Leave the office. Take the subway. Go to the pharmacy. Find the personal care aisle. Ask a sales associate to unlock the razor cabinet. Pick and choose razor and blades. Pay for them. Regardless of where you are or how many of these steps you take to buy your razor, it’s always a hassle. In a world filled with over-priced, over-marketed, low-quality razors Harry’s makes “groom” for a better, convenient, and more efficient way.
Who? // Launched in 2013, Harry’s was founded by Warby Parker co-founder Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield as a vertically integrated, e-commerce company selling a fairly-priced, high quality razor for men. Just over two years later, Harry’s has taken on the “the big boys of shaving”, Shick and Gillette, raising over $280 million in funding and reaching a $750 million valuation—a success that has been attributed to the remarkable synchronization of its business and operating models.
Business Model: Direct-to-Consumer + Ready-to-Shave // Harry’s core competency lies in offering sleekly-designed, optimal quality razors, blades, and grooming product to today’s sophisticated man. In a space dominated by a handful of players pushing artificially priced products (with no respect to the quality of the product), Harry’s bring the experience online to help remove the friction and high costs from distribution, give the product a sexier name and look through smarter design. Harry’s value proposition spans across four different dimensions:
B. Design: minimalistically designed razors blending “timeless simplicity and modern ergonomics”, which are aptly labeled with “old-school” and sophisticated names as Winston and Truman, cleanly concocted face creams and moisturizers, and chic grooming kits
C. Accessibility: launched exclusively as an e-commerce merchant with seamless distribution capabilities providing affordable “Shaving Plans” with free trials, automatic refills, and easy modifications / cancellations
D. Experience: unlike its competitors, Harry’s is an aspirational luxury and lifestyle brand—as evidenced by the opening of its 1920s-themed and elegant barbershop “Harry’s Corner Shop” in Soho to bridge the gap between its gentlemanly customer’s online and offline behavior
As a complement to Raider’s Warby Parker and commitment to give back, Harry’s aims to “give a shave” about getting people ready for their lives and careers through its “1+1” program where it donates 1% of sales to City Year’s New York chapter and 1% of its time to work with City Year.
Operating Model: Iron Law of Distribution, No Problem // Harry’s is the only razor blade company that owns the the entire process from manufacturing of the razors to engagement on the consumer level through direct sales.
Prior to launch, Harry’s co-founders globe-trotted to source the best manufacturers until in early 2014 they came across 90-year-old German factory, an experienced and flexible manufacturer of double-edged and five-edged blades, that have become the staple of Harry’s. With the purchase of Feintechnik, Harry’s now has the ability to control the design and manufacturing of its products, and sell directly to consumers. Razor blades are hard to make and easy to mess up but by having direct control of the process, Harry’s is able to change the molecular composition of the steel and then grind it so that it’s very sharp at its tip and strong at the base. At the same time, Harry’s can take feedback to the customer and invest back into the manufacturing process to ensure a high quality product every time. Harry’s has begun to track customer purchasing habits in order to allow them to email those customers when they think it’s time for them to buy new blades. As its customer base expands and it gathers more data on their style and tastes, the company will look to expand this kind of functionality to bring more Amazon-style personalization to its shopping experience.
By eliminating unnecessary costs and disintermediating the supply chain of razor production, Harry’s is able to allocate its capital more efficiently towards research and development of new products and customer engagement through its online portal and brick and mortar corner shop. By doing so, Harry’s is able to remain competitive, accessible, top-of-mind and create value to its gentlemen.
Trimming the Path Forward // Since its launch over two years ago, Harry’s has successfully aligned its business and operating models and yielded 500% growth in its revenue base. The company is not only seeking to strengthen the quality and delivery of its core products, the razors, but also to expand the offering to women’s grooming and dental hygiene products. Unlike Warby Parker, Harry’s is not planning on going down the brick and mortar store concept just yet, but they’re clearly trimming a trailblazing path across an industry that’s been due for a clean shaving.