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Walmart Divests Bonobos to WHP Global and Express; Lessons for Startup Founders

Aspiring startup founders can learn valuable lessons from this high-profile acquisition and subsequent sale


In a landmark move, Walmart has announced the sale of its men's apparel brand, Bonobos, to WHP Global and Express. The deal comes after Walmart's acquisition of Bonobos in 2017 for $310 million, and it highlights the retail giant's ongoing efforts to streamline its e-commerce strategy and focus on core business areas.

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Founded in 2007 by Andy Dunn, Bonobos pioneered online menswear retail with its focus on high-quality, stylish clothing and exceptional customer service. It quickly became one of the leading online menswear brands, known for its well-fitting trousers and a convenient, personalized shopping experience.

Walmart's decision to divest Bonobos underscores the challenges that traditional retailers face in integrating digital-first startups into their existing operations.

Aspiring startup founders can learn valuable lessons from this high-profile acquisition and subsequent sale, which highlight the importance of maintaining brand identity and navigating the complexities of corporate synergy.

WHP Global

Here are some tips for startup founders, based on the Bonobos story:

Preserve your brand identity: The acquisition of Bonobos by Walmart led to some concerns among customers that the brand's unique identity and value proposition would be diluted. As a founder, it's crucial to ensure that any partnerships or acquisitions preserve the core values and identity of your brand. This may involve negotiating specific terms in the deal or working closely with the acquiring company to maintain a consistent brand experience for customers.

Understand corporate culture: When partnering with or being acquired by a larger organization, it's essential to understand the corporate culture and how it might impact your startup. Differences in culture and values can lead to friction and misunderstandings. Be prepared to adapt and collaborate while maintaining the essence of your startup's culture.

Communicate with your team: Keep your team informed about any potential changes that may arise as a result of an acquisition or partnership. Your employees have invested time and effort in your startup and deserve to be part of the conversation. Transparent communication will help maintain morale and ensure a smoother transition.

Develop an exit strategy: While it's important to be optimistic and focused on your startup's growth, it's also wise to have an exit strategy in place. This may include a potential sale, merger, or public offering. Having a plan in place will help you make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of the business world.

Learn from others: The experiences of other startups, both successes and failures, can offer valuable lessons for your own venture. Stay informed about the industry, network with other founders, and be open to learning from their experiences.

As Walmart divests Bonobos to WHP Global and Express, startup founders can learn from this high-profile acquisition and subsequent sale.

By focusing on brand identity, understanding corporate culture, and learning from others, founders can increase their chances of success in the competitive world of entrepreneurship.



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