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Support The No Middleman Project

NoMiddleman.com was created as a solution for best-in-class direct to consumer brands to band together to keep customer acquisition costs down—way down—and for those costs to remain known and fixed into the future. Those savings can be passed on to consumers, and we believe this has the potential to collectively save consumers billions per year.

Sponsorship FAQs


The No Middleman Project Saves Consumers Money

The No Middleman Project was conceived and designed by a seasoned owner/operator of a successful direct to consumer brand. It is designed to be a collective direct to consumer industry effort supported by stand out dtc brands, and designed to serve their needs as the direct to consumer revolution unfolds. Every supporter, every category sponsor, is behind The No Middleman Project, and is helping to make consumer buying power go twice as far. We serve dtc brand needs, keep them thriving, and they will collectively take care of consumers needs by providing them twice as nice, and/or half the price of comparable retail products sold offline and online. Collectively, the direct to consumer industry can save consumers billions per year. That’s how we see it. Your sponsorship of a category on NoMiddleman.com helps expedite that coming reality.

Category Sponsorship Costs

Sponsorship of standard categories are $10,000 per year, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Micro-categories are $3,000 per year. Beyond our organic traffic creation efforts, and joint efforts of project partners, a significant portion of sponsorship proceeds (beyond what’s needed to cover our operational costs) will be re-invested in driving traffic. Each category sponsor enjoys a perpetual first right of refusal on renewing their category sponsorship.

While the majority of standard categories will likely never go beyond the $10,000 per year rate, some select categories will. To keep future costs fixed and known—and so we don’t EVER become a middleman ourselves—even the most sought-after categories have sponsorship cap levels defined in our corporate charter. You can find details in our category sponsorship bidding rules.

Our category sponsorship pricing structure is designed to pass more value on to consumers as a brand scales (and as the entire direct to consumer revolution scales) to an end point where the annual cost of category sponsorship will be insignificant for any viable brand within any category suitable for sponsorship.

Any existing category that does not currently have a sponsor is available for sponsorship. Additionally, if there is a new category that you would like to sponsor, just let us know. We believe there are tens of thousands of categories of products that direct to consumer companies will potentially disrupt over the next few decades.  While we only have a few thousand categories available today, we can add more at any time as The No Middleman Project grows organically. Know of a category we should add? Just ask and we’ll add it.

Benefits of Supporting The No Middleman Project

As a direct to consumer brand founder myself, I prefer to work with partners in all areas of my business in a way that we both benefit, as our businesses grow together—not one where I help a partner grow their business, and they begin to intermingle themselves in transactions between my brand and our customers, and then start taking a larger and larger share of the pie until they kill my business entirely.

With this in mind, we’ve designed our sponsorship model to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship, forever, for the partnership between your brand and The No Middleman Project.

By sponsoring a category on NoMiddleman.com, you are really supporting a project that is laying the groundwork for a less expensive future for direct to consumer brands on the customer acquisition front (basically approaching zero, at scale). If you are an executive from a direct to consumer brand, this is a solution designed by someone a lot like you: a fellow executive with the same pain points, same excitement about future prospects, and same concerns about increasing customer acquisition costs and other future risks.

Read a case study on how direct to consumer brand Tower leverages NoMiddleman.com.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of becoming a category sponsor of the No Middleman Project:

  • Exclusivity is key. There is only one sponsor per category, and that sponsor has a perpetual first right of refusal on renewal, so your reward for being an early supporter of The No Middleman Project is you can effectively lock out the competition—assuming you maintain your editorially-vetted right to inclusion in the category you are sponsoring. If you continue to be one of the best-in-class brands in your category, you’ll have complete control over “owning” the categories you invested in creating and nurturing.
  • Be the only brand with product listings. Category sponsors secure the only product listings with a category, and those listings link direct to your own website. All editorial listings in sponsored categories are just brands, where consumers can see our vetted selections and then go to each brand’s website to do their further purchase research. They are 100% complete brand profiles, but consumers are accustomed to doing a product search, clicking on products, and buying. Your sponsorship secures you monopoly privileges to display your brand’s product listings as the only ones within a category.
  • Fixed & known annual costs. You know your costs to own your chosen category a year in advance, and that cost is, regardless of whether you sell a thousand widgets or a million widgets.
  • Rent control = sustainable competitive advantage. Owning a sponsorship at the The No Middleman Project is like paying shop rent in a growing city—a city where the foot traffic is modest today, but will grow to Times Square levels in the not-too-distant future, and then to a massive worldwide market in the long term. Standard categories start at $10,000 per year (or about $833/month), which is pretty inexpensive rent, considering what even a small brand pays for their showroom rents. We pay $7,200/month in San Diego and we know we’ve got a steal, compared to rents in Times Square for major brands, which are more in the range of $500K/month for a flagship brand storefront. To prevent NoMiddleman.com from becoming just another middleman landlord, rent controls on sponsorship pricing are baked into our corporate charter. In effect, this makes smart category sponsors the real land owners if and when things scale, not The No Middleman Project, as brands can effectively build and own a massive sustainable competitive advantage in their categories. And most importantly, the true winners here are the brand’s customers.
  • Re-investment of sponsorship dollars. We’re interested in growing the collective profile of The No Middleman Project alongside our brand supporters/sponsors, so we reinvest a good portion of sponsorship dollars into driving traffic for the collective benefit of all No Middleman Project sponsors.
  • Having someone else sing your praises is always better. If your direct to consumer brand has been editorially selected to be included in a category in The No Middleman Project, that’s actually a big deal. You’ve already won a valuable award, because we’re pretty selective. And as any smart marketer knows, it’s always better to have someone else sing your praises than just screaming about them yourselves. So you can understand how your conversion rate could actually be bumped by consumers finding you as a prominent category sponsor on an editorially-vetted directory of brands. You should be figuring out ways to shine a spotlight on this award, and category sponsorship is one great way to do that.
  • DTC brands working together are stronger than going it alone. The promise of products sold direct to consumers, disrupting old school brands and displacing middleman, is happening everywhere. But the reality is that the same internet connectivity enabling this has also led to a few select middlemen—far more powerful middlemen—that are accumulating power at an alarming rate. These middlemen have their sights on taking over everything, everywhere. These newly powerful middlemen are a threat to the survival of independent direct to consumer brands trying to go it alone. Moreover, it’s a threat to consumers who benefit from a competitive marketplace of ideas. By cooperating as a community of direct to consumer brands through The No Middleman Project, we can not only survive, but win the battle over the long term.

Category Reservations (Buying an Option)

If you’d like to become a sponsor, but don’t yet have a fully operational direct to consumer brand up and running, we have a solution for you: a category reservation.

I’ve spoken at Harvard Business School several times in the past few years, and I’m hearing nearly all the students talk about starting direct to consumer brands, in the same way they used to all talk about going to Wall Street, or going into consulting. I’ve been told the same thing is happening at Wharton, and it’s likely happening at all the other top business schools around the world. Smart people and smart capital see that this direct to consumer opportunity is somewhat endless, across thousands of product categories.

Full category sponsorships on The No Middleman Project are only available to existing direct to consumer brands that have been vetted for inclusion for categories that currently exist on our site. You can’t buy your way in without a category already existing and your brand already being vetted and selected to be included in that category.

That being said, we do have a solution to accommodate smart entrepreneurs still in the process of building out the next great direct to consumer brand in a new category (even one that doesn’t yet exist on our site). These are for entrepreneurs who are confident they are going to dominate their category, but they’re just not quite ready yet. In this case, we can offer a “category reservation” option, whereby an individual can secure the first right of refusal on category sponsorship for use once they are up and running.

For standard categories, this costs $3,000 per year to hold your spot. For even smaller categories, a micro-category reservation is available at $1,000 per year.

You get no banners in the category for this, rather just your spot held along with your accompanying first right of refusal. It’s effectively an option on owning the category in the future. If another brand wants to buy a full sponsorship in that category you are currently reserving, you get the right of first refusal to match their full sponsorship price, so you can’t get locked out. At that point, if you still don’t have the brand up and running and editorially selected for inclusion in said category, you would have to pay the full category sponsorship price to maintain ownership (and still  without banner privileges or category inclusion). Otherwise, you have to give up your category sponsorship to the new category sponsor.

If you are interested in supporting The No Middleman Project by sponsoring one or more categories, drop us a note:

yourfriends@nomiddleman.com