to every day,” he said.

Connect with Elements Brands

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Andrew Dunn
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Editor-in-Chief