By VINCE MEEHAN | Downtown News
Christopher Lander is the founder of BASIS, a Downtown brand incubator that has recently launched four separate e-commerce brands. His mission is to disrupt the dental, hair, and skin care industries with his new brands, and so far his plan is panning out. These direct-to-consumer brands include: TryAutoBrush.com, IvyLeafSkincare.com, ShopUntangled.com, and ShopTheCore.com — and they’re all owned and operated by BASIS. Lander and his team have reached the one-year anniversary landmark, and are looking forward to many more successful years here in San Diego.
His office is located on the fifth floor of the San Diego Union Tribune building on B Street, where his team members work on their laptops while lounging on beanbag chairs. The laid-back environment is typical of many of today’s young upstart companies, but the company has had to overcome a few major hurdles to get to the one-year anniversary intact. This includes a merger with a separate company called Ads, Inc., which was marred by the sudden death of its founder Asher Burke in a highly publicized helicopter crash in Kenya in March.
“Obviously, that was just a crazy time for us, and I had to decide if I was going to keep it all together and run both sides of the business,” Lander said. “I eventually decided to separate the businesses and that’s where BASIS stands today.”
At the time of the merger, Lander and Burke sought out and hired leaders in the field of e-commerce in various different fields. But after Burke’s death, a lot of the cash flow that was to come along with the merger was lost. As a result, there was a round of layoffs, and the ones who survived were suddenly forced to take on additional responsibilities that were not necessarily in their comfort zone. But the wealth of experience that the new hires brought with them made this transition successful and resulted in the four brands currently owned by BASIS. The most popular brand is AutoBrush, “the unique electric toothbrush of the 21st century.” This product fits in your mouth like an athletic mouth guard, and the AutoBrush for Kids model is a hot seller.
For the merger, Lander and Burke’s goal was to snatch up all the e-commerce marketing stars and create a superpower that would dominate the field. This included running the whole show as opposed to marketing for other people. And Lander intends to hold true to that plan no matter what fate throws at him. “The back story is that we are good marketers, we are able to sell things online profitably. So, we wanted to be able to build assets instead of marketing for other people,” Lander said.
Nikki Johnson is the director of brand development at BASIS, and one of the people Lander brought on board for the merger. Johnson is excited about the success that the AutoBrush for Kids has enjoyed. “The whole idea is to change the way people look at health and beauty products, and make a dent in the health and beauty space,” Johnson noted. “It’s actually making kids enjoy brushing their teeth, so all of the parents are saying their kids are using it eight times a day because it plays jungle music and the kids are actually having little dance parties. And they’re actually excited to brush their teeth now, which is exciting for us because you just want to build the good habit of kids getting used to brushing their teeth and not making it such a negative thing for them. Kohl’s and CVS and Target have all reached out us because of seeing us out there and what kind of difference we’re trying to make in the oral health care space for kids.”
As for the future, Lander wants his company to collectively catch its breath after the drama earlier in the year. But he also wants to springboard onto bigger things once that is done. “I want to stabilize and then grow version four of AutoBrush,” Lander said. “Then I’d like to expand outside of the United States, wherever that takes us.”
— Vince Meehan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.