The Founders Club organized a talk by Jeffrey Raider and Jason Semine – Wharton Alumni, serial entrepreneurs and founders of Harry’s. Harry’s is the new kid on the shaving block. It is not even a year old and has questioned the age-old paradigms that have dictated the industry. Harry’s is a game changer and the story is nothing less than a quick paced thriller.
Sitting around after class at 5pm, wearing a pair of prescription glasses that cost about five hundred dollars, Jeff knew that they were on to something when his friend came up with an idea of an online store for glasses. Jeff was not the only one feeling the pain of spending hundreds of dollars and multiple visits to stores. The four friends came together to form what he calls ‘a family of friends’ who shared a common vision, passion and are bound by much more than just a commitment contract. These were stepping stones to the immensely successful start up we know today as Warby Parker.
Jeffrey had another lightning idea strike when in 2011 a friend called him to complain. His friend had waited in a pharmacy for ten minutes (clearly what seemed like eternity) for someone to unlock the razor cabinet and paid twenty five dollars for four razor cartridges. Jeffrey knew that his friend was not the only one complaining. Where the consumer felt pain – Jeffrey saw an opportunity. Harry’s was founded with a vision of creating a razor purchase experience that was personal and enjoyable, delivering a product that is best in class at a value that made sense to the consumer. Harry’s went beyond being about the product to creating a consumer experience that would transform the market.
In a thirteen billion dollar market dominated by Gillette and Schick – Harry’s found its niche. The founder spoke about the core strategy as being able to capture consumers from competition and retain them. Integral to Harry’s is the sharp business acumen of these Wharton MBA’s.
Integrating across Value Chain:
Harry’s is a fully integrated company, from manufacturing to direct to consumer sales. The ten month old firm acquired a German blade manufacturing company recently. The acquisition gives them the ability to innovate, and think long term in a business where manufacturing at high quality is a scarce resource. Jeff remembers his early days of finding the perfect razor blade as physically and emotionally draining.
Creating a Strong Brand:
The founders shared a common vision for the brand Harry’s (Simple, Accessible and Approachable) – each touch point of the brand is consistent with this vision. It is enchanting to hear the team speak about the discovery of the company’s name – Harry’s – as if it were a marketing class project, going through techniques of likeability, association and memorability. The Corner Shop, a barber shop in Soho, is one of the last few residential communities in New York that represents the quintessential essence of the Harry’s brand. Personalized experience, advice from an expert, a premium yet not edgy feel, and of course the straight blade shave are all part of the brand.
Stepping Closer to the Consumer:
The barbers of the Corner Shop are the strongest evangelists of the Harry’s brand. They advise their customers and partner with them for innovation ideas. Harry’s believes in learning from and about its consumers to serve them better. Tracking purchase to predict when you would be running out of blades or seeking feedback from repeat consumers to improve the experience are stepping stones to the ‘journey of a hundred year old brand in the making’.
Harry’s is a product of passion, creativity and vision. This chip off the block has taken many by surprise and inspired people like us to be fearless – and shave more.
Pictures: Entrepreneurs Jeffrey Raider and Jason Semine (both WG ’10) of Harry’s share their start up experiences with the Founders Club. Photo credit: Shira Yudkoff.