Warby Parker Founder Looking to Take on Big-Name Grooming Companies With Niche Offerings
As the saying goes, once you're lucky, twice you're good. Jeff Raider is ready to test this adage.
Having founded eyeglass startup Warby Parker in 2010 with Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt and David Gilboa, the team took on big-name companies like LensCrafters and Pearle Vision in hopes of disrupting an industry that has seen little, if any, innovation in the recent past. And it seems to be working. Recently, Warby Parker announced it has surpassed 500,000 customers and raised an additional $60 million in funding (for a total of $112 million).
Not settling on having one successful startup under his belt, co-founder Raider is now looking to take his learnings and apply it to his latest venture, Harry's, a commerce startup focused on the men's grooming industry. Founded in 2013 with his pal Andy Katz-Mayfield, the duo look to differentiate themselves from the Gillettes of the world by providing high-quality products directly to customers at an affordable price. The company also included a little bit of the Warby Parker magic with its "Give a Shave" program, where Harry's commits 1 percent of sales and at least 1 percent of employees' time to its nonprofit partners.
The startup has made quite the headway in a short time. Besides having a full-blown ecommerce site with an expanding line of products, Raider and Katz-Mayfield have also dipped their toes in the subscription model and recently added a barbershop, known as the "Corner Shop" in New York City's SoHo area.
We think this is pretty impressive. So for the month of January, Harry's is officially Entrepreneur's Startup of the Month. With that comes bragging rights for life, naturally. The company's founders also get a copy of Entrepreneur Press' latest book: No B.S. Time Management and a digital subscription to Entrepreneur magazine.
We chatted with Raider about Warby Parker's impact, challenges and the future for Harry's.
Q: How has the Warby Parker team supported you?
A: They are our closest advisors. Neil, Dave and Andy have been though it before. They have seen a company go from 10 people to 200 people and everything that it takes to run a company that scales. I have seen the brand grow from a few thousand customers to 500,000 customers.
To see a brand grow like that, provides us an amazing perspective about how we might think about growing Harry's.
Q: What lessons did you learn at Warby Parker that you use at Harry's?
A: To love every customer and try to treat each customer with respect and do anything you can to make them happy.
When we launched Warby Parker we were overwhelmed with demand and didn't have systems in place to deal with it. We spent our time early on talking to customers and explaining the situation.
That is a lesson we have taken to Harry's. Every order we deliver or take, we email a customer personally explaining we are here for you, we love you and we want to make sure you have an amazing experience. That allows us to get great customer feedback and build direct relationships with our customers.
In a world where so many people have difficulty connecting with companies or brands, I think to be accessible and to genuinely care about customers is important. It is the foundation for Warby Parker and Harry's.
Q: What have been your challenges at Harry's?
A: The challenges we face are similar to other high-growth companies: How do you grow in a thoughtful way and how do you build an amazing team. As we have tripled the size of our team, we need to figure out how to work together efficiently. So our team is constantly getting amazing results and doing it with as little friction as possible.
Q: What do you believe is your greatest asset?
A: I think our customers -- having engaged customers to constantly speak well about the brand is an amazing thing.
My favorite part of the job is getting to talk to customers, read their emails or respond to them.
For us, we care less about how fast we grow, we care more about delivering every customer an awesome experience. As we do, we'll just build an amazing group of customer advocates that will help build a brand for us.
Q: What is the future of Harry's?
A: We want to continue to thoughtfully grow the brand. We will start to think about other shaving products that we can offer people, like additional shaving creams and aftershave.
We have been blown away by the response to the store, so we are thinking about how that can grow.
Also just continue to make the product better and better. We will continue to tell our brand story to more people, continue to build our team and put the customer first.
Q: What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
A: Make sure you are really passionate about the idea. If you are really passionate about it [launching a startup], it becomes an amazing part of your life. If you are not, it becomes kind of a drag.
Also being thoughtful about the company you want to build and laying a really strong foundation -- from a launch perspective, fundraising and product-development perspective.