Last summer, Revolution Dancewear acquired Dance Direct, the largest online retailer of dance apparel in the United Kingdom and Europe. At the time, CEO Robb Lippitt told us that there would likely be more deals to come. Still, Revolution Dancewear’s latest acquisition may surprise those who viewed the middle-market firm as more or less a conventional dancewear supplier and manufacturer.
MME: With the acquisition of DanceStudioOwner.com, a content platform, is Revolution Dancewear moving in a different direction?
Lippitt: Well, we always look at things from the customer’s point of view, and we asked ourselves, “What can we do to solve their problems and issues that goes beyond simply what we’re selling?” So when we asked the question “What would make the life of a dance studio owner easier?,” we started thinking about helping what they’re doing, which is providing meaningful content about how new and existing dance studio owners could run their business in a new and better way. We started looking at the classic buy vs. build scenario. DanceStudioOwner.com had just done such a great job of reaching that audience and meeting the needs of dance studios and creating a community that it just made perfect sense in terms of what we’re trying to do.
Lippitt: This is about providing content, providing expertise and feedback to dance studio owners by way of community. It’s a subscription-based service where they are buying knowledge and ideas and access to a community of dance studio owners, all of whom have walked the same path. There are approaches for dealing with parents that may be bringing their child in for their first dance lessons. There are articles regarding the best way to collect money from parents, and articles discussing the best ways to promote a studio. The themes and discussions run the gamut. Well over 1,000 studios subscribe currently, and many more seek to access the content.
MME: So how does Revolution Dancewear leverage this?
Lippitt: We believe that the better the business owner is at running a studio, the better it is for Revolution Dancewear. The content will remain independent. We do not expect to use the content as a sales vehicle. We hope to use the content to service our customers and help them do what they love in the best way possible. The issues facing dance studio owners are common and their shared wisdom and experience transcends borders, so the community that has been created here is international, and that’s exciting.
MME: Did you go looking for a content provider, or was this just something that suddenly surfaced as you explored the market?
Lippitt: This was absolutely part of our strategic plan. It was part of our strategic goals to add this resource and serve our customers in ways that weren’t just selling them product. Again, it came down to the question of whether we were going to build it ourselves or buy it. We evaluated everything that was out there. We met the owners, got to know them, and did a deal.
MME: This deal is clearly smaller relative to last year’s acquisition off Dance Direct, but is size the correct way to look upon it?
Lippitt: It certainly is smaller in terms of scope, whether you measure it by employees or revenue or different aspects, but strategically it is a key piece of where our business wants to head. It’s very clear to us that our customers are hungry for this knowledge, this community, and when they have this type of resource, we believe that it becomes apparent in other ways that it serves our interest in that regard. Anything we can do to make us a better resource for dance studio customers is great.
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