Yes To Carrots (and more): How Ido Leffler became one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs

Ido Leffler

Ido Leffler. Source: supplied

Ido Leffler loves to share. It’s almost impossible to have a conversation with Ido (like Cher, Ido is almost always referred to by his first name), without him excitedly sharing his latest business idea. It’s that almost limitless enthusiasm that has driven Leffler, along with business partner of two decades, Lance Kalish, to become two of the most successful Australian entrepreneurs you’ve probably never heard of.

From a standing start, Leffler and Kalish have created more than five businesses worth more than $100 million. Starting with no capital, Ido has a hustler’s charisma, that convinced a buyer at Walgreens, one of the world’s largest pharmacy chains, to stock their then fledgling organic skin-care brand, Yes To Carrots. That one meeting would eventually create an empire that would become America’s second largest organic skincare brands and grow to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Yes To Carrots… and more

The Lefflers were significantly affected by the recession of the early 1990s, with Ido’s father forced to close his property development business. His parents would later rebuild their careers by becoming amongst Australia’s most successful Herbalife distributors, a business Ido would briefly join. But Ido had far grander plans than selling someone else’s products, and by 24, along with Kalish, the pair were advising Australian corporates on how to globalise their businesses. An audacious concept for a couple of kids barely out of university with almost no business experience of their own.

But somehow, Ido and Lance thrived. And soon after the pair created Yes To Carrots — a skincare business that would ultimately lead to an empire.

The pair had their share of challenges. In 2010, the business was almost crushed by a dramatic product recall, just days before being they were being ranged in the high-profile Sephora chain. Then, in 2019, their fast-growing Brandless business — which had recently reached unicorn status (that is, a private market valuation of $1 billion) — hit a major bump, after backer-giant Softbank failed to provide promised funding.

But those potentially fatal events did little to stop Leffler and Kalish’s global expansion. Their main operating businesses Yoobi and the Beach House Group, both thrived during the pandemic. Yoobi, which is similar to Premier Investment’s high-flying Smiggle brand, sells colorful school, home and office supplies. It has donated more than 77 million school supplies to over 6 million underprivileged students and is on track to generate a hundred million dollars in revenue annually in the next few years, and has partnerships with large US retailers like Target.

Leffler is also the co-founder of Beach House Group, which has brand collaborations with some of the world’s biggest influencers like Millie Bobbie Brown (Florence by Mills, a Gen Z make-up line), Tracee Ellis Ross (a hair care brand called Pattern), Kendall Jenner (Moon) and Shay Mitchell (Baes, a luxury travel good brand). Currently, Beach House Group turns over more than US$100 million ($129 million) and is growing fast.

Leffler has also proven to be an astute angel investor, being one of the first shareholders and an early stage advisor in Dollar Shave Club (which would later sell for more than US$1 billion to Unilever) and an early investor and chair of Range Me, founded by Sydney entrepreneur, Nicky Jackson, and which is believed to have sold for well over $50 million.

Hear Ido Leffler’s amazing entrepreneurial story on the From Zero podcast with Adam Schwab, available here

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