Harry’s cofounders and co-CEOs Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider have not only created a men’s razor startup that acquired one million customers and reached a valuation of $750 million since launching in 2013, but they have developed a network of highly successful entrepreneurs to learn from.
It’s why they decided to create H’University, a series of interviews with these friends primarily geared toward college students and new graduates but with business lessons any entrepreneur could appreciate.
The series includes Instagram cofounder and CEO Kevin Systrom, J-Crew CEO Mickey Drexler, Warby Parker cofounder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal, fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, Momofuku chef-founder David Chang, makeup maven Bobbi Brown, and renowned restaurateur Tom Colicchio.
Raider conducted all of the interviews for this series, so we asked him about the commonalities he found across the entrepreneurs’ stories. Here’s what he said:
They never settle.
The most successful entrepreneurs are never satisfied enough with their product to slow down. There’s no such thing as perfect, Raider said.
Chang, for example, had a hit ramen bowl when he opened his first restaurant in 2004, but he told Raider that he’s never stopped tweaking it, adding little improvements.
Systrom took the same approach in a much different setting at Instagram. His service may now have 400 million users, but he’s constantly looking for what users may want, to keep the service fresh and draw even more users in.
They immediately take advantage of opportunities.
Raider said that all of the entrepreneurs he spoke with have a “tremendous personal drive” that puts them in a position for game-changing opportunities, but they don’t waste precious time weighing these opportunities. If there’s an opening that looks good, they take it without hesitation.
Brown told Raider how in the early ’90s she convinced a Bergdorf Goodman sales representative that the store should carry her makeup, but couldn’t close a deal because she lacked a means of mass production. Around this time, she found herself in an elevator making small talk with a chemist. Because it seemed serendipitous, she asked this woman if she’d be interested in producing her debut line. The two partnered and landed a Bergdorf deal in 1991. Brown still uses that original lab for her products.
They don’t think that all rules apply to them.
Before Harry’s, Raider was a cofounder of Warby Parker. The company was built on a simple premise: Luxottica may own 70% of the world’s eyewear market, but that doesn’t mean that the average consumer needs to drop a few hundred dollars if they want high-quality, stylish glasses from a Luxoticca-owned retailer. Warby Parker could offer affordable glasses because they owned the means of production and could sell them online by offering customers several pairs to try on for free.
Similarly, Systrom told Raider that when he was pivoting from his first company Burbn, which was similar to Foursquare, to a photo sharing app, friends and advisers told him that such apps are always slow and cumbersome and tried to dissuade him. He instead saw that as an opportunity for a paradigm shift.
You can see the full collection of videos at the H’University site, which also serves as a job application portal for the companies involved.
Here’s the interview with Systrom:
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