The Amazing Story Behind Menguin’s $25 Million Acquisition

The Amazing Story Behind Menguin’s $25 Million Acquisition

Last week, online retailer Menguin sold for $25 million to Generation Tux, a company founded by Men’s Warehouse founder and ex-CEO George Zimmer.

The story of how the company went from the brink of shutting down to 800% compounded annual growth is pretty incredible… what the Menguin team accomplished was amazing.

I had the pleasure of watching the story unfold first-hand — here’s a bit of the incredible story.

A couple years ago, I was introduced to an incredibly passionate entrepreneur named Justin Delaney.  He was running a tiny online tuxedo rental company with five unpaid co-founders… one of which was living in their rat-infested warehouse in Atlanta.

Menguin had a great business, but their revenue growth wasn’t reflecting their potential.  They were having trouble with their technology and online customer acquisition, so we were introduced by a mutual friend – a managing director at Silicon Valley Bank, who was familiar with my previous success building a $100 million ecommerce business, and thought I might be able to help Menguin.

With an introduction from an influential banker, and with Mark Cuban and Scott Dorsey as early investors, I was intrigued enough to invite the team to visit my home in Fayetteville, Arkansas for a day long whiteboard session.

After an incredibly fun and productive session discussing online marketing and ecommerce technology, I half-jokingly said “it’s a shame Menguin isn’t located in Arkansas, because I’d like to make a small investment, and would love to work with you guys.”

To my surprise, two hours later, Justin called me and said, “We’re moving to Arkansas — we think you can help us get to the next level.”

The dedication of the Menguin team is second to none — they simply did whatever it took to survive, and eventually thrive.  Sleeping in a rat-infested warehouse.  No problem.  Move to Arkansas.  No problem.

So that’s what they did — they packed up their entire team, moved to Arkansas, crammed into a tiny house away from their families, and quickly went about trying to improve their weaknesses with a little help from their new teammates in Arkansas.

They made our job easy — their team had already done all the hard work.  They built an incredible business model that customers loved, and had an NPS customer satisfaction score that was even higher than Zappos!  All we needed to do was help them get their product in front of online shoppers.

Despite their incredible service, they were struggling to grow their revenue — like most online stores, a flawed ecommerce platform and the lack of a scalable customer acquisition channel was holding them back.  We nudged the company towards making a few tweaks to their online marketing, and they started to grow.

With a solid digital marketing base established, the limitations of their ecommerce platform became the bottleneck.  They evaluated every ecommerce platform on the market, and quickly realized that none of them were powerful enough to take their growth to the next level.  After multiple failed attempts, and a few years of work, they finally built a custom platform to meet their needs.

Growth, of course, followed… 800% annual compounded revenue growth for three straight years led to last week’s $25 million acquisition led by Men’s Warehouse founder and ex-CEO George Zimmmer.

While I hope that Menguin learned a little bit from our team, we learned even more from them — their dedication and passion was contagious.  Additionally, Menguin helped me find my next venture… through watching their software struggles we decided to build Engine, an ecommerce platform for online stores looking to grow their revenue.

Through Engine, I hope we’ll be able to help many other companies achieve Menguin-like growth… we won’t even make you move to Arkansas 🙂

If you need help moving to a modern, mobile-first, cloud-hosted, ecommerce platform, drop us a line. You can reach us at hello@engineinsights.com or in the bottom right of your screen in the chat window.

Written by
John James, M.D. is the CEO of Engine, an upcoming ecommerce software platform currently in closed beta. I paid for medical school with an ecommerce business I founded in my dorm room over twenty years ago, and eventually raised over $100 million in venture capital running Acumen Brands. Email me -- john at engineinsights dot com.