The King Gillette model is one of the most profitable in business: sell people cheap razor handles and then charge them a fortune for the blades.
A few years ago a local New York-based startup thought there had to be a better way, and decided to launch Harry's, a direct-to-consumer online shave company that sells razors for a fraction of the price.
Harry's was born out of an experience Andy Katz-Mayfield had when he went to the drugstore to buy razor blades. He wound up spending $25 on shave cream and four razor blades that were locked up in a case, and was upset about the entire experience. The next morning Katz-Mayfield called his old friend Jeff Raider and said they had to come up with something better.
Raider, a founder at the online eyeglass company Warby Parker, had just the idea. They decided to sell razors directly online and deliver a better experience.
Raider and Katz-Mayfield started out trying every blade out there, and finally stumbled on a winner, from a nearly-century old German razor blade factory that, Raider says, makes some of the highest quality blades in the world.
In March of 2013 the partnered with that factory, Feintechnik, and launched www.harrys.com, selling starter sets with a razor, blades, and shave cream for $15. Replacement blades cost $2 or less, and can be sent to you based on how often you shave.
They made 10,000 razor handles and were sold out in a couple of days. Just 10 months later, Raider and Katz-Mayfield spent $100 million and bought the factory in Germany, a bold move that has enabled them to control their product from start to finish.
Today, Harry's has over a million customers, has raised over $286 million, and is valued at $750 million, closing in on billion-dollar unicorn status. The company has also expanded the product line, launching Dopp kits this month, and added shave gel, after-shave, and daily face wash.
Raider and Katz-Mayfield have even come up with their own Harry's Holiday to celebrate the end of Movember. They call December 1 "National Shave Day" and encourage men to say goodbye to their Movember moustaches.
So what's next? Raider and Katz-Mayfield say they're new and young and are going to continue to figure out creative ways to tell the world who they are and what Harry's is up to.