How a retail concept used Settle to expand into the DTC market amidst a global pandemic

Background

After being introduced by a mutual friend in 2014, co-founders and co-CEOs Lauren Berlingeri and Katie Kaps quickly embarked on the journey of bringing a state-of-the art sauna experience to the masses. HigherDOSE is a luxury infrared sauna that aims to provide a calm and relaxing experience to its customers. After initially growing the brand through strategic partnerships within the wellness space, HigherDOSE  eventually evolved into a portable sauna blanket that allows customers the ability to experience the sauna from the comfort of their couch. 

The challenge

With the unexpected arrival of COVID-19, HigherDOSE’s founders were forced to shift their attention from their 11 retail locations to instead expanding their direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings. Within the first week of lockdowns, all of their store locations were shut down and HigherDOSE’s original (and only) SKU, the infrared sauna blanket, saw sales increase 4-fold. It became apparent that people were interested in bringing the sauna experience to the comfort of their couches. The team knew that in order to meet the demand for their products, they needed to start purchasing additional inventory. 

Suddenly, the founders were faced with the new challenge of investigating financing options that could help them keep up. Berlingeri and Kaps, along with their COO Sumish Khadka, set out to find a financial partner that was able to provide the things that were the most important to their business:

  • Flexibility to finance different parts of their supply chain, from building inventory for peak holiday seasons, to logistics fees, supply chain costs, and outbound logistics
  • Extended payment terms when working with international vendors to make them more favorable to their supply chain needs 
  • Ability to grow and scale their brand with new hires and other needs

The solution

The HigherDOSE team began their search for a financial lending partner that would strategically come alongside their inventory financing needs and ended up choosing Settle for its transparent payment structure and flexibility in financing options. Since implementing settle, HigherDOSE is now able to build out cash flow projections and turn around inventory into cash much quicker. 

Implementing Settle as a financial partner had a range of benefits for the brand: 

  • Opened up their options when it came to international vendor selection by ensuring they could receive extended payment terms
  • The opportunity and flexibility to turn around inventory much quicker
  • Helping to finance inventory
  • A dashboard to oversee and monitor cash flow health
  • Flexible loan structure to accommodate the fluctuations of business demands

The outcome

The quick pivot to direct-to-consumer (DTC) products was made possible with the flexible working capital offered by Settle that allowed HigherDOSE to not only meet demand, but grow the business in a variety of directions: 

  • Increased revenue by 300%
  • Expanded the team from 4 employees to 12
  • Launched 8 new SKU’s to their product line 
  • Added new distribution channels

Advice to other founders

For those just starting out, Khadka emphasizes the importance of inventory financing: “Having a fintech like Settle in your back pocket really allows you the flexibility to manage the expectations of the broader business. When managing the fluctuations that come with interest rates and credit limits, it’s always great to have a partner like Settle on your side.” 

Katie Kaps stresses the importance of identifying the financial partner that works best for your company. “There are different financial institutions and each has their own core competencies,” says Kaps. She stresses the importance of identifying a financial partner or partners that work best for your company’s specific needs. “They each offer different products that are catered to unique use cases like inventory or marketing, and it’s crucial to be able to deploy each where it will have the most impact.” 

“As a startup you always need someone who you can trust…which is why we went with Settle.” - Sumish Khadka, COO of HigherDOSE