Jeff Raider is the co-founder of Harry’s, an online razor company that promises quality razors for much less than the larger companies charge.
Raider, along with Andy Katz-Mayfield, started the company with a simple promise: a great shave at a fair price.
He is also the co-founder of the extremely successful and popular glasses company Warby Parker. We talked to Raider about founding Harry’s, where he sees the company in the future, and why he looks at the data every day.
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SB: Give me a brief history of starting Harry’s. Why did you feel there was a need for another razor company and what did you want to do differently than your competitors?
JR: Harry’s was born out of Andy’s frustrating experience trying to buy razor blades. He needed to buy shaving supplies, so he went to the drug store, where he waited ten minutes for a sales clerk to unlock a glass case, and then paid $25 for four blades and a tube of shave cream. The products he was finally able to purchase were over-designed and poorly packaged. It was a poor customer experience, and he felt cheated. So Andy called me with the idea for Harry’s and the conviction that “there has to be a better way.” He asked if it would be possible to apply the learnings from Warby Parker to shaving. I immediately empathized and – after several sleepless nights where all I could do was think about razors – we realized we had to start this company. In March 2013, we launched on Harrys.com offering razors and shave cream.
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SB: Did you guys test a bunch of different razors on your own faces until you had the perfect one? If so, what was that process like?
JR: Andy and I tried every shaving product we could get our hands on — for each product we reviewed the purchasing experience, the price and the quality. There was nothing on the market that satisfied all three of these areas for us. We also spent a lot of time talking to anyone and everyone (friends, family, colleagues) about their shaving habits, and product preferences.
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SB: You guys bought a German manufacturing plant to make your razor blades? Why was that necessary, how has it helped your business, and were there any other plants that could do what they do?
JR: Manufacturing razor blades is extremely complex and only a few factories in the world have the capabilities to produce high quality blades. Grinding steel is difficult and the process has been refined over centuries. Everything is custom built — the machines, assembly, design. By owning the entire process (from grinding steal to sending packages to peoples doors) we can deliver people amazing products at a fraction of the price of the big guys — all the while improving their overall purchasing experience. We strive to deliver customers exactly what they want, from start to finish.
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SB: Where do you see the business in five years? Will it be a challenger to the massive brands like Gillette or will it always continue as an outsider (albeit, a hugely successful one) brand?
JR: We have a few things in our pipeline this year, including new products, that we can’t wait to share. Ultimately, we’re excited and humbled to be making products and creating a business that can really make a positive impact on the lives of our customers. We hope to continue to be able to improve the shaving experience for guys everywhere.
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SB: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur trying to start a business?
JR: Stay focused, but be flexible. Look at the data every day, and figure out what’s driving the business forward. Then set priorities around those things, and de-prioritize the things that distract you from accomplishing your core goals. At Warby Parker, we listened carefully to the data, which told us that retail stores were an increasingly successful area of the business. We invested in retail, and brick-and-mortar stores have now become a key pillar of Warby Parker’s success. At Harry’s, we’ve had tons of success building a direct business online, so we’ve decided to double-down and focus there.