Method, Olly, now Welly. Eric Ryan reveals the secret behind his billion-dollar success story

Eric Ryan, co-founder of Method, Olly and Welly

Whoever doubted that a line of first-aid products in chic patterns and bold colors would instantly hit Editor’s Pick lists and become a top giftable for the holidays doesn’t understand Eric Ryan’s ability to reinvigorate a simple, everyday consumer need and transform it into a lifestyle accessory. 

The first-aid kits come in brightly colored reusable, stackable tins and were created to “get you back in the game with a bit of style.” The products echo Welly’s philosophy that bruises and scratches are the results of the “give-it-a-tryers” who need to be prepared for a life fully lived.

The co-founder of Method, the eco-friendly household and personal-care brand; and Olly, the gummy vitamins and supplements line — launched Welly in April with Doug Stukenborg, a former retail merchandising executive. His goal: to disrupt the first-aid sector, which hasn’t seen much innovation in decades.

Today Ryan’s three ventures have reached a collective valuation of more than $1 billion, he said.

What is Ryan’s secret? “Most entrepreneurs start with an idea, and I start with a category,” says the San Francisco-based serial entrepreneur. “I try to figure out what is the cultural shift that the category is missing, and then I just connect the space in between the category and this cultural shift.”

Another major thing that sets Ryan apart from other entrepreneurs is that he enthusiastically embraces brick-and-mortar retailers as his main selling channel. Welly is currently sold exclusively in Target stores and online. After the first year, Welly will expand its online distribution and branch out to other retailers. But Target stores will continue to exclusively offer Welly’s newest products. This is the same strategy Ryan used with Method in 2002 and later, in 2016, with Olly.

The Welly Bravery Badges Kids kit is stocked with colorful fabric bandages patterned with rainbows and unicorns.

Ryan said he owes much of his strategy to his days

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