We frequently hear fairy tales of how unlikely entrepreneurs were inspired by unlikely circumstances to create amazing products. But never, to our knowledge, has a mouse been inspired to take on a lion, all from a local drugstore.
“Why are razors so darn expensive?”
It was 2011, and Andy Katz-Mayfield needed to buy razors. As he waited over 10 minutes for a clerk to unlock the display case, he began to wonder why buying razors, a daily grooming essential, was such a pain. It was during this 10-minute span that he was hit by a stroke of inspiration.
Andy decided to do it better. In 2012, he and longtime friend Jeff Raider — founder of Warby Parker — started Harry’s with the mission of making a stronger, sharper razor blade at an affordable price point.
If You Come At The King, You Best Not Miss
Harry’s founders, Katz-Mayfield and Raider, knew they needed a plan to make a mark on the titans of the razor industry. They believed if they could own the entire manufacturing process to control product design, quality, and the feedback loop between customers and engineers, that they could create a game-changing product.
Their quest to turn this razor into a reality took them to a 91-year-old factory called Feintechnik in the small town of Eisfeld, Germany.
Feintechnik’s team has specialized knowledge and equipment that allow them to create a Gothic arch style blade. The technique requires that the blade’s nanostructure be reorganized by 2,000-degree heat, before being cooled to sub-zero temperatures, then heated back up again to 500 degrees.
Needless to say, upon discovering this factory, Katz-Mayfield and Raider knew this was where the best razors in the world — Harry’s Razors — needed to be manufactured to turn their dream into reality.
In the coming days, the entrepreneurial pair flew to Germany to negotiate a manufacturing deal with Feintechnik CEO Heinz Dieter Becker. Initially, he wanted no part of it, but Katz-Mayfield and Raider slowly wore him down over five months of negotiation until it became official: Harry’s secured a supplier deal to produce its special blades, and the company was in business.
Seemingly overnight, Harry’s sales shot up like a rocket ship. Customers were buying more razors than the company could manufacture, and something needed to be done — FAST. When Feintechnik turned down the request for a dedicated Harry’s production line in Eisfeld, the two co-founders made a drastic move and purchased the factory for $100 million (yes, you read that right) in a bet that would allow them to drastically increase their production output.
The deal stipulated that Feintechnik would be able to produce razors for multiple companies, so Harry’s was profitable on day one. By integrating their company vertically, Harry’s made itself distinct from so many other razor blade companies; it maintains control of its product design, product quality, and the feedback loop between customers and engineers.
Now, the razor blade industry is hardly known for being dramatic or interesting, but Harry’s is undeniably causing sparks to fly within its niche.
Harry’s is dedicated to continuous improvement; they recently improved both of their handles and added a much-loved trimmer blade to their cartridges without raising prices. They offer top-notch customer service and flexible ordering plans, to make sure that you get the blades you need, when you need them. This revolution in shaving has sent Gillette into a panic, causing them to slash prices on their blades for the first time in history.
David had to defeat the giant, Goliath, by cutting off his head; Harry’s is doing the same thing by selling men a top-notch product at a staggeringly fair price.
And guess what else? Harry’s is giving The Hustle readers an opportunity to test the Truman Razor, Foaming Shave Gel, and Travel Blade cover for FREE by using this special link when you sign up (just pay ~$3 for shipping).
Now go forth, and keep your face cleanly shaven!
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