Jeff Raider: Harry's CEO and 2x Unicorn Founder

By Liam Satre Meloy
We caught up with Jeff about the recent Edgewell combination, supporting men’s mental health awareness, the virtues of humility, and what it takes to start two billion-dollar businesses.

Jeff Raider is the co-founder and co-CEO of men’s personal care brand Harry’s, which is combining with industry giant Edgewell (owner of Schick) six years after its inception. The deal, valued at $1.37B, makes Jeff a founding member of not one but two unicorns. His previous company to reach that coveted status was direct-to-consumer eyewear brand Warby Parker, which Jeff co-founded while still at the Wharton School at UPenn. With new responsibility as co-President of Edgewell’s US operations (which account for 50% of the company’s revenue), Jeff is on the way to building a next-generation, global CPG company.

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Harry’s origin story… Joining forces with former roommate Andy Katz-Mayfield, Harry’s was born out of mutual dissatisfaction with the razor shopping experience: "making time to go to the drug store, only to be presented with overpriced and over-designed products that you can’t relate to."

After raising their first round… With $75M in new funding, Harry's bought a 93-year-old German factory steeped in the tradition of razor blade craftsmanship, vertically integrating the company’s manufacturing process. It was an early key strategic decision that contributed to the company’s success.

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Breaking through in a crowded marketplace... Selling men's shaving products was dominated by brands like Gillette and Schick, and more recently, Dollar Shave Club. In Harry's early days, a referral game that became unexpectedly successful amongst friends led to a grassroots marketing strategy focused on credible sources: "consumers who loved the product or knew us personally and who could speak to the brand in a way that would resonate with others."

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Doing good with Harry’s… Men commit suicide at a rate 3.5 times higher than women. Every year, Harry’s donates 1% of its sales to charitable organizations that provide mental health care to men, putting the company on track to help 500,000 guys by 2021. “Our goal is normalize the stigma around mental health issues that all guys experience, and we decided to rally behind this cause because we think it’s an area where we can make tangible, substantial impact given the staggering numbers.”

Partnering with Crisis Text Line... Through its partnership with CTL (also featured in this Explorer issue), Harry’s has helped spread awareness about the org to its consumers. “There have been instances in which Crisis Text Line was able to intervene on behalf of guys who found out about the service through Harry’s, so we saw it was actually working and that was exciting.”

harrys crisis textline

The Masculinity Report… Interested in how men think about themselves, Harry’s commissioned the most comprehensive study of American masculinity on record.

A few key findings about American men:

• They aspire to honesty, reliability, respectfulness, and loyalty over other qualities, including athleticism, intelligence, and fitness.

• They now place more importance on their mental health than their physical health, while still appreciating that the two are fundamentally intertwined.

• Forget the myth of the carefree bachelor. Across the board, married men are happiest.

Founding a company with a social mission… “Corporate social good is no longer a once or twice a year initiative, but an integral part of why a brand exists, and an always-on, 24/7 priority. Authenticity is paramount. Your social mission should be a natural extension of your company’s, and your customers’, values.”

The virtues of humility... It’s critical for founders to slow down, ask “the why,” and assemble a team of smart people who’re comfortable questioning leadership decisions. “That’s something I had to realize at Harry’s early on--to discipline myself to not just put something out into the world because we can, but because there’s a genuine need and customer demand for it.”

Essential reading for entrepreneurs… "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Persig. “The journey you’re taken on in the book, combined with the philosophical discussions about how to live, resonated deeply with me as an entrepreneur.”

After a challenging day at the office… Jeff likes to unwind by spending time with his kids. “There’s nothing like reading books about Peppa Pig after a tough day. It really puts it all in perspective in a good way.”

Jeff with Kids

His mentor… Is his mom, who raised Jeff as a single parent while running a pioneering company in the loyalty marketing space. She taught him five essential principles of entrepreneurship (which he wrote about for Business Insider).

Partnering with Jimmy Chin... When Jimmy showed Jeff a climing portaledge at Summit Outside, it led to an advertising campaign, shot by Jimmy, of rock climbers shaving on a cliff wall. Harry’s released a set of limited edition razors with custom colors reminiscent of climbing paraphernalia. “To this day, still remains one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.”

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Connect with Jeff… @jeffreyraider on Instagram

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