A startup CEO who’s raised nearly $500 million says business strategy isn’t what you do — it’s what you don’t

Harry’s co-CEO Jeff Raider. Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • Harry’s co-CEOs Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield are intentional with every move they make – and don’t make.
  • Raider told Business Insider that while the company has a lot of opportunity, it has finite resources and a small team relative to competitors, so it has to be strategic about where it invests.
  • That’s why Harry’s sells only a small number of high-quality products. “We’d rather do three things incredibly well than 100 things not so well,” Raider tells his team.

Since its first round of funding in 2012, razor-company Harry’s has raised nearly half a billion dollars.

Harry’s razors are marketed toward men who value simplicity, Jeff Raider, Harry’s co-CEO, said on an episode of Business Insider’s podcast, “This Is Success.”

And for Harry’s, simplicity isn’t only a marketing tool – it’s also a business strategy. Raider said he and co-CEO Andy Katz-Mayfield are intentional with every move they make – and don’t make.

“One of the things we always talk about is that strategy is what you don’t do, as opposed to what you decide to do, because we have all these opportunities,” Raider said. “And so for us, it was about thinking about, ‘OK, what are the things that we really want to do, and the things that we’re not sure about,’ and then getting input from our team, and board, and advisers, and other people at the right points in time, to help us where those answers may not be as clear.”

As Raider said on “This Is Success,” Harry’s is strategic about the opportunities it chooses to pursue. “We only have a finite set of resources,” he said. “And we still have a pretty small team, relative to our competition, which are these giant companies. And so, for us, we need to be really intentional about the things that we decide to do, and then, in turn, the things that we decide not to do.”

Unlike Harry’s competitor, Dollar Shave Club, Raider and Katz-Mayfield own their razors and every aspect of the business. In the past year, Harry’s raised $US112 million to create a variety of personal care products for its nearly five million active users. But rather than selling a wide variety of products, Harry’s only sells one type of shave gel, one post-shave balm, and one face wash.

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“We haven’t launched a million different men’s grooming products, because we care so much about the quality of each one of our products, and about the idea that we want guys to be able to really understand what we make, and how those products are different from each other,” Raider said.

If Raider and Katz-Mayfield disagree on a company decision, the co-CEOs look to Harry’s advisers and present the question in a unified front.

“At the end of the day, we try to come to our team, then, with saying, ‘Listen, we’d rather do three things incredibly well than 100 things not so well,’ ” Raider said. “And that’s allowed us to be pretty deliberate in the way that we’ve built the brand. Harry’s is now five years old. We sell in the US, Canada, and the UK only, as opposed to all over the world, which is a choice we could have made.”

Listen to the full episode and subscribe to “This Is Success” on Apple Podcasts or Art19.